It has been 20 years since I had the idea that the most important messages about living a long and healthy life with diabetes should go directly to the people most affected by this condition—the folks living with diabetes. It began a long time ago, but I will make the story a short one!
Starting from the beginning, I was born in 1955 and developed type 1 diabetes in 1970 at the age of 15. At that time, there weren’t any impactful education programs that were widely available for teenagers with type 1 because we lived in a world of mostly type 2s. In time, I also came to realize that education had to be individualized, not only for the person with diabetes, but also for their families and friends.
After being diagnosed in the hospital, I was never referred to a diabetes specialist. My general doctor no doubt cared about people, but he really didn’t know much about diabetes and, as a result, I had poor control for many years. I wasn’t a rebellious teen with my diabetes but, rather, I was never properly educated and motivated to control my diabetes in a way that I understood or that made an impact on me. As a result, I developed eye and kidney complications that were discovered while I was attending medical school in the early 1980s.
During medical school I saw how little time was devoted to teaching students and younger doctors in training about diabetes, even though a high percentage of their future patients would have it. I decided to become a diabetes specialist and attended the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, and then joined the faculty at the University of California at San Diego and Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where I have been on staff for 27 years.
The Birth of TCOYD
I spent many years focused on educating healthcare professionals about diabetes but it was slow going, as most doctors practice habits get stuck in the mud once they finish training. In 1995, I decided it was time to put on a conference for people with diabetes. Working with Sandy Bourdette, we held the first Taking Control Of Your Diabetes conference at the San Diego Convention Center in September of 1995. Since that time we have developed a small team of dedicated hard working individuals at TCOYD and the rest is history.
After that first conference I realized very quickly that people with diabetes are thirsty for information and that the best way to improve diabetes care at the community level is by educating and motivating the people living with diabetes and their loved ones. This has been the basic thrust of TCOYD since our inception…education, motivation and self-advocacy… to learn about, and get access to, the best medications, most effective devices and finding empathetic caregivers who are knowledgeable about diabetes.
You Are Invited
We are very excited to be holding our 159th major TCOYD event and our 20th Annual flagship program in San Diego on November 8th. You are all welcome to attend this special event. Find out more here.
It is never too late to take control of your diabetes.
— Steven Edelman, MD