And thank you to Christelle Aprigliano from MyPerfectD, who inspired me to write this post in gratitude for being chosen as a scholarship winner to attend MasterLab last July.
The timing of which is significant because we just had our very first Thriveabetes conference in Ireland.
Before I go into what happened after MasterLab, let me first explain where I was before I attended.
I had an idea, that we, in Ireland, were entitled to experience the type of conference that people with diabetes in the UK and the US we're enjoying. A peer support conference. Turns out some other people had that same idea too. So, we came up with a plan, raised some money and were busy executing that plan to make Thriveabetes happen. And everything was going to plan.
However, until MasterLab I was wandering around aimlessly on the diabetes advocacy path. I really didn't know what I was doing or how to verbalise what I wanted to do.
On the very first morning of ML, we did the all-important ice breaker and introductions. I took a deep breath and tried to figure out why I was there in my head before it was my turn.
I introduced myself with "Hello, I'm Grainne, I'm from....", followed by my volunteer bit and then, added that really, the main reason I was there was to learn if I could organise Thriveabetes better. The response I got was that I should lead with the bit I ended with:-S Lesson #1 learned.
From that moment on, I was one of the organisers of Thriveabetes and I realised that every moment since 2007, when I helped set up our local diabetes support group, was leading up to this.
Every time I introduced myself I did it a little bit better and with more confidence. Without meaning to, I networked! But for me, it was an opportunity to meet the most interesting people and hear their diabetes stories; networking never seemed so easy! I had more Facebook friend requests in that week, than I had since I set up my Facebook profile.
At ML, I realised that I had found a path I wanted to travel, that I had been on that path; rambling unintentionally, for a long time. I found focus and I found my purpose.
Little did I know that in 2007 when I was at my lowest. I had been struggling to find decent diabetes healthcare for 18 months and I had just had a clinic visit where I sat in a Digital Chair Weighing Scales, used in nursing homes, retirement homes and rehabilitation centres.
I was desperate to find decent health care and I was desperate to find other people with type 1 diabetes to share with. That's when I set about starting our support group.
At the Thriveabetes Conference, we found that sense of community, of strength. We have found a way to connect with each other and a way to help each other.
Today, we are planning Thriveabetes 2016!