Last weekend, I hung out with a really special group of people. My friend Mike, blogging at My Diabetic Heart, asked me to guest blog awhile back, and we pinpointed that my MDH guest post would be an awesome place to write about some of my thoughts about hanging with a few of the amazing people of the Diabetes Online Community, or DOC.

Head on over to check out my guest post – Feeling the Love of the DOC.


That is one fiiiine looking crew!

Back row left to right: Kim, Dana, Chris and Sarah

Front row: Liz, me, Cherise, Debra and Christina

Photo credit: Christina

Outside of the physical room of Medicine-X, the biggest part of the story can be found on Twitter, where for two or three straight days, the #medx hashtag was exploding into use capturing quotes, stories and feelings in the moments surrounding Medicine-X.  The best way to recount my experiences is probably through Twitter, with some commentary thrown in for a little bit more context [context ended up being a bit of a buzzword at Medicine-X.

For this purpose, head over to the Storify page for my time at Medicine-X, to walk through the moments in somewhat real time–including many of my new [or simply new-in-real-life!] friends, some photo-shooting in the back of a boring session, a football announcer, lots of snacks . . . and an introduction to “Club Med-X”!


Disclosure: I was fortunate to receive an ePatient scholarship from Stanford University with partnership with Alliance Health Networks and the Kadry Foundation to enable me to attend Medicine-X, including conference registration, some meals and snacks, hotel and $300 towards my airfare to California. I was not required to blog about the experience at Stanford [but I’m sure they could feel pretty darn safe I would].

After two full-body scans at my home airport [I forgot to take my Fitbit off my shorts. Fitness self-trackers are suspicious items.], a flight full of coughing to Vancouver, a hectic connection that could have been much less hectic due to an hour-and-a-half fog-induced delay that I filled with Darwin, Cinnabon and frustrated e-mails to Steve while in Vancouver, and a handful of Lifesavers, I touched down at San Franscisco International Airport on Thursday at 1:30 PM.

Steve met me at the airport, and after four minutes or so of wandering in the huge Arrivals Lobby being unable to find him, I finally made the Canadian BlackBerry start a relationship with AT&T and called him, at which point I camped out by the International Terminal A escalator to wait–within about a minute he popped up beside me open arms–best welcome to California that I could have ever had! From there, we spent a few hours adventuring around San Francisco [not nearly enough time!], and then he dropped me off at the Westin in Palo Alto. I checked into the hotel, left a key at the desk for Kim, and got lost for about ten minutes trying to find our hotel room [Kim eventually devised the “Turn left at the vase” system].  The Westin was beautiful [to quote Kim “Way to go, Stanford!”] and after finding the room I promptly ended up spreading my stuff all over the place.

Steve picked me up a phone to use in California, thus due to lack of free hotel WiFi, I basically paced around the room waiting for a text from Kim–eventually she was on the shuttle and headed from SFO to Palo Alto. The Medicine-X team at Stanford had arranged for a special ePatient orientation dinner [read: meet and greet] at Buca di Beppo, an Italian restaurant not too far away from the conference hotels. Eventually, Kim told me she thought she was close, so I headed down to the lobby to meet her.  The whole experience in California was definitely the ultimate in internet-meetups, and it was super cool. People kept saying to me: “You know, you have an internet stranger picking you up at the airport and you are staying with an internet stranger and . . .” and really, I didn’t THINK of all of these people as internet strangers. At that point on Thursday I was just thinking of them as “Oh my GOD, it’s Kim! And Steve! And Carly!” Internet strangers, assuming they are not the sketchy type, are the best types of strangers because I really felt like I knew them already, that it wasn’t weird at all to say hi while going straight in for a hug.

