With the lovely Kyra of Myabetic (my favorite diabetes cases).
I had a great time at this event and so did my husband, Alex. My post talking about the conference is up today over at DiabetesMine, check it out!
Built into the DiabetesSisters Conference is the Orange:Will Diabetes Awareness Walk taking place on Sunday May 20, 2012 at 8:00 AM in front of the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, NC.
Taken from the website where you can register and learn more:
“What is ORANGE:WILL?
The orange:will campaign was started by DiabetesSisters in 2010 to raise awareness of the unique issues faced by women with diabetes and to establish orange as the official color of women’s diabetes. Most people are unaware of how different diabetes is for women, so this campaign is our way of acknowledging those differences and educating the public about them.
You can help by joining us for the walk, bringing friends/family members/co-workers to the Walk, forming a team, or raising funds to support our cause. Everyone who raises at least $40 will receive a souvenir Walk t-shirt to wear at the event. The top three individual fundraisers and the top team will receive special prizes – such as an iPad, custom-fitted tennis shoes, designer sunglasses, etc. Stay tuned for more detailed information about prizes.
**LOCAL & NATIONAL VENDORS WILL BE ON SITE FROM 7:30am-10:00am on MAY 20th.”
If you’re going to the Diabetes Sisters Conference in Raleigh next week, please make sure to register so they have a proper head count!
If you’re going to be in the Raleigh area next week…join us for the walk! The more, the better as media will be there taking note of the event! Again, click here to register!
My husband, Alex and I will be there, we hope to see ya!
Happy Friday! Pheww! It’s been a long week. It’s the perfect time to think about doing something relaxing or fun. It’s the perfect time to consider looking into attending the upcoming Diabetes Sisters Conference in San Diego this October 7th-9th!
I attended the Raleigh Conference early this Spring and had a great time. I made some new friends, I heard amazing speakers, and I got lots of important information and motivation. What’s special about the Diabetes Sisters Conference? It’s women only. It’s focused on our unique challenges as women with diabetes. It’s also all inclusive. If you have type 1, 2, LADA, Gestational, whatever type of diabetes you have doesn’t matter. Founder, Brandy Barnes has maintained a lovely idea of solidarity amongst the organization underneath the fact that we all have diabetes and are all women-and that is a lot in common.
Here is my recap about the weekend when I got back home.
And here is information on the upcoming San Diego conference and all the details you need.
Consider attending if you can. It’s seriously a special thing when women get together to celebrate, learn, and support each other on topics unique to them. After all, men don’t exactly know what it’s like to experience pms, pregnancy, or menopause, do they? :)
I wrote a list of 10 Things We Women with Diabetes Want You to Know over at DiabetesMine.com. I was very honored to post over there. Do check it out!
When your family is on a tight budget and you decide to spend several hundred dollars to attend a conference…it better be worth it right?
Well, I think the National Diabetes Sisters Conference is. I’ve got three main reasons why:
1. Meeting diabetics who have lived well for decades with this disease is some of the best hope one can get and meeting others like ourselves is a great comfort.
2. A weekend away from family, work, and responsibilities allows time for one to focus on their health and their thoughts about it.
3. To be educated, to be informed, to be stripped of ignorance is in a word, power.
When you put this all together, you have what I experienced this weekend. A feeling of renewed hope and time enough to really assess the information given to me. As a result, I came back home with a much better vision of what having diabetes 16 years means to me.
Over the years I’ve learned more and more about how well one can live with diabetes. Yet, over the years I’ve also heard a lot of scary stories. Fear is powerful and overwhelming and during the past 16 years fear has often taken over me as I would half jokingly come to the conclusion that perhaps having a quick auto accident at the age of 40 or 50 would be best for me. At this conference I personally spoke with women who have lived with diabetes for over 30, 40, and 50 years! I had heard it was possible but I didn’t hear it enough for it to feel real. Well, these ladies are not only real, they are amazing. They are healthy, fit, intelligent, passionate, and they have a lively sense of humor. Someone literally had to tell me to lift my jaw off the floor. This was for me, one of the major highlights of the weekend.
