This past weekend, I attended the Diabetes Sisters’ Weekend for Women Conference in Washington, D.C. I wouldn’t have found this support group if it wasn’t for the Diabetes Online Community so I want to take a minute to applaud ya’ll! This was a great conference and I recommend any woman that has diabetes try to attend at some point.
I have never really been a part of a support group before. I’ve done a few diabetes group related things like diabetes camp when I was younger and half marathon with diabetics in January and neither of those were exceptionally great experiences so I was very nervous about what to expect this weekend and nervous about meeting new people. My blood sugar even reflected my nerves. My blood sugar went all the way up to 350 on Friday afternoon and I haven’t been over 200 in a while (my rates still need adjusting!). Of course, I completely raged bolused all afternoon/evening and my blood sugar wouldn’t budge much at all until the second I got to my hotel room, my blood sugar crashed to 47. Yikes!
Anyway, I was nervous going into the weekend. I was excited about meeting some of the DOC in real life but I was also nervous because I can be pretty shy at times so I wasn’t sure if I would be outgoing enough to form a friendship with the people I have talked to online for the past year+. All my fears were put to rest the second I checked into the conference. The first person to greet me was Anna, the Operations Manager for Diabetes Sisters, and she was so welcoming. She talked to me for probably fifteen minutes when I first got there and really put me at ease and made me feel welcome, which put me in a talkative, less shy mood. This set the stage for me to talk to many women over the weekend and form new friendships. In addition, there was a Get to Know You session on Friday night where we broke off into groups and got to know the ladies in our groups. This was a great way to get conversations flowing to build friendships.
The conference itself was amazing. They had sessions Friday afternoon, all day Saturday and in the morning on Sunday. Sessions ranged from Decluttering your Life, to Exercise and Diabetes to Diabetes and Technology. There was even a session on Type 1 Diabetes and Pregnancy and I was excited to meet Gary Scheiner who was giving the talk. Gary formed the company Integrated Diabetes Services, with whom I am working with right now for controlling my diabetes (I work with Jennifer who is amazing!). The conference even had exercise sessions each morning at 7AM, but I wasn’t able to get my butt out of bed to attend even though I was really excited about them (I’m not much of a morning person).
Each session I attended was very informative. I learned several new things (if not more) at each session. For instance, I learned at the Diabetes and Technology session that the Verio Sync blood glucose meter connects directly to my iPhone. I’ve been wanting something like that and I had no idea it existed! I attended the Diabetes Organizing session, which I wasn’t sure if I would get much out of it because I am a pretty organized person already (I think that’s one of my main strengths), but I still went because I was curious if I would learn anything new, which I did! For instance, I learned that onions shouldn’t be stored in the fridge and that fruits and veggies should be in separate compartments in the fridge. I do both of these things wrong. I think one of my favorite sessions was the Diabetes from Head to Toe session. I will admit I wasn’t too excited about this session because I thought I knew all there was to know about how diabetes can affect my body. But, boy was I wrong! I learned probably the most in this session. One of my takeaways from the session was that I need to schedule a baseline EKG now. Heart attack symptoms in women are much different than in men and if you throw diabetes into the mix, sometimes the heart attack symptoms might be confused for a low blood sugar symptom so it’s good to get a baseline EKG so you know what you look like before a heart attack. I also learned about renal threshold. This was new information to me. I’m not sure I’ll do the speaker justice by trying to explain it like she did but I believe the basic idea is that if your blood sugar goes over 160, you are causing damage to your kidneys (there is more to it than that but thats about the gist of it). I also learned that diabetes can cause hair loss and I’ve actually noticed that my hair has been seeming to thin in recent years so now I’m wondering if that’s the cause.
I got a lot of information out of the conference but my favorite part of the conference was hearing other women’s stories. A lot of the sessions were interactive, where people discussed how diabetes affected their life. I loved hearing these because it really did make me feel less alone with the disease. I also participate in DSMA’s Wednesday night chat so I was excited that a DSMA event was planned during the conference. On Friday night, they held a DSMA Live event and it was a lot of fun to be a part of it. I’ve never listened into a DSMA Live event before but I think I’m going to try and make it a part of my weekly schedule. 🙂
One thing that surprised me by the conference was how many people traveled far to get to the conference. I admit I probably wouldn’t have gone if it wasn’t in DC. I’m glad this one was in DC so I was able to attend and now that I know what it’s all about I probably will make this an annual trip like so many others are doing.
Overall, it was a fantastic weekend. I was actually contemplating really hard if I was going to go or not and, in fact didn’t sign up until this past week. I’m so glad I made the decision to go. It was so much fun to talk to others who are going through or who have been through the same things as me. And it was great to talk to the ladies about things other than our diabetes. It was also a lot of fun to meet so many of the DOC in real life :).
A side story, I drove home Sunday afternoon and about thirty minutes after getting home, my blood sugar had dropped all the way to 32!! I don’t think I have ever been that low in my life and I’m so thankful that it waited until I got home, not while I was driving to drop that low. Of course, my CGM said I was 100, so I would have had no idea I was dropping that low until I broke out into a crazy sweat (and oh my goodness, I was a hot mess!).