5 Things That Happened at the Dysautonomia International Conference 2017

Last weekend I attended the annual Dysautonomia International conference 2017. This year’s conference was in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, not far from last year’s which took place in Herndon, Virginia. You can read about my 2016 conference experience here! This time around I had a much different experience; let’s get into it!

5 Highlights from the Dysautonomia International Conference 2017

Here are 5 things that I experienced while attending this year’s Dysautonomia International conference:

1. I ate a lot of tacos.

And by tacos, I mean burrito bowls. Of course they were from District Taco, so I can call them tacos, right? If you read last year’s post you know how I raved about the copious amounts of salt available at meals. To my disappointment, that didn’t happen this year. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much salt available at breakfast, I was only able to eat Saturday’s lunch, and there was no dinner. 5 Highlights from the Dysautonomia International Conference 2017Thus, Friday and Saturday night, I had District Taco for dinner, as well as for lunch on Sunday. Lunch was served on Sunday, but due to the immense lines, and the fact that the only thing I could consume on the buffet was salad… I think. I actually didn’t even ask about the dressing and if it was safe for me, so It’s possible the salad was off-limits too! That’s life with dietary restrictions for you. We headed next door to Smashburger, but because I can’t eat there I had District Taco! It was delicious.

5 Highlights from the Dysautonomia International Conference 2017

2. I sat 20 yards away from a doctor I’m on a three year wait list to see.

This is one of the coolest aspects of the conference, in my opinion. You can be on someone’s waitlist or have a well-known doctor who works with Dysautonomia (or a co-morbidity), and get to actually talk to them! I felt as though the practitioners and med students weren’t as accessible this year as they were previously, as they had a separate conference taking place. Nevertheless, I was still able to strike up a conversation with well-known doctors from around the world! Cool, right?

5 Highlights from the Dysautonomia International Conference 2017
Side note: this photo is not from that session, but from the opening remarks! Where I happened to be sitting much farther towards the back.

3. I met my friend Nicole for the first time in real life!

Nicole and I met over Instagram last year. We were so excited when we realized we would both be attending this year’s conference! We were able to chat a few times throughout the weekend, and she is a fabulous person. I hope that we’re able to meet again sometime! Quite a few photos came from our chats, but this is one of my favorites.

5 Highlights from the Dysautonomia International Conference 2017

4. Doctor’s used memes to explain syncope.

Yep, that’s right. Some doctors use big complicated charts to explain things, but Dysautonomia isn’t your typical chronic illness, and the doctors we end up with aren’t so typical either. Keeping up with an incurable illness that can greatly vary from case to case means you have to be open to the sometimes unorthodox… and there’s not much I can think of that’s more unorthodox than a doctor explaining complicated medical occurrences via Star Wars memes.

5 Highlights from the Dysautonomia International Conference 2017

Isn’t that ceiling fantastic?! There was lots of glitz and glam in this venue’s conference rooms.

5. I made connections!

The conference has a vendor fair, where various vendors relating to Dysautonomia and it’s co-morbidities set up shop to talk to people about their company, product, etc. I was able to speak with all sorts of people from around the world about their company and how they came around to working with Dysautonomia patients! I was also approached by parents, doctors, and companies alike with questions about my experiences with chronic illness and Dysautonomia, as well as Peggy my service dog. I love talking to people, so this was definitely my cup of tea.

5 Highlights from the Dysautonomia International Conference 2017

As you may be able to tell if you’re familiar with my experience last year, this year’s was quite different. I also knew quite a bit more about POTS and Dysautonomia. As a result a lot of the sessions weren’t applicable to me or covered things that didn’t effect me. I found myself attending sessions to gather information for friends a bit more than I was attending sessions to gather information for myself. At the end of the day, I was able to learn and spread awareness of POTS, Dysautonomia and how it effects me, and service dogs! And that’s what’s important.

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