Search This Blog

Sunday, 8 December 2013

IDF World Congress

IDF has come and gone. Too quickly. I could not cram nearly enough information into my overstretched brain during my 2 day stint in Melbourne.

I was lucky enough to be sent down to Melbourne by Diabetes Australia, as part of the Diabetes Australia Young Leaders Program. I met some amazing other young leaders from Australia, and then eventually some amazing young leaders from other corners of our world.

The symposiums and forums I attended were very informative and gave me insights into diabetes that I had never considered before. I learnt new things from the relevance of birth weight and link between weight and Type 1 Diabetes, to the importance of social media in connecting diabetics, saw studies which highlighted such interesting tidbits as the fact that BOTH type 1 and Type 2 diabetics believe the stigma of the other type impacts upon them, and that neither type believes that the other type has to deal with the stigma. I found out that women in India find it very hard to be able to get married as they are considered damaged goods who cannot deliver healthy babies.

I heard a crazy guy rant about how we should all be looking up our diabetic equipment so that 'they (doctors) cannot get to it', and how we should never trust doctors. It turns out that that crazy guy was quite involved in IDF and headed the rights and responsibilities area of things. He also somehow thought it was quite appropriate to show pictures of hot cartoon chicks, because as he stated, to the embarrassment of those sharing his forum - he "likes to look at them". I did wonder if he had had one hypo too many.

I learnt too much about complications. Complications make me sad.

I saw statistics everywhere. This example, shows that 382 million people worldwide have diabetes. Half of this number are diagnosed. Half of those diagnosed receive care (so we're looking at 1/4 of all diabetics receiving treatment). Half of those receiving treatment achieve their targets, and half of those achieving their targets achieve the desired outcome of all diabetics - which is to live complication free.

I was riveted during the talk about 'the point' of diagnosing diabetes in countries where that's as far as treatment gets - diagnosis. What could be the point of diagnosing patients, if just to tell them they will die from their diabetes - there are no treatment options. No supplies. Tales were recounted of mothers leaving their diabetic child at a hospital - because abandoning that child means their other 5 children will be able to eat or get an education, when treatment for that 1 child would cost too much. Also because abandoning that child gives them a chance at getting treatment. What a horrible decision to make.

Most of all IDF taught me great appreciation for my well-being and access to treatment. It's not always easy being a Type 1 diabetic, but I'm not being left by my partner because of it or being left to die. I feel very humbled by the experiences of others.

I thank each and every speaker who came to IDF to share their knowledge about the diversity of diabetes and it's global impact.

Aptly, the last moment - the 1 moment that absolutely struck me down at IDF, was during the last event I attended; the IDF and Australian young leader's dinner. This was the moment that really made me stop and think about the state of diabetes globally. I was eating dinner with the New Zealand representative among others, when the boy sitting in front of me whipped out a strange injection device I had never seen before. Being quite a brazen person, I had no qualms with asking what it was. (Hey, I was curious...only knowledge to be gained here). He replied that it was an Innolet Device (which we actually have at work, I've just never bothered to look at one before). Then he followed up with a matter-of-fact statement that he had received it from the INSULIN FOR LIFE program. To which I quickly realised that without that program he would probably be dead. The very real kind of dead, that isn't caused by missing out on a great handbag sale (which is what many of us might think is dead). I pretty much wanted to burst into tears and send him all my insulin stocks. The Young Leaders themselves were recipients of charities designed to keep them alive and provide them with the basic essentials that we, as diabetics, need to survive.

For me, nothing made me stop and take a good hard look at my own privelleged life more than that moment. New cause to champion? I think so.

No comments:

Post a Comment