Friday, November 11, 2016

DiabetesMine: Innovation Summit

I was lucky enough to have been selected as one of the winners of the DiabetesMine: Innovation Summit contest, in which people/parents of people with diabetes were invited to attend a conference in San Francisco, California among some interesting participants that are actively trying to improve the lives of people living with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.   This conference was unlike any conference I had attended (and I have attended quite a bit!)   I found an instant connection with some of the other winners of the contest and also with the content that was discussed during the conference.

The conference started off with a social hour (the conference was over a two day span, but we were invited to the social hour of the first day, and the conference in its entirety the second day) The social hour gave us an opportunity to meet the other winners of the conference, but also meet some of the corporations, tech people and some other people living with diabetes and participating in the diabetes community.  It was a great opportunity to catch up with some familiar faces for me that I didn't realize would be there, including Paul Madden (former IDF Young Leaders member) and Christina (former IDF Young Leader and head of Diabetes College Network).

The following day, like most conferences was a full packed day, with a lot of information, great input, and emotions.  Here are the things that stood out to me:

1. Kyra Bobinet, M.D: Speaking about engaging in health, happiness and wellness 

I LOVED this presentation. It was totally up my alley of happiness and wellness and I really think I took the most from this presentation. While it wasn't completely about diabetes, and was more general, I felt like every bit of information from this presentation as useful, grounding and inspiring. I really took a lot from this presentation, including working on better focus, mediation and mindfulness.  Kyra had a lot of interesting studies and facts to back up her research and I really was engaged in the theories and ideas.

2.  Prioritizing Quality of Life 

A few of the speakers talked about QOL in their presentations and I felt like it was very eye opening and I almost wish they could do a speakers series for all of our endocrinologists and diabetes teams.  They really highlighted the importance of measuring QOL and what that truly means.   One speaker, Kasey Boehmer, talked about the idea of a 'non compliant' patient, something we may sometimes be told we are!  In reality, she broke down the background of a patient and how it is KEY in working alongside patients.   I took what I learned from these presentations and applied them to my T1 Empowerment group, focusing on root causes of negativity in regards to their diabetes.  I think it is important to grasp the understanding of a person as a WHOLE and not just as their disease.

3. Games and Apps

As many people know I am a HUGE social media lover, and there are certain apps that I use daily, social media related or not. So, it was so interesting to hear from a couple speakers about their initiative in making online games and apps for patients to keep them interested, motivated and plugged in.  For example, Jennifer Shine Dyer, M.D, is creating a Ninja video game specifically for people living with diabetes and Anna McCollister-Slipp (a person living with diabetes) also is working on an app for people with diabetes!

4.  We need support and we need to fight for it 

Anytime I go to a conference it is often a global initiative with people from other countries besides my own, Canada. There is a huge issue in awareness, funding, expenses and support and it is very clear at every conference I go to.   People are emotional, people are tired and people sometimes need to vent those frustrations in order to help brainstorm a better solution.  I do feel lucky to live in the country I live in, I know it is not perfect, and yes, my insulin and test strips are not covered, those are my expenses, but there are so many countries out there that need help, assistance, even just a person to say, 'I know how you feel' or 'I have been there.'    That is the beauty about conferences, we get to connect with one another and really share ours stories and most importantly empower one another.   A mother of a child with diabetes, Brenda Hunter, showed how powerful a voice can be and how that alone can empower change.  She is the co-founder of No Small Voice, which is an initiative to provide transparency with insurance companies in the U.S.A.

Overall, this conference was a success. I truly enjoyed meeting the people I did, and hearing new information that has really sparked my drive to make change in the diabetes community.

Special thanks to Michael Hoskins and Amy Tenderich for making this experience happen.


Disclaimer: DiabetesMine paid for my flight, two nights stay and food during the conference. 

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