World Asthma Day 2015: National Asthma Patient Alliance meetings and #ClearAir15 Summit

Airports and airplanes are among my favourite things. Once those six-flights-in-six-weeks culminate, if someone wants to fly me away again, I’m down.

YWG -> YYZ -> YWG -> YYZ -> YWG -> DEN.

[…Denver yet to happen. Next Monday.]

First was Senior Goalball Nationals April 17-19th. We didn’t win any games, but, I heard from another coach that he hadn’t seen Manitoba score seven goals in a game for about seven years, so, I feel okay about that! Plus Steve, Gerry and I got free stuff at the new Yorkdale Shopping Centre Starbucks (they’re left of me in the picture, #1 and #9, respectively), met Dia for coffee, went to the CN Tower, Purdy’s chocolate, and the Lego Store!

(Thanks to Jamie for snapping this picture when she and Larry came out to check out the games!)

Then less than two weeks after I’d returned, I was back on a 5:15 flight out to Toronto last Sunday morning. The official purpose of the trip was to attend an all-day meeting of the National Asthma Patient Alliance Executive Committee on Monday, the Clearing the Air Conference Gala Monday evening, and the Asthma Society of Canada’s 2nd annual World Asthma Day conference on Tuesday—World Asthma Day.

Sunday.

IMG_9957.JPG

Goodbye, Winnipeg…

IMG_9959.JPG

Hello, Toronto! (Again!)

My flight arrived 25 minutes early—it was really only the beginning of Transit Nirvana: I checked my phone upon arriving at the Terminal 3 bus stop, and the bus would be there in 3 minutes. I got off the bus at Kipling Station and after a moment of confusion with an out-of-order track, I was on my way to Jane. From there, I’d planned to walk to Humbercrest United Church, but, because of Transit Nirvana, the appropriate bus was sitting outside, so, a transfer it was. Beautiful.

IMG_9960.JPG

IMG_9961.PNGIMG_9963.JPG

This picture was my “I’m almost there!!!” text to Jess (below!), who I connected with on Twitter a few years ago. Getting in to Toronto at 8:30 AM on a Sunday meant it only made sense to go to church (…for the first time in two years :]).

(Getting into Toronto at 8:30 also meant that I was awake at 3:06 AM, thus the evident tiredness here!
Selfie credit to Jessica!)

IMG_9964.JPG

Listening to the choir warm up before the service! I may have also had Live’s “The Distance” going through my head here:

i’ve been to pretty buildings / all in search of You / i have lit all the candles, sat in all the pews
[…] oh, the distance makes me uncomfortable / guess it’s natural to feel this way / let’s hold out for something sweeter: spread these wings and fly.

I’d discovered while exploring where the church was that my grandma’s friend Alice lived nearby. After the service (interestingly, Jess spoke on John 15, which we’d explored one weekend at a youth leader’s retreat a few years ago—read: five years ago. How did THAT happen?), I met up with Alice at a coffee shop nearby for a couple of hours.

alice and kerri

 

(Got this picture in the mail from Alice 05/15!)

I reconvened with Jess after her meetings finished to go for lunch and do a drive through High Park to see if the cherry blossoms were out yet. The park was busy, but I felt super lucky to see the cherry blossoms—a few days on either side and I may not have been able to!)

IMG_9967.JPG

IMG_9968.JPG

 Jess dropped me off at a subway station, and while I almost got on the train going in the wrong direction (despite her telling me to go the opposite way!), I made another Transit Nirvana-esque transfer at Bloor-Yonge Station to college… and then proceeded to walk past the hotel and almost back to the station I’d transferred at. Hey, I figure I’d done pretty good up till that point—thanks Google Maps!

