I was truly honored to be asked to speak in front of a group of nurses about diabetes. Yes, me! Public speaking is so much NOT my thing, that when I look back on this, I just have to smile.
A few months back, a friend emailed me and asked me far in advance if I would come down to Orange County (the other OC) and speak to her collegues about diabetes. Specifically, they wanted the perspective of a parent with a diabetic preschooler who had transitioned into elementary school.
Well, I was honored. I was nervous too. But I said "yes" right off the bat.
I wasn't too sure about what I would say. But when the time came, I wrote down a few notes about life with a type 1 toddler in the house and how we approached the beginning of preschool and then the transition to our neighborhood elementary school. I brought with me samples of the diabetes supplies that take residence in one of our kitchen cupboards. I brought several books that are meant to help kids cope with the diagnosis. I brought the book C and I had writtten together before kindergarten started so we could explain diabetes in a 5 year old's terms. I brought our 504 plan. I brought C's favorite doll with a pretend pump pack. I brought a big poster about C that we had made when she was in preschool with all her favorite things in pictures. Basically, even though she wouldn't be there with me, I wanted to present her...all aspects of her, not just her diabetes.
I got to the district office early. I walked in the back door. There must have been 40-50 nurses sitting around tables in a horseshoe shape with the overflow in a few rows of chairs. There was a speaker in the middle of her presentation, talking about learning strategies or something of that sort.
My friend spied me walking in and came back to greet me. We slipped outside to talk for a while. She helped me gather my things from the car. My timeslot would be coming up soon after lunch. I was nervous.
Toward the end of lunch, I began to set up my "stuff." I sat back down and it was time. I was given a nice introduction. I then made my way to the podium. I looked at my notes, took a deep breath and began. I felt flushed and began to sweat. There was a quiver in my voice. "Excuse me," I said, into the microphone. I dropped the microphone down and cleared my throat. I took a sip of water. And while I was doing these things within a matter of seconds, I thought to myself---Why am I feeling so nervous? These people don't know me. I will probably never see them again. What's my problem? And in that brief moment a calm came over me. Here was an incredible opportunity. Diabetes education...to nurses, no less!
I began again. I felt confident. I had something to share. I actually really enjoyed it. I told the group that as nurses, they need to realize that the parents of type 1 students are tired, weary. They are under a lot of stress. Diabetes is difficult. And, this is their child. I went on to talk about different issues when it comes to diabetes and school. I shared our book and got great feedback. There were questions at the end of my talk. And I actually felt knowledgable enough to answer them! It was great. I was able to give a little plug for my pump gear and handed out some flyers too.
As I packed up my things, they thanked me over and over for giving my time and perspective. I seemed to have given them some insight into the needs of type 1 kids as they begin elementary school.
As I drove home I remembered how much I would dread getting up in front of a class to give a speech when I was younger. It was grueling to get an assignment like that. I never felt I had anything to say. And then it dawned on me. Maybe I just needed to live life. Now that I'm older, life is so very full. There is so much to talk about.