Chicago was SO MUCH FUN.
I cannot even begin to fully unpack everything - mentally, emotionally, and from my actual bags.
I got to hang out with some of my favorite people like Eduardo (RA Guy), Britt (Hurt Blogger), Leslie (Getting Closer to Myself), Kristin (Chronically Kristin), and Mariah (From This Point. Forward).
I also got to meet some of the wonderful people with Janssen that I will have the luck to work with more in the future as a part of Joint Decisions.
If all I did was meet them, the trip would have been worth it.
|Thanks, Meme Crunch!|
Our opening dinner was amazing. During which, I consumed two glasses of wine, sat next to Britt, and got to hear from the founder of Patients Like Me.
People came up and introduced themselves, excited about Chronic Sex or having been readers of mine for a long time.
HELLO TO YOU MY FRIENDS
On Saturday, I attended an amazing session with Trevis Gleason. Like my great grandmother Katie Mae, Trevis has MS and is a passionate advocate. He shared his journey, including my favorite part of the conference sessions themselves:
"Your illness did not make you better."
It doesn't stop there, but the following is a paraphrase: You had a Shawshank Redemption moment where you tore down bricks, made a tunnel, and "crawled through your own shit" to come out on the other side as a transformed person.
As if that alone wasn't enough, he shared great ideas like working on publishing, inviting others through our apparel or accessories to discuss our illness, and then read to us from his book.
I'm in literary crushville.
The next session I hit up involved the legal aspects of blogging - defamation, trademarks, copyrights, protecting your information, etc - with Jimmy Nguyen.
With websites stealing information from us bloggers being a rampant issue lately, this was a much-needed session.
Many of us came together during the next session to discuss how to encourage a community feeling.
I hope that we will have visits, virtual convos, and tweet chats to help foster this.
.@Kirstie_Schultz shares her excitement at #HealtheVoices16 and how advocates can work together effectively! pic.twitter.com/Mf9NdxBau0— HealtheVoices (@healthevoices) April 16, 2016
Ironically, I had to go have a rest during the Compassion Fatigue session I was hoping to attend with the amazing Rhonda Waters. The fact that she works often with the Joint Decisions group has me ecstatic, though.
Dinner Saturday night was tons of fun. I was with Britt and Leslie again, Molly (And Then You're At Jax), some of the most amazing IBD/Crohn's activists, and others.
You'll have to forgive me on some of the deets because the amazing Deirdre from Tonic Communications snagged me a pitcher of red sangria... and I was the only one drinking it, save one cup.
It was amazing.
KevinMD gave the Sunday keynote to a very... contentious room. He did not really alter his talk from speaking to HCPs to speaking to patient activists and advocates. This meant that he was asking us for help that we cannot give while downplaying the important things we do for free.
I was not thrilled with his talk, and he also didn't stay very long for people to share more information with him afterward.
That was nothing compared to what happened next - all my new friends started to LEAVE!
NOT OKAY, YOU GUYS.
Alas, I had to go home eventually as well.
I ended up getting motion sick and tossing my cilantro on the bus to the airport. The nice thing about that is the amazing patients I was with rubbed my back, got me bags, and took care of me until we hit the airport.
It was super sweet. Not unsurprisingly for those of you who know my background, my sister and my husband are the only ones who have ever really done those kinds of things for me.
That just secured it, though.
|Thanks, Movie Pilot!|
I CANNOT wait until next year.
No, seriously. Please let's do things in the interim.
Growing up in an abusive home, a family of choice is something I've embraced wholeheartedly... I don't communicate with my family of origin. Not everyone in my family of choice was at HealtheVoices16, but so many were: my sisters Britt, Kristin, and Leslie; my brother Eduardo; and our momma hens, Becky and Deirdre.
There is much I want to say, but right now I just cannot find the words.
PS: While Janssen paid for my travel to HealtheVoices16, all thoughts and opinions expressed here or on social media are my own... especially regarding how amazing people are.