Report from Minneapolis 2007

It was nearly 90 degrees all weekend, a bit on the humid side, sunny in the afternoons… a beautiful summer weekend, right? Nope! It was October in Minneapolis and the CWD Focus on Pumping conference, our first in Minnesota!

The Marriott Minneapolis Southwest in Minnetonka was the home of CWD's 27th conference, Focus on Pumping, held October 5-7, 2007. About 175 people – mostly from the midwest - participated in this weekend event. While it was a smallish conference in terms of CWD regionals, it was wonderful in that every family met every other family… all the kids got to know each other, and the exhibitors and sponsors had the opportunity to interact with every single person.

The conference began on Friday evening, as registration and the Exhibit area opened with a wonderful reception and social evening. Representatives from the various sponsoring companies spent the weekend with CWD families, discussing their insulin pumps and products, demonstrating new meters and data management systems related to pumping, and generally keeping conference participants up to date on the newest and best diabetes management tools available. Sponsors of the conference included Abbott Diabetes Care, Animas, BD, Disetronic and Accu-Chek, Insulet (OmniPod), LifeScan, Medtronic Diabetes, Novo Nordisk, and Smiths-Medical. In addition, Angel Bear Pump Stuff, TrialNet, and the Diabetes Institute from the University of Minnesota joined us for the weekend.

Many thanks to Lisa Anstine and Julia Mattingly for staffing registration and getting everyone the correct t-shirt sizes once they arrived at the hotel - and serving as the information checkpoint!

The conference was divided into several tracks for Saturday and Sunday, with the teens, tweens, and elementary aged children all heading off to their own separate areas, the little ones going to childcare, and the adults having both general sessions as well as breakout sessions more specific to advanced pumpers and beginning (or considering) pumpers. Dr. Peter Chase opened the conference with an informative and in-depth perspective on Why We Pump. Dr. Chase, known among CWD families as the author of the Pink Panther book, spent a lot of time with parents after sessions and during break and mealtimes, answering questions, meeting the CWD kids, and giving everyone a better comfort level with their new information. In a second session entitled Continuous Glucose Sensing, Dr. Chase discussed the concept of continuous glucose monitoring, current continuous sensing systems on the market, continuous sensors in development, and why this type of management is critical to people with type 1 diabetes. CWD Teen Monica Lanning, who has participated in several Navigator trials, assisted Dr. Chase with his presentation.

For those families who are just in the beginning stages of pumping (or considering a switch from MDI to pumping), Gary Scheiner presented a session about Pumping Basics. Most of the families in attendance, however, already had some familiarity with pumping, so time was spent addressing individual questions and concerns as well as covering the basic concepts.

Gary also presented two very pertinent sessions, Strike the Spike and Preventing and Managing Hypoglycemia. In these very informative and practical presentations, he discussed the mechanism of hypoglycemia (which affects all of us at some time and is tremendously scary), as well as the very frustrating post-prandial blood glucose highs which affect lots of our kids. He spent some time helping parents understand the concept of glycemic index and how that affects post-prandial blood sugars – as well as why it is important to use a food with a high GI when a person experiences hypoglycemia. As with his presentations in past conferences, Gary received excellent feedback from parents for taking some tough concepts and making them understandable in a way that parents could take home and apply.

Athletic Trainer and pumper Rick Philbin talked about managing type 1 diabetes in kids and young adults who are very active and involved in sports. His talks Exercise and Busy Kids and Pumps and Sports stressed how important it is to have a diabetes management plan when a person is active and involved in sports, and the talks gave parents and young adults some pointers on what to modify with their pumping regimen. Rick was also available throughout the conference to discuss individual protocols for athletic pumpers, and many took advantage to chat with him and get some advice. Rick is wonderful in his capacity to help athletes with type 1 get past some of the hurdles of diabetes management to achieve excellent blood glucose control. Note that Rick also coordinates and authors CWD's Sports Corner, an online resource for athletes with diabetes. In addition, Rick presented the Advanced Pumping Concepts session, helping parents understand how the various functions of the insulin pump can be used for management beyond the basic basal/bolus.

