Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Friends For Life Day 1

Brianna was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes almost 3 years ago.  A few months after diagnosis, we heard about an annual conference that was held in Florida, called Friends for Life, by Children with Diabetes.

Last year we went to a local event they had in Ohio.  It was AWESOME!!  Brianna was able to hang out with kids that all understood and lived with Type 1. After seeing how happy she was and how much she enjoyed it, we knew we needed to make the trip to Florida, at least once for her.   Little did I know that it would be GREAT for all of us- okay I kinda knew we would all enjoy it.

The first two days of the conference were a little relaxed. Though I have heard that this is not a typical year because the holiday was in the middle. We did not go on Tuesday, but started with registration on the 4th.  At registration we got our shirts, papers and bracelets.   The bracelets are a badge of honor- green is you have Type 1 diabetes, orange if you don't- you support or love someone with diabetes and yellow if you have Celiac.  Seeing so many green bracelets was awesome, not that I like all the people have diabetes, but they all knew exactly what it feels like to have diabetes- something as hard as I try I can never full feel or understand.

Next we did, Diabetes Art Drop-In that was put together by Lee Ann Thrill.  They had lots of diabetes related "garbage" that they kids and adults could make art projects with. There was tubing, boxes from sites, CGM's test strips, vials of test strips, test strips, ketone strips a little bit of everything.   Some of the projects were quite elaborate and really creative. Brianna really liked coloring, gluing and making art projects.
Here she is crafting...

Here are the finished masterpieces  ;-)
I think Brianna was trying to fit as many puffs on there that she could!


Brianna FFL- 2012 All made out of test strips! Dad made it for her.

Cut up tubing, test strips and test strip vials.

You will see lots of pictures of Courtney and Brianna, but very few of Austin.  He did attend with us (as well as my mom) and had A BLAST but he does not like his picture taken so the ones I have are very few.  :-(  He is 12 so I guess it all comes with growing up and I have learned to just respect it, though I wish I could have snapped a few more of him. He was in Sports Central while we made the art.  ANYWAY...

 At registration they also gave each person a pedometer and if you reached 10,000 steps you got a special T-shirt.  So Brianna went into have her eyes checked, Austin spent the time walking and trying to get his shirt- I think he got to around 4,000 and then it reset.  That happened to mine several times.  By the end of the conference we each received a shirt!

For people with Type 1 diabetes that attend the conference Retinal Screening is offer.  We took advantage of this and decided to have Brianna's eyes checked.  She was a little apprehensive, she didn't know what they would be doing.  The team that hosted this event was eye care specialists from Institute of Ophthalmology and Visual Science from the New Jersey Medical School. They did an in-depth evaluation, way more then the typical eye exam would do.  They also save all the data so if she ever, and she will, comes back to another event in Florida they will compare the results to see how her eyes have changed.
Brianna wore 3-d glasses and had to pick up a "bug" and on the other page point to which circle was coming at her.

Measuring the pupils

Checking her oxygen level

Checking her blood pressure

Checking blood pressure

Add caption

Holding really still. They take a quick picture of the eye but the data they get is amazing!

The results.

There were at least 20 pictures of each eye looking at all the different layers.

Everything looked normal

All the information.

Final test

This is a picture of the back of her eye.  They are looking at all the arteries and veins. It looks totally normal- no signs of any complications

Her eye has a birth mark on it, apparently only 1% of the population has it.  It is above where the white hand is on the screen.

The only recommendation Dr. Ben Szirth has was for her to wear sunglasses.  He said that he actually recommends that everyone does, but people with diabetes really need to.

The final thing for the day was the First Timers' Welcome Reception.  It was a chance to meet and see all the new people that came to the conference.  It was unbelievable to see everyone all connected by Type 1 diabetes.  They gave a brief overview of what to expect and a first timer from last year gave his experience of what he thought.  It was just overwhelming sitting there knowing you were about to have an experience that nothing compares to.  People will always go on vacation, but this was so much more then "just a vacation" never would you be surrounded by such love and support and people that truly get it.  And with that it wrapped up day one of the conference.  

Day 2 tomorrow--- hopefully.
I am really going to start to write more frequently.  I would love for you to follow me.  I love reading your comments and suggestions so please post. Thanks!!


  1. Hi! I found you from the FB group T1 Hangout. I've heard about FFL too. That would be so much fun!

  2. Can't wait to read more about FFL! Sounds fantastic! Hope to go some day!

  3. Awesome round up! So glad you guys could attend and participate in so many of the activities. Wasn't the eye screening incredible? Dr. Szirth told me that he can tell, just from looking at my eyes, that I exercise a lot! Boy did that make me feel good!