Take Control of Your Diabetes at a TCOYD Conference

Take control of your diabetes with the nonprofit organization Taking Control of Your Diabetes (TCOYD) at a one-day conference that will ignite motivation for change, offer hope, provide invaluable education, and change the life of anyone who has the condition. I recently spoke with Dr. Steve Edelman, who has lived with Type 1 diabetes for over four decades and is the founder and director of TCOYD, about his conferences.

AM: How, where, when, and why did the idea for these conferences originate?

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SE: Our first TCOYD conference was in September 1995 at the San Diego Convention Center. I had the thought that medical professionals were too slow to implement findings from clinical trials. The DCCT (Diabetes Control and Complications Trial), which was competed in 1993, clearly showed the benefits of glucose control in people with diabetes (PWD), but the health-care providers were doing the “same old, same old” and diabetes care was not improving. So I had the idea, why not take the important messages about living a long and healthy life with diabetes directly to the people most affected, along with their loved ones? We then realized how “thirsty” people were for education and we added in motivation, humor, and activation at our events.

AM: What are your goals for these national conferences?

SE: The main goal is to educate PWD about all the therapies and devices out there for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. The other major goal is to help motivate folks with diabetes to put diabetes higher on their priority list, basically activating folks. Teaching and showing PWD that having a chronic condition and then taking care of it…can lead to a long and healthy life.

AM: “Control” is a loaded word for people with diabetes. As someone who has lived with Type 1 for 32 years, I try to stay away from using the word control, and I’m interested to hear your thoughts on “control” and how to “take control of your diabetes.”

SE: No one has ever asked me this question…. Control is just a word I use to mean…get your diabetes in good enough shape so it doesn’t wreck your life.

AM: What are some highlights of the upcoming conference?

SE: We really look hard for health-care providers who get it, many of whom have diabetes themselves. We recruit diabetes educators, registered dietitians, and endocrinologists who are patient oriented, but this is not an easy task. Speakers at the Raleigh, North Carolina, conference include Chef Robert Lewis, “The Happy Diabetic,” who will share his tips, tidbits, and humorous anecdotes about cooking; William Polonsky, PhD, CDE, behavioral psychologist, founder and president of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute, which focuses on the emotional side of diabetes; and Tricia Santos, MD, “Endo Extraordinaire,” who is an expert on diabetes and speaks nationally for TCOYD.

AM: You offer sessions for Type 1 and Type 2. Why did you decide to combine the two?

SE: While people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes have very different needs and issues they have to deal with on a daily basis, there are certainly some issues that are shared — particularly when it comes to the emotional and psychological side of diabetes. Everyone needs help from time to time when it comes to staying motivated or feeling empowered to live a healthier, and ultimately happier, life, so we try to make this the focus of every conference. Being in a room with 1,000 or more people who are excited and motivated to take control of their health is a powerful thing for someone to experience — regardless of what type of diabetes she may have.

AM: Finally, what have you been surprised by or what have you learned from these conferences that you didn’t expect?

SE: One thing I learned that most caregivers should know is that you can take the most “non-compliant” patient with a super-high A1C (a measure of glucose control over the previous 2–3 months) who is not doing anything you told him to do to control his diabetes, and once you sit down and talk to him and ask a few simple open-ended questions, and LISTEN WITHOUT INTERRUPTIONS, you find out he has real barriers and wants to live a long and healthy life.

The next TCOYD conference is in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Saturday, May 6, at the Raleigh Convention Center. For more information on this and other TCOYD conferences, visit the TCOYD website.

Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to gastroparesis. What causes this complication, and how can it be managed or prevented? Bookmark DiabetesSelfManagement.com and tune in tomorrow to find out.