In my last post I told you that I had been lucky enough to be invited to the second annual bloggers forum created and facilitated by Medtronic, the makers of my pump. I was first invited to the event in a series of email exchanges between myself and one of the Medtronic team several months ago. Excited even at the prospect of meeting other bloggers, I jumped at the chance. I mean tea and biscuits at the Medtronic office in Watford - who would say 'no' to that?!? Well it turned out my highly anticipated tea and biscuits afternoon in Watford was in fact a weekend conference in Geneva,Switzerland, much to my surprise (and delight).
I wasn't really sure what would be in store for us or even who was going to be there, but I knew the idea was to get a group of bloggers together with some key players at Medtronic to discuss products and services, patient empowerment and of course to meet other people who like to talk so much that eventually we had to start a blog, simply so we could find another outlet for our over-active communication gene.
The weekend started on Friday with a rather well-placed hypo at the airport thanks to - I imagine - being slightly too excited about the weekend and forgetting to eat lunch. At the airport I was met by the Medtonic Product Manager for Europe, who was already deep in conversation with none other than the likes of Lesley from Input and Andrew from My Pump. It began to dawn on me that I was going to be spending my weekend with some pretty heavy-weight bloggers, after having already found out that Tim and Alison of Shoot Up or Put up and Mike of Diabetes in Spain would be going. At this point I was fairly confident that my invite was more likely to be as a result of an admin error than anything to do with how far-reaching my blog was. I mean, I can safely assume from the stats on my blog that I have at least 11 followers (who I love dearly) but in terms of reaching the far corners of the globe, I am reasonably confident that Insulin Independent isn't quite at the dizzy heights of Blogosphere fame just yet.
But nevertheless, I found myself on a flight to Switzerland, sandwiched between two smartly dressed businessmen who didn't seem nearly as excited as I was. Perhaps their plans didn't quite measure up to mine. Not many would have, I expect.
Meeting everyone for the first time was both exciting and a little daunting. I can't deny that I felt a little dwarfed by the calibre of bloggers (Adrienne and Jan and Richard to mention a few) and representatives of significant patient advocacy services who were there. But it quickly became clear that we all shared a great deal of motivation, like-mindedness, passion for diabetes advocacy and a belief in equal access to high quality diabetes treatment options for all of us living life with a duff pancreas. On top of this my nerves were calmed by the instant openness and friendly attitude of everyone in the room.
Surprisingly for me, despite being called "The 2nd annual Medtronic Bloggers Forum", there were very few people there who used a Medtronic pump and as far as I could tell only about 50% of the people there were in fact bloggers at all. But it was clear that for Medtronic, this wasn't about selling their product. This weekend was about finding out what the people behind the funding cheque were all about and how we could be used (in a good way) to improve services and expectations of their Company. Although I have no doubt that the 10 subsequent blog posts about how great a weekend it was and what a top-notch company they may have featured on the radar in their decision making process .... :)
The topic of discussion for the weekend was Left Brain,Right Brain: an idea which Tim of Shoot Up or Put Up fame (which I understand is the blog to watch out for on the world domination front, as Tim assures me) had suggested some time ago, all about how we spend very little time looking at the emotional side of living with a chronic illness. Far out for a company whose employees pay for their holidays by only worrying about the physical, don't ya think? Perhaps it was this refreshing attitude which helped make the weekend such a success.
It is difficult to say which part of the weekend I preferred the most, seeing as anything to do with diabetes tends to appeal to me. And the whole weekend, while being an opportunity to meet with Medtronic themselves and talk 'shop', was filled with entertainment and laughter. Nothing can beat a bit of general silliness like the suggesting of telepathic bolusing or starting a terrorist organisation called the DiaRA (think IRA), who could kidnap famous people and give them a pancreatectomy so as to raise the profile of Type 1 diabetes (full memo and sign up sheet to follow). I was even able to convince the group to participate in a nice and cheesey American Blogger Style group hug. Feel the love.
The whole weekend was a great opportunity to see what Medtronic are made of and watch as an active participant how the relationship between Medtronic and some of the perhaps more demanding of their clientele can develop. I certainly hope that this is something which will be continued and will allow us to put type 1 diabetes in the limelight more and more.