Shortly after arriving at the Courtyard Marriott downtown, I texted Stacey, a NAPA executive member from BC who had also arrived on Sunday. We connected in the lobby, went to the Second Cup in the hotel, and then went on a walk around downtown, including finding a Loblaw grocery store, and then returning to the Second Cup to buy dinner.

http://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8847/17481392296_832c4913f3.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

IMG_9973.PNG

(We got lost a bit, but that just means more Fitbit steps!)

IMG_9983.JPG

The sole purpose of my ice bucket was to house my berries—my chocolate milk couldn’t even stay in there so I just hoped it had enough preservatives in it ;). I was mostly unimpressed that Gerry wasn’t there to get ice for me ;).

Monday.

I woke up at 7:29 Eastern (6:29 Central—clearly I was tired as I went to bed at what my body would have interpreted as 10:06 PM, and I crashed into sleep rapidly according to SleepCycle), and got ready for the day. Did I mention the weird layout of my room? Yeah.)

IMG_9981.JPG

I went on a journey for a plain collared shirt in white or black several days before going to Toronto. I found one such shirt and the small was too big, so I had to resort to getting a Winnipeg Jets golf shirt. Represent! I got business casual down ;).

I got a text from Sue saying she had arrived at the hotel after an early flight from New Brunswick, and headed down to the Second Cup to meet her before my meeting with Erika and Vibhas. I am also that person who gave everyone the keys to my hotel room—Dia actually went up there to work, even! At one point, Erika and Dia had both of my keys and I had none, which was kind of amusing. Erika, Vibhas and I discussed the Asthma in Schools subcommittee meeting later that afternoon, and I thought it was awesome that we had some input from Sue as well, as she was taking part in the Strategic Planning discussion, so my hope was that she could use some of our previous struggles to help influence that discussion!

We started our National Asthma Patient Alliance Executive meeting at 11:30. Dia, as Chair, was keeping things rolling as you can see below.

IMG_9986.JPG

From this point, I think the best way I can summarize the bulk of the asthma/National Asthma Patient Alliance/advocacy/World Asthma Day related content is through tweets—real talk in “real time”. I’ve embedded a selection [a hefty selection!] below, and then will return with added commentary (I’ve embedded some commentary through Storify, also!)



(Be sure to click through on “Read next page” to see the last few gala posts, and tweets from the Clearing the Air summit!)

I set up #ClearAir15 on Symplur to give us a sense of how things were going Twitter-wise (no, Noah, I did not just set that up to bug you about my insane amount of tweeting, although that was a nice side-bonus—ADHD lends itself well to live-tweeting mostly), and because I like graphs and things (so does Rob, I learned). I am not really sure whether I expected more or fewer people tweeting (I am, after all, MedX biased, which is the craziest tweeting conference evah).

#clearair analytics2

Seems about right.

#clearair analytics1

Sorry, Noah (tweeting as @AsthmaSociety). Final stats say Erika and I out-tweeted you :]. Putting the e in ePatients.
(Of course, the ASC account came out ahead in Top 10 by Impressions. Also, I am glad to see more people tweeting at both Glen Murray and the Asthma Society than me, because that only makes sense.)

My favourite session of the day was Dr. Sarah Henderson’s breakout session on extreme summers and respiratory health. What I found most interesting about this, outside of the graph included above that compared Ventolin dispensed to levels of specific particulate matter in the air (mind-blowing to see that they were able to very much trend peaks in Ventolin dispenses at British Columbia pharmacies [and thus, likely, use of rescue medicine] at the same time as particulate matter from forest fire smoke), and how extreme heat + allergens + forest fires [particulate matter] = higher incidence of respiratory issues—I will say the most interesting part to me was not all of the above, but that Dr. Henderson actually dragged illicit drug use into the frame, noting that not only is use of street drugs a potential cause of death, but the way cocaine use alters the body’s response to heat means that cocaine users are even more likely to die during extreme heat than they might be in the same circumstances but in cooler weather. (Oh, I also got to introduce Sarah AND MENTION PENGUINS. Dr. Henderson is a cool lady.)