CWD mom and ADA advocacy expert Crystal Jackson presented a discussion entitled Pumping In Schools: Making It Work. The small discussion group format enabled Crystal and the parents to cover a lot of territory, including children's rights in the classroom and how the ADA's Safe at School program helps parents achieve this.

In It's Not Just About Insulin Anymore, pharmacist Kim Kelly talked about some of the other pharmaceutical tools used in managing type 1 diabetes. He discussed the increasing number of kids and adults who have Double Diabetes – that is, type 1 diabetes combined with the insulin resistance of type 2 diabetes (often in conjunction with weight gain, lack of exercise, and less healthy food choices). After his presentation, Dr. Kelly then spent the rest of the conference working with his favorite group of kids: the tweens!

In response to feedback from other conferences, it was important to include some time talking about the emotional challenges of diabetes. No matter whether you are brand new to diabetes or whether you've been dealing with it for 25 years, it exacts an emotional toll -- sometimes it's hidden and other times it is evident every minute of every day in everything we do. Bob Bulgarelli, a cardiologist who specializes in stress management and family dynamics, worked with parents in a session called Managing the Emotional Challenges of Diabetes. Dr. Bob also spent time during the conference working with the kids in each age group.

Teen program coordinator Natalie Bellini took time off from her very busy schedule with the teens to present Sunday's session, Selecting an Infusion Set. Natalie is known at CWD conferences for her no-nonsense (and sometimes very funny) presentation style, and she discussed the pros and cons of all of the infusion sets currently on the market. There are a lot. She also demonstrated how each infusion set works and looks when applied. Most importantly, Natalie stressed the importance of site rotation with infusion sets. This doesn't mean side to side, using the same two spots over and over. It means moving the set to at least several dozen different places on a person's body ... even if you need to use a permanent marker on a belly, leg, or behind to grid it out.

The teen group numbered about 15 this weekend! Their activities combined a mix of some very serious discussion led by Natalie and Jim Vail, with some very fun hands-on learning activities. One of the highlights was a group analysis of junk food purchased at the Mall of America during the teen outing on Sunday. Exactly how many grams of carb, how much fat, and how many calories are there in that big old bag of fries or that 40 oz protein slushie? The teens were surprised! Another highlight was a presentation and discussion led by CWD President Jeff Hitchcock about Diabetes and Technology. The teens also participated in a wonderful discussion about Sports and Nutrition led by CWD Dietitian Tricia Stewart and Rick Philbin. Many thanks to the teen staff Natalie and Jim, Chris Tull, Katie Daugherty, and Nabil Elarbi for their energy and enthusiasm.

On Sunday afternoon, for the last session of the conference, teens Kelsey Martin, Trevor Tull, Marissa Hitchcock, Monica Lanning, Maryam Elarbi, and Sam Billetdeaux served as the experts for the session called Beating Pump Anxiety: Meet the Kids. Any question was fair game, and the panel did their best to answer candidly. What pump do you use? Why? Where do you put your infusion set? What do you do with your pump when you are driving? What do you do with your pump during sports? Where do you put your pump when you don't want anyone to see it? The teens were very well-spoken, as were the kids and parents in the audience who asked questions!

The tween group - ages 10-12 - had a wonderful mix of learning and fun. They had some great discussion with CWD Dietitian Tricia Stewart regarding how to manage diabetes, diet, and exercise in a healthy way. The tweens spent time at the hotel pool, and also enjoyed the beautiful weather with a walk to the lake combined with some sketching. They discussed the challenges of being a middle school student, whether you have diabetes or not. The kids did a really nice job of sharing their feelings and taking the interaction seriously.

Both the tween and elementary groups participated in Scavenger Hunts which had them scouring the hotel and exhibit area - and interviewing CWD and hotel staff - for tidbits of information, some relating to diabetes, some not! This was a very hectic and fun activity for the kids… and the hotel staff shared that this was a lot of fun for them as well. They loved interacting with our children.

