CDN Retreat 2017: The Best Part about T1D

Carmen Dunlap, Old Dominion University '20

It’s 11:45 PM as I sit in the living room on our very last night of the 2017 CDN Retreat. Everyone is singing mid-2000’s throwback songs. Sam, Sydney, and I are singing the loudest and all the while, Will is judging us. At this very moment, you wouldn’t know this event has any relation to type 1 diabetes (T1D). EXCEPT - when Sam says; “Pull out your pumps for my Snapchat video!” Now I know we are definitely a group of T1Ds. 


The best part of diabetes is the connections, the heartwarming conversations and the life-long friends that are made. I know that there aren’t many things considered “good” about this illness. But, if I didn’t have it I wouldn't have met countless of life changing people over my 15 years of T1D. This retreat allowed me to experience those life changing connections for the first time since I was in middle school.

I lost connection with the T1D community when I was in High School. I was going through diabetes burnout, and stopped having the resources to travel to Children with Diabetes’s Friends for Life conference every summer. So, this retreat was an eye opener for me. I realized how much I miss having T1D friends, and how important they are to my health. They help me to be brave and to motivate myself. Hanging around these guys for four days, allowed me to try a pump site in a new place and to have some of my best BG readings all month! I learned about pre-bolusing and new technology, and decided on which new insulin pump to get; all because of having T1D friends.

I shared more laughter and tears, in four days than I have with some friends I’ve known much longer. I know that I have a whole community behind me, rooting for me, and supporting me in any way they can. I know they understand me, they understand what I feel like and how to handle it. Most of all they don’t judge, there is absolutely no shame between us. No shame in high blood sugar numbers or burnout. We can talk about dating, food, and technology. We can also speak openly about tough subjects like depression or diabulimia. Having the opportunity to discuss things and receive support for them is a blessing for any T1D.

The part that I haven’t mentioned yet, is that these friends are practically built in! We bonded in the first hour of the car ride, and left the retreat absolutely in love with each other. I was able to be more open with them about my diabetes than almost anyone else, because they get it. I have always known that my friendships in the T1D community are the saving grace of diabetes, but through this retreat I remembered exactly how true that is. It is important for those with diabetes, especially young adults, to have these connections. Which is why, after leaving the retreat, I know I need to bring these connections to my campus. With the help of CDN and all the new friends I left with this week with, I feel ready to help T1D’ss on my campus find the same connections I found at the 2017 CDN Retreat!  


More blogs about the 4th Annual CDN Retreat:

Editor's Note: Like all of our resources at the College Diabetes Network, all aspects of the CDN Annual Retreat (from transportation to lodging to meals) are provided to students free of charge, thanks to the generous support of our donors and partners. Please consider donating to CDN to help us continue to offer and expand this impactful and foundational piece of our programming to students in the future. Thank you for your support!