Last week I was very fortunate to attend the Diabetes UK Professional Conference at the ACC Liverpool. I attended as one of the bloggers who had applied for the opportunity and I was lucky enough to be one of the chosen 3. When I got the email to confirm that I’d been chosen I was thrilled – what a great opportunity this would be for me to do some networking and to find out more about the condition I live with on a daily basis. It’s also funny knowing that a tonne of type 1s I follow on social media I would finally get to meet in the flesh!
The Diabetes UK Professional Conference is an event that happens every year and this year it was held in Liverpool. Healthcare professionals from across the board buy tickets to attend the 3 day long event and have the opportunity to attend talks from various speakers who cover a wide range of topics from hypoglycaemia to eating disorders. It’s also a good event for networking in general and for widening knowledge for your own best practise.
I attended the conference with two other wonderful bloggers – Alyssa and Paul. (Here we are below hanging out with The Beatles on the first day of the conference.)
Alyssa runs http://www.pumptasticscot.co.uk/ and you can follow her on Twitter @faulkner_alyssa. Alyssa was diagnosed when she was 14 years old and she is currently a student. She uses a Medtronic insulin pump which she seems to have a good relationship with. What a lovely girl she is too! She seems to have her fingers in plenty of pies in the Diabetes world and is actually a Diabetes Scotland Young Leader. Her blog mainly focuses on her life and how living with type 1 diabetes impacts that.
Paul is the founder of https://1bloodydrop.com and you can follow him on Twitter @1Paulcoker. Paul has been living with type 1 for quite a while, having been diagnosed in 1977. In Paul’s 40th year of living with diabetes he ran 40 half marathons to mark the occasion. He actually follows a high carb/low fat diet which I was really intrigued about hearing about! 1bloodydrop is all about diabetes and exercise and is a great blog to refer to for information. Paul also seems to know A LOT of people and we had an ongoing joke about his “fame” during the conference.
The main reason the 3 of us were there was to tweet live from the conference to keep the Diabetes community on social media informed with information about the talks going on. What I can say was that it was absolutely EXHAUSTING. You wouldn’t think tweeting would take it out of you, but it really did! I think the exhaustion came from an amalgamation of things for me personally. Lack of sleep, concentration and taking in a hell of a lot of information. We did seem to do a good job from the amount of likes, retweets and comments we received as a group on Twitter. Although we couldn’t tweet everything, we managed to cover a myriad of bases between us and attend a wide array of talks. I also tried to stay active on Instagram throughout the conference and you can see some of my videos on my highlights entitled ‘DUKPC19‘ (@ec_bostock).
I must admit, because the talks were tailored to healthcare professionals, there was a lot of technical wording that I really didn’t understand (as I’m sure you can imagine). So sometimes some of the talks really didn’t translate well to me. It’s difficult to sit through something that you don’t understand. However, other talks I attended were great and extremely informative and I’m going to be writing a few focused blogs on them over the next couple of weeks. These blogs will focus on; Psychological and Emotional Support, Macrosomia and Eating Disorders and Disordered Eating. Although not all of these things affect me, I found the talks so interesting that I feel compelled to write about them.
Like I said, I had such a great time at the conference and it was so wonderful to meet some other type 1s. Although you don’t know each other, before you meet you already have a strange sort of warmth towards these people because you’re all dealing with the same condition. You’re all part of this diabetic family on a boat you can’t get off of and everyone deals with it in a different way. We actually had a group meet up of about 12 of us for tea and it was funny seeing all the blood testers, CGMs, insulin pens and pumps being whipped out before and after food.
Although the conference was brilliant and I had a great time, I must admit that I did come away feeling overwhelmed. I don’t particularly know how Paul and Alyssa felt, but I really did feel that I’d taken in far too much information for my own good. As a “patient” I felt that some of the talks gave me information that I didn’t necessarily want to know. That’s just how I felt personally. As much as I am positive about my diabetes and never let it hold me back, I am fully aware of all the negatives that come hand in hand. Being aware of them is fine, but finding out too much information just didn’t sit right with me. I’m not denying or ignoring the fact that bad things can happen, but I really didn’t need to have constant negative information thrown at me regarding the condition I live with on a daily basis. For me, it was just a bit too much.
What the conference really did pull further into the spotlight for me, was that we really are in full control of our own life and death. We administer insulin that can control wether we live or die – and that’s a really scary thought.
I’m not one for doom and gloom in the slightest and as anyone who knows or follows me, you know that too. I guess hearing all the negatives really did just make me feel even more determined not to let any of those things happen to me. I want to be the best type 1 I can be and really have all the control. Determination will prevail. So, despite being overwhelmed, it’s probably encouraged me to fight harder and improve myself further. Which really, can only be a good thing.
If I was given the opportunity to attend the conference again, I definitely would. Next time I would be more prepared for what was ahead and I could choose the talks I would attend with a bit more consideration for myself.
Another thing I will mention is that the Diabetes UK team who attended the event are all lovely! What a fantastic bunch of individuals they have working for the charity. It was also wonderful to meet Chris Askew, Chief Exec at Diabetes UK. Such a great guy who took the time to chat to myself, Alyssa and Paul and make sure we were getting on ok.
Do look out for my upcoming blogs focusing on the talks from the conference!