My Twitter slowdown came when money and politics were being discussed. I was not only lost, but disappointed when instead of using the policy discussion for good, it came to a political showdown that did not just highlight the good, it began slamming the Tories—yes, I’m really left-wing myself, but a health conference is certainly not the place to alienate those who may not be.

IMG_0080.JPG

IMG_0084.JPG

And that is when Jess and I chose to take selfies instead of repeatedly slamming our heads into the table whilst trying not to breathe in too deeply around the woman who decided it was a good idea to drown herself in perfume before attending an asthma event? (Okay, maybe I was irritated by more than one force…). Anyways, moving back to the positives.

The final session of the day was a patient panel, including two NAPA executive members, Erika and Chantale. This discussion generated a lot of good questions, and I really just wished that the patient perspective was not included last. I think it was a good way to finish the conference, however, I think the patient perspective needed to be woven in throughout the day, not just at the end (by which point many attendees had left, as well). Once again, maybe a “MedicineX sets a precedent for me” thing, but, if we ever hope to see a world where patients are truly engaged in a conversation, and not just—whether legitimately or unintentionally seen as—an afterthought, this needs to happen: we may all be an n=1, but we are why change needs to happen.

IMG_0096.JPG

Jess and I following the conference—photo credit to Rob.

IMG_0097.JPG

Rob and I (Rob actually recruited me to the exec when he was working for the ASC.
We tried to recreate a picture from Quebec in 2012, when we were both the students taking all the pens from the conference room right before he started law school. And now I’ve also graduated and he is an almost-lawyer!)
Photo credit to Jess.

But, until then, until the change does happen and through that process, I’ll have many amazing friends to share the journey with. Before she pointed me in the direction of a train (look, I only stayed on going the wrong way for one stop!) Jess and I discussed the day over margherita pizzas (thanks, Jess!).

IMG_0094.JPG

$3.50 iced tea from Pearson and airplane shirt? Check. (After wandering out of the secure area to not-find Sue because I was not allowed in concourse D? Yeah, check.)

…and, of course, looking back with there realization that if we did not recognize that we are the ones who will help guide change being created, if we didn’t have this stupid disease, we wouldn’t have been sitting at the same table in Toronto for a second time in three days digging through all the topics that we did :). The conversation, the people, and the steps towards change—however small—are what matter.

IMG_0118.JPG

Disclosure: The Asthma Society of Canada, via its funding partners (pharma), covered the cost of airfare, one night of hotel, gala and conference admission, and some meals, for National Asthma Patient Alliance Executive Committee members to attend the NAPA meetings and Clearing the Air conference in Toronto. I was not asked to write this post, nor obligated to provide a positive review (as you can tell, probably). 

All tweets cited above as my own are completely that, including mentions of my engagement with both NAPA as present Vice Chair, and the Canadian Severe Asthma Network, as Patient Lead, are based on my own desires to identify [within] these roles/groups. I receive no added benefit in doing so, I just think they’re good people[/things].

12 of 12 | february ’15

I used to do this thing called 12 of 12, where a bunch of people took 12 pictures throughout the day. Well, when Chad (the guy who thought it up) stopped hosting the link roundup, it kind of—to my knowledge, at least—disappeared. The last 12 of 12 I did was August 2013.

A year and a half later… here goes! (It helps that I actually had an interesting day today. Such is the spend-most-of-my-time-at-home life…)

http://i1.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8669/16329357179_6bb15091f8.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

12:03 am | kitchen.
We had our kitchen redone earlier this week. This has resulted in my inability to reach many cupboards.

IMG_7990.JPG

2:47 pm | kitchen.
Yesterday I realized that my networking cards have my old Twitter handle on them. I went to a tweetup this evening, and tried to get the same-day type from Stapes, except I can’t find my Visa card so I missed the noon order deadline because the Visa Vanilla website wasn’t allowing me to set up my gift card, and RBC told me my Visa Debit card was too old to activate. So I did not get new networking cards in time.
[With that said, also, no cards were exchanged: it was all about the tweetup.]