The elementary age children, led by Lauren Lanning, Michelle Rago, Marissa Hitchcock, Brian Foster, and Tricia Stewart, enjoyed arts and crafts activities such as making portraits of themselves when they grow up - and scrapbooks (including photos of new CWD friends and autographs of faculty and friends). The kids enjoyed some very fun active time at the pool on both Saturday and Sunday. They also had some serious discussion time, and participated in interactive diabetes games. The youngest conference participants – ages 3-5 – spent Saturday and Sunday in childcare with CDE Mary Babin and friends. The 5 year old group joined in many of the activities with the elementary age group, but also spent some quiet time and play time on their own!

Additional thanks go to CanAm for sending several hundred packs of glucose tablets – all of which were distributed to parents by Sunday afternoon! While staff and parents did, indeed, fight low blood sugar challenges as a result of lots of active play in the pool and out, it was a great experience for all of us to discuss and handle these challenges together. It encouraged a lot of sharing regarding what works with temporary basals, infusion set adhesive, fast glucose, identifying impending lows ... and somehow the challenges just aren't that discouraging when you face them with friends!

Saturday night, thanks to the generous support of the Founding Sponsor Smiths Medical, all of the conference participants enjoyed a wonderful and healthy dinner and some well-earned down time. It was a great feeling to just sit and chat with new friends about all the ideas presented during the day. There was so much new information; discussing it with others helped it make sense and sink in! At the end of dinner, marathoner and CWD staffer Brian Foster shared his story about growing up as a competitive runner with type 1 diabetes. It was tremendously inspiring. When Brian was finished speaking, he pulled out a red running jersey and asked all the kids to sign it. He is going to wear that jersey during his next competitive marathon, in honor of all of his new CWD friends!

After dinner, the younger kids changed into pj's and brought pillows and blankets downstairs to watch Shrek. The teen group headed off on the shuttle for an evening of bowling and fun nearby. And Teen Coordinator Natalie Bellini settled in for a discussion of How to Talk to Your Teens. At 9:00, everyone gathered for ice cream sundaes as a bedtime snack!

CWD dietitian Mike Schurig once again spent months pulling together some great, healthy menus (and portion sizes and carb counts) for all of our meals and snack breaks. It always amazes the hotel management and dietary staff that we spend so much time and effort on this particular facet of our conferences ... but it is probably the most important thing that makes families feel safe about spending the weekend at a CWD event. So, kudos to Mike for another job well done… and to Tricia Stewart for helping supervise the meals onsite. And many thanks to the Marriott for following instructions down to the last letter!

CWD would not be able to hold conferences at all if not for the continued and consistent generosity of our sponsors. Many thanks to our Sponsors, including Abbott Diabetes Care, Animas Corporation, BD, Insulet Corporation, LifeScan, Medtronic Diabetes, Novo Nordisk, Roche Diagnostics, and Smiths Medical. Their generosity in supporting this conference and CWD families, as well as their passion for helping our kids and everyone with diabetes to lead a full and healthy life is extraordinary.

Finally, a big hug to the many people who helped out with this conference. You know who you are. We couldn't do this without you, and you have our most sincere thanks.

Animas announced a new limited edition pink 2020 insulin pump, and Marissa wants it!
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Elementary leader Michelle Rago explained World Diabetes Day to the young kids
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Lauren Lanning oversees a group of elementary kids on their scavenger hunt as they learn from Founding Sponsor Smiths Medical
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Kids signed the conference Quilt Square
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Prior to opening the conference with a session entitled "Why We Pump," Dr. Peter Chase reminded families of the importance of participating in TrialNet
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Rebecca and her mom Stephanie enjoyed a snack break
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Nabil, Monica, Maryam, and Lauren showed off their trial OmniPods
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Brianna had fun
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In the final session, Kelsey, Trevor, Sam, Maryam, Monica, and Marissa answered questions about their experiences with pump therapy
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Last Updated: Wed Nov 07 13:52:28 2007
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