have you ever gone out to dinner with a foodie? they know everything about how their pasta was made, how hot the oven must have been to perfectly crisp the chips you are sharing, or how their wine was decanted. they spit all of these facts at you about what region the food is probably coming from, and ask you questions like “do you prefer goat cheese from sweden or italy?” while you sit, hearing things like al dente or beurre blanc or bearnaise, you kind of cringe because you have no idea what they are talking about. you nod and hope that they wont ask you how you feel about it because all you could muster up is ‘it tastes good’. you look down at your plate of who knows what and wonder, ‘where’s the grilled cheese?’
being at the 2013 America Diabetes Association 73rd Annual Scientific Sessions felt like sitting at a table with a foodie, having no idea what people are talking about, even though they are talking about something you know like the back of your hand. like food. for me, and in this case, it was diabetes.
i am 22 (diabetic for 11), and this week at 2013 ADA, i was lost in terminology and conversation. i didn’t understand diabetes anymore.
i worried so much about feeling credible that i didn’t say much of anything. i rarely added my experience to the conversation, and when i did, it ended up being me mostly just asking for advice.
the first night i joined the conversation, and i have to believe it was because i felt safe, was at a DOC dinner put on by J&J. it was a seat yourself kind of dinner and i semi-uncomfortably moseyed to the back, passing all of the full tables, wondering who i would sit with since everyone i arrived with was already seated. when i looked up and saw scott johnson, my step got quicker. i hurried to sit next to him. it was THE scott johnson!
during the dinner we were challenged to discuss, as a table, the topic of how to bridge the gap between PWD’s and healthcare providers, industry people, pharma companies, etc etc.
Scott and i were the two PWD’s at the table, and i was expecting to just do my normal thing and let him answer their questions and guide the conversation. i was expecting that because i carry with me the idea that a person has to earn the right to talk. that is, i have to really know what i am talking about to talk about it. it’s important to be credible and not just shoot the shit.
i have grappled with this a lot lately as i transition from youthhood to adulthood, but it was scott’s willingness to let me speak that led me to realize how strongly i let this feeling troll my interactions with members of the DOC prior to this dinner.
i really got to thinking about how to step outside of initial starstruckness and open up knowing that the greats of the DOC can and are willing to accept me as a peer.
scott johnson is someone i have been following for a long time. i wasn’t surprised he was as wonderful as he was, but I was surprised at his willingness to allow me the space to speak as much as i did. i didn’t just put in two cents, i put in 95 or 100.
scott is a, dare I say it, veteran, or better yet pioneer, of d-blogging. for almost 10 years, he has been writing, and since he was 5, he has lived with diabetes. for him to listen and be open was incredibly refreshing. his patience was evident, as it sometimes takes me a short explanation to arrive at a point. and then, near the end of the conversation, he called me ‘a good egg’.
i can’t remember who said that to me last, but it brought back this nostalgic kind of confirmation of my person and my passion that i haven’t felt in a while.
it was like a ‘you’re doing good kid’ kind of thing but without the implicit ‘i’m an adult and you’re a kid’ tone.
did i need confirmation and affirmation and good vibes that i am doing good to keep doing what i am doing? not necessarily, but it adds to my strong conviction that this community is remarkable.
i am so proud to be writing in this community. i want to do whatever i can to be the person that scott johnson was to me the night of the J&J dinner.
thank you scott, for listening and allowing for the safe space i needed to step into my power at the ADA2013. thank you for talking about grilled cheese instead of the full size chicken on my plate that i didn’t know how to eat. it made a world of difference and will always be a ‘great moment’ in my life.
who else did i talk grilled cheese with at ADA2013? kerri sparling. this lady has some fire in her and it was crazy awesome to get to know her. sweet charise. when i saw her at cocktails and carbs i had to jump up for a hug, she has so much power and it is super evident, she is a woman after my own heart. these three really made me feel not only welcome, but like a piece of the puzzle. i left filled with gratitude and happiness.
I was happy to finally meet Lancet’s mom. When I saw you sitting behind the table, I knew I was going to give you a great big hug. Thank you for the kind words and making me tear up. I am looking forward to seeing you again. Keep your head up and don’t be afraid to speak up. You will be amazed at what comes out when you do. 🙂
Thank you Cherise, I really look forward to meeting you again. You are soooooooo cool. 🙂
Hi Heather. As I read this tonight, it made me realize what you might have been thinking when we were standing in a circle at Kroll’s in conversation. I’m glad to hear that you’re starting to feel comfortable in speaking up. Just because you’re young, doesn’t mean you don’t have wisdom to share. I know a 14 year old, yes, a 14 year old, who’s more mature and interesting to talk to than many adults I know. I look forward to seeing you come out of your shell. 🙂
Rich, thank you for reading and commenting. I was more comfortable in that conversation than most I had at ADA. You are very easy to talk to and you seem unassuming. Thank you for your words and advice. I will really work to not hide in conversations. I look forward to the next meeting too, Rich.
Heather, you ARE a good egg, and I’m really glad to 1) know you, 2) have your voice in the mix, & 3) have you working so hard to make change happen. You have my full support and encouragement.
I think we really bonded over that half chicken. Holy shit, right? I don’t eat much meat, and what little I do eat I need my wife to cut apart for me. I’m like a little kid. It was so much more comfortable to struggle through that with a kindred spirit than to have to tackle it on my own. 🙂
I’m really glad we got to hang out and visit so much afterward too. You are awesome.