Western Slipstream 2013: Event Recap

Words: Jen Hanson | Photos: Virtue Bajurny

Crisp fall air. The fading warmth of summer. Pumpkin Spice Lattes. It could only mean one thing – time for Western Slipstream.

It wasn’t long ago that Virtue and I left behind the changing colours of the Ontario autumn and headed west – ready to meet the wonderful group of new (and veteran!) CIMers who were traveling from across Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest to join us for the Second Annual Winter Slipstream Weekend. The weekend was unique, new, and exciting in many different ways – The group of Slipstreamers was largely new to the CIM experience. It almost felt as though we were coming back to our ‘roots’ (pun totally intended, Western Slipstreamers!) and experiencing the Slipstream as it first was 6 years ago – small, intimate, close. It was the first time that CIM had Virtue behind the scenes facilitating. And it was the first Slipstream event since Chloe’s leave. It was the also the first time in a while that I was able to feel totally immersed in a program. So often I find myself… Busy. And despite being present at nearly every CIM event, I sometimes feel that I have, in fact, missed them entirely. Not at Western Slipstream, though. It was different. It has been a really challenging time for CIM as of late – struggling with the day to day challenges – and keeping our heads above water financially amid the rapid declines in funding from pharma, across the board. It was so refreshing to be reminded, over and over, at Western Slipstream why we are doing this. Believe me. It’s SO worth it. I will end this blog by sharing some of the moments that really stuck out for me and that I have found myself thinking of over the past few weeks. A HUGE shout out to everyone who made the trek to join us at Strathcona Park Lodge from September 23-25, 2013. You Western Slipstreamers are such a unique and growing community. I am so excited to see us grow in the years to come.

Memory 1: Oh. THAT’S what it looks like to have diabetes. Have you ever really thought about what it looks like to have diabetes? I’m sure that each of us living with Type 1 – even though most diabetes-confident of us, at one point or another, have felt slightly self-conscious about testing our BGs in public, taking an injection, or pulling out a pump. But why? Especially for folks who have not spent a lot of time surrounded by other people with Type 1, it is neat to be in a space where you can actually gain an understanding of what it looks like to have diabetes.

Memory 2: Don’t think we aren’t getting paid for this! For anyone who has been out to a Slipstream event, you will understand the Slipstream Toast. Essentially, the toast is a an ode to the Type 1. A chance to reflect on and realize how much darn work we put in every hour of every day. A clever mix of humour and in-your-face reality. The Slipstream Toast is a job description for life with diabetes. The opening lines offer up a full-time time job description, complete with no vacations, partial reimbursement for only a small proportion of expenses, and, of course, no pay. It was SO refreshing to hear conversation swirl around this concept and to hear Slipstreamers talk about how they ARE getting paid, in a way, for having diabetes. The genuine feeling that we are living healthier, happier, more enlightened lives because of our diabetes diagnoses was so wonderful to hear others talk about. It was neat to hear individuals share their stories of feeling in tune with their bodies and aware of their health in a way that, perhaps, the non-Type 1 crowd will never feel. And that attitude makes a world of difference.

Memory 3: Be kind.
At last year’s Western Slipstream, the wonderful Lauren Moore joined us and shared her thoughts and experiences on being mindful in our thoughts and actions as people with Type 1 diabetes. This year, the conversation evolved. Slipstreamer, Caroline, shared with us her thoughts on being kind to ourselves, above all else, as people with Type 1. We visualized the thoughts, feelings, and inner dialogue that we have with ourselves on a daily basis with regards to our diabetes – How many times do we feel ‘bad’ when our BGs aren’t exactly where we want them? What do we say to ourselves when we are frustrated and fed up? Quite likely, those thoughts are unkind – mean, even. We talked about making the commitment to be more kind to ourselves – just as we are to other people.

A special thank you to CIM Ambassadors Sarah Ketcheson and Margaux Burns for their help in making the Western Slipstream weekend a success. An extra thank you to our event sponsors Animas Canada and Medtronic Canada for their support in bringing Western Slipstream to life.