Wednesday, April 20, 2016
HealtheVoices2016 was AMAZING!!! Walking among 90+ health advocates/patients, I was pretty much in awe the entire time. A lot of great things happened at HealtheVoices16 and as I started this post I realized I could write pages about it but instead have decided to share the most important takeaway I experienced from the weekend and give myself some time to reflect on all the other information I took in. With some reflection, I can share better in individual posts. Plus, posting regularly is actually something I learned I need to be better at doing.
Do you remember when you graduated from high school and either went to college or started working? All the sudden it felt like the world grew. You were exposed to people, places, and events that you never knew existed. This is the feeling I had at HealtheVoices16. In my eight years of blogging, I have made numerous connections, but all those connections have had rheumatoid arthritis. Last weekend my world was opened up to 20+ health issues.
With rheumatoid arthritis as a diagnosis, it is really easy to start believing you are a unique snowflake and your diagnosis alone is constantly dealing with changing health issues, insurance, and prescriptions. Guess what? It isn't. No matter what the health issue, we all deal with a multitude of feelings, frustrations, and life changes.
HealtheVoices16 allowed me to meet some of the nicest, most enthusiast people ever. On Saturday night, we had small group dinners and I didn't know anyone in my group. I was super nervous. As we sat down, our illnesses and advocacy brought us together, but soon we learned we have so much more in common. Cindy @MyelomaTeacher was a fifth grade teacher just like me. Anna at DiabetesSisters lives 20 minutes away from me. In a session, I learned that David at MS Challenge has a book coming out with exercises for all levels. We can use that in the RA world too. I met Dave from ActiveMSers and Todd from Overcoming Psoriasis who both kept me laughing nonstop. Watch out for those two! Todd shared a couple of psoriasis tips that I plan to use on my daughter's eczema. Howard from The Itch to Beat Psoriasis is another new friend that I had the privilege of sitting down and talking with. His calm personality is just what I needed after a loud meet and greet. I also got to hang out with two new friends with RA and Diabetes. Molly from And Then You're at Jax who I have been following on Twitter for a while and is a new member of Joint Decisions. Yay! Also, Rick from RADiabetes who is a go-getter. Connie from Life Beyond Hepatitis C lead a few of the group discussions I was in. I wanted to take her enthusiasm home with me. I was touched by Wendy at Candy Hearts Blog who "cries every single time". That was the amazing thing about HealtheVoices16, you felt safe crying. I finally got to meet Kirsten from Not Standing Still's Disease & Chronic Sex (if you haven't joined #chronicsex on Twitter or Facebook, I recommend it.) Kirsten is also new to Joint Decisions. Yay! There were so many other wonderful people that I hope to share with you in other blog posts and so many people I never had the chance to meet.
HealtheVoices16 takeaway is that we are all in this together. We are "Better Together". We can stop feeling like we are alone and start working together as a health community to make better stories for us all.
We were well taken care of at HealtheVoices16 due to the wonderful Tonic Life Communication gals. A special thanks to Deirdre, Kimberly, and Rachel for all you personally did for me. Also, to Janssen for paying for my travel expenses, but mostly for having such an amazing team of people.
*Thoughts and opinions are all mine. :)