Monday, June 3, 2013


This past weekend was one of a few times where I have felt that I truly belonged no place else but where I was. I'm talking about the Students with Diabetes 2013 National Conference. This is the third year that Nicole Johnson (Miss America 1999 and a T1D) has hosted this event and it was the biggest yet.

Me, Ben, Laura, Danika, Liz, and Paige at the blue party!
After last year's conference I could not wait for the next one. And when the day finally came it was definitely worth the wait. This year it was held at a hotel instead of in a dorm at USF and it was a great place for it to be held. On Friday after check-in and acquiring our diabetes swag (awesome shirts, backpack with goodies) we got to hear Sebastien Sasseville talk about being the first Canadian T1D to climb Mount Everest and about his experience with the Sahara Race. He used these experiences to give a very inspirational and motivational speech. I personally learned a good strategy to commit to getting things done. By "throwing your pants over the fence" you force yourself to followthrough and complete your task or else you'll be running around without pants! Sebastien also said two other things that I really found inspirational and thought-provoking:

"People won't remember how long it took you to get to your dream, but they will remember if you quit. Don't give up."

"One day you wake up and there is a dude called diabetes in your room and you realize you have to get along."

The first one is comforting in that it inspires not to ever give up. No matter how big of a dream you might have, as long as you keep working towards it and one day finish it. However, if you give up everyone will remember the failure. The latter statement is a rather more comical way of remembering that diabetes is not going anywhere so you might as well coexist with it peacefully instead of trying to "beat" it.

My new friend Alicia
After Sebastien's talk came dinner and then the Blue Party! It was a great time to get to know some new people and we also filmed a cool video that I got to speak in and will be coming out later this year. I met some cool people that night and we stayed a little after the party talking. These people were Alicia, Tiani and Rebecca.

The next morning we got to hear from Dr. Bill Polonsky about diabetes and relationships. He talked about the "diabetes police" which we all know someone who asks like they are our diabetes police officer. He speech was not with out such humorous things as the blood glucose fairy, who we can blame all of our odd BG's on and calling "cheating" on certain rules "vacationing." One of the last things he said I thought was clever and a very necessary thing to do. When dealing with hypoglycemia you should "do the the opposite of what Obi-Wan said to Luke: Don't trust your feelings, trust the numbers." Often when deal with low BG's you don't really know how you feel, but your meter can give you a number and you should always know at what point you should be treating for a low. Never just go by how you feel, when the numbers can tell a more accurate story.

The entire group at the Blue Party
We then broke into separate guy, girl and type 3 sessions. We had a great talk in the guy section, but what happens there stays there. Sorry ladies, our secrets shall remain. After this we had lunch and the vendor fair where I talked to Blake from Sanofi who had helped me when I had trouble with my insurance company and getting my BGStar strips and Kristin from Insulet who is actually my local rep for my Omnipod and whom I've spoken to on the phone before. It was great actually meeting these people who have helped me in person.

After lunch we had Tom Boyer talk to us about advocacy. I learned some surprising statistics, such as the fact that diabetes funding has dropped 20% in the last 4 years. He showed just how important it is to get out there and advocate for more funding for diabetes research and advocate for other things for diabetes.

Finally we were at the "star" presentation of the weekend. It was Dr. Aaron Kowalksi's turn to talk about the Artificial Pancreas Project. The first step towards this would be an insulin pump that would automatically turn of due to low BG. This is actually already available in Europe but the FDA is dragging their feet on it here. The next step would be a pump that would reduce it's basal rate as you got close to low BG. Logically from that you would next want it to increase the basal rate as you got close to high BG. He also talked about some other projects being worked on, including an insulin that you would be able to give at the beginning of the day and you would be good for the rest of the day.

Jmiah's cardboard cutout
After this talk Jmiah spoke about his life with diabetes and how he uses it to inspire teens and Michelle spoke about exercising and diabetes. This was followed by a quick "chair zumba" session. We then all got ready for the beach luau.

At the luau we had Sonny's chicken and baked beans and other delicious foods. Unfortunately we didn't get to stay long because there was a thunderstorm threatening nearby. However, it was still great because I got to hang out with my new diabetic friends and for a few minutes got to geek out with one of them over Doctor Who. We went back to the hotel and hung out for the rest of the night. It was awesome to get the opportunity to get to know some of these people better because everyone has a different story to tell and while we all share a common disease, we are all still truly like snowflakes: each one of us different -- and with a very interesting story. And then Ava, Nicole's daughter, brought the bedazzles out for everyone to bedazzle their pumps and meters. I ended up throwing a bunch of the ones that didn't stick to anything at Alicia instead of bedazzling anything - whoops! After a bunch of us spent the next few hours just talking it was time to call it a night.

