Being the only diabetes advocate from the state of Rhode Island I was partnerned with Amy Wotring who is the associate director of federal government affairs for the ADA. I was very lucky to have Amy helping me out all day, without Amy I would still be wondering around congress and would've never made my meetings on time.
When I share my story it is usually with a group of type 1 diabetics, I know the reaction that I will recieve when I explain how I did not take care of myself for so long. My first meeting was at 10am with senator Jack Reed, I didn't know how he would react to my story. Would he just nod and pretend that he knew what it was like? I was very surprised when his eyes shot out of his head when I explained that I didn't test my blood sugar for ten years. When I explained that my story is not unique and that many people living with diabetes go in to denial or become ashamed of their disease, his facial expression was one of sadness. I then explained with assistance from Amy, that diabetes research needs federal funding so that we can make diabetes care better for everyone living with the disease, We also explained that we need to raise diabetes awareness nation wide.
As I met with representatives that work for Jim Langevin and Sheldon Whitehouse the reaction to my story was the same reaction that Senator Reed had. I didn't think in my wildest dreams that I would get a real reaction from the people I met with on Capitol Hill. As I told Leanne about my day this evening I started to get chocked up, what I had done earlier in the day had finally sunk in. I started to realize that I was one of two hundred diabetics on Capitol Hill changing how diabetes care will be funded in the future.
To often we hear how bad congress can be, what we often forget are that the members of congress are human. They have gotten to where they are because they have worked very very hard and have done a lot right. They are not perfect but who on this earth is?? Today I saw that the members of congress really do care and want to do what is best for the people. I'm very happy that I was able to represent the people living with diabetes on congress today. I'm truly humbled and will work harder than ever to raise diabetes awareness and funding.