Last week I was lucky to be invited to and attend the Roche Social Media Summit. There are several fantastic posts all about it so I do not want to reinvent the wheel. I would rather point you to some other blogs to check it out.
With that I want to tell you what I think was the best part of the summit besides meeting Bob Pederson, and the most difficult moment I have had in a long time.
First the happy one.
My favorite part of the summit was when someone asked, “By show of hands how many of you have been to all 4 of the summits?” There were about 12 people who raised their hands.
And then the follow up, “How many of you are here for the first time.” 10 hands went up. Awesome.
What a nice mix and I congratulate Roche for doing its best in mixing it up at the same time continuing past conversations. It seems a good formula.
There was one thing that was very different about this summit and that is the guest speakers. Both were motivational and really there for us to benefit from. I want you to understand that this post is 100% a reflection on me and where I am. Not about the speakers and who they are. In fact, I think they were both amazing.
Josh Bleill is a double amputee who lost his legs in a roadside bomb attack while serving our country as a Marine in Iraq. He came to the summit to share his story of encouragement and inspire us all to tell our own stories to help others not feel alone. Something I say about this very website all the time. More times than I can count.
Unfortunately his lesson was lost for me. When he walked in and I saw his prosthetics I got sick to my stomach. My eyes moved straight up to the ceiling in hopes of catching any tears that were starting to fall. He began talking and I started to share his story.
My heart was pounding and I thought I was going to either vomit or pass out. The group giggled about something and sighed as one at something else. I have no clue what was being said.
Trying to calm myself down I took a few deep breaths and tried to tune in to the presentation.
Josh spoke about being a Marine, serving his country, and his dedication to doing the right thing.
I lost it again. Everyone around me was engaged and feeling exactly what they were supposed to and here I am holding back tears and doing everything in my power to not stand up and leave.
Then I heard him mention that while he was on a plane once someone looked at his legs and asked, “Son, did that happen in the war?”
My mind spun out of control with thoughts I never wanted to repeat. Thoughts I am ashamed of thinking but that I must get out.
No one will ever say that to me if I lose my legs to diabetes, they will just assume I am a diabetic who didn’t take care of themselves. There is no honor in that.
He chose to risk his life for this country. I chose to do the same but diabetes took that from me.
Movie stars and other famous people came to see him in the hospital but that would never happen to me. Sure friends and family but no one else.
I was jealous. I wanted to be him.
As soon as he was done everyone stood up to applaud. I stood up too, offered up applause and quickly left into the bathroom.
Luckily the bathroom was empty. I found the furthest stall, shut the door, and fell apart. Sobbing like a little kid.
How could I be so awful, so selfish? Shame on me for thinking what I did and for not getting over it.
I waited there for a while and made sure I looked half way put together before I went back into the summit.
When I walked back in a Q and A was going on with Josh and someone asked if we could take a group picture.
Why did I walk in at that very moment? How could I protest? I wanted to. I wanted to turn back around and leave. I wanted to go up to my room and leave the summit entirely. I was done.
Still I walked up to the front of room and tried, I swear I tried to smile but I couldn’t. I could hardly hold the tears back.
I doubt Josh will ever read this but if he does, and he remembers my face during his talk, I want to apologize. This was nothing against him in any way. He is a hero and will always be one in my book.
There may be honor is fighting the war against diabetes but it is not a war I chose to be a soldier in.
I just hope I leave the battle victorious because right now I feel like a complete jerk.
Disclosure: Roche paid for my travel, hotel and meal expenses for my trip to Indy. They have not however, required any blog posts from any of us. Feedback provided by me is completely my own opinion.