I had been eagerly awaiting the weekend just gone for what seems like forever and I'm sad to say that it has now finished (until next year I hope!). It was the perfect way to end my nursing placement... being flown to Berlin by the generous peeps at Abbott in order to spend a few days with fellow diabetes bloggers from across Europe. Our common goal for the weekend was to connect, to share our skills, to inspire and motivate one another to do more, to reach more people and to create a wider space in the world of the diabetes online community.
The weekend started with a good old shopping trip! Sofia (from Sweden) and I arrived to Berlin quite early and we decided to do some sight-seeing which turned into us hitting the shops almost straight away and being very impressed with the fashion in Berlin. Sofia and I had only met an hour before-hand and I loved the way that we instantly connected due to having diabetes in common.
One thing I love about being around other people with diabetes is that no matter who the person is of which language they speak, we can all understand each other as we speak the language of diabetes! This has never happened in any other aspect of my life and this is one of the things that I enjoy about having diabetes. It's like a secret code that only certain people understand. I love it when I can tell someone that I'm high without them thinking the worst! I love that people know what I mean when I talk about a bolus wizard or DKA. Having these people in my life makes me feel less alone.
Next I went to my hotel to relax before the meet and greet that evening. I arrived in my hotel room to find that Abbott had created a goodie bag for us, containing food/drink from each of the countries that were attending. I loved this little touch! Then a knock on the door revealed the Hotel had supplied us with a delicious box of chocolates! The weekend was off to an amazing start!
I have been lucky enough to meet a handful of the bloggers on my first social media trip in which I took part in a bloggers summit, again in Berlin. This time round I met so many new faces and people behind the twitter accounts that I speak with so often. It's always very strange to meet with people that you've spoken with countless times online, but it really helps to bring the diabetes online community to life!
With Kris (@diabeticbanana)
The weekend included some creative and engaging talks from various speakers. The aim, from what I saw/heard was to get us thinking about how we could enhance our social media presence/skills in order to connect with more people with diabetes. From experience, I know that amazing movements can arise from connecting with others in the diabetes online community, and after this weekend I have come away with plenty of ideas about how to keep connecting people in the world of diabetes. Not only patients but diabetes professionals too!
The venue that we were taken to for our meeting helped me to think outside the box. From the outside it looked like a run-down building that perhaps needed a wrecking ball taking to it. Inside however, was the most stunning and creative space which was soon filled with creative minds.
Our meeting venue - Frbrik 23
The sessions were different to any other diabetes/social media/blogger meeting that I have been, to in that they weren't all focused on diabetes, and as well as that they weren't all presented by people with diabetes. It was very refreshing to be able to think about social media and its possibilities without narrowing it down to a specific topic. That in itself helped me to form ideas about how diabetes care and support can be shaped in terms of social media use, in a way that everyone can relate too.
We were invited to listen to sessions which included; building online communities, fashion with diabetes, turning a passion for social media into a profession and an instagram workshop, to name a few.
I have to admit that I was sceptical about a few of the worshops. I thought that I knew what worked for me. what I liked and what people wanted. It turns out that I was wrong and after a few sessions I have been convinced to look at social media and its possibilities in different ways. Having co-founded the popular diabetes tweet chat, @OurDiabetes, as well as recently starting a local diabetes peer support group, @sweet_meets, I've been able to look at peer support in a fresh way and hopefully in a way that will benefit other patients, their families and health care professionals. There is much to do in the world of social media and diabetes!
Something that I did not expect to happen, and that I am grateful to Abbott for, is a new found love of food! In recent years, since being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and more recently with gastroparesis, my diet and the way that I look at food has gone downhill. I have recently started to loathe food due to the highs and lows it causes to my glucose levels. My average day in terms of food consists of the same food and drink, resulting in me rarely enjoying a meal. Food has become a part of a mind-numbingly boring routine. Thankfully though, Abbott didn't provide us with toast and cereal (which my usual diet consists of) but a delicious spread filled with fresh fruit, veg and meat which for the first time in years, I enjoyed! It has helped me to see my gastroparesis in a different way - before I felt I was doomed to a diet of blended fruit & veg but now I feel excited to experiment with new foods! So thank you to Abbott for that inadvertent little nudge in the right direction that I needed.
So the weekend has come to an end and I'm sitting at home in sunny England wondering which direction I should go in next with regards diabetes and social media/blogging. One issue I have is time - I need to study and to support that I need to work which means I have even less time to get to where I would like to be in terms of social media and reaching more people. But this weekend has certainly shown me that when a group of people come together they can take on their common goal as a team, rather than individually taking all the strain. Hopefully this is only the start of a European bloggers movement!
And finally... I'll be giving away this unisex t-shirt (medium) is worth 67 euros on June 20th! All you need to do to enter my random proze draw is:
- Follow me on twitter (@ninjabetic1) and RT the t-shirt picture OR
- 'Like' my page on facebook (ninjabetics) and share the picture OR
- Follow me on instagram (laura_ninjabetic) and favouried the picture
The wonderful creator at Anna PS designs clothing for people with diabetes to store their equipment in the clever side pockets (cgm reader, pump, glucose meter etc).
Fellow European tweeters/bloggers/facebookers to look out for include;
Jen, Mel, Kris, Sue, Gemma, Andrea, Sofia, Bastian, Oscar, Daniela, Matthijs, Francessca, Sarah, Linda, Hein, Patricia, Antje, Guillaume, Marcel, Sascha, Lisa, Maunela, Ilka and Finn
Disclosure: I have been sponsored by Abbott to attend the bloggers programme. Abbott has not asked me to tweet/post/blog about the programme. Views and opinions expressed are my own and not those of Abbotts.