IMG_8007.JPG

5:02 pm | bus.
Moovit is the greatest app to ever happen to transit.

IMG_8008.JPG

5:35 pm | CBC Manitoba.
Marcy kicks off the #CBCTweetUpMB event.

IMG_8009.JPG

5:44 pm | CBC Manitoba.
I met up with Alyson before heading to CBC.
She did a pre-weather selfie with John Sauder from CBC, on the air.

IMG_8010.JPG

5:56 pm | CBC Manitoba.
Cakeology + CBC Tweetup cupcakes and cake balls?
Yes, please.

IMG_8017.JPG

6:33 pm | CBC Manitoba.
Touring CBC Manitoba. This is what the union of radio and TV looks like.

IMG_8033.JPG

6:44 pm | CBC Manitoba.
And now for Kyra with the weather. 

IMG_8038.JPG

6:47 pm | CBC Manitoba.
Oh, no big deal, I’m just in the weather, guys. 

IMG_8057.JPG

6:56 pm | CBC Manitoba.
This is so all the animators and graphic designers and people can stay/get creative.
BUZZ LIGHTYEAR TO THE RESCUE!

IMG_8058.JPG

6:57 pm | CBC Manitoba.
Somewhat amusingly, the last picture I took inside CBC today was the welcome sign.

IMG_8062.JPG

 7:59 pm | Sobeys.
And… the last picture for the day…
MOON CHEESE? Like… dehydrated cheese.
Thanks but no thanks, (not-)NASA. 

 

I’ll be sharing more pictures from the CBC Tweetup soon […or so I say, this is what happens, okay?], but visit the #CBCTweetUpMB Storify, or check the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram for more!

(I’m not smart enough to figure out how to link to a hashtag on Instagram… I hope this is actually difficult…)

And… hopefully I’ll get another 12 on 03/12/15!

they can DO this–i can LEARN this.

On Sunday, I sat a table in Perkins in Minneapolis with my friends Scott and Heather, engaged in the flow of conversation over grilled cheese sandwiches—the usual flow of topics with a few twists: exercise, coaching (in the life-coaching sense!), and diabetes. In the past, I’ve had conversations with my friend Bethany in which mid-sentence in a Starbucks [or elsewhere] she’s kind of stopped and said “Are you getting this?” to which I just nodded and said “Yep, keep going.”

“It’s just so crazy you know all this stuff about diabetes and you don’t even have it!” She replied.

A few years ago, I found myself surrounded within the Diabetes Online Community [or DOC]. And since then, I’ve learned a lot about what life with diabetes—no matter what type—can look like. Because not everybody with type 1 has the experience as another type 1. Not everyone with type 2 has the same experience as somebody else with type 2. And, mixing elements of both T1 and T2 are those with LADA—or type 1.5, and their stories will look extremely variable, too.

As Scott and Heather discussed Nightscout/CGM in the Cloud (how very smart/techy people with diabetes or caring for people with diabetes have managed to connect their Dexcom continuous glucose monitors through smartphones to upload their glucose data to the cloud, and from there, can load data remotely—ie. a parent can watch their child’s blood sugar levels from their desk while the kid is at school, the data can be streamed to a Pebble smartwatch to allow less-conspicuous access to BG levels, or a variety of other possibilities to allow even more of a safety net than CGM currently provides).

(Graphic source: DiabetesMine)

Scott had given me the CGM in the Cloud tour in August (so I arrived at Dana’s DIYPS talk at Medicine-X I was a bit more clued in than I had been previously!), also over grilled cheese, and while I’d heard about the system over Facebook, it was even cooler to see in person as he slid his Dexcom over and handed me his Pebble to see it first-hand. Dexcom has only recently become available in Canada (both standalone and integrated with the Animas Vibe insulin pump), and I shared this with Heather and Scott… along with the slightly amusing fact that I constantly have Animas Vibe ads on the side of my Facebook page because of all of the diabetes talk that goes on within my Facebook feed.

