It was a chilly evening in Scotland. And there were 3 folks in the back of the taxi - travelling in the dark to Pitlochry....invited by the Scottish Study Group to talk about type 1 diabetes. We had already made our introductions and past the initial awkward silences, the chatter had begun as regards what we did, type 1 diabetes care etc. There was myself, Catherine Peters from GOSH and there was Peter Hindmarsh from UCL. And in the conversation, somewhere was born the idea of having TED style talks - delivered by those with Type 1 diabetes to an open audience. To show that Type 1 wasn't a barrier, to show what could be done in life, to inspire..maybe even to give hope to those who struggle with Type 1 diabetes, whether as a carer or as someone who lives with it.
The rest, I suppose , just flowed from there on- we all naturally took on roles and responsibilities and before we knew it, the day itself arrived. I won't go into details regards the day as blogs from speakers and attendees are already out there...but you know what? It was simply magic. None of us as organisers even thought twice about it being a Saturday or it being done without payment...it was just something we wanted to do. Those evil money grabbing, golf playing, lazy Consultants, eh?
The speakers were,as expected awesome..our UK speakers like Lis, Laura, Anne, Jamie and Richard inspired and made us all reflect, laugh, smile while our overseas colleagues Joe and Weston were simply magical in their inspiration to make a change. Justin Webb brought the celebrity gravitas and I must admit to rarely having been to a day when all the speakers were of such high calibre.
There was of course some pesky dust in the air watering many eyes when Weston spoke but perhaps no more a sombre moment when a young girl asked Richard Lane, the country's first islet cell transplant recipient .."how did it feel to be without insulin?" An innocent question with layers of pathos in it..which to all the researchers around the world sends out 1 message....let's not make the cure yet another 5 years away.
A brilliant interactive audience made it all the more fun...though one could also sense the frustration with care, the stories of misdiagnosis, the lack of basic care, the over stretched resources HCPs are battling with...as well as sometimes forgetting the basics of medicine. Much to learn, much to absorb...much to try and get better.
All in all...it appeared to be a pretty successful day...which brings us to the question..why do it? What next? We did it because the idea is to spread the message that type 1 diabetes isn't a barrier, it's something as Lis said..gives you more than it takes. In that journey, we as HCPs, have a role to support, to help, to be part of the journey. There needs to be the learning that the best technology, super insulin, targets to hit are of no use whatsoever till we have learnt the importance of asking "how are you" first and "how are your blood sugars" later. Not everything in the world needs resources, some of it is also because of why we chose to do what we do.
More of the same? Perhaps. I suspect we need a breather, look at the feedback and then plan again- and look at ways at spreading the learning not only amongst patients and carers, but also amongst HCPs.
Finally..a big thank you to my co-conspirators for the help and support...Catherine and Peter, thank you..you have been legends. Thank you to all those who gave up their Saturday to be there and be part of this inaugural event..thank you to our super speakers...and a special word of thanks to some who came simply based on asking (Roy, Theresa,Elaine, Jonathan,Pratik,Stuart,Reza)...it meant a lot to see the support.
There is much we can do to raise awareness and improve care..and we keep trying. I do have some further ideas and plans to do so...the key is that in my view, it can be done...it just needs a collective of like minded HCPs and patients to do so. And ladies and gentlemen, slowly and surely, if the "TalkT1" event end January was a start, the TADtalk gives it momentum. The collective is indeed building...and I would encourage others to join. Will we succeed in making everything better? I don't know..but wouldn't it be a darned shame if we didn't give it a full crack of the whip?