Some of the group from last year!
The next morning we had a motivational speech by Dr. Nick Hall of the water tribe. He spoke about how his sailing experiences have taught him not to give up and that we can have control over our lives even when it does not seem like it.

It was time for a few last pictures and then to say our goodbyes - until next year, of course!

I feel like I learned so much this weekend and I would not trade this experience for the world. I feel rejuvenated and ready to live with that dude diabetes for another year. I also feel ready to go advocate and bring more awareness to T1Ds.

- Keep flying steady

Edit: Also, I swear something must have been in the bacon because every morning my BG levels skyrocketed.

(So I am posting a bit out of order for events, but I really wanted to talk about this past weekend. However, I will have a post about Quidditch World Cup VI soon! Also, if I made typos, sorry. I'm very tired right now but I wanted to write this.)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Southern Regional Championship

Once again I must apologize for my lack of posting. Between school and work and quidditch I have not had nearly enough time to do all of the things that I want to get done. However, I finally found a little bit of time to finally write this.

The Southern Regional Championship for quidditch took place the first weekend of March in North Augusta, South Carolina. Thirteen teams were vying for one of six spots to qualify for the World Cup, which will be happening on April 13-14 in Kissimmee, Florida. Having come in second place at World Cup last year, my team, the University of Florida, was eager to get back there and prove that were just as good if not better than before.

See? Cold.
The first day of playing started with a barely visible snow flurry.  The SOUTHERN Regional Championship was one of the coldest. Makes perfect sense, right? Anyway, I guess it put us all at a slight disadvantage seeing as we're all southern teams and most were from Florida. The day also included several rounds of very cold rain.

We started out pool play by facing Ringling College of Art and Design. After losing to them in the last Swamp Cup my team really wanted to beat them this time. After a well-fought game we ended up winning 150*-40 (* represents snitch catch). This was a great confidence boost to start the tournament off.

Next up we had Brevard Community College, who we greatly underestimated. However, we still pulled off a 130*-90 win after the game went into overtime.  We then played College of Charleston and won 100*-50. Our first day of games concluded with a win of 160*-0 over Florida International University. I scored a few of our goals on the first day, but none of them were as exciting as those that I scored the next day versus Tennessee Technological University (TTU).

Throughout the first day of games my blood glucose levels remained surprisingly steady.  They started out a bit higher than I was comfortable with having, but the soon came down and then stayed relatively steady. I'm not sure if it was due to how I chose to change my basal or if it was due to the somewhat healthier food that the team had for lunch and as snacks, but whatever the case, I was glad to have my BG's on my side.

The second day of the tournament started out just as cold as the first but without precipitation.  We fit the majority of our team into our small camping tent in order to try to stay warm.  Our first game of the day was against TTU.  We had never played them before, so we were not sure what to expect.  It was a well-played game on both sides. I scored two of our goals this game back-to-back. On one of these goals I am still not sure how I scored because I could not see the hoop. The other one was one of the best blocking and dodging runs down the field I have had recently.  We ended up winning 110*-60.

Our final game of pool play was against USF, a team we had not beaten in a while.  I got another pretty cool score in this game and we ended up winning 80*-30.  Thus, pool play was concluded and we went undefeated in pool play!

Now it came time for the games that would qualify us for World Cup. Being the top seed in our pool, we played the fourth seed from the other pool for trying to qualify for World Cup.  This happened to be Florida Atlantic University (FAU), who we ended up beating 140*-20. With our win over FAU we qualified for World Cup!

Because TTU beat Florida State University in the first round we were set to play them again to see who would go to the finals for the tournament. TTU was better prepared to play us this time around and gave us a much harder game and they ended up beating us 110*-50.  Both of our games against them were really great games of quidditch.

We may not have gotten to play in the finals, but we got what we came for - a spot in the Quidditch World Cup! We also ended up placing 3rd in the tournament!

As for my BG's on this day, they were a little less cooperative. I kept having to bring it up from going too low.  However, I feel like as long as it was not below 80, I was playing better than on the first day. On both days of the tournament I had both my CGM and a pod on my stomach. Wearing compression Under Armour and putting a little bit of tape on them help keep them in place nicely and I had no problems with them the whole time.

It was a great tournament and now I cannot wait for World Cup to get here!

-Keep flying steady