Tag Archives: AADE

My best moment from #AADE18 didn’t happen at AADE

I told this story a couple of times this past weekend at AADE, and I thought it might be worth retelling here. It involves a memory from many years ago, and reacquaintance. In short:

The best story of my AADE experience did not happen at AADE.

The annual meeting of the American Association of Diabetes Educators was at the Baltimore Convention Center, in the heart of the city where I live and work. In fact, until about nine years ago, I used to work very close to the convention center.

Back then, I used to go through a building across the street from where I worked, directly across the street from the convention center, every morning on my way in to the office (I actually had an office then). The building had a newsstand in it, and still does.

Running the newsstand was a diminutive woman who was generally nice, but when the moment called for it, could be salty as hell. You didn’t want to get on her bad side.

Now, let’s flash back 15 or 16 years… when I was 11 or 12 years into diabetes… but before insulin pumps, CGMs, and way before I found the Diabetes Online Community. We’re talking Friday morning, in the spring or summer of 2002 or 2003.

I’m headed into work that morning, and I could feel that my blood sugar was crashing. I got off the subway and somehow navigated the block and a half to get to the newsstand. By the time I got there, I was sweating through everything, including the suit I was wearing. I must have looked awful.

I can remember there must have been a large lottery jackpot coming up or something, because there were more people than usual in the shop, and I had trouble getting to the back to get some juice. Eventually, I just slumped on the floor, unable to move any more.

People were looking at me like I was drunk, or under the influence of drugs. I’ve had a couple of moments like this in the city, where passersby shoot cell phone videos instead of stopping to assist you. If things go really bad, they might call the police, who might cart you off to the city lockup, and people around here know if you go into the lockup on Friday, you’re probably not coming out until at least Monday.

So here I am, unable to move in a newsstand full of people. And suddenly, this diminutive woman races out from behind her counter, leaving her lottery customers waiting and looking at their watches. “What do you need?”… “How can I help you?”.

I think I just muttered “juice”, and she raced back and got me a bottle of juice, which I finished in no time. Then she got another. I was about halfway through with that before I started coming out of my funk and she went back to her customers. She never charged me for the juice.

I took an extended break from work the next day to go over and pay her, thank her, and discuss the moment. We didn’t speak about it again.

Eventually, my company moved its offices about five minutes away. That was 2009, nine years ago. Not working close by anymore, I didn’t return to the newsstand.

Fast forward to last Friday. I took the subway for part of my commute to get to the convention center that day, and I really wanted a soda, and since that building is right across the street…

I walked into the newsstand, and she was not there. The only people in the place were what looked like a couple of regular lottery customers, who, as I recall, used to watch the place for my hero when she needed to step out for a minute. We waited and chatted together.

Then suddenly, she walked through the door, and as soon as she saw me, her eyes got big and she shouted “How are you?”! I flatly retorted, “I can’t believe you still remember me”. She said, “Oh, you never forget a day like that”.

I told her I was on my way to the convention center, why I was there, and that later in the day, I would be speaking about life with diabetes as part of a discussion panel at the conference. I took the time to remind her that if it wasn’t for her help all those years ago, I might not be speaking that day or any other.

I can’t stop thinking about the impact of that moment in time.

So my best story about AADE did not happen at AADE. It happened years ago, and was relived for a brief moment last Friday. As long as I live, I will never forget that day, this person’s selflessness, and the unknown opportunities it would present much later on.

#AADE18 – So Much to Do, So Much to Learn

I’m back in this space after attending the annual meeting of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. This year’s conference was here in Baltimore, which means 1) I was able to attend AADE for the first time, and 2) I was able to save a lot of money, which is a pretty big deal for me right now.

Diabetes educators are a unique group: smart, organized, caring beyond what I’ve seen from other medical professionals, and curious to the point of amazement at the things that are changing the diabetes landscape. I know, they’re all working to get their CE credits. But if that’s all there was to it, I wouldn’t have seen multiple people line up after each presentation to ask questions and make comments.

