Sunday, July 19, 2015

The MasterLab Experience, part two

If you've read part one, which was an extended version of what Medtronic posted on their blog, then you might be feeling a little overwhelmed from all of the information shared in it. To be honest, I'm still somewhat overwhelmed by the entire experience. Not in a bad way though. I'm already trying to figure out a way to be able to attend not only MasterLab next year but also the Children With Diabetes Friends For Life event. 

To give you a break from all of the amazing information gathered at MasterLab (and yes, there is a lot more coming, I promise), this part will focus on the fun I had outside of the sessions. 

To remind you, Medtronic held a contest to pay for a person to attend MasterLab in Orlando. They couldn't decide on one person and ultimately chose three of us -- Charli, Phyllis and myself. Charli is from the Kansas City area and Phyllis is from the Boston metro. Prior to Medtronic's announcement, the three of us had never interacted before. I was a little worried about if we would all get along or not. Silly me. I should not have wasted a single moment worrying.  

Charli and I met in Atlanta as we shared a flight from Atlanta to Orlando. I would say within five second of meeting face-to-face, we were hooked on each other. We hadn't even boarded the plane before the laughs began. There was confusion at check-in at the resort so we called Phyllis to gain her input and were finally able to meet her face-to-face. Again, hooked within seconds. We broke away to get settled in our rooms before meeting back up in the gift shop and making our way to the bar on the lake's edge.


Billy!
The bar is where we met the alligator who swam up behind us (don't worry, he couldn't get to us). We decided to name him Billy. From there, the story grew to how he would be the perfect new mascot for Medtronic but they would need to develop a completely waterproof pump for him. We debated who would win between Billy and Lenny (Medtronic's official mascot). 


Pint sized sink for pint sized me
From the bar we went on to finally meet Naomi, our Medtronic representative, for dinner. Laughter continued through dinner and we entertained Naomi as best we could. At the conclusion of dinner is when we found the first "pint sized" sink in the bathroom. Perfect for yours truly who lacks height. 

Since Naomi had flown in from LA, she excused herself for the night and the three of us headed to Downtown Disney. Thankfully I was able to see some fireworks while on the bus. Our main goal while at Downtown Disney was to find a souvenir spoon for Charli to take home. Of course one of the first stores we saw was Goofy's Candy Company. Three type one diabetics. Yes, we absolutely went inside. Quite the selection of Disney themed candy. We visited numerous other shops and stands but could not find a spoon. In fact, no one knew where to find one. The most important stand we visited though, at least to us, was the bar where we purchased some margaritas to walk around downtown with. Apparently, you can walk around as you please with alcohol. No complaints. The ride back to the resort was after Downtown Disney closed so the bus was packed and their sound system was a little off. The ad for Disney's Bibbidi Bobbed Boutique played over and over and over. 

All three of us have the Medtronic pump and it was quite humorous when someone's pump would start beeping. You'd often hear the three of us saying things like "someone's beeping," and "not me" and "hey, you are beeping." 

Day two included many more laughs during the MasterLab sessions. Mainly because the Diet Coke cans truly spoke to us about each other...Better Half, Soulmate, BFF, VIP, Superstar. They all properly described our trio. During the happy hour/networking event, the three of us took turns recording podcasts with Stacey Simms (They will be posted the week of July 19, I think). 

While all of that was going on, my camp counselor/nurse Amy from diabetes stopped by the resort so we could spend time. Amy is one of the most influential people I met at Camp Floyd Rogers, my diabetes camp. I admire her so much, especially because she had a goal (to be a nurse at Disney World) and she made it happen. The lesson I learned from that? No matter what your goal is, it isn't impossible. She joined the three of us as well as Naomi and Karrie from Medtronic for dinner. Karrie, if you are wondering, was our other Medtronic rep on the trip. We didn't believe she actually existed because she didn't have dinner with us on Monday or breakfast on Tuesday. When she showed up for the sessions, we finally believed she existed. 

We decided to dine at a brewery on the Disney Boardwalk. Thankfully by the time we left our resort to go there it had stopped raining. We were able to capture some wonderful pictures and have more laughs. Spending time with Amy (I haven't seen her in over a decade) was icing on the cake and nearly made my heart burst with happiness. 

Our Medtronic crew


To no surprise, the three of us visited the bar by the lake at the resort again once we returned from dinner. Billy was a no-show for our nightcap if you were wondering. While drinking we learned much more about each other, shared our thoughts on the day and agreed we were all sad to have it end the next day. 

Wednesday was the final day of MasterLab. Although nearly all of my time was spent with Charli, Phyllis, Naomi and Karrie, I was able to meet some of my Twitter friends from #DSMA. Every Wednesday from 8-9 p.m. CST, there is a diabetes themed chat with the hashtag DSMA. It is one of the best hours each week. I've made some amazing friends through DSMA so it was fun and exciting to put real faces to the names. And yes, they are just as awesome in real life as they are on Twitter. 

We were all sad to part ways as Phyllis boarded the Magical Express back to the airport and Charli and I shared a taxi. Charli and I were leaving from different terminals and may have been a tad over dramatic as we parted ways. It was sad. I felt like I lost part of me. Or as Diet Coke would say, I lost my better half. Tweets and texts continued while we all waited for our flights to leave Orlando. 

My head is honestly filled with so many fun memories I created with these ladies. I could probably write a novel about all of the memories created but it really is one of those things you just had to be there for, especially since I'm struggling to describe them in words. 

The takeaway from our adventure though is how amazing it is to meet complete strangers who instantly feel like besties. All because of one silly illness. People tend to focus on the negatives of diabetes but being able to meet Phyllis and Charli (and others) is an obvious positive of the disease. It has been nearly two weeks and I still miss them. Charli may be driving through my city later this summer so YAY for that. Meanwhile, planning a reunion is in the very early stages. Because you know it has to happen. 


Charli, yours truly, Phyllis...before we really got into trouble
***Disclaimer: Medtronic paid for our airfare, lodging, food and MasterLab registration. All thoughts though are completely mine and Medtronic did not influence my thoughts in any way. 

***Side note: I think this is the first time I've ever posted pictures of who I am on this blog. I suppose I can't stay completely anonymous forever. A little sad about it but the pictures add to the story. 

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