Category Archives: CWD FFL

Diabetes Blessings Week

Last night I got an email from fellow Diabetes Advocate Mike Durbin asking everyone to take part and/or spread the word about “Diabetes Blessings Week“. 

With the American Thanksgiving holiday coming up, I have seen many friends noting the things that they are grateful for throughout the month of November.  Gratitude is a great practice and something that I promote in my Life Coaching practice.  It is also something that I try to incorporate into my own life.

Mike asked that we blog about a few of the blessings that diabetes has brought into our lives.  Ideally you would look at one blessing per day for the week of November 19-25th.  Since I am a day late in getting started, I will try to come up with two for my first day…

Actually the top two are simple and intertwined.  My diabetes family and CWD conferences.

Its has been almost twelve years since I “found” my family.  I had just gotten onto the Internet for the first time. I searched “parents of children with diabetes”.  I was instantly sent to a website and a parents email list.  There I posted a question about a battle I had been having with my toddler–trying to convince him to eat after giving his insulin.  We had been experiencing tears, vomiting, and terrifying lows. I was at my wits end. 

Within seconds I received two emails back from parents telling me what I already knew but for some reason could not do.  They told me not to give him insulin until after he ate. It was so simple but until another parent told me, I could not grasp NOT giving my son insulin. 

That was just the beginning. Over the years, these face-less friends became my support. They were there through the good times and the bad.  They understood the bittersweet feeling of having your four year old being able to lance his own finger and draw blood.  They understood the exhausting nights and the drag your butt days.  They were there to pull me out when I just wanted to curl up and hide under a rock for awhile.  They were there through diabetes fights, political battles and personal struggles.  No matter what was going on, there was always a strong shoulder to cry on and firm hand to push me forward.

Beach party with our amazing Friends for Life!


As the years went by, I was able to share the wisdom taught to me with others. I was also able to meet some of my nearest and dearest friends in person.  I travelled to visit some at a beach party.  I later travelled to visit others at what has become the foremost diabetes conference in North America–CWD’s Friends For Life.  It is the one place on earth where friends connect and friendships truly are made for life.

Just a few of the amazing people that I am blessed to call “friends”


Imagine how blessed I felt when I was asked to not just attend a FFL conference but be a part of the staff? I was honored  I was humbled.  Each year that I attend, I have to pinch myself.  I am surrounded by the most amazing people in the diabetes world.  Parents, doctors, nurses, educators and advocates…and me.  It truly is the high point of my year when I am there!

Diabetes, despite its brutal nature,  has brought many blessings with it.  The two that make each day a little easier are definitely the incredible friendships I have made and the gathering of those friends at FFL Conferences each year.

More of my wonderful friends!


CWD Conferences are THE BEST!

I have said it time and time again, CWD conferences truly are the very best events out there for people living with diabetes.  Vendors who fail to take part are missing a lot.  Families who do not take part are missing a lot.  People with diabetes who do not attend are also truly missing out. 


Yes, I am part of the Canadian faculty which does mean that they cover my plane fare and lodgings while I am at the Canadian events but that in no way changes my perspective.  Actually it enhances it.  Each year I help out at registration and at that desk you see a lot. 

You experience the person who walks up and says “My toiletries, which happened to contain my insulin, infusion sets, sensors, and reservoirs did not make it into my luggage.”  Before this person can ask if anyone has anything to spare, three people offer everything that they could possibly need to handle their diabetes for the weekend and everyone is able to enjoy the conference without a second thought. 

You also get to see the smile on a mother’s face who says “In my rush, I forgot to bring the gluten free snacks for my child but you have an entire buffet dedicated just to her needs!  I don’t need to worry about her at all!”  

I learned a few other benefits this conference as well.  When you lock you key in your room, your son is off site with the other key, and you need to be in your room to get information for your presentation which will take place in less than 15 minutes, the lanyard around your neck with your name will get you a new room key! 


While sitting around a lunch table, I learned that others have used the “D” card on occasion for convenience. If you don’t want to get stuck in a room with an annoying coworker, tell them that you are low and need to check.  If you don’t want to share that amazing piece of chocolate cake? Tell them that you are sorry but you already pre-bolused for the entire piece.  

The most important thing that was reinforced for me during this conference? The value of friendships–new and old.  I watched two young boys pose arm in arm for a picture.  You knew that the friendship was struck up at this conference. I met people who were previously just names online and enjoyed getting to learn a bit more about them.  And as always, I enjoyed time, talk and meals with friends that I have been blessed to have in my life through the ups and downs for the past eleven years.  There truly is nothing better than a CWD conference!

