I cannot emphasise enough how much I love the Friends For Life conferences. After 6 years of going, it goes way beyond simply being with other diabetics now. I’m not sure my friends at school would recognise the me at FFL, I feel like a whole other person – in a good way – whilst I’m there.
For those of you who don’t know, FFL is a conference for families living with type 1 diabetes usually in held all over America throughout the year, but once a year they bring one over to the UK for us. This year was my seventh and was quite possibly the best one I’ve been to so far! The parents go to educational or emotionally supporting sessions (four a day, breaks and food in between each!). While they do this the children go to sessions of their own. I am in the teens, 13-18 and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
We did fun activities and group discussions all day Saturday and Sunday morning such as a competition for carb counting fast food (which for non diabetics probably sound difficult and boring as hell but for us diabetics and siblings it is great fun and highly competitive!), a presentation on the latest technology (I will probably do a post at a later date about these) and separate girls/boys/siblings discussions (I’m in the girls diabetic talk of course) which always goes slightly off track but are brilliant because of the tips, tricks and stories we get to hear.
Sunday afternoon and Saturday evening are the best parts though – the disco and Thorpe Park.
I’m not a party animal in any way shape or form and I have rhythm but I cannot dance properly at all. However at discos you can’t get me off the dance floor easily. This would be one of the times my non diabetes world friends wouldn’t know me! Moments when you’re all dancing like maniacs and yet can still compare blood sugars on CGMs whilst dancing are what I go to the conference for. A lot of people wouldn’t understand this but it is moments like that are when I am completely normal and completely myself. I don’t hide any part of me from my diabuddies – I love it.
Thorpe park was just incredible. Walking round with a group of type one diabetics free to go and do whatever, in an adrenaline junkie’s heaven is something I will always remember. When we got there initially and the leaders yelled “Right. There’s forty of you. We have 20 fast track passes so get into pairs, one diabled and one carer!” I knew it was going to be a good day.
I only recently got into the whole rollercoasters and rides thing, I used to be quite scared of them and would only go on the mediocre rides at most. So (for those of you who know Thorpe Park) I went on Swarm first (forwards), Nemesis Inferno, Swarm (backwards) and I would have gone on Colussus if it had been a shorter queue (even with the fast track it was a really long wait!!). I had an incredible day and I would go back again any day!!
But the weekend wouldn’t be complete if it weren’t for all the people I get to spend time with whilst I’m there. There is nothing quite like being with someone in the same boat as you, no matter what you’re doing or talking about, there’s this unspoken agreement. They understand you and have your back and vice versa. That’s what makes these weekends special:)