I’m not new to Friends for Life. I first attended the signature event hosted by Children with Diabetes a few years ago and received my first green bracelet. The camaraderie that develops from a colored piece of paper around your wrist is spectacular.
I’m also not new to the diabetes community. I’ve been active, in one form or another, for nearly a decade. Some of the relationships I’ve built in the diabetes community will last a lifetime – my wife, for example, has diabetes. We met on Twitter. (I’m happy to share that story with you if you’re ever curious.)
Despite all that is familiar about being part of the diabetes community, there’s something truly special in the eyes of a family experiencing all that Friends for Life, and the diabetes community have to offer for the first time. As miserable as diabetes can be, knowing you are not alone is the most uplifting aspect of managing the test strips, the insulin, the calls with insurance companies, and all the other shenanigans that go along with this disease.
Finding people you can talk candidly with about living with or caring for someone with diabetes relieves a mental burden that you may not know you were carrying. But when you find this community – when you put on that green bracelet at the conference signaling you’re living with diabetes – you know you’re home.
For us at Tidepool, this was the first time we exhibited at a major conference. There have been some appearances at smaller, more local events in the past, but prior to this we have never been present on a scale like this. Our friends from the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition, College Diabetes Network, Nightscout Foundation, Beta Bionics, and Beyond Type 1 formed what we affectionately called the “Cool Kids Corner” of the exhibit hall. And we spent three days telling Friends for Life attendees about how awesome we think our free software is. And there were stickers.
Lots of stickers.
The time spent leading up to Friends for Life was a whirlwind of designing handouts, backdrops, posters, and stickers. But it was all worth it to see people with diabetes, caregivers, and clinicians walk up with an inquisitive “What is Tidepool?” look in their eyes, and walk away with a knowing “Tidepool seems pretty cool” smile on their face.
Luckily, this is just the beginning for us as we step out to make more noise about Tidepool, and why the prospect of liberating your diabetes data is so important to everyone on our team.
If you’d like to see what we got up to during the conference, follow us on Instagram, and check out this photo album we shared on Facebook. And don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list to get the latest updates from the Data Liberation Front!