A stroll down Diabetes Memory Lane

In time for the last day of the Children with Diabetes Friends For Life Florida Conference…


It must be spring.  There is still snow flying around outside and my winter boots were on my feet today but I have noticed a restlessness in the air.  I was reading a blog in which the author felt that maybe she was not doing enough in the diabetes community despite raising awareness and entertaining many of us. 

I have had that same feeling in the pit of my stomach.  That question of what are you doing and more importantly–how do you do it better?  I have yet to have any great epiphanies but it did motivate me to start a new project. I decided to “tweak” my website. I am seriously thinking about completely rebuilding and cleaning up the current format.  I found a search engine to make looking through the site that much easier but I still have to decide what my spring website look should be.  In the meantime, I decided that a movie of some of our greatest memories would be in order for the home page

I began a journey back in time as I looked through old photos.  I truly hate Diabetes with a capital H but the warm memories I found in the pictures really helped to ease the pain. I found pictures of a trip we went on to New York.  Many of our online diabetes friends got together and we had a fabulous day at the beach.  There was no awkward time of getting to know one another.  We instantly had known each other for years and the day was amazing.  

I found pictures of our trip across Canada.  Again, there were photos of the many friends we met along our travels.  There was a barbeque in Ottawa, a night in the interior of B.C.  as well as introducing Rufus, the bear with diabetes, to many of our family members. 

As I dug around, I found the photos of our trip to Friends for Life in Florida.  I remember again, sitting down to drinks with “old” friends and having my son disappear with his pals to enjoy his vacation.  There was basketball and Disney World rides for him.  There was pump failure and great contacts for my other son and I.  We found out that the best place in the world to have a pump malfunction was at a CWD Friends for Life conference.  The friends and resources you will find are second to none!

I came across pictures from our Friends for Life Canada conferences and began to look forward to reconnecting with old friends again this summer.  There were walk photos and I remained amazed at the generosity and enthusiasm of so many amazing people.

I still don’t know how I will tweak the site.  I still am working on getting the movie completed and online.  I have however had a day filled with smiles and wonderful memories.  Thanks to all of the great people in our lives who helped create these memories and so many more!

Mom, she injected herself!

Friends for Life Canada is always a chance for me to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.  One of my tasks each year is helping out with registration.  I love it because affords me the chance to meet people as they are coming through the door.  It always amazing to see how far people have come to connect with other families living with this disease.

Registration in Toronto this year was a pleasure. Everyone arrived at different times and we were able to make sure that their initial experience was a positive one.  We saw people from all over Canada, the US and even a family from the UK.  It was great to be able to put faces and families with names that we had interacted with online for months or even years as well as connect with new people. 

As I have said, my son is very private. He is not interested in sharing his diabetes experience with others. He hates being the center of attention and is often very shy when people who know me come up to him.  He is growing up however, and did interact with a few people and answer a few questions when asked. 

On Sunday, the conference drew to a close. I was exhausted after a very busy day.  My son was glad to see his bed after walking and site seeing with the teen group all day.  My exhaustion led me to the restaurant for food and drinks with friends before we all headed our separate ways for another year.  My son was more interested in bonding with the bed and TV than joining a group of adults. We agreed to meet at the elevators and I would take him to grab a bite to eat before I settled into dinner with my friends.

At the elevator, I met up with one of the families that we had spent a bit of time with over the past few days.  They asked if my son would like to join them for supper. I asked him and he said sure.  I was pleased that he would be spending time with a family that I had already had the pleasure of getting to know a bit as well.

From across the room, I watched their interaction. There was laughter and fun.  They had three children, one of whom was my son’s age.  There seemed to be a connection.  As time passed, I was surprised to see that they were all still engaged and my son had not bolted to his room. Things were obviously going well!

Eventually the evening came to a close.  We said good-bye and hoped we would be able to keep in contact. When we were back in my room my son told me about his evening. He had had a great time.  He turned to me and said “Mom, she injected herself–twice!”  My son has been on a pump since he was five. Despite the fact that he should learn how to inject in case of a pump failure, its something that he has never done himself.  He was very impressed that this girl, who was a few years younger than him, had been so self-sufficient and done this on her own. 

