**I originally wrote this post in February 2013, but it was saved in my Drafts. Seeing as how this week is the, as I like to call it, “Lollapalooza” of the Diabetes world, I thought it was appropriate to share my thoughts on how it felt to experience just a smidgeon of what this week must be like for everyone.**
Last weekend, I attended my first ever CWD event (Focus on Technology, in DC) – and the only word that sums it all up for me is “Wow”.
I had planned a work trip to DC for that week, and then I saw on Facebook that my friend from the DOC, Karen, asked who all was going to be attending the CWD event in DC… what? I couldn’t miss this by just one/two days, so I looked into changing my flight, and actually saved my company bookoos of money by leaving a couple of days early – double score. My hubby flew out with me Friday night and we decided to make a mini weekend trip out of it (being in almost my 3rd trimester with twins, we figured this would be our last getaway for awhile lol). We got to the hotel Friday night, and I texted Karen to let her know we were there – she told me that a group of DOC’ers were downstairs in the lobby bar so D and I headed down to meet them (for the first time in real life … I’d met Kerri before, but she was the only one.) When I got to the table, I was easy to spot, because well, like I said .. I’m very pregnant. Everyone got up to shake our hands/hug us and it was as if we’d known each other forever. I got to meet/see Scott, Karen, Kerri, Sebastien, & Sean and Tamara.
Saturday morning, I met up with Karen and we had breakfast with Scott, Stephen, and Kerri. At some point, Jeff (the dude that puts CWD together) asked if there were any adult Type 1’s in the room, we of course all raised our hands, and he said, “I know there are, because I’ve been watching the live Tweets- is it that back table?” Guilty as charged. 🙂
Karen and I went to all the same sessions and got a lot of out of them. But what struck me the most, was that I felt like I’d known these people forever. And I felt, honestly for the first time in my life, like I fit in and I belonged.
I just found the DOC last year. My first blog post was March 1st, so I’m using that as my “official” date. And I’ve connected with so many people – via Twitter, blog replies, some even via text. They answer my crazy questions, even in the middle of the night. We share our good, bad, and ugly days of living with diabetes. It’s like having therapists at your beck and call, only it doesn’t cost anything 😉 and it’s way better. Because we’re all living/dealing with the same thing – 24/7.
And I don’t want to sound like a goof, but I have honestly never felt like I fit in anywhere – going back as long as I can remember. In school, work, etc. But for these couple of days, I DID feel like I was part of a group – part of the “popular kids” so to speak. I walked in a room with Karen/Scott/Kerri, and for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like a “follower”, I felt like I belonged. It was very empowering.
When D and I first rounded that corner off of the elevators, heading to the bar area to meet up with everyone that first night, he made the comment, “This feels kind of silly. You don’t even know these people.” But they were all so incredibly welcoming and friendly, to him as much as me, that by Sunday afternoon when we were all saying our goodbye’s, D was hugging them and shaking their hands, just as much as I was. He made individual bonds with each of them, just as I had. And I cannot even put into words how much that touched me.
We went to dinner Saturday and a few other DOC’ers met up with us so I got to put faces with tweets/blogs that I’d seen. I loved hanging out with Chris and Chris & Dale, and the two Lindsey’s that were there.
On Sunday, D and Scott were talking and I joined the conversation… D was telling Scott that he’d seen a big change in me since I found the DOC. Scott said that my blog helps people – what I’m going through today, may be something that someone else is going to go through tomorrow, so my blog can be encouraging to him/her. And that those of us who blog about diabetes, are essentialy changing the Google search items that are pulled when someone searches diabetes. They no longer just see the scientific/technical diabetes articles that were out there. Depending on what words they searched, they’re seeing real life people living with diabetes, talking about their daily stories/struggles. I’d never thought about it like that. But I liked knowing I was a part of that.
On Sunday, everyone said their goodbyes/see ya laters, and D and I went on our own way to do some sightseeing. Then he flew out on Monday for his own work trip. When I got to my hotel Monday night, my first night “alone” in DC, after such an amazing weekend … I found it very emotional. I will blame it on pregnancy hormones 😉 but I had a good long cry. I had also found out that morning that a friend/former co-worker had passed away on Sunday, so I’m sure that played into it as well… but for the most part, I think I was just finally letting out a release of all the different emotions I’d experienced over the last few days. I tweeted about it and received a couple of responses that stood out –
Sean said, “I’m sure pregnancy doesn’t help but it seems a common post-CWD thing, pregnant or not. Great meeting u. Looking fwd 2 next time.”
And then Scott said, “You’ll never be the same, Shannon!”
And I think Scott summed it up spot on – I don’t think I ever will be the same.
We shared so many laughs – I’ll never see hash browns, asparagus, or cheesecake the same. Or mini syringes. Or winter hats.
I unfortunately won’t be able to make the CWD Friends for Life conference in July, because I don’t think it’s feasible to tote around two 2 1/2 month olds … but I am going to make it my mission to make it to next year’s conference. And I will make it to future DOC meetup events. You can count on it.