I recently attended the Children With Diabetes 2011 Friends for Life Conference in Orlando and it was really a fantastic experience, I would recommend it to anyone. This was the first year that there was an Adult T1 track at the conference, so naturally there was a plethora of us from the online community there.
George, Scott, Kerri, Karen, Lorraine, Heather, C, Martin, Jess, Brian, Sara, Jacquie, Kim, Heidi, Bennet and I’m sure I am missing some and I know there were some I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting. Not to mention all the Type Awesomes who came with their loved ones. Most nights there was a gaggle of us sitting outside until all hours of the night (3am was not unusual) talking about this that and the other.
One of the things I noticed overall, and touched upon in I Saw Children, was that the children and families who were there had established support networks of their own. Which exactly why the DOC came into being; to support each other, often when no other options were available.
Many of these children have grown up with this type of support and I hope it will continue for them as they transition into adulthood. As there is an increased awareness of the long-term mental and emotional toll any chronic illness can bring, I also hope that more and more support options will become available.
But having grown up with it, will support eventually be taken for granted? As something that is just there for them?
As these children move through their lives, will they join the DOC and become its next leaders and advocates? I certainly hope so, I believe they are uniquely qualified to fulfill those roles. At some level, they understand how important support is, even if they may not know why it is important.
As one of so many who grew up without support, I think it is vitally important that we tell our stories so that it will not be forgotten how important that support is. How critical it is to understand that not everyone will have something that so few may start taking for granted.
For all members of the DOC, children really are our future. As I follow along in the footsteps of some of the true pioneers in patient blogging, I am reminded that our actions could have an impact on what types of support, online and off, may be available in the future. What will be available for those who are following along behind us, needing the support just as we do? Let’s all keep that in mind and be responsible in our actions to ensure that never again will anyone be alone in this. Never again.
And once again, I am drawn back to the question that has been asked so often: How can we reach out to those who need our community but don’t even know it exists?
** Disclosure: I paid all expenses related to attending the Children With Diabetes 2011 Conference including travel, hotel, meals and entertainment. I was not asked to post or not post about my experiences nor have I received compensation relating to this event.
©2011 Scott Strange, Strangely Diabetic and http://StrangelyDiabetic.com