The reason, though, that I have so many friends with diabetes is perhaps because of diabetes, but more because many people with diabetes care about something much larger than their own story: they care about making the story of others better. I joined a Diabetes Social Media Advocacy (#dsma) chat on Twitter one night several years ago (and several more after that) and people were really enthusiastic about my non-diabetic self joining the conversation because I wanted to learn. The DOC has, in turn, become my support. They were the people who were constantly reaching out when I was in the ER for blood transfusions, or are the ones who reach out when I say my asthma is sucking—just as I do when someone tweets an out-of-range blood sugar, or shoot an iMessage off to a friend just to check in when they’re struggling with their diabetes. They are a big, passionate and loving community, and that is because of the individuals that are a part of it: they see the bigger picture, and they want to make the bigger picture BETTER.

In my day to day life, yes, maybe diabetes is just a passing thought when one of my few local friends quickly checks their blood sugar or takes an injection at lunch—but it’s also knowing enough that I can provide a bit of empathy and humour. One day at dinner, a friend tried to check his blood sugar under the table and I just laughed and said “Hey, I know what you’re doing, it doesn’t bother me if you use the table, you know.” If asthma has taught me one thing, it’s that we all try to be stealthy with our disease management sometimes, and often it’s more for the sake of not being asked questions than it is we truly want to hide what we’re doing—later that night, though, the same friend did text me his BG (we were, after all, at Olive Garden :]), and I hope that my openness can be a layer of support for him if he ever wants it.

In living with any chronic disease, it’s about feeling like you have options (even if, maybe, they are pseudo-options because they are necessary): to choose who you talk to—because I don’t have diabetes, on occasion friends with diabetes will message me because I don’t have diabetes but have a very basic understanding of what they’re talking about; to change up your routine; to use different methods of treatment. Using a continuous glucose monitor is one of those options—because while the information can be extremely helpful, it’s also a constant reminder of where you’re at and can lead to data overload. Same with using an insulin pump for those who are insulin dependent: it increases flexibility in some ways versus injecting insulin, but it also means that 24/7 you are tethered to a small machine or have an insulin pod stuck to your body. Which leads to the choice aspect: my friend Bethany (above) has had T1D for over 30 years. The last time we had lunch, she pulled out an insulin pen and I was like “HEY. Since when are you not pumping?!” (She laughed and was like “Wow, it has awhile since we’ve seen each other, hasn’t it?!”)

Where am I going with all of this?

My friends with diabetes have no choice about having diabetes—they make the choice to do their best, to advocate, to change their world and the worlds of others with diabetes though support, technology innovation, and compassion. Diabetes is 24/7, in a far different nature than asthma is: with diabetes, the same hormone that is provided through injections or pumping, insulin, to save a person’s life can also be lethal—diabetes is a constant balancing act. It is psychologically invasive in a different way than my own chronic disease is. None of us have a choice, but we can learn how to best support one another. If I can provide the kind of support that says “Yes, I want you to be healthy. I want to support you as I can, as a person without diabetes—I’m here to accept where you’re at and listen. I want better things to be available. I care.this is what I want.

Read that last sentence over and simply take out the segment that reads “as a person without diabetes”—shouldn’t this be how we all interact with each other? By learning about where someone is at, and accepting them in that moment?

My friends with diabetes can DO THIS. They can manage their diabetes with the tools they have. And because they can DO this, the ins and outs of life with diabetes, I can certainly LEARN this: a few small lessons about their worlds that hopefully make them feel supported in the way we all want to be. Even if at some times that just looks like a non-diabetes conversation for a break, or having some snacks on hand and waiting out low blood sugars with my friends.

Because that’s the most important part: we are here for each other, because we’re friends.

