What can I say that hasn’t been said by the people who attended the Roche Social Media Summit in beautiful Indianapolis at the end of July? I can’t really resume everything that went on, and my journalism skills are no where close to those of people like Michael Hoskins, who wrote about the summit in such a wonderful way. So I’ll let you read his post on Diabetes Mine to get a better idea of what went on in Indianapolis and why it is so important that we have a group of people working hard to make a difference in the diabetes community. Make sure you read the things that have happened since the first summit in 2009.
My post will be mostly about things I learned about how to handle the emotional side of diabetes, which seems to be the side I’m more interested on. Some people like the politics of it, some others like the technology aspect of it. Me? I’m all for how to handle the huge spider web in my head and the heads of others when it comes to diabetes and the impact it has in our lives, dreams and hopes. Diabetes makes me cry… because it makes me sad and frustrated, but also because it has shown me what human connections are and what an important role they have.
Let’s start by talking about this wonderful young man named Josh Bleill, a community spokesperson for the Indianapolis Colts. Josh lost both legs in an attack in Fallujah while he was deployed. He talked about the importance of having a good support system, especially made of people who truly understand what you are going through. His biggest support came from another amputee and it was what eventually helped him make the jump. No matter how difficult a situation is, we have to look at those around us and distinguish the many stages of progress through any kind of recovering process (physical or emotional). It is true that just because someone is having a harder time, it doesn’t mean our hard time isn’t that important, and we all should be willing to learn the lesson that every story has behind.
Josh talked about how much we want to give up sometimes and how difficult it is to shake those feelings off; life doesn’t seem that fair sometimes. I’ve been there… I AM there. Listening to Josh Bleill speak in such an inspiring way reminded me that I have the best support group I could ever get: my diabetes community. And it’s not only about diabetes; it’s about life in general, because being able to make things happen in that niche shows me that I can make things happen anywhere. And that brings me to the next big moment of this summit: meeting Steve Richert from Living Vertical.
Steve is a type 1 diabetic who decided to climb for 365 days while managing diabetes in extreme conditions, along with his wife Stefanie. Talk about a challenge! There I was, listening to him and feeling sweat on my hands because I’m extremely afraid of heights. So no… climbing may not be for me, but what I learned from him is that we make our own limitations and I find myself working on a Ph.D. degree on that, and that is not a good thing. From Steve I learned that I have every right to believe in the power of my dreams and convince myself that I can make things happen. And OK, this may not be something new to me, but Wendy put things in perspective when she said how wonderful it is to know that her daughter, who has type 1 diabetes, may one day be the one climbing. And that’s what this was about… believe that no matter now many challenges there are, if we really want something, we will get it if we put effort into it.
So that’s my recount for today. More on the summit later.