ADA’s 74th Sci Sessions in San Fran

Moscone Center in San Francisco
The Moscone Center in San Francisco

A couple of weeks ago I attended the American Diabetes Association’s 74th Scientific Sessions which brought over 17,000 people from more than 121 countries to San Francisco, CA for an action packed weekend of learning and connecting.

Thanks and Appreciation

Welcomed with open arms

I have many people to thank for making this trip possible:

  • American Diabetes Association – The ADA has done a lot of work over the past few years to open this professional conference (designed for and aimed at physicians, scientists, researchers, and health care professionals) to patient bloggers. Their efforts here are, in my opinion, under-appreciated. Thank you, ADA, for opening up your press registration guidelines to this new world of information sharing.
  • Diabetes Advocates – This is another group that has come a long way recently thanks to the hard work and devotion of the members. When my corporate sponsor for travel and lodging to the conference fell through, I applied for, and received, a scholarship for this conference through the Diabetes Advocates (a program of the Diabetes Hands Foundation). Couldn’t have done it without you, DA!
  • Novo Nordisk – The scholarship mentioned above was possible thanks to the generous support of Novo Nordisk. They are helping bring a lot of patient advocates to a lot of conferences this year. Thank you, Novo!
  • Korey Hood, Phd – Korey had the vision for making history at this year’s meeting, and I am honored to have been a part of it. He worked hard to make my visit to San Francisco super comfortable from day one. Much appreciated, Korey!
  • Manny Hernandez – When I needed a place to crash for a couple of nights after the conference before heading north to run my race, Manny was quick to offer his place. I can’t tell you enough how much I enjoyed the time with him and his wonderful family. Gracias, hermano!

Behavioral Medicine & Psychology

A big display in the halls of the meeting listing all of the special interest sessions
DOC on the schedule!

I mentioned Korey’s vision for making history. His idea was to create a panel discussion around behavior medicine principals in the diabetes online community. I had the honor of sitting with Manny Hernandez, Jeff Hitchcock, and Kerri Sparling on the panel.

Allowing session attendees to engage with us in a safe environment, get to know a little bit about us (our history and background), and ask questions seemed to be very well received and appreciated by those who attended.

Of course, there were a lot of really tough questions, and for some of them there just aren’t any answers (I’m thinking of one specifically where patients were asking a clinician “why me?”).

A selfie of the panel showing Korey (moderating), Jeff, Manny, Kerri, and Scott
Panel selfie – had to do it.

We also had some great questions about the accuracy of information and more specifically what to do when we encounter bad information. I verbally stumbled while trying to address this concern, and was thankful to have Jeff, Manny, & Kerri to pick up where I fell short.

The experience as a whole was very special for me, and I’m honored to have been a part of it.

There was one person in the audience who approached the microphone and said that my blog had saved her life… and I literally had to pick my jaw up off the table. Thank you, D’Arcy, for sharing such a moving piece of yourself. That’s a moment I’ll never forget.

So Much More…

There are many more great things I’d like to talk about, like meeting Jana Beck at the great D-Data ExChange event (she introduced me to diabetes and QS last year), and the incredible #dstigma Meet & Tweet which is clearly an area that deserves much more attention and work.

But if I had to pick one thing that really resonated with me, it would have to be a statement from Dr. Howard Wolpert during the 8th Annual Diabetes Forum presented by TCOYD & diaTribe.

It’s important to keep in mind who Dr. Wolpert is when considering what he said… Senior Physician, Adult Diabetes at Joslin Diabetes Center, Director, Joslin Institute for Technology Translation, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School. In other words, he is a diabetes expert badass who is famous for his level of knowledge and expertise.

“The more I learn about diabetes, the more I realize how little I know.”  — Dr. Howard Wolpert

This, to me, is a testament to the complexity of diabetes and the advanced level of focused research, teaching, sharing, and collaboration that happens at Sci Sessions. It blows my mind and fills me with admiration for everyone working so hard to make things better for us.

It also reinforces my feelings that we do a pretty good job of navigating life with diabetes. It is complicated. And it is difficult. And it always leaves me with similar feelings like that of Dr. Wolpert. But most days I’m able to get up and make it through a day, and so are you. And that says a lot about us.

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Scott K. Johnson

Patient voice, speaker, writer, advocate. Living life with diabetes and telling my story. Patient Success Manager, USA for mySugr (All opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent the position of my employer).

Diagnosed in April of 1980, I recognize the incredible mental struggle of living with diabetes. Read more…