Being away from my twins for the first time was at first a bit heart-wrenching. I got over it as soon as I realized I wouldn’t be changing diapers for a few days. The funny thing is, because my almost two year olds have been with me all their life, I constantly felt that they were in the next room or somehow with me. They are at an age where they can easily get hurt and so my attention is very much focused on them during the day. This means that housework, blogging, and my own needs are sometimes neglected. There were things I had time to think about this weekend without being distracted and it was really helpful.
One of the scariest things is learning about diabetes complications. I was in a room with about 30 women when there was a presentation done about advanced duration diabetes. I was the only one with tears streaming down my cheeks. I don’t know if others wanted to cry and could hold it in but I couldn’t. I cried for two reasons. Part of me realized that as hard as my diabetes is to deal with now, I can expect more challenges down the road. It is extremely likely that as every decade passes, something will arise from having diabetes that will be a difficult consequence of having it so many years. This is an overwhelming thought. I also cried, however, because I realized that well managed diabetes reduces the risk of complications by a whole heck of a lot. I have well managed diabetes. I haven’t always and probably won’t always but at least for now, I’m hanging in there, lowering my risks for complications one day at a time.
There was a presentation by a cardiologist that I really enjoyed about women and heart disease. Apparently we are at a much higher risk than men and in our modern age, as the population dies less frequently from heart disease, women with diabetes are dying more frequently from it. This is very different from men with diabetes and I was amazed to find out the cardiologist didn’t have any ideas as to why women are so much more vulnerable. As worrisome as this is, I take comfort in knowing that by keeping my A1c down, my cholesterol down, and my blood pressure down, my heart disease risk lowers dramatically. And so does yours. Knowing this is power because it means that every day we have proof in our minds that making healthy and consistent lifestyle choices are well worth the effort.
I got to sit while eating my meals (something I rarely do).
As a member of the conference and I rode the elevator down Sunday morning, we were so kindly flashed by some insane naked man who showed up outside the doors when they opened and then ran away. I gasped and covered my eyes and the the lady next to me laughed and said, “Well at least he was young-it could have been worse.”
We heard a talk by Gloria Loring who was fabulous. She was confident and sassy and her message to us was not only inspiring, it was useful. She advocates for us to breath deeply, to “play the love” instead of the fear, and to turn negative self talk into positive self talk-something I’ve found extremely helpful in the past few years. In case you’re wondering, she doesn’t have diabetes but has a son who was diagnosed type 1 at age four.
My primary motivation to go to this conference was to hear Riva Greenberg speak and I was not let down. I find her message very motivating to me in particular because not only does she advocate for persons with diabetes to live well, she takes it a step further. She says we should strive to “flourish with diabetes”. To live a great life with this disease not in spite of it, but because of it. To me this message is an extremely important one. Why not make our diabetes a motivator to serve us to our advantage instead of just getting by with it? She attended the entire conference and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people magically gravitate to one person. I understood why when I found myself doing the same. She is very non-judgmental, warm, respectful, graceful, funny, and just plain awesome.
Ann Albright finished up the day on Sunday and really impressed me, too. With all kinds of palpable energy she told us to remember this quote: “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”. At first, this might take people aback. When you think about it though she has a point. She said that if we don’t advocate for our rights as people with diabetes, then who will? If we don’t set a great example of what living with diabetes is like, then who will? And it’s so true. If we don’t work to change things for the better, we’re just part of the population of people complaining about how bad some things are. If we all do something about it, we’ll have less to complain about.
I want to share a few tidbits with you all about things I learned or observed:
-The women with type 1 who had it for many years at this conference often shunned processed food. I hate to admit it but I sort of watched them as they ate to see what their choices were and I saw a lot of vegetables and chicken, olive oil and vinegar for salads, fresh fruit and eggs for breakfast, instead of pancakes and syrup and rolls, for example. I couldn’t help but notice and think that I will continue with whole, unprocessed foods as the bulk of my diet. It works for me for a reason and it seems to be working for others.
-Brandy Barnes, the woman who started Diabetes Sisters was great. She is definitely passionate and devoted to the cause of women and diabetes. In other words, she is the real deal and I think that she was definitely on to something when she decided to focus on the unique aspects of women living with diabetes. Her dream of a “sisterhood” is a wonderful concept when you consider the natural bond women tend to have.
