'EXPOsing Diabetes', an annual event in Brisbane held by Diabetes Queensland, rolled around on Saturday. I love these events, and recently swapped over from attending them to volunteering at them.
I got the best of both worlds. I got to spend my entire day talking to other people with diabetes. As always, it's a place to feel normal. A place to relax and let my diabetes run free. Well, maybe not too free...
From behind the information table, I briefly wondered, as I stood next to people with fully functioning pancreases, if they ever feel overwhelmed by us at these events. If they stand back a little and wonder how they're going to escape a crowd clamoring over them for information and for the free diabetes goodies on display. Do they feel different? The odd ones out? Do they think about, and hope, that they'll always be on their side of the table? Do they hear patient stories and sigh in relief that it’s not them?
I don't know why I wondered this. I think because I was on a different side of the table to usual. I was separated from the patients. Usually, I'm swapping stories. But I just listened this time. To a story that was bigger than just my diabetes, one that belongs to many people. It’s the story of people with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, their families and friends.
We share a great story, simply by living our lives and not letting diabetes stop us. Thankfully, sharing information and enabling self-learning is a part of this story.
It was just before afternoon tea break that I found myself talking to Rob Palmer. A plunge in BGLs had seen me having just scoffed 3 mini muffins in quick succession. He asked how the muffins were and all I could offer up was that as I was cramming them in I had a vague sensation that there was food in my mouth, but I wasn’t aware of having chewed that food or how I managed to swallow it. I really didn’t know what they tasted like, because hypo doesn’t need you to taste things. He pointed at a demolished jellybean packet and said it was from his 2.something earlier.
Later that day I quietly slipped into the back of the Type 1 presentation room to hear Rob address the audience. His scattered story was enrapturing. He was someone whose story the audience ‘got’. He had all the hairy diabetes moments that are part of daily life for us, but he also had the great stories about spending a week on a boat surfing, long days at work and doing it all with a smile on his face.
He rounded it out by passing on the best 10 2 letter words strung together: “If it is to be, it is up to me”. It encapsulated the day perfectly. I love EXPO because it does aim to empower people with diabetes to live their lives to the fullest. Patient education gives us the tools to help us achieve the things we want in our lives.
I don’t have any dreams of being a TV star (I’ll leave that up to Rob, who has a much better personality for it), but I have some good reasons of my own to take control of my diabetes to make sure I can do what I want with life: travel, babies, getting my kellion, throwing old lady tantrums and being buried with all my limbs intact.