Connecting with Community: Glu’s Event with Tandem in NYC

Allison25 and AF BW

When I heard that Glu was having an event in NYC, I knew I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to attend. The event was to discuss and inform fellow T1Ds and healthcare providers about Tandem Diabetes Care’s t:slim® Insulin Pump as well as educate people more on what Glu is as part of T1D Exchange and how we can help them achieve their goals. While I’m only 9 months into my diagnosis and not ready for a pump just yet, I quickly arranged things on my end so I could make it. The thought of meeting other Glu members, not being the only T1D in the room, and to educate myself more on a disease that I never knew anything about until now seemed like the right thing to do. I had a few hours to myself to also visit my old neighborhood, take pics of my old apartment to show my kids, and visit my old favorite stores. I walked over to the restaurant, slightly anxious, but luckily Bill and Anna were the first people I saw. I told them my name, to which they gave me a warm welcome, but then I clarified. “No, I’m Allison25 from Glu,” and just like that I was welcomed with two huge hugs.

At diagnosis, I was scared, angry, and felt very alone. Luckily my sleepless nights gave me time to surf the web. Something that most people will tell you not to do when trying to find more information about a disease. Thankfully, I stumbled across Bill’s YouTube videos and was hooked. Here was a totally “normal” guy, around my age, talking in such a way that I understood and all of a sudden I didn’t feel so alone. From there, a few simple clicks got me to Glu. A place I now go to in moments of sadness, confusion, anger, and happiness, too! To find a place where everyone has been on the emotional roller coaster that I am now riding, from those “old timers” who could give you advice in two seconds flat and to fellow “newbies” who are experiencing exactly what I am, has been monumental in my journey that has only recently began. I cannot imagine how I would be emotionally if I didn’t have Glu and its members to help me through this very new and difficult time in my life.

As people entered the event, I couldn’t help watch each person and try to figure out if they too had diabetes or were simply there for work. I would smile at each person thinking that just maybe we “got” each other. The two people who happened to sit down next to me happened to be Certified Diabetes Educators so I wound up telling them my sob story as I normally do, I ended with, “But it could be so much worse. If this is my ‘thing’ than I just have to man up and deal with it.” I was happy to see that not only T1Ds were there. These people in the health field are the ones that educate us on how to best manage our disease so I’m glad they took the advantage of the opportunity to learn more.

First Bill, Anna, and Zoey (who I learned was Anna’s bionic twin in the bionic pancreas trial) kicked off the meeting and explained the purpose of the event. They went more into Glu and its role in helping us toward a cure, which was a much larger role than I thought. Sure, I thought they gathered up all the feedback from the questions of the day, etc., but didn’t realize the network it had and the essential counterparts it shares its information with. People sometimes say “it takes a village,” and Glu is clearly part of a village whose main goal is to get us closer to a cure. I now see that Glu is not only a place for me to go to for support, it’s a place I can find comfort in, knowing they are the ones fighting for us, every single day.

They then introduced a T1D member of the Tandem team. With helpful slides, she was able to walk us through all the initial steps they took before creating the pump. It was great to see how much thought and effort went into creating the best possible pump to help us live a little easier. Being a multiple daily injection (MDI) user, I had little knowledge of all the benefits of the pump. I thought, “Sure, it might make things a little easier, but you still have to do all the work.” I was never so happy to be proven wrong. Seeing that it has a touch screen, which is something everyone’s so accustomed to, made it seem less intimidating. It was amazing that you could have different settings for two very different days. For example, if you are a parent of a T1D, you could change their setting to avoid lows if the child was heading to a sleepover. That is huge—your child could actually be a kid and enjoy themselves! She spoke about different kinds of boluses that MDIers only hear of but don’t understand. It all became clearer and these are all things that can be achieved by using a pump. Definitely gave me something to think about. She ended on a high note, announcing that Tandem is working with Dexcom to combine the t:slim and the Dexcom G4 continuous glucose monitor. This will allow you to read your sugars and control your pump all on one device. Tandem took the time to research what people with diabetes really need to improve their lives and they developed their product to match those findings. And they continue to improve their technology all the time. If and when I decide to go the pump route, t:slim will be on the top of my list of pumps to consider.

In summary, the event was well worth attending. From meeting fellow Glu members (who I speak to more about this disease then most of my own family members), and to have a forum where I could be around others learning about new and exciting things in store for us, gave me a reason to leave with a smile on my face and hope for our future. We have good, smart, determined people on our side and I am putting my faith in them and look forward to new developments in the near future.



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