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Diabetes Educator of the Year Travels
May 14-15, 2005
What an honor to be asked to be the keynote speaker at the American Association of Diabetes Educator’s (AADE) Leadership Forum in the “Windy City,” home of our national headquarters. This was the biggest event of my professional carrier: speaking in front of all the Presidents of all the nation’s 100+ chapters of AADE. The topic mater was changed slightly to “Humor and Leadership.” Instead of having the audience create humor, they had an intentional laugh session, and were asked to compare qualities of the best and worst leader they ever experienced.
All in all, it was an incredible experience, if we overlook the fact I forgot to thank our national President, Mary Austin in person. So much for social grace. Thank goodness for email. I had the pleasure of meeting Malinda Peeples, our next national AADE President and co-author of the AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors. The feedback was excellent and it was great to mingle with the future of AADE. Plus, I had a chance to tour this dynamic city afterwards with my best friend, Rosie Castillo, and check out our national office. Magnificent tulips were in bloom everywhere, forever etched in my mind.
It also helped to have two Chicagoans give me advice on “must sees” including a dear “old” colleague, Onnette McElroy, and Tim Nylen, the Vice President who oversees our Diabetes Program at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Thanks for suggesting that city boat tour trip, Tim, which was definitely a highlight. You forgot to tell me to bring my mittens! It was c-o-l-d… OK, they had an unpredictably cold spell. And try as I might, Oprah never called me back! My phone line is still open, Oprah.
May 20-21, 2005
Alright. It’s official. I am travel weary. At least this flight is a hop up the coast. On of the last things I felt like doing was attending the Washington Association of Diabetes Educator’s (WADE) 2-day conference prior to giving the closing lecture, but it was one of the best things I’ve done. Their opening speaker for “The Art of Diabetes Education” conference was Michelle Deck, an R.N. and educator extraordinaire. She taught us how important it is to involve the audience with the use of visual symbols that they create. How cool! It completely transformed how I teach the AADE7 on this tour and for patients. (Sorry to all the AADE chapters who heard me before this trip!)
When I talk about healthy eating, we draw an apple. Being active? We draw a tennis shoe. Monitoring? We draw a blood glucose monitor. Healthy coping? We draw a candle (to represent relaxing). Taking medications? We draw a pill bottle. Problem solving? We draw arrows going high and low to represent how we would handle those situations. Reducing risks? We draw an eye to indicate the need for annual eye exams. Humor? We draw a smiley face. It is a much more interactive way to engage everyone and creates an open environment for in depth discussion about each element, what I have coined as the keys to successful diabetes management. You can pull these mental keys out any time you need them. When we talk about Tacoma, we draw an umbrella, not that natives bother to use them, as if to defy the fact that it rains every other 5 minutes.
It was also great to see their induction of new officers. WADE is a polished group! Plus, that lovely trip to the Museum of Glass, where we got to watch and feel the heat as beautiful pieces of art were created. I met a few educators who were very funny, to the point where we laughed almost too much for the given occasion—that was because of Sue Ruedebusch, Lawana, and Theresa Lambert. They finally had to break us up!
Jacqueline Siegel, outgoing President of WADE
Outside Tacoma Glass Museum with Sue Ruedebusch, Theresa
Lambert, and Lawana Shutt
Detail of Chihuly Bridge of Glass
June, 7, 2005
The night I arrived to our nation’s capital, there was an incredible thunder and lightening storm. The hotel windows shook with the intensity of the rumbles. Luckily, the weather cleared by the next day. I was able to squeeze in a walk and a visit to the National Museum of American History which featured a wonderful exhibit on Celia Cruz, a woman who was so ahead of her time. I saw what I first thought was the White House (it was the U.S. Capital Building—what do I know, coming from California?), and other famous landmarks. But all the fun was about to end.
The Capital Association of Diabetes Educators (Capital ADE) hosted their annual event at a lively, over-visually stimulating Italian restaurant called Buca di Beppo. Our room was cordoned off by curtains. Big deal. I was no match for the boisterous conversation from other restaurant patrons who were enjoying fine wine, coupled with the piped in Mario Lanza opera over the intercom. Since I did not have a microphone, I did my very best to walk the room so people could hear (which was probably about every 3rd word). Just when I was thinking to myself, “How am I going to get through this??” they started to jack hammer on the floor above. I literally almost cried. But instead, I walked over to my table, poured myself some of that red wine, and took a big swig. The audience loved it and later was very apologetic regarding the room conditions. It is not an experience I care to repeat, and given my newly armed sense of paranoia, I’ve checked with the remaining gigs to be sure we don’t have anything similar. So far, I have been promised no jack hammers.
It was a great experience for any public speaker. I think it will be hard to top that scenario! I left in such a state that I neglected to pick up the audience-created humor (or if I did, I was too stressed to remember where I put them). In the end, the joke this time was on me, and I chose to remember the attitude of Celia Cruz, whose photos I had seen earlier. She is famous for saying, “Azucar!” which is Spanish for sugar, but also, in the spirit of the word, means seeing the bright side. All one can do is laugh and see the glass half full!
D.C. Lightening Bolt
The Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz, from the National Museum of
Mary Ellen Wolf, Incoming President of the Capitol ADE, with
June 21, 2005
As promised, there were no jack hammers to be found during the Baltimore lecture with the Maryland Association of Diabetes Educators. The room was cozy and the crowd intimate, a perfect combo for a fun night. What a relief Malinda Peeples, our next AADE President, made time to attend this lecture which was a stark contrast to the D.C. Experience—she could hear me!