To my friends with diabetes: Thank you for everything you’ve taught me—I owe you all a hug! :]

tour de good things: medicine x 2014

In August/September, I ventured from Winnipeg to Minneapolis to San Francisco, to the East Bay, to Santa Cruz and Davis, California . . . to simply start the journey that lead me to the campus of Stanford University. I already wrote about the people—so, here are more of the good things. . . and a chance to meet the people and hear their voices and stories, and how technology and social media, engaged patients and engaged providers are changing the realities of medicine, and more importantly, improving patient care outcomes.

Disclosure: Stanford University, Stanford Medicine and Stanford Anesthesia, as well as their partners (including the Kadry Foundation, Eli Lilly, and Boeringher Ingelheim) covered part of my costs to attend Stanford Medicine-X, including part of my airfare, one night of hotel, and a significant portion of my conference fees. As a recipient of an ePatient Scholarship in the Engagement/Producer track, I was required to produce a blog post, video, etc. to share the stories of Medicine X—but, let’s face it, I would have done so anyways :].

Tour de Good Things: People. | #medx 2014

The Tour de Good Things was a way i could summate the crazy journey I took to culminate August and begin September—both on an extremely high note. It has been nearly impossible to come down from the high that begun prior to Medicine X 2014 at Stanford University [disclosure], especially since the journey encompassed 7,227 kilometres (or about that). The last Thursday in August, I got into a car with a 60L hiking backpack of necessities and a drawstring backpack of medications, my only “prepared” travel document being my passport, and left home for 12 days. I arrived back into Winnipeg by plane last Monday after a red eye flight via Minneapolis—my initial destination.

There are many posts in here waiting to be written, and a video to come. But as many, many others have summated, the power, the magic, the amazing of Medicine X is in the people: This is a theme that would cover the entirety of the Tour de Good Things.

Minneapolis.

This kid (my cousin, Dean) headed down to University of Minnesota to start becoming an engineer of the probably civil variety, not the train variety [though, train engineers are probably also very civil]. So thanks to him I got a really long ride to the airport.

I also had grilled cheese and an awesome conversation on the parallels of asthma and T1 diabetes with these lovelies, Scott and Heather.

SFO. All over the East Bay. Santa Cruz. Davis.

My awesome aunt, Linda, and my grandma dropped me off at MSP after a 4.5 day drive to the airport […okay, the airport truly is only 8 hours from home. Not that that’s close.] and a four hour flight, I hit ground at SFO and was swept up into my “Cali-bestie” Steve’s truck, where (after picking up pizza), I FINALLY got to meet his long time partner and now husband, Doug (finally. On my third visit to the Bay Area—third time’s the charm, right? Doug is, of course, to a tee of how Steve describes him, and a total sweetheart just like Steve). We headed to Santa Cruz the next day, and San Jose where I finally got to meet his mom, Claire, his sister Sheree, and Sheree’s husband, Dan, who had us over for lunch on Monday.

The next day we headed over to Davis to get Steve’s new bass set up by a cool dude named Harrison.

San Francisco.

Steve drove me out to SF on Wednesday [because he is the best] to ensure I made my connection with my friend Carly (whom I met at MedX in 2012!) at the Twitter building. Carly’s friend Samantha was [at the time] working for Twitter, and had invited Carly for lunch—and opened up the invitation to any of Carly’s friends who wanted to come, too, which was beyond awesome :). (Samantha on the left, Carly—our link!—in the middle :].) Thanks, ladies!

Carly and I made a brief stop in Japantown after lunch and our tour around Twitter with Samantha, and then headed for Palo Alto. Not long after arriving, we had a spontaneous MedX ePatient gathering by the pool—meeting, and reuniting, with a lot of kickass ePatients—friends.

Carly and I (left, of course), [fellow Canadian!] Annette, Liza, Meredith, Dee, Marie (from Ireland!) and Michael (from England!) at the Sheraton. (Thanks to the Sheraton team member who ran out to take this shot for us!)

