Post edited to remove pictures of the facilitator after a beneficial conversation with people from Novo Nordisk. Further update in this post.
The sessions and interactions I had during the Friends for Life conference were overwhelmingly positive. As the nerd I am, I had researched all the sessions ahead of time and had my plan highlighted on a print out of the schedule that I carried around with me. Yes, I am “that girl.”
I did begin to doubt my plan as I sat with fellow DOC members in Novo Nordisk’s focus group on for “grown-ups with Type 1”.
I understand how focus groups work. There was a guy up front who was leading the session and asking questions, and there was a table of pharma reps in the back taking notes about our responses.
And that’s where it gets confusing. It seemed like the guy leading the session had no idea about living with diabetes (although I was later assured that he did).
Most of his question were regarding our insulin management. I was excluded from some of that conversation though because he didn’t want to talk about NPH, and I went from that to the pump. I did share a little bit about Humalog though (now a happy Apidra user).
Then he started asking us to name our A1c values, how often we were low (hence the question in my title), and other questions that either confused, angered, or frustrated the rest of the audience. The tweets were FLYING!
The last tweet above from Brian was in response to the facilitator’s statement/question – “doesn’t your blood sugar go down when you exercise?”
I think I responded in a way that would make even Ginger proud. I believe it was something like,
“Well… (deep breath)… it depends what type of exercise it is – aerobic or anaerobic. It depends on the length and the intensity of the workout. It depends on how recently you have eaten. It depends on how recently you have taken a bolus and if you have any active insulin. It depends on what type of insulin you are taking and your dosing schedule. If you are a girl, it depends on what time of the month it is… (pause to breathe)“
With that explanation out of the way, he turned it into an art therapy session. And let me tell you – he was no Lee Ann Thill. We had to draw ourselves, a happy blood sugar, a low blood sugar, and a nighttime low all interacting at a party. Sound ridiculous? Jacquie has proof of her artwork on her blog.
He really focused on nighttime lows for a while. We started to get suspicious.
The suspicion quickly led back to more anger when he asked me when I switched from my pediatric to my adult endo. I think a DOC member tried to hold my arm back, but the switch was flipped and there was nothing that could be done.
Kelly K, I hope I was able to do you justice. That switch is powerful and I am more than happy to return it to your care.
Thankfully the session ended shortly thereafter.
As we were filling out our surveys, Jeff Hitchcock (founder of Children with Diabetes) walked into the room looking for me.
Did I mention that one of the pharmaceutical companies had set up a giant screen in the exhibit hall that was displaying all of our tweets with the hashtag #FFL11?! Oops!
Disclosure: I paid for all expenses (travel, food, lodging) to attend Friends for Life. While there, I attended the focus group described above. I was given a small gift card in exchange for my participation and feedback provided in the group. I was not asked to blog about the session and (obviously) all the thoughts described above are my own.
Speaking of gift cards, as much as I complained and made jokes about this session, something very good came out of it as well. The gift card I was given for my feedback was enough to purchase a small charm. That charm is attached to my medical ID and is the same charm that is attached to the medical ID of my new friend Jess. A perfect reminder that I AM NOT ALONE.