Sunday, July 31, 2016

Friends for Life 2016

For many years (at least most of the ones that I’ve been a part of the D-OC), I have heard about Children with Diabetes Friends for Life conference held each year in Orlando, Florida. So many of my best friends have gone, many times.

I made excuses. A couple of times I had legitimate vacations plans during the time of the conference. The rest of the time, my many trips to New York City seemed to financially trump my need to go to a diabetes conference in Florida. The cost scared me (or what I thought the cost would be).

A little over 2 years ago, my friend Becky asked me if I wanted to go to Friends for Life. It was too quick for me to get the money together to make the trip happen, so we decided to make this a goal to attend in 2016. The reason for the length of time was to save the money. The thing that made this the most awesome plan? Becky and I had never been in the same room before. And Becky is from England.

Becky and I “met” on twitter (like many of our fellow D-OC members) and then began reading each other’s blogs and became friends on facebook. We bonded, not just over diabetes, but our love of theatre. We began Skyping a few times a year and that’s how the trip to Friends for Life began to come together.

When the trip finally rolled around, it was something unlike anything I have ever experienced before. First of all, meeting Becky in person for the first time was so amazing. It was literally meeting an old friend.

Second, getting to see so many of my other D-OC friends, some of which I hadn’t seen in a few years, was a boost to my mental state. There’s nothing like seeing old friends.

But the most amazing thing was being in a place where there were literally HUNDEREDS of people who “get” what it’s like to live life with diabetes (or love someone who does). So many green bracelets symbolized those of us living with diabetes. Our loved ones wore orange. And everywhere I turned I didn’t feel the need to explain when I started to beep. Or needed to test. Or needed to treat. Or just generally felt like crap because my blood sugar was through the roof.

Meeting new friends was so much fun. I met my new friend Stephen for the first time ever when he stopped me in the convention hall to ask me if I was going to ever start blogging again. I’m ashamed to say, I hadn’t put two and two together to realize that this gentleman has been regularly commenting on my blog for years. I nearly cried. It has been so long since I blogged, and I often just thought no one missed my blog, or even remembered it. To have Stephen approach me was one of the best things that has ever happened to me (relating to my blog).

I met Phyllis and Kim and Sarah and Nia and Sue all for the first time. I saw old friends again and got to see my “twin” Karen and her lovely husband. I got hugs from Kelly and Kerri and Mike. I met Alanna. And among all of these people, I’m sure I’ve left someone out. I do apologize, but I can promise meeting you was a joy and truly touched my life.

When you live with diabetes, it seems like you’re constantly explaining yourself. And for a brief few days, at a conference in Orlando, there was no need to explain. That in itself was a beautiful and wonderful thing.