Top of The World.

Last night I got home from the first ever Diabetes UnConference in Las Vegas.  During my trip home, I saw on social media that Stephen wrote a blog post about it and I thought to myself, wow he’s quick!  But then I thought, he had the right idea.  While it’s still fresh in my mind I wanted to share my thoughts.

IMG_7045

The above photo is when we were on top of Las Vegas.  We took a ride on the High Roller (an observation wheel that goes 550 feet up and gives the most amazing panoramic views of Vegas).  It was incredible.

I’ve been to numerous diabetes conferences before.  And I was always happy to attend them not only to learn from the experts or panelists but also to connect with others from the diabetes community.    This was a little different.  The goal of the first UnConference was to allow the attendees to create the agenda, using various methods for us all to share with and learn from each other as peers.  I think it did that very well.  Nothing was shared on social media and I won’t even share explicit details here.  Just imagine being with about 90 other people with diabetes who get it, talking about what is important to all of us and I probably don’t even need to go into much detail.  As wonderful and important as online connections are, in-real-life connections are that much more powerful.  And stick with you forever.

Christel asked us to write down one word to describe how we were feeling at the end.  (I hope I don’t get in trouble for sharing this part!)  I was, and still am, feeling extremely thankful.  Finding the diabetes online community about 8 1/2 years ago when I was getting my first insulin pump was the best thing that ever happened to me.  And it has been extraordinary to watch it continue to grow over the years.  I’ve learned more over that time period than I did the first 24 years as a person with T1.  And I’m not exaggerating.  I wish so much that my father would have had the same opportunity.  I think it would have been so good for him and maybe things could have turned out differently.  The diabetes community (both online and off) has had an immensely positive impact on my life and for that I will forever be thankful.  I wish that every person with diabetes has this same opportunity and I will do whatever I can to reach those who may not have it yet.

IMG_7095

This above photo is one of the amazing views from the sky during my flight home back to the East Coast.  Looking through the (few) pictures I took during the weekend, I sensed a theme.  We were on top of Vegas.  I was on top of the sky.  And what I was left feeling – on top of the world.

Sisters.

Last night I returned from attending my fourth Diabetes Sisters Weekend for Women conference, this time in the Alexandria Virginia/DC area.  And I feel so grateful.

One of the things I was looking forward to most was seeing old friends and making new ones.  And of course that was one of the best parts.  The bonding that happens between women with diabetes at these events is truly remarkable!  But another part that I have found so rewarding through the years is the knowledge and motivation gained through connections and sessions to keep me empowered.  I consider myself an empowered person living with diabetes.  However dealing with the ins and outs of it day after day, for the past 32 years, can leave me feeling less powerful at times.  Sometimes a little push is all I need to get back to it.

We were fortunate to be in the company of Dr. Nat Strand.  I first met her at the 2012 conference and loved her.  She is so down to earth, knowledgeable and has a positive attitude that is contagious.  She lead a session this time around about Diabetes from Head to Toe.  While I basically knew all the organs and body parts that diabetes can have a negative affect on, hearing her talk about it just reiterated to me how important it is to keep a proactive approach to my health.  Although I have started with minor complications, I have had them diagnosed very early and that has been to my benefit and I believe what has kept them minor so far.  I have also had others ruled out by having the appropriate tests for them.  Especially these days, early diagnosis is key to proper treatment and hopefully preventing the progression of the condition.

P1050139

(Me with two lovely ladies, Nat Strand and Susan Weiner, RD, MS, CDE, CDN)

 

Although I am already active in the diabetes online community, it was fun to see Cherise and Kerri teach the group how to connect through blogging and social media.  There was also a DSMA Live meetup which was fun!

I actually got up at 6:30 on Saturday morning to work out.  I know, I don’t know what has gotten into me!  There were exercise options for the early morning session but instead of T’ai Chi or a walk around the town, I chose to get my butt kicked with the lovely Ginger 😉  It was an anaerobic workout teaching how to use your body as weights instead of equipment.  I learned that I’ve been doing squats incorrectly but have pretty good form for push ups 🙂 It was a hard but awesome workout.