Since I had most of the day to myself prior to the lecture, I headed off to visit the Joslin Diabetes Program, officially, "an affiliate at the University of Maryland Medical System." Unofficially, from the West Coast perspective, Joslin is the Mecca of diabetes care. I learned their "mothership" office is in Boston and they have a total of 24 care centers nationwide, including one in Irvine, CA. The Baltimore site is their second largest facility. I was impressed with their comprehensiveness: an all CDE staff, several nurses (including a nurse practitioner), dietitians, an exercise physiologist, and several physicians (endocrinologists, podiatrists, ophthalmologist, psychiatrist and psychologist). They have three main focuses: education, treatment and research. They are a site for the Diabetes Complication and Control Trial (the famous DCCT study that showed control of glucose levels reduces and in some cases reverses complications). In terms of education, I learned our Diabetes Program at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula is quite similar to Joslin's, except for the physical building space. Our treatment rooms and clinicians' offices have windows and lovely views, thanks to our new facility.
I am really appreciative of Nancy Glaser, who showed me around Joslin. She is the newly elected President of Maryland ADE. She'll do a fine job.
After Joslin, I trekked over to the dock area and took a water taxi out on Chesapeake Bay. My favorite sight was the Domino Sugars plant. And of course, all those cutely-painted, large cement crabs scattered throughout the city. The city is famous for them.
The magnificent summer solstice full moon was a positive omen. It rose with the most brilliant deep orange hue, one I won't forget any time soon. Nor will I forget the kind diabetes educators from Maryland ADE.
Nancy Glaser, President of Maryland ADE, and Michelle Sheldon-Rubio, member of AADE’s Board of Directors.
Baltimore audience (Malinda Peeples pictured in lower left)
June 22, 2005
What happened to the year? The Philadelphia TRIADE chapter is one of my last stops. They treated me like royalty. Pari Sami, a registered dietitian with over 30 years experience (who was one of the first dietitians in Iran), went out of her way to ensure a successful event. After all the stress of travel, the TLC was very much appreciated. No time for a little sight seeing, but that’s OK. The 2002 AADE conference was held in this historic city, so I didn’t feel deprived. Several CDEs and I compared notes about our respective diabetes programs. I am happy to report the event went off without a glitch: no stuck elevators and no evacuations into the snow-covered parking lot at 3 am. This experience was about collaboration with like-minded, impassioned educators who are doing all they can in this epidemic. They also came up with some very funny material!
Carol Otte, President of TRIADE
A few TRIADE members (Pari Sami pictured in the center)
July 15, 2005
The sun was setting over Diamond Head when I arrived, complete with golden rays of light dancing through the gentle, isolated, white clouds. Unfortunately, I got sunburned in foggy Monterey the day before leaving for Hawaii, but that didn't stop me from relaxing as much as possible in this tropic wonderland. And my peers gave me the red carpet treatment. Jane Kadohiro, past-president of AADE, and diabetes educator celebrity, took my for a 3-hour tour of the island, for which I will always be indebted. She shared local treasures, like Pali lookout, which had a panoramic, birds eye view of the valley, and winds so strong they ripped my glasses from my head! I didn't have a car, and wouldn't have seen these sites without her generosity of time.
Another highlight was an impromptu dinner with Karmeen Kulkarni and her lovely daughter, the last night on the island. Karmeen is a gifted diabetes educator and registered dietitian who contributes significantly to our profession. She is tireless champion of diabetes care. During the ride home from a tasty sushi dinner, I couldn't contain my laughter on account of 3 plastic pigs which sat on the taxi dash board, whose bobbing-heads jostled continuously. Their pearl necklaces, wings, and little smirks were too much to handle. I was with diabetes royalty, laughing inappropriately at plastic pigs. Nice move. Luckily, Karmeen is down-to-earth and has a good sense of humor, so no harm done—I hope!
This chapter door officially closes when the title of Diabetes Educator of the Year is passed along to another deserving individual during our national conference held in Washington D.C. August 9-13, 2005. As with all endings, the paradox of new beginnings happens simultaneously. I was invited to be a script writer for the informative, weekly diabetes cable TV program called dLife. If you haven't seen it, check out CNBC on Sunday (check local listings). I will also be the President of the California Central Coast chapter of AADE. My efforts will continue locally at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula's Diabetes Program. My colleagues will see a whole lot more of me.
Over 1,000 educators nationwide attended my presentation on using humor when setting self-management goals, according to the current president of AADE, Mary Austin. I was too caught up in daily events to realize the overall impact of this opportunity. I met so many dedicated, impassioned, and fun diabetes educators, kindred spirits, and life-long friends. This was the best year of my life. Life starts at 40? It’s true!
The gorgeous sunrise I saw when leaving for the first stop in Florida, and the rich sunset at this last stop in Hawaii were perfect symbols for this journey, like book ends holding several chapters of this past year together. In another blink of an eye, the time spent as Diabetes Educator of the Year passed.
If you have read all of these entries, you are either my mother, loved ones, relatives, old pals and colleagues, or virtual friends who were willing to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I thank you. I am also grateful to Defeat Diabetes Foundation for allowing my complete literary freedom, and to LifeScan, whose travel grant got me across the country and back several times.
Thanks for coming along for the ride. All the best.
Mary Austin, President of AADE, and Catherine Fekete, President of Hawaii ADE.
Karmeen Kulkarni, Jane Kadohiro, and Theresa Garnero
Woman surfer with Diamond Head in the background
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