It began with a cold that erupted the night before I was to Amtrak up to Providence, Rhode Island and speak at the Taking Control of Your Diabetes (TCOYD) conference. Don’t even ask about that night’s sleep, or lack thereof.
The next day disembarking at a little train station in Providence – of course I could only think of the popular TV show of the same name a few years ago – I checked into my hotel room, flopped on the bed half comatosed and toyed for the next two hours with venturing out to find dinner or ordering room service. I love exploring new places – and that includes peeking through restaurant windows and the chance encounter with someone at the bar, or a friendly waiter, so my gregarious nature won. It didn’t hurt that the concierge told me I was only four streets from Little Italy.
Meandering up the road I found Andino’s. A friendly host set up a special table for me. I didn’t mind that I was near the glass and metal door to the outdoor garden which banged every time a waiter or patron entered or left. No, I was relaxing to Frank Sinatra on the stereo, the aroma of real family cooking and in short order the place filled with boisterous locals so who could hear a door anyway? I couldn’t finish the house speciality, veal Andino, and truly wished I could have shipped it home on ice. Alas, the true disappointment of travel, you can’t keep your leftovers. Ah, but you came to here about the conference.
300 people got their first taste of TCOYD and I learned from my informal polling that everyone was loving it – learning a lot and duly impressed with the presentations, experts and inspirational speakers. Just to name a few CDE/psychologist Bill Polonsky was there, Urban Miyares – who has overcome every diabetes complication and just keeps going like the Energizer Bunny – was our inspirational luncheon speaker and type 1 race car driver, Charlie Kimball, closed the day. Personally, I think Dr. Steven Edelman, founder of TCOYD and type 1 himself since the age of 15, is amazing. Both in his informational delivery spiked with humor, and his passion, vision and execution of bringing education directly to patients.
There were 80 health care providers also in attendance for credits and my favorite workshop was the afternoon’s “Diabetes Police and Diabetes Criminals Working Together.” If you’ve heard the term “Diabetes Police” you know these are usually our loved ones who think they’re helping when wagging their finger in our face saying, “You can’t eat that!” I guess HCPs fall under the Diabetes Police banner at times too. The session was comprised of both patients and providers and we spewed forth our irritations with the other to clear the air and then sought solutions so that both patients and providers would take away some ideas from each other how to work better together.
I was on the afternoon roster of workshops and delivered a program to help us all take more loving actions to better manage our diabetes. I also shared the secret mindset that most who are managing their diabetes successfully use. I also shared some great patient stories from my interviews and “loving lessons” from my book, “The ABC’s Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes.”I’m happy to report there were very few empty chairs and so many people told me afterward, “We all need to hear more of this!”
So, the weekend was for me just as rewarding as for those who attended. There’s little I enjoy more than touching someone else’s life (so selfish). I got a great dinner out of it and got to say “hi” to my fellow peer-mentors and infamous diabetes bloggers Kerri Sparling and Bernard Farrell. Boarding Amtrak to return home the following morning, truth be told, I was only bummed to discover there was no wifi aboard. When they call “All aboard!” doesn’t that include wifi? Otherwise it was a charmed weekend.
Through conferences and health fairs held in cities across the nation, TCOYD annually brings thousands of people with diabetes, those at risk and their loved ones into contact with national and local medical professionals and others with expertise related to living with diabetes for a day of highly informative and motivational programs.