There was a pretty emotional discussion about how diabetes affects eating and body image.  It was lead by a panel consisting of Asha Brown, Diana Naranjo, PhD, Rhonda Merwin PhD and Lorraine Platka-Bird PhD, RD. When put into perspective, how can anyone living with diabetes view food the same way as people without diabetes?  Food is one of the key elements in our management.  It could either be a life saver or it could be a derailment in blood sugar control.  Attention and calculation surrounds every single piece of food that goes into our mouths.  No wonder this poses the opportunity for psychological issues!

Claudia Graham, MPH, PhD, gave the keynote presentation and also received the 2014 Inspiration Award at dinner on Saturday night.  She is the Vice President of Global Access at Dexcom and has thrived with diabetes for over 35 years.  She spoke to us about how to be your own CEO as sometimes being a woman can have some stereotypes attached to it.  She also pointed out key things to know about your health as it relates to diabetes.  One key statistic she mentioned was that as a person living with diabetes, you will spend 8,760 hours each year taking care of it.  Your doctor on the other hand will spend on average one hour each year.  One.  This is the only disease that leaves 99% of the treatment in the hands of the patient.  And that is why it is so critical that we be empowered and be our own CEO.

We were all awarded with a stone, to commemorate the years we have lived with diabetes.  Mine was for courage.  And I have to admit, courage is one of the things I will take with me after being in the presence of such  inspiring, dynamic and valiant women.

IMG_5039

Thank you Brandy and Anna for organizing such a wonderful event once again!

I also want to thank my husband for joining me on this trip as he has the past three times. I don’t think he realizes just how much that means to me. I don’t know what I would do without his support.

 

A Day Late.

nodday

Yesterday was No D Day.  It is something that my friend George started a few years ago.  “It is one day a year when we all try our best to NOT mention diabetes online, all day. ALL DAY!  We all spend a lot of time talking about Diabetes and our lives are filled with more that that disease. We are more that a disease!”  While I am a day late, I still wanted to get my No D Day in.

Ever since Kerri posted her Anti Rant a couple of weeks ago, it has been on my mind to do the same.  So here goes my list of just some of the things I am thankful for 🙂

  • Pumpkin.  It sounds cliche but I love pumpkin flavors or scents.  My living room smells delicious with the wallflower scent of Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin from Bath and Body Works.  So do my hands for that matter with the same scent of cream.  Who doesn’t love a pumpkin latte?  I’m on the hunt for some pumpkin pie spice to add to my meal replacement shakes in the morning.  And a pumpkin cupcake from Crumbs?  I’m not even going there.
  • Boston.  My hubby and I have visited there 5 out of the last 6 years.  We love it.  We just enjoyed a weekend there and the weather was absolutely beautiful.  Boston Common has got to be one of my favorite places on earth.  I could sit and walk around there all day 🙂

IMG_3586

  • A good workout.  Honestly.  I don’t know why I fought exercise for so long.  100% of the time when I am done, I feel great.  Whether it’s a ride on my spin bike or one of the few programs I have at home, it’s all good.
  • Easy days at work.  I work for an investment bank so my job is a high stress environment.  There are times when I feel too burnt out for my age after working in this industry since college.  But there are those rare days that are not completely filled with meetings or deadlines or audits or issues.  And I cherish those.
  • Sleep.  I am not one of those people who get up before their alarm on their own.  Ever.  Now that it is the time of year that it is dark when I get up during the week, it is so much harder to actually get up.  I hate it.  I count down the days until the next time I can sleep in!
  • A good book or movie or TV show.  I love when I’m reading a book that I cannot wait to get back to or even make extra time to finish reading.  Any book by Elizabeth Joy Arnold is one of those.  And thank goodness for Netflix!  During our long trip to Boston over the weekend, I was able to start catching up from the first episode of New Girl.  Hilarious show.  I highly recommend it if you don’t watch it already.
  • These kids.  My daily life is very different from those of you who have children.  It’s quiet 😉  I can do whatever I want, wherever I want, whenever I want.  And while I enjoy that piece of my world, there is always that part of me that deeply misses out on having my own children.  But these three?  They come pretty darn close.  (Especially since they could pass as mine thanks to the identical twin genetics that I share with their mother!)