After some Apple mapping on Kim’s iPhone, Kim and I found our way to the restaurant with the help of some friendly locals who instructed us how to get through the scary tunnels and across the train tracks while we soaked in the gorgeousness of Palo Alto. When we got to the restaurant, we thought we were going in the wrong door when we had to walk through the kitchen, but that’s beside the point. At dinner, we met a handful of other ePatients and one by one, stories started to unfold [we also had some oh my God it’s _____! They’re basically famous! moments at the dinner]. I have never been at an event like the ePatient dinner, so I was really not sure what to expect. I found it hard to interact in the space until closer to the end when people started heading out [leaving the rest of us to gorge on chocolate cake and tiramisu and have conversation in a slightly calmer environment before heading back to the hotel [this time, with Kyla from Stanford in the lead and a handful of other ePaitents around us while walking through the sort-of sketchy tunnels]. Oh, also the food just kind of kept flowing out onto the tables for the length of dinner and we had no idea what was coming next–it was crazy!

I really feel the need to capture as many of these moments as possible, but aside from some exclaiming about ALL THE CARBS!! [ALL THE CARBS!! went on the hotel room desk, and they included animal cookies, Jelly Bellies and Lifesavers] and the GIGANTICNESS of our bathroom, we essentially went back to the hotel and packed it in because it was pretty late by the time we got back . . . and the fun of Medicine-X began bright and early on Friday morning!

I’ve been blessed with being able to meet a lot of really cool people, connect with a lot more, and be presented with a lot of really amazing opportunities.  At the end of December, I declared 2012 as the year of Good Things, and whether it is actually happening or it is just perspective [which IS still actually happening]. For instance, Ari Shine and Josh Damigo follow me on Twitter, and that is pretty awesome, because they are kickass musicians working super hard at what they do. I only mention this, because it is the pure connecting power of the Internet that has helped me land in a lot of places.

A few months ago, I haphazardly filled out an application to attend the Medicine-X conference at Stanford Medical School in Palo Alto, California, on recommendation of a Twitter follower who had attended Med-X in the past. Haphazardly because, thank you academic writing, I can make myself sound decent without trying too hard. And then, mostly I forgot about it assuming that nothing would come of it.

Last week, I received an e-mail that I had been selected to receive a full ePatient scholarship to Med-X including accommodation. Soon enough, the tweets started flying from others I follow with links of those of us selected for scholarships to the conference. In the Patient Engagement track, I am one of two Canadians, which is a huge honour in itself. Not only that, but to be alongside my friends Kim of Texting My Pancreas and Cherise, founder of Diabetes Social Media Advocacy or #dsma. These ladies are amazing people and hardcore influencers in the diabetes online community, so to be among them is amazing. We immediately started throwing tweets, direct messages and Facebook messages at one another.

Once the initial excitement wore off slightly, I started thinking rationally. School, money. Scouring the internet for the cheapest flights I could find with missing the least school possible. How I could get from San Francisco International Airport to the hotel, and how much it would cost.  Dude, I’ve never travelled by myself before . . . never mind in a place where my phone won’t work. Anyway, airfare had me scratching out numbers on a post-it. $550 is not bad for airfare going from the middle of one country to the coast of another in the least. But people, I work eight hours a week, sometimes a few more. I’m a full-time student. You know, the usual cards us students have to play.

I thought for days. I thought about making it work, about parting with probably what would end up being close to $1,000 for a three-day sprint of a trip. And I gave up on the idea, e-mailed the organizers of Med-X and reluctantly declined my scholarship. I Facebooked Kim and Cherise, Dia [who is basically my rationalizer] and Steve [one of my buddies in the Bay Area], and told them I was probably out.

Then at about 2 PM today my email bing’ed and there was a message from Larry Chu. Who offered an up-to $300 reimbursement toward my travel expenses to help enable me to attend Med-X. And my jaw dropped. I am already receiving conference registration, which is like $500, and a shared room at the Sheraton . . . and now they were offering to help offset the costs of traveling to the conference. This is a huge opportunity, and I’ve never done anything like this before. To attend Med-X with Kim, and hopefully Cherise, would be amazing.

I have another twenty-four hours or so to continue the considerations and make the decision. The Good Things, though, they keep coming, and I feel like how can I turn this opportunity down? Because it’s all aligning so amazingly–with so much of the cost being covered, with Cherise and Kim being on the roster, too, and with the haphazardity that I filled out the application, I feel that this must be aligning for a reason.

And how can I say no to the Good Things, right?

To be continued . . .