This past weekend, I attended the DiabetesSisters Weekend for Women and Diabetes Unconfrence in Alexandria, VA. If you are unfamiliar with DiabetesSisters, it is an amazing company that offers “range of education and support services to help women of all ages with all types of diabetes live healthier, fuller lives.” They have local chapters in various cities throughout the country that get together monthly. I attended the Weekend for Women back in 2014 and it was an amazing experience so I was excited to hear they were doing it again this year!
This year, DiabetesSisters decided to join forces with the Diabetes Unconference. Unlike traditional conferences which focus on group of experts or panels to share info, the UnConference is led by the participants themselves. The Unconference began several years ago but it was after I got pregnant with my first son so I wasn’t able to attend but I’ve always wanted to go so I was excited when they joined forces.
The two conferences were held at the same location and had a few shared events, running from Friday afternoon to Sunday. The weekend kicked off with a Meet and Greet reception for all followed by a talk on Sex, Insulin, and Rock n Roll. I wasn’t able to make it there on Friday so I joined up with everyone Saturday morning.
The Weekend of Women conference had sessions on such topics as Mindful Eating, Coping with Anxiety and Depression, Making Use of the Glycemic Index and Be the CEO of your Healthcare. I chose to take part in the Unconference side of things but was able to still attend a few Weekend for Women sessions. I attended a session on the Physiology of Exercise and Diabetes led by Christel Oerum and a session on Diabetes & Technology led by Melissa Lee.
Both sessions were great. I already knew a little bit about exercise and how it affects blood sugars, but it was good to get a refresher since it’s been a few years since I’ve really been actively working out. Christel covered anaerobic versus aerobic exercises and their impact on blood sugars and how to handle blood sugars and insulin before, during and after a workout session.
The session that I was looking forward to the most was the Diabetes & Technology. I have been out of the loop recently, struggling with balancing work and life with two kids, and have just stuck with Medtronic. In the past, I’ve been really loyal to Medtronic with my CGM and insulin pump but as things are changing, specifically with healthcare, I’ve been thinking about making a change. Melissa covered all areas of technology, including blood glucose meters (there are lots!), insulin pumps (surprisingly, there are now only 3!), and CGMs. She also touched on the future of diabetes technology which I thought was so interesting. Melissa mentioned that pricking your finger to monitor blood sugars might be a thing of the past somewhat soon. I will be excited for that one day!
The Diabetes Unconference portion I won’t discuss because it’s like Vegas: what happens at the DunCon stays at the DunCon. I will say that it was so nice to be in a room with other diabetics who just get it. I’ve been struggling recently so I chose the UnCon track versus the Weekend for Woman track because I was looking forward to talking with others versus listening to a speaker. Emotionally that is what I needed this weekend and it didn’t disappoint.
The conferences also had two guest speakers, one on Saturday and one on Sunday (the Keynote). I, unfortunately, had to leave early Sunday so I missed the keynote speaker but I did catch the speaker on Saturday. Saturday’s speaker, Sara from Blood Clot Recovery Network, shared her very scary and moving story. She had an undetected blood clot that was almost fatal. She has turned what happened to her into a success story and has been able to advocate and help others. I was really touched by her story.
In addition to the great sessions, I was able to reconnect with friends I met back at the 2014 Weekend for Women conference and I met some new D-friends. Just having people in my life that are going through the same thing is so therapeutic. We had a reception Saturday evening where I got to talk more with everyone and there may or may not be a video of me doing karaoke at a bar later that night.
It was a great weekend. I enjoyed all of the sessions that I attended and really enjoyed meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends. If anyone is thinking about attending the Weekend for Women or Diabetes UnConference in the future, I definitely recommend it! There was also a People Who Love Us (PLUs) track where loved ones could attend sessions. My loved one (hubby) was home with the babies so I could attend, thank you Chris!