Attending a conference for work or school is something almost everyone will have to do at some point in their life. Navigating a conference in and of itself can be challenging, but people with diabetes have the added stress and challenges that they often need to consider.
If this is an overnight conference, you might ask yourself: how many days will I be gone? How many extra pods will I need? Do I have enough insulin to last the whole conference? Do I have snacks packed? Can I access snacks quickly in case of a low blood sugar?
Those who will only be attending a day conference, even for just a few hours, will also have questions they need to ask themselves: Will I need to change a pod or site during the conference? Are there bag restrictions I need to take into consideration? Where will I keep my snacks and water? These questions are only the beginning for someone living with diabetes and attending a conference.
I have asked these questions. During a week of new teacher training, we had conferences scheduled all day every day. Some were virtual, which eliminated a lot of stress, while others were at different school locations. One specific conference lasted all day and was at another school. I had to make sure I had a good lunch, plenty of water, and plenty of supplies such as insulin, test strips, and an extra pod. When I got to the school, I made sure to find out where the bathroom was in case my sugar was high and I needed to slip out of the conference, or in case I needed to change my pod while I was there. Sure enough, my pod expired in the middle of a speaker presenting. I quietly slipped out and changed my pod. Now, I have learned that if I know my Omnipod pod or Dexcom will expire during a conference or meeting, I often change it ahead of time to prevent the distraction.
Attending conferences can be stressful for diabetics, but proper planning and preparation can limit some of those challenges. For overnight conferences, I like bringing the Diabetes Insulated Travel Bag with me. This allows me to bring plenty of extra supplies for multiple days and it keeps my supplies cool. For shorter conferences, I like to bring the Insulated Diabetes Organizer or the Diabetes Insulated Sling Backpack. The Organizer provides plenty of room for extra supplies, while the Backpack has room for conference materials, such as your laptop, a notebook, and writing materials, along with your diabetes supplies. All of these bags are insulated, which eliminates the worry of insulin getting too hot, and are all great ways to pack as a diabetic for a conference.
By: Amy Powell, living with T1D since 2009