Monday, May 2, 2016

How Deeply Rooted Connections Helped Me After #HealtheVoices16

In April I was given the privilege of joining about 100 online health advocates in Chicago for Health eVoices 2016. This event was sponsored by Janseen (see disclaimer below), but it was all about the advocates.  In the short time we were there I learned so much about conditions such as MS, Crohn's, HIV, and RA. I do want to post about the actual conference, but first I want to write about how "deeply rooted connections" affected me afterwards.

The conference was April 15-17, 2016 (Friday-Sunday). I actually arrived on Thursday, April 14 for a Type 2 diabetes summit called 2ruth in Numbers (more about that in another post as well). On Saturday morning, my right foot was hurting. I didn't know if I misstepped on a curb or an uneven sidewalk or if it was just from standing a lot. I'm a first grade teacher, so standing all day is normal for me. This was different than the "normal" pain I experience. I thought it wasn't anything much, so I just kept on going. However the pain continued on Sunday.

Back to work on Monday and the pain was getting worse. After dismissing my students, I decided to call the doctor's office to see if by chance there was an opening. Although my primary care physician didn't have an opening, the nurse practitioner did. I told them I was on my way. To rule out a possible stress fracture, x-rays were ordered. Unfortunately I had to wait two days for the result because of the nurse practitioner's schedule. The call came in on Wednesday. No break though I showed signs of "mild degenerative changes." HUH? What's that? I asked the nurse to consult with my primary care doctor to see if this was something normal for someone my age, then hit Google while I waited for my doctor's nurse to call back.

She confirmed what Google had already told me. I have arthritis in my right foot. It's very possible it's in my left foot as well. Not something a first grade teacher who is constantly on her feet wants to hear. Nor a person with Type 2 diabetes who uses walking as her primary form of exercise. However this is where those deeply rooted connections came into play.

The first person I contacted was my new friend, Rick, who blogs at RADiabetes. Rick has Type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. He had read my blog and waited for me after a conference session to introduce himself. What a great advocate and resource he is! Of course he was the first one I thought of when the nurse told me I have arthritis. I knew he'd be one to have some answers for me. Of course he didn't disappoint! Thank you, Rick, for the resources you provided! I still need to spend time looking at what you sent, but I promise I will!

I went to Health eVoices with the goal of becoming a better advocate. I walked away with connections for not just myself, but others who may have questions about other health conditions. Thank you for giving us the chance to network, Janssen! It was an amazing experience!

Disclaimer‬: Janssen Global Services paid for my travel expenses for the conference. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.