IMG_3485

IMG_3606

There is so very much that I am thankful for.  But I wanted to keep this post at a reasonable length 🙂

An Amazing Weekend.

I am way overdue in posting this.  I finally had some downtime (see also: being sick.  again.) and figured it was about time I wrote about my time at the Diabetes Sisters Weekend for Women conference at the beginning of this month.  This was my third year attending and you can find my posts about previous years here and here.

Like the past conferences, I had a wonderful time.  I don’t think you can find any more solidarity than being surrounded by about 100 other women with diabetes.  It doesn’t get much better than that 🙂  There were sessions about learning to love exercise from the fabulous Ginger Vieira, how to ignite your diabetes power from the legendary Riva Greenberg, information on dietary supplements and how they affect or do not affect diabetes, the down low on diabetes technology from Amy Tenderich of Diabetes Mine, unlocking the secrets of a long, happy life with diabetes, creating better relationships marriages which was a very open, intimate conversation with the likes of Kerri Sparling.  Our keynote speaker for the weekend was Mother Love.  I admit, I didn’t know much about her before meeting her there.  But let me tell you, she is one funny woman.  She also brought to light for all of us how it is important for us to take care of ourselves.  Something that all of the attendees were doing by attending the conference!  There was also the annual Orange Will walk to start the day on Saturday.  It’s always nice to see a group of people walking for a cause.

Something new this year were offsite field trips – one option was a tour of the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Teaching Farm in Raleigh and the other option was the Novo Nordisk insulin manufacturing facility in Clayton.  I opted for the Novo Nordisk plant and was so glad I did!  It was phenomenal to see how they manufacture something like insulin, that is a life saving medication used by so many people.  Talk about a high standard of sterility!  It gave me a new appreciation for the people who take their job very seriously to give us that life juice 😉

I honestly think the most valuable thing about this conference is the relationships that are built.  The friendships that are made.  The deep camaraderie that is felt.  The entire weekend concentrates on how to make you better.  How to make your life as a woman with diabetes more manageable.  How to help you feel less alone.  And living with diabetes, who doesn’t need that?

P1010999

P1050006

P1050002

IMG_2447

In case you missed the conference in Raleigh, or live closer to the west coast, there is also a conference coming up in October in San Francisco.  Check it out for more details.

Flying With Diabetes.

I love to travel.  I by no means travel more than some of my PWD (people with diabetes) friends but I have to been numerous locations abroad in recent years.  (Usually nice, warm, sunny locations!)  Lucky for me, the great people over at Sanofi Diabetes asked if I was willing to share some advice or tips if you will, on traveling with diabetes.  I am very honored to be featured over there today 🙂

Flying with Diabetes: Tips from Stacey Divone

Thank You.

I got home tonight from my first ever Roche Social Media Summit in Indianapolis.  It was a fantastic time and I have a lot to process and sleep to catch up on so some feedback will follow in a few days.

But I wanted to start (or end the day) by saying a sincere thank you to Roche, especially Rob Muller and Todd Siesky.  I knew it was going to be a rewarding event but to be in the presence of such down to earth, dedicated and funny people that have taken the time the past 4 years to meet with people from the diabetes community to get their honest opinions, feedback and ideas on what Roche can do for people living with diabetes is very commendable.  It is something that I feel every pharma company for every health community should do.  I was extremely honored to be part of it this year and is something that will stay with me forever.

THANK YOU.

(photo credit: Roche)