The next day, the fun really got started when Dr. Larry Chu [the beyond awesome MedX Conference Director!] introduced us to the Selfie Stick [here’s a professional picture (source) of Leslie, Emily, Karen, Rachel [TEAM CANADA!], myself, and Nikki selfie-ing with a selfie-stick on pre-conference workshop day!]

Of course, Ryan had to give it a go once we hit MedX full-stride—he had to make himself short for me so that a) I could adequately put my arm around his shoulders, and b) because he is too tall and was blocking the world medicine :).

No selfie stick for Brett and I, though (…everybody is SO TALL). He yelled “Oh hey, it’s Kerri!” in the corner right by the selfie station, and then we hugged, and I was like “okay we need to selfie so we don’t forget!” :]

We don’t always selfie in front of the selfie wall—sometimes we selfie in front of the gold badge door. Not only was Devon, below, a hit among the crowd at MedX, I was super excited to find another lunger on the scene [I mean, asthmatics DO hide everywhere, but… they hide].

Devon spoke on a panel about “the non-smartphone patient”, and has COPD. And, though he seemed adamantly against it before I showed him everybody tweeting his quotes, I did get him signed up on Twitter!

My super sweet roomie, Karen, and behind us, her poster presentation on the metaphorical dance that is chronic illness. Karen is a sport psychologist from Mexico and is generally amazing, so we never had a shortage of fun things to talk about :).

And on the subject of roommates, my 2012 roomie, Kim, and I—clearly in the club, and not at a medical conference. #ClubMedX

And, Miss Zoe Chu. While puppy, and not people, she lovingly made MedX granola for me and we had selfie times, so she clearly belongs on this list :].

Joe from Eli Lilly’s Team of Good People and Awesomeness (aka Lilly Clinical Open Innovation) and I—we look less like a painting in person. Probably. 🙂

And, Jerry from Eli Lilly, who was in the elevator on Thursday morning before Partnering for Health when a bunch of ePatients yelled my name and hugged me as I got on the elevator. Except we didn’t know we were supposed to know each other yet, and then he sat down beside me at Partnering for Health and identified us as the people from the elevator and said he was wondering if we were Medicine X people. Because I am all class, I was like “Yeah, we were the people yelling and hugging in the elevator—did you feel left out?! Do you need a hug!?”—he accepted this crazy Canadian’s hug, so we are clearly meant to be friends. Also, he’s awesome. And broke into a presentation during Partnering for Health when all the patients were very confused on Twitter.

Alan, Britt, Leslie, myself and Julie (Photo grabbed from Britt via Facebook!)

Sarah—one of the awesome ePatient advisors—with her CANADIAN SCARF, Rachel and I, after the closing ceremony of Medicine X.

And below, Britt (on the ePatient advisory team), Marvin—who is super sweet and I didn’t get to connect with nearly enough! :)—Rachel and I. 

And, my own ePatient advisor and friend from 2012, Chris (he’s laughing about attempting to hug me with the giant hiking backpack on)—just before Joe (below!), Marie and I headed to the airport (where I almost lost my phone and Joe totally provided an amazing Joe-hug to alleviate my stress, and told me how I could get the Delta people to bring it to me to avoid having to go back through security, since I’d left it at the check-in kiosk). 

These people—and ALL the people I met and interacted with at MedX

(I can’t even source those photos anymore :])

—are not the entirety of the story of Medicine X: but they are the part that matters most. As are the people that preceded my arrival for Medicine X to my own part of the journey, and the people who engaged in #MedX via Twitter: WE belong here.

(Photo of photo cred to Joe Riffe)

And here isn’t always a place: often, it’s a state.

And I love each and every one of you, and I hope our stories continue to connect in a way that makes a difference: Remember to not lose sight of where you were—where we were—hold on to that feeling.

We’ll change the world together.