On the first day of the event, I was invited to speak about my blog and my book “Colitis be Gone.” Though I was dreadfully nervous to speak in front of a large group, I found it to be a great experience connecting with everyone. During the conference I had a small booth where I further discussed my experience with the BCIR with anyone that wanted to ask questions. There were several other booth/ tables where one could get more information from other groups, such as the QLA, Stoma Stents, and AMP Products to name a few. During the 3 day event we had several breaks in-between events with delightful food and drinks.
On the second day we heard from speakers Rolf Benirschke, former San Diego Chargers placekicker, as well as Dr. Don Schiller. Both gave great talks that were very inspiring and educational. Afterwards, everyone broke off into small groups of about 10 where we discussed everything and anything related to our experiences as a continent ostomate. This was a great opportunity to hear everyone’s story and their challenges as a continent ostomate. It was nice to speak amongst others