When speaking to someone (a fellow PWD, a parent, an activist, I don't really remember who exactly [more on that later]), I was recalling the last time I had physically been in the room with many other diabetics. The last time it happened was maybe 3 years after my diagnosis and it was because my new doctor really wanted me to attend their support group. Unfortunately, most of the patients were much older or much younger and a little hard for me to relate to (I'll blame my youth & lack of experience cause I'm sure they were ripe with info). Despite attending a few fundraising activities like walks, I can't say I've really ever connected with another diabetic. I've been a diabetic for over 14 years now. Which means I've been sorely missing my fellow 'betes buddies.
Walking into a group of people and just being overwhelmed by this feeling of belonging was extremely cathartic and freeing. None of that means that I didn't spend the entire day talking about what I knew about diabetes, research, the FDA, human physiology, etc. But having other people there to help explain was really comforting. Not feeling strange to say, "Hey, I need to test first," was really bizarre for me after spending sooo much time being the only PWD I know.
To prepare for the day (and the at least 1.5 hr commute of walking, trains, and subways), I packed a large bag of snacks, extra clothes, and my diabetes supplies (I assumed I'd be outside and on my feet all day). What I really needed yesterday was a lot of water, a lot of energy, and a lot of glucose. Looking back, I wish I had packed a little differently but hopefully, this experience will help prepare for future diabetes outreach events.
So I was actually volunteering [for the awesome Isabella Platon @ IDF :)] at the event in addition to just being another person with D, which meant that I got to meet an extraordinary number of people that ranged the activism gamete (and forget their names regardless of how important & influential they are [sorry!]) while running around taking care of organizational things (what? why? where? when?). There was sooo much going on yesterday that there was actually a lot that I missed but I wanted to participate in.
The bullet point rundown & SUPER-brief recap of the events:
- Live Art Mural - All day creation of art representing different Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). The depictions were so creative, vivid, and enigmatic. I loved meeting/talking with Zoey Stevens but really all the artists were so curious about how and why diabetes affects everyday life.
- Children's Art Mural - Great event for kids lead by two art therapists including Lea Ann Thill.
- Bike Ride - Lead by Phil Southerland & Team Type 1, a group of 10-15 adults & kids rode a 1 kilometer track around Central Park.
- Big Blue Test Video Shoot / Walk - Walking around Central Park North handing out blue balloons and "woohoo"-ing for an hour while two awesome videographers captured our excitement and activism. Love knowing I'm helping to create something that will hopefully reach many people and do some good for the less fortunate all at the same time.
- Socamotion, Tai Chi, & Zumba - Enthralling and energetic ways to get your blood circulating, but unfortunately one of the things I didn't get to experience much (read: almost any) of.
- Information/Outreach Pods - Met lots of great people from the International Diabetes Federation, dLife, JDRF NY Ride to Cure, Living In Progress, TuDiabetes, and more. Everyone was super-welcoming, super-informative, and super-empowered.
Photos from the day can be found here and here! Unfortunately in all the craziness, not only did my phone die (with no extra charger in sight) leading to no awesome Twitter updates, but also I didn't manage to get any pictures that weren't requested by other people. But one of these days, I'll figure out how to multi-task a little more efficiently.