I was fairly busy over the weekend. I participated on the panel during the #DSMA Live event that happened on Thursday night, along with (of course) Cherise Shockley, Scott Johnson, Jasmine Gonzalvo (winner of AADE’s 2018 Strategic Initiative Award), and #DSMA veteran and CDE Chris Memering. But that was just the beginning.

Friday, I was fortunate to sit on a panel discussion called Listen and Learn: The Perspectives of a Panel of People With Diabetes. Nicole Bereolos moderated, and I sat at the table with Christel Marchand Aprigliano (CEO of DPAC), Anna Norton (CEO of Diabetes Sisters), and Shelby Kinnaird (writer at the Diabetic Foodie blog). I don’t know if I added much to the conversation, but I’m honored to be part of any conversation including these accomplished individuals.

Friday evening, I accepted an invitation to be part of something sponsored by One Drop, which provides a management platform for People With Diabetes. The One Drop Salon was the first of its kind, a conversation over dinner between diabetes educators, nurse practitioners, diabetes advocates, and representatives of One Drop. It was a super evening, and for the record, One Drop hopes to host more of these in the future. I can share that while the conversation was lively, there was no One Drop marketing pitch, and throughout the dinner, the conversation remained on diabetes and how best to serve our individual communities. Disclosure: One Drop paid for my dinner that evening. All opinions, as always, are my own.

That brings us to Saturday. Saturday morning, the proceedings started at 7:30 a.m. (on my vacation) with a video project I was lucky to be a part of. The video was put together by Mytonomy, a cloud-based diabetes management tool for PWDs and care teams. It focuses on the #LanguageMatters theme I and others have been talking about for a while. It features at least a couple of people you might recognize, like Renza Scibilia and Grumpy Pumper Chris Aldred. And me. It went over well, and it was surreal seeing my face (with every flaw) and the faces of my online friends on multiple huge screens in front of a couple thousand people. Again, a huge honor, and I can’t thank Mytonomy and Deborah DeMore Greenwood enough for making this happen and including me. Disclosure again: I was part of the video, but in case you were wondering, I did not receive anything in return for my participation.
Here’s a look:

Maybe my favorite session on Saturday was titled “You Built a What?!” Preparing for Conversations about Non-Commercial Automated Insulin Delivery Devices. Two Certified Diabetes Educators using DIY artificial pancreas systems! They covered the various options, the nuts and bolts of do-it-yourself closed loop systems, and cost. One of the presenters addressed concerns about safety by relating her own life with diabetes in the 1970s, peeing on strips to measure blood glucose and using regular and NPH insulins. Compared to that, she said, using a DIY closed loop system can be much safer.

Sunday, I got to see Cherise again, along with Hope Warshaw, Christina Roth (CEO of College Diabetes Network), Amy Tenderich (Editor-in-Chief at Diabetes Mine) and David Edelman of Diabetes Daily. Their session was The Educator’s Role in Advocating Peer Support: Why, When, and How?. Each member of the panel talked about online peer support and what it means for the overall health and well-being of People With Diabetes.

As you can probably tell, AADE has done a fantastic job of staying relevant, embracing the latest in diabetes news, technology, and peer support. Monday’s keynote included Anna Norton, Michelle Litchman, and Liz Beverly, and Mary De Groot, and focused on Peer Support. Imagine all those diabetes educators soaking up all of the knowledge on peer support and what it means to you and me.

I sandwiched in a couple of stints in the Twitter Lounge in the exhibit hall on Friday and Sunday, where I was able to sign a few people up to Twitter and give them pointers on engaging with our community.

Yes, it was a very full weekend plus. Next year’s AADE conference will be in Houston, and I hope to be there. But for now, I can be happy knowing I met some people I’ve known online for a while but never met in person. I spent time with friends I hadn’t seen for a while. I learned a lot (that I can’t include in this already long blog post). I’m grateful to the people who allowed me to participate in their initiatives. I was honored to be able to share my feelings on a variety of subjects.

There was much to do, and much to learn. I go back to work today feeling fulfilled.

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