Last year’s first ever #GBDOC conference for people with diabetes turned out to be very successful, very popular and very enjoyable, so I was glad to hear Team Blood Glucose were going to run a second one. This year’s conference was set up to be a two-day affair at the more upmarket Colwick Wall in Nottingham.
Going, not going, going
As much as I’d enjoyed 2015’s conference I couldn’t really attend this year’s as I had commitments on the Saturday and couldn’t justify the £150 expense (tickets, hotel, travel) and I was sad to disappoint the several friends who’d hoped I’d go. Then Abbott stepped in to support the event financially making it free to attend and more importantly meaning I could attend for just one day, on the Sunday.
As it turns out my Saturday event was cancelled so I could have blooming gone for both days.
The excitement rises
As with last year’s conference my Twitter feed started buzzing several days before the event, everyone excited to finally meet or meet again people they’d spoken to daily for numerous years. If truth be told the conference itself wasn’t the draw for me at all, it was the people.
Trying to avoid Saturday’s excitement
After finding my Saturday event cancelled and disappointed that I could have attended the conference’s first day I couldn’t face the excitement on Twitter and decided to I needed to distance myself. So I positioned myself up one of my apple trees to give it a little prune, I think I may have overdone it as it took all day.
Stupid o’clock on a Sunday
A 6am start on a Sunday is unheard of but was a necessary evil to be able to arrive at Colwick Hall for the 10am start after a 3 hour, 175 mile drive.
It felt ironic that with so far to travel I was actually the first to arrive, closely followed by my good friend Nick and we went in to be welcomed by Rhodri, who helped organise this year’s event.
Nick, Rhodri, me, and no-one else.
A sea of friendly faces
People started arriving, Bob, Philippa, Sacha, Sarah, Steve, Paul, Jules&Lee, Lydia, Lis, Jo, Veeny and so many more. Chatter and laughs filled the room and it almost seemed a shame to break it when the conference started.
Open format conferences, the way forward
In open format conference style there was no agenda and it started with everyone deciding what they wanted to talk about and the topics were grouped together and sessions arranged.
Session One: MDI to Pump and Tech
A few people, Philippa mainly, had asked me to attend the conference just in case anyone wanted to ask me any tech questions regarding CGM, Nightscout or xDrip, so it made sense I’d join this session. I was pleased to hear that Tim Omer had done a great job on the Saturday with chats about xDrip, OpenAPS, HAPP and general artificial pancreas and CGM topics.
The session started off with a discussion about pumps, an intro on what they are, benefits of using one and about getting approval from clinic/CCG to get one. To be honest after 15 minutes I’d switched off a little – as it wasn’t so relevant to my situation – and happily chatted quietly with Steve whom I live a few miles away yet travelled 175 miles to chat to.
But I heard Lis say ‘Kev would you like to say something?’
‘Erm, no’ I panicked ‘I’ve not really been listening’.
The pump discussion had concluded and they wanted to hear about tech, from me, now; I really should have thought about this in advance.
CGM, xDrip, Pebbles, glanceability
Recently I’ve spoken to many about Nightscout, the ability to see your kid’s glucose values from afar, but Nightscout isn’t really suitable for an audience of adults, so I switched to talking about getting glucose values on a watch on your wrist.
Taking a step back I went through CGM and particularly how DexcomG4 broadcasts a signal out to anything which wants to listen.
Moving on to xDrip I explained the £40 DIY kit I’d built back in January 2015, which some had seen at last year’s conference when Amy demo’d it to a few.
I spoke about the glanceability benefits of having your glucose level on your watch gives and explained how it helped Amy through the day, especially being at school where use of phones is banned or frowned upon.
Nic and Alyssa asked some great questions about Dexcom and Medtronic CGM and I answered questions about extending the life of DexcomG4 sensors – obviously no-one does that right?! – and different positions they can be worn.
The time whizzed by and 20 minutes later and it was time for me to shut up.
The Afternoon Sessions
After a lovely lunch with great conversation with Philippa and a table of others it was time for the afternoon sessions although I’d decided session two would be reserved for a chat with Jules and Lee whom I was surprised to see, knowing that she was worn out by day 1.
For session three I joined in with the ‘Food’ topic, interested to hear other people’s opinions on food, different diets they used to manage their diabetes and its effects on glucose levels. After a great discussion led by Nick and with some great input from Vicky and Jo, before Paul arrived and Nick asked him to explain Low Carb High Fat and how it worked for him.
I found myself nodding with Paul’s chat so much my neck ached, he’s really got the knowledge of this completely sorted and it was a breath of fresh air to listening to someone helping others out with fact, not fiction nor flippant comment. Paul spoke in length about ketones, ketosis and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and explained why people with diabetes can deal with ketones. He also answered many questions on how to get started in becoming ketogenic, truly great advice for those who were there and interested.
Post sessions chat
Yet again more time was devoted to chat with friends old and new and I enjoyed my chats with Bob and meeting Tim, Melissa and Matt for the first time, as well as chatting with numerous people who’s names I sadly haven’t remember.
It’s all over
And before we knew it the conference was all over and it was time for the long drive home. I’d had a great day, it seemed everyone had a great day/weekend.
I’m not exactly sure of who did what but I’d just like to thank Paul, Alex, Rhodri and TeamBloodGlucose for all they did to organise and run the conference. It’s truly a great event I’d suggest everyone attends next year.
I’d also like to thank Abbott for the investment which meant that I could attend.