I was impressed that he had noticed and said something. One day, perhaps we will get the chance to talk to them all again. They definitely left a wonderful impression on us and hopefully we left a positive impression on them.  Have I mentioned how much I love and appreciate the opportunities for friendship that CWD conferences afford?

Four “Friends for Life”!

The letters after my name

Each year I look at the Friends for Life Canada program and I am amazed by the wealth of knowledge and experience found in its presenters. I see names that I have read about.  I see people whose work I have followed.  I see an entire alphabet behind their names and I think, “Wow! How lucky am I to be heading off to see them?”

When the time comes, I pack my suitcase and I begin to panic.  What the heck am I doing?
 am going to catch up with old friends and meet new ones!

Seriously though, who do I think I am to be going to this?
I am one lucky person!

I don’t have a lot of letters after my name and yet I am listed as being “one of them”? 

I didn’t have an answer to that one. I have been blessed to have been a part of the Canadian CWD conferences since they began.  My role has grown over the years and their faith in me never ceases to amaze me.  I always prepare for the trip wondering when they will realize that I am just a mom.  When will they stop asking me back? This weekend made me realize the answer to that question.

Jeff Hitchcock spoke a number of times throughout the conference. The thing he said that had the biggest impact on me was not when he said that my son’s chance of developing kidney disease had nearly been erased because of when he developed diabetes and the tools that we  now use. It was not the fact that mice had been cured of type 1 diabetes over 300 times– I knew that Mickey was a very happy mouse for a reason. 

The thing that resonated with me the most was when he too discussed the incredible panel of experts that had spoken over the weekend.  He stated that he did not have a number of letters after his name. He did however have three very important letters after his name…D A D.  He noted that many of the audience had the same letters and that others of us had a different three.  Our letters were M O M.  He then went on to say that he also had a math degree which is how he could read so many studies.  

I began to think about my own letters…M-O-M.  I had thought of myself as “just a Mom” but now I had a new view.  I was Barb, MOM, BA.  The MOM was more important than the degree I hold. They truly were the most important letters after my name.  For years, I had been impressed by the incredible Moms and Dads out there. I didn’t think of their other professions. I was amazed at what great parents they were first and foremost.  

This new found awareness will not change some things. I will still look at each FFL Canada program in awe.  I will still most likely panic and wonder if I will do justice to the tasks that Laura has entrusted me with.  There will be one change though. I will no longer worry that I am “just a mom”.  I will now proudly realize, that like many other great parents in my life, I hold the title–Barb, MOM.

A stroll down memory lane

It must be spring.  There is still snow flying around outside and my winter boots were on my feet today but I have noticed a restlessness in the air.  I was reading a blog in which the author felt that maybe she was not doing enough in the diabetes community despite raising awareness and entertaining many of us. 

I have had that same feeling in the pit of my stomach.  That question of what are you doing and more importantly–how do you do it better?  I have yet to have any great epiphanies but it did motivate me to start a new project. I decided to “tweak” my website. I am seriously thinking about completely rebuilding and cleaning up the current format.  I found a search engine to make looking through the site that much easier but I still have to decide what my spring website look should be.  In the meantime, I decided that a movie of some of our greatest memories would be in order for the home page

I began a journey back in time as I looked through old photos.  I truly hate Diabetes with a capital H but the warm memories I found in the pictures really helped to ease the pain. I found pictures of a trip we went on to New York.  Many of our online diabetes friends got together and we had a fabulous day at the beach.  There was no awkward time of getting to know one another.  We instantly had known each other for years and the day was amazing.  

I found pictures of our trip across Canada.  Again, there were photos of the many friends we met along our travels.  There was a barbeque in Ottawa, a night in the interior of B.C.  as well as introducing Rufus, the bear with diabetes, to many of our family members. 

As I dug around, I found the photos of our trip to Friends for Life in Florida.  I remember again, sitting down to drinks with “old” friends and having my son disappear with his pals to enjoy his vacation.  There was basketball and Disney World rides for him.  There was pump failure and great contacts for my other son and I.  We found out that the best place in the world to have a pump malfunction was at a CWD Friends for Life conference.  The friends and resources you will find are second to none!

I came across pictures from our Friends for Life Canada conferences and began to look forward to reconnecting with old friends again this summer.  There were walk photos and I remained amazed at the generosity and enthusiasm of so many amazing people.

I still don’t know how I will tweak the site.  I still am working on getting the movie completed and online.  I have however had a day filled with smiles and wonderful memories.  Thanks to all of the great people in our lives who helped create these memories and so many more!