You know once in a while you have a warm fuzzy moment? Saturday 28th April...about 4 pm -as I sat down in the empty Royal college of physicians main lecture theatre with Catherine Peters and Peter Hindmarsh- post the end of the 3rd Talking about Diabetes aka TAD event...it was there. About 3 years and a bit ago,we met each other for the first time on a trip to Scotland- shared a taxi ride and got talking. And the rest was history.
I have been very lucky to have been involved with many a things in my life- many a projects...but this particular one has and will always hold a special place in my heart. It continues to be one of the most educational days in my calendar year- and I can't put in words simply the pride it gives me. Every year we have made a slight tweak in an effort to make things more attractive...year 2 brought in the "TADpoles"; this year had a panel of youngsters- and each year, it has felt a little bit better, a little bit more about the community.
This is something very close to my belief, my ethos of doing diabetes care. It's not about the swish insulin, not about the technology, not about the amazing App or the education programme, they are all- at the end- a paradigm in helping someone whose life I do not lead. No one can give a type 1 diabetes patient better advise than someone who lives it too...I can give the evidence, my experience, my thoughts, my encouragement....but that's about it. I am a specialist, not an expert- and the best thing you can offer someone living with type 1 diabetes is the support of a peer- and yours when they need it. And that is pretty much what TAD has all been about. Having a conversation about type 1 diabetes- by those living with type 1 diabetes; learning from each other; being inspired; understanding that it's not and should not be an "exam" when you see a health care professional...it's about managing it the best you can, with your life and it's ups and downs.
I am not going to spend much time about the speakers as the videos will be online soon but a few things touched me- a lot. I saw the sparkling pride in Lydia's parents eyes- how could you not be proud of that? My daughter is nearly 16 and in Lydia I saw a young lady who will go places- and to her parents? You have brought up a most wonderful lady indeed.
I saw Peter visibly inspiring many in the audience- and it made me smile...how apt in the modern world when we associate passion only with youth, Peter was giving a schooling to many of us what grit, determination and sheer attitude could do. Mike charmed us all with his talk and I have known Mike for a few years now. I recall seeing him those years ago- and it gives me so much pride to see him where he is now. His sheer will to fly that plane again- that's a story in itself...and the whole purpose of these events has always been to show that type 1 diabetes can't be a barrier to anything you want. The right support - whether professional or peer- holds a magical key indeed
Beckys journey was again worth every single second listening to...and I must say I felt something in my throat when she mentioned what she would give up just for a few more years with her. What a story and what an inspirational woman indeed. Katie talked about where she has taken her passion to- and how she has channeled that to helping many others with Type 1 diabetes- a very normal person who talked openly about her holidays, love for food, having a baby...a beautiful story to listen to indeed.
The kids panel stood out and am sure many will keep talking about Joe, Isaac and Laura. Kids say the sweetest things..they also say so without prejudice. If kids of those ages are saying we need to give them better information, that we need to learn how to speak properly as "it hurts", then we have a responsibility to do that. As simple as that.
To end with a huge thank you to the ever bubbly Jen grieves- who lit up the event with her energy and laughs. Also immense gratitude to JDRF for getting a message from the PM, Theresa May as well as the sponsors. Great support from individuals such as Sam Rowlands and Becky Hess for their support to run the day - and much appreciated as was the help from the volunteers from #gbdoc who came from all parts to help. Jane Dacre was instrumental in helping us with the venue and finally my specialist colleagues who found time to come and lend support.
At the end however? It was all about the community...what stood out was the buzz in the place and it felt that the purpose of the TAD event ie to start a conversation - was well and truly happening.There is this concept in leadership called "servant leadership"....having never done a course in my life, I don't understand what that is all about...and buzzwords really tick me off. And to be honest, I am doing a job, not anyone's servant. However, it indeed is a privilege to be part of the journey of many of those living with type 1 diabetes and this event does give me, albeit fleetingly, the opportunity to have a glimpse of the challenges you all- living with Type 1 diabetes-face.
And for that I do indeed thank you all. It is and continues to be a great privilege to be able to be in a position to do this- not many have this opportunity indeed. I have always said- and will continue to maintain that being a Consultant gives you many opportunities- beyond the scope of doing our day- to-day clinical work. "Resilience" has now been converted to a buzz word- but I do recall reading somewhere how burn out can be prevented if you spent some bit of your work doing what you really enjoy…I suppose the T1D comic book; the TAD are all part of that.
Will there be a TAD 2019? Let's see. For the moment, I don't know...if the principle is to start a conversation, it's happening and perhaps that mission is accomplished.
Or maybe, there's much yet to be done. Give us (Catherine, Peter and I) some time to recover and then mull over it. Maybe there could be one..after all. Lets leave it at that- for now.