This last weekend I attended the TCOYD conference.
I had never been to a TCOYD event before so I was not sure what to expect.
TCOYD stands for Taking Control Of Your Diabetes.
First thing in the morning was a general session with founder Dr. Steven Edelman who spoke about all types of diabetes and what the biggest hurdles are for each. He showed how all are different and yet some issues we have are the same. I appreciated the long talk about Type 1 since I always feel us T1’s get snubbed but since Dr. Edelman is a Type 1 himself, it does get it’s due attention.
After that first session I went to check out the Health Fair to see my good friends Cherise, Manny, & Dino. And to meet a couple of other Tu Diabetes members there to help. Cherise and I made our way around the Fair but it was jammed packed. I am not a good “crowd” person so I kind of stayed back and plotted my path for later on. There were several booths I wanted to talk to but I did not want to have to elbow people out of my way to do it.
During the second morning session I had my chance. Cherise and I walked around and met with people from Diabuddies, Wavesense (I love their meters and their booth associates), Amylin, Behavioral Diabetes Institute, and so many others. It was great to see so many communities and companies there spreading the word and being there to answer questions and provide motivation.
As we headed back the Diabetes Hands Foundation booth, I spotted another online DOC friend, Jenny! It's so great to get to see the people you interact with daily, face to face.
Right next door to the DHF booth was a group called Racing Against Diabetes or RAD. In the booth were two people, Patty and Terry, both riding stationary bikes. As I walked by trying to avoid eye contact I hear, "Hey you wanna hop on the bike for a while?" It was Patty and she was looking right at me.
"I'd rather not. But thanks for asking!" I figured that was the end of that.
"So (looked at my name tag) George, what kind of exercise do you do?" Keep in mind that Patty's tone and overall personality was very kind and sweet. Like a good friend who is just checking up on you.
"I will shoot hoops with my kids now and then but not as much as I would like to."
"Well, what kind of stuff can you do at home? Do you have any exercise equipment?" Patty was peddling along and chit chatting away.
"I have a recumbent exercise bike but I never use it." I was ashamed because I swear, I love that thing I just never make any effort.
"Hang on." Patty jumped off of the bike and grabbed a sweet blue t-shirt. "Here, this is for you but you can only have it on one condition."
"You have to put that bike in front of the TV. So when you are watching TV at night you can sit on it and ride." She awaited my response.
"I'll do it tonight." And I meant it. I have to. I have to exercise and this is something I should have done before.
"From now on when you kids are watching TV have them ride for a while too. The whole family can do it but George, you have to so they will see and follow you."
Her words dug deep into my heart. She probably has no idea how guilty I feel when I sit there and do nothing. Or maybe she does know? Either way I could have hugged her for that motivation. It is one thing about this conference that I will not forget. And when I got home I pulled that bike right in front of the TV.
After lunch, laughs, hula hoops, and Zumba dancing, Cherise and I headed to a CGMS and Pump lecture. It was cool seeing some new things coming down the line and we got to meet a couple who trained their dog to be a service dog for Diabetes. So cool. He even spotted a low a lady was having. Cherise and I whipped out our glucose tabs and helped the lady out and the dog stood by until things were good again. So cool.
During the last afternoon breakout I attended a neuropathy talk. It was difficult to hear and see. Images of feet with staples in them because the patient could not feel them, or the xray showing 4 insulin needles inside of a foot of a patient who did not know they were there. I refused to look at the pictures of the feet with missing toes. I turned my head and when another picture popped up and I heard the speaker explain what was on the screen (I was not looking) I got up and left. I could not handle it.
I went back to the DHF booth to say goodbye to Manny and the rest of the gang and waited until the final talk by Dr. Edelman was given.
Dr. Edelman was diagnosed with Type 1 at 19 and he spoke about his journey to be where he is now. It was cool to hear about a teenager who was diagnosed and was thrown into a class with a bunch of older type 2's to learn about this disease. I could relate because that was my experience too. He spoke about how the only thing he remembers is that Ketchup has a lot of sugar in it.
I reached over and tapped Cherise, "That is the one thing I remember. Don't eat sugar and Ketchup is bad!" Cherise giggled and I sat up to listen some more but I couldn't.
I could feel my eyes welling up with tears. I remembered back to sitting in the room with all of those people and feeling ALREADY like an outsider. An outsider among diabetics! When he mentioned "Ketchup" I felt like the 17 year old kid I was, the one who felt so alone didn't really have to feel that way.There were more like me I just did not know who or where they were.
It made me so thankful for all of you. You do not make me feel like an outsider at all. You make me feel like I am normal. The D-OC saved my life.
All and all it was an emotional, educational, entertaining, and AWESOME day. I would HIGHLY recommend any of the TCOYD events. Such a great group led by a great man.