Dateline Chicago: The American Diabetes Association is not only the largest diabetes charity with a national outreach to all of us who have diabetes. But it is also the leading professional organization in the world.
I am less than thrilled with that first role in working with people with diabetes. It’s true that I wrote a weekly column on the ADA’s website between 1997 and 2003. These columns are now on my website.
But I no longer have a professional relationship with that organization and don’t regret it. I can’t support its high-carbohydrate diet recommendation, which I have written about here. The organization’s core promise of “Cure Care Commitment” may lead us to support them financially with our membership. But I am afraid that it might influence far too many of us to look forward to that magical day when our diabetes will just go away, rather than doing everything that we can now to control it.
But as a professional organization it does a great service for all of us, not just our doctors, Certified Diabetes Educators, nutritionists and all of us on whatever health care team that we have. The centerpiece of that professional outreach is the ADA’s annual scientific sessions.
This year the 67th scientific sessions are taking place in Chicago. They just started, and I am writing to you from the press room at the convention at the McCormick Place Convention Center in downtown Chicago right on Lake Michigan. A couple of people told me that this is the largest convention center in the world, and I believe it. The ADA needs the space for the throngs of diabetes professionals who are here from all over the world.
Already on this first day of the convention that runs through Monday the ADA press office tells me than more than 16,000 people are here and registered. And the convention will only begin in a few minutes as I write.
Update June 24: The ADA press office just told me that 17,500 of us are here at the convention, including 12,800 health care professionals.
Judging from all the languages that I hear and glimpses of many nametags, the majority come from overseas. Considering there we have only about 3,000 practicing endocrinologists in the United States, that’s not surprising.
This center is so huge that all of us are getting our exercise just walking from one presentation or poster or exhibit or meeting with an old friend. And it’s not just the size of the facilities that are overwhelming, but more the numbers of people who are here who devote their lives to taking care of us.
The building is also cold, which would have taken me by surprise if Dr. Frank Varon hadn’t warned me. Frank is a dentist, who like me, is a member of the “Diabetes Panel of Experts” for the website of our mutual friend, Dr. Bill Quick, who is also a fellow contributor here.
Frank warned me to wear a sweater, which was hard to believe as it was 99 degrees when I left Colorado yesterday. But he was right. He also warned me to wear my walking shoes, which was also good advice.
The number of diabetes professionals here and the size of the facilities to accommodate us is hardly all that is huge. The size of the city of Chicago also overwhelmed me. I can hardly believe how many and how high the skyscrapers are — some higher than any in New York City. The last time I was in Chicago was in 1953, and somehow it seems different now! It is certainly a lot bigger than the place I call home, Boulder, Colorado, a town of fewer than 100,000 people. By comparison, about 3 million people live in the city of Chicago with 8 million in the metro area.
As a journalist, however, I thrive on information, and it’s hard to believe how much information I have to digest at the moment. That is what is most overwhelming to me. Researchers will present almost 400 papers in 50 oral sessions. They will present more than 2,000 papers in total. In addition, more than 1,600 posters will be up for us to study. Some of the hottest news just came out today in abstracts of late-breaking posters, which they have embargoed until Tuesday.
I know several articles will follow here. Stay tuned.
HealthCentral published an earlier draft of this article.