My second Discovery Day
Even before we “met” this Discovery Day and I have had a rocky relationship: “she” was the first one I booked but then I ditched her in favour of meeting friends at the Bristol JDRF Discovery Day in April. But she wouldn’t leave me alone, bombing my timelines with information about her, so I relented and booked up to see her with only a few hours to go until her big day.
This article about the Bristol JDRF Discovery Day explains what Discovery Days are about, or you can check out the official information on the JDRF web site.
Stuck for something to wear
I was hoping to meet a local tweep named Amy – let’s call her AmyTwo to avoid confusion with references to my daughter – there, and already knew that recognising a t-shirt is easier than recognising a face from an online avatar, so I put a joke out there on Twitter, mainly for AmyTwo to be able to recognise me.
I was proud to wear one of Gav’s GBR30/30 Challenge t-shirts having cycled 100 miles next to him and knew it would be easy to be recognised in one of them, it turned out to work very well.
Faces to names and all that
At the entrance JDRF’s Louise was there to sign people in. Of course I wasn’t on the list because I was such a late entrant but I said my name and her response was “Oh, hi Kev, I met your lovely wife last week at the JDRF Speakers Training day”. Jane’s signed up to be a speaker on behalf of JDRF, speaking to Rotary Clubs and the like, starting quite soon.
I went into the auditorium, AmyTwo wasn’t there and neither was anyone else I recognised.
Ooh, a new blood glucose meter which we haven’t got
It’s becoming a standard joke that whereever I go I pick up a new meter for my Amy: I got a ContourUSB from the last JDRF Discovery Day; on the GBR3030 I saw Gav’s Glucomen LX meter and ordered a free one of those.
Here I saw a lady demoing a meter by Mendor, one which I’d seen a video of a couple of weeks ago and thought it looked interesting, well boring looking actually but the concept was interesting.
Everything you need, pricker, strip, meter and case are contained in one unit. Here’s a couple of their videos:
The first talks start
First up was JDRF’s Nikki who opened the day, said a bit about the speakers and later as a bit of ‘cheesy fun’ (as she called it) got us to raise our right hand and state “I do solemnly swear, that I will never, just refer to type 1 diabetes, as “diabetes”, and I will always say “type 1 diabetes”‘. It raised a lot of laughs and actually was a very valid point. If we, the people associated with Type 1 Diabetes don’t always quality the type then what chance is there that others, like the press and media, will do the same?
Diabetes Awareness Dogs and Wessex Assisting Dogs
I saw a similar presentation to this in Bristol but for me this one was much better, probably because they actually had two well behaved dogs there. To be fair at Bristol I spent the duration of the presentation mucking around on twitter with the #DOC tweeps, jokingly asking Annie to get Jane a cup of tea and then having a cup being passed along the line – hilarious.
I was amazed to hear how the dogs are trained and just the sort of thing they can do, such as trying to alert their owner of a forthcoming hypo, bringing them hypo supplies and evening pressing alarm buttons should their owner not respond.
Superb presentation by Dr Tim Tree
Dr Tree works at Kings College as part of the D-GAP programme and alongside Cambridge and Bristol.
He’s a pretty smart cookie. But would he be too smart? Would I understand his presentation?
I had these worries as the two PhD holding speakers at Bristol presented very well indeed but it was just a little too technical for me, someone who never studied Biology or Chemistry at school whatsoever.
Dr Tree was brilliant though, aided by a very whizzy presentation which sadly for me was done using a Mac; still I’ll let him off this faux pas.
He has type 1 diabetes himself, as have relatives of his, but not his siblings and he spoke about them, getting diagnosed and using multiple blood samples of theirs in his research to discover why he got it but they didn’t.
He took us back to 3500 years ago and explained how ancient Egyptians detected the presence of diabetes: they used ants and two samples or urine, one without diabetes and one suspected of having it, if the suspected patient had diabetes all the ants moved to his/her urine sample. Simple. Effective. Sadly it didn’t help as prior to 150 years all diabetics died as no medicine had been discovered.
He brought us forward to the last 5 years and told us all the recent breakthroughs being discovered and the part D-GAP (and Bristol, Cambridge and Kings) play in it.
The presentation was fun as he used pictures of his family and one of his sons who was in the audience helped out too. Much use was made of lego figures and in the end he said “there you are, 5 years of research summed up by 6 lego figures” – the audience laughed.
He made no promises about 100% cures or 100% prevention but ultimately we were left with hope.
He ended well stating “none of this research would have happened if it wasn’t for the money from JDRF” and thanked us for giving it.
If you read this Dr Tree, thank you very much for what was one of the best presentations I’ve ever seen.
Meeting up with AmyTwo
Whilst the talks were going on I spotted AmyTwo, a couple of rows in front of me and at the end I went over to say hello.
“Hi, are you Amy?”
“No, I’m Alice”
Oops. I apologised and sheepishly walked away.
Whilst looking at some of the stands the real AmyTwo spotted me – I’m guessing my t-shirt trick worked once more. I didn’t recognise her at all from her avatar, thank God she found me.
AmyTwo was due to be in Jane’s group at the JDRF Volunteer Speaker training course last week but unfortunately she couldn’t go so we chatted about that for a while until it was time for her to go.
Meeting up with local parents and preaching about pumps
I thought I recognised someone from the carbohydrate counting course the other month, I had, it was another parent, Steve, whose young son has type 1.
Steve told me that they’d only done the carb counting course because they’re looking into pumps and that they just needed to decide between one of the two pumps the hospitals offer (Medtronic and Roche).
“Two? Actually Steve you have more choice than that, Amy’s getting an Animas Vibe in two weeks.”.
I couldn’t help myself extol the benefits of the Animas Vibe, citing waterproofness, the colours, the lack of bluetooth, the CGM potential, the waterproofness (again).
Steve seemed quite interested and asked for my details.
I hope we’ll be in contact soon as it’s important choose the right pump – when they have a choice – and it’s important to know what your choices are.
Steve, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry if I went on a bit about the Animas pump 🙂
Like a red rag to a bull
I only wore the GBR30/30 t-shirt so AmyTwo could recognise me but on the day three people came up to me and asked if I was something to do with Gavin’s challenge.
They were pleased when I said “yes” and they all asked me questions about what I did (cycled 100 miles, last 4 days), how Gavin was during/after his challenge and each one of them ended with something similar to:
“That lad has been an inspiration to me/my-daughter/my-son.”
“You’re right, he is, isn’t he!?”
Chatting with JDRF staff
Just before I left I chatted with JDRF South’s Louise about everything that’s been going on, with our fundraising efforts, Jane’s volunteer speaker role, Amy’s fundraising and forthcoming pump.
She was so pleased with our efforts and kept thanking me but honestly it’s the other way around, if it wasn’t for what JDRF do people wouldn’t do what they do…and then there’d be no hope for a cure for Amy – one and two 🙂