-Many of us missed having men at the conference which is a natural sentiment. However, how do you openly and comfortably talk sex, pregnancy, and menopause with men in the room? Perhaps a little bit more difficult. So I really appreciated this set up. Someone had the idea of gathering the husbands and boyfriends next time so they could talk to each other about their experiences of living with diabetic wives and girlfriends. Boy, would I love to be a fly on that wall.
-My blood sugars don’t normally go over 200 and during this diabetes conference weekend they stayed between 200-300 as I ate small servings of salad, chicken, eggs, and green beans. Ugh, go figure!
-I am not a “girl’s girl” type and I am uncomfortable in crowds and I still loved this conference. If you think you would or wouldn’t enjoy this I would still highly recommend it. You deserve to take a little time to learn about your diabetes, spend some time thinking about it and focusing on it, and talking to others who actually get it.
-There were many other speakers who gave fantastic talks and provided helpful diabetes related information. Almost all talked about our thoughts influencing our diabetes management in some way. (There must be something to that!)
Last but not least I did not get lost, although the GPS did annoy me with a constant song called “recalculating, recalculating, recalculating” How ever did I make it there and back? ;)
If you’re a girl you will get a lot of this. If you’re a guy I’d be honored if you bravely read on…
I know men don’t have it easy. But as a girl I often get frustrated by the unique struggles we face all while holding diabetes’ hand. We carry children or children do not come into this world. We’re the ones who might attempt to breast feed, which isn’t easy for everyone and involves carefully adjusting insulin needs. Our careers, our relationships, our lives are sometimes negatively smattered with our once a month hormone excitement called PMS. Once a month we women menstruate, sending a surge of hormones through our bodies, causing insulin needs to often rise and mess with our diabetes. <sigh> All this despite the fact we already make less money at work than our male counterparts.
In many women with diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome is another matter to deal with. And it’s not an easy one. I don’t know if it’s true but I’ve heard PCOS is the number one cause of female infertility in the US. Here is my problem with it: Doctors have told me I need to control cyst formation by taking birth control pills for a long time. Yet, these pills cause leg cramping for me-a serious side effect that is not to be ignored because it’s a sign of blood clots. So the pills are officially out. Pregnancy makes the cysts go away because of all of the extra estrogen. But getting pregnant while raising two toddlers and feeling up to my ears with diabetes and parenting definitely doesn’t sound like the right thing to do either. I’ve been off of the pill for long enough now that my cysts are growing again. I have tenderness and cramping in my abdomen and my PMS symptoms are worsening every month. This includes my moods. I had no mood swings while pregnant and was shocked at how calm I actually am. Since I’ve been dealing with PCOS for a long time however, my periods have always been torturous and my mood swings have left me feeling like someone fought me and won. I feel like I have 2 decent weeks out of every month. So half of my life is being seriously challenged and I don’t like it.
I could improve PCOS by having no sugar, by keeping insulin levels low. Yet, how do I do that when I need sugar for lows and when type 1 diabetes often means giving extra insulin, not for food, but to lower blood sugar? It’s a wretched cycle to be in and I don’t see a way out. I’ll be talking to the doctor about metformin soon to see if that will help me use less insulin because lowering insulin resistance is supposed to help with PCOS. Left untreated, ovarian cysts can turn into cancer so I don’t want to do nothing to help the matter. They also hurt and can cause cramping that can make a gal scream (I’m exhibit A on that one). Three years ago I ended up in the hospital with really bad abdominal pain from a ruptured cyst. I don’t want to get to that point again. I already eat pretty well and I already exercise. I’m not overweight but I could lose a few more pounds. I maintain my weight eating 1200-1400 calories a day. (Clearly, I don’t eat too much) I have other symptoms of insulin resistance even though I use one unit of insulin per 15 carbs. We’ll see what the doc says. In the meantime, is there anyone out there who has PCOS and has found a way to manage it? Does it cause you to have terrible PMS symptoms? Since PCOS causes infertility and increases risk of miscarriage, how did I get pregnant and carry twins you ask? My doctors and my family and I all agree: a miracle.
I’ve made it through that, now I’ve somehow got to get through this.