The 2012 Roche Social Media Summit was a great example of the old adage that says, "patience is a virtue". Though I had never attended any of the previous summits with Roche it was easy to feel the earnest nature of the people that I was sitting with and that spirit was clearly being fostered by our hosts from Roche.
I bring up patience because the feeling in that room was due in large part to the extended nature of the relationship that Roche and the DOC have been nurturing for these many years. I was partially sad that I hadn't experienced the prior summits so that I could more personally appreciate the journey that this summit has been on. On the other hand, it was exhilarating to show up as the main act was coming on stage so to speak.
As always, when it come to things like this, if you want a detailed who said what or step by step breakdown of the day you are reading the wrong blog but if you would like to feel what I did during the time we spent together, read on.
I can't list every person that attended but I do want to say that they all fit together like a puzzle. Each one brought a specific perspective and when combined, the voices in the room had every aspect of diabetes advocacy covered. A number of things stand out in my mind that I'd like to share. The group is passionate, motivated and please forgive me for reusing a word but, earnest. The countless people that read diabetes blogs in search of support, advice and community are reaching into a very deep pool of knowledge that is being presented by people just like them who want to give back to the community. The diabetes knowledge that I saw was staggering. I count myself as a reasonably intelligent person but there were moments when people spoke extemporaneously about the health, political, and socioeco'nomically sides of diabetes in a way that made me feel like I wasn't operating on the same level as they are. Gathered were so many truly brilliant minds that I found myself wondering if thoughtfulness can be a side effect of insulin use. I'll have to check the package insert next time I open a box.
When guest speaker Josh Bleill spoke about his struggle to recover his will to live after loosing both of his legs while serving in the military, I thought the room couldn't get more silent. Then Josh compared the sharing of his story to our diabetes blogs and everyone in the room seemed to stop breathing for a moment. I remember that as Josh spoke I was struck by how amazing his story was but I didn't quite understand what it had to do with diabetes advocacy. When he connected the dots for us, I immediately felt pride. So many of you have written to say thank you for Arden's Day and I guess that I knew on an intellectual level how much my sharing meant to others but wow do it hit my square in the chest when Josh thanked us for telling our stories. He wasn't saying thank you because he has diabetes, he was saying it because he knows what sharing with such transparency means to others. He was thanking us for our service to the community when all we wanted to do was thank him for his sacrifice for all of us. Please know that every time you share your story with someone else about your life with diabetes, you are helping all of us to move forward.
During the day and a half summit everyone shared thoughts about their life with diabetes while we were discussing multiple issues. Once and a while someone would say something that actually served as a learning experience to the other people in the room. It was eye opening for me to see long-time veterans of life with diabetes make the face that said, "huh, I didn't know that". The moment that stuck with me the most, being a parent of a child with type I, was this...
Steve Richert from Living Vertical spoke to us on day two about Project 365 which is Steve's effort to empower people with type I diabetes through rock climbing. After Steve spoke for a while it became clear that he sometimes climbs by himself. One of the parents in the room began asking questions about how he stays in touch with family and wondered about his safety protocols. She was legitimately worried about Steve but as she spoke her concern manifested into the fear she has about her children and before anyone knew what happened, she was visibly upset. She must have put herself in Steve's mother's position and became overwhelmed by the concern that she feels for her type I children. The room got serious and in one of the silences I leaned into my table and told the people I was sitting with, "she just showed you what it feels like to be a parent of a child with type I...". There was no way to guess that Steve's talk aimed at helping PWD to feel like there isn't anything that they can't do would teach such an unintended lesson.
The balance of my brief time in Indianapolis was spent getting to better know the other bloggers in attendance, we saw the manufacturing process that yields test strips, talked about products and spoke about how to improve our already wonderful community. It was time very well spent indeed and the experience has definitely helped me to further define the direction I want to take my advocacy and Arden's Day.
I don't pretend to know why the first Roche Summit came to be and I can't vouch for what's in others minds but the two men that plan and oversee this gathering definitely have the DOC in their hearts. I'm hopeful that I represented you all in a way that you could be proud of.
If you are interested in a very detailed account of the summit I suggest Mike's at Diabetes Mine and David's at Diabetes Daily. Mike takes the best notes that I've ever seen and David types like a madman.
Disclosure: I attended an event hosted by Roche, who paid for my airfare, travel, hotel and meals while I was in Indianapolis with the exception of a bottle of water and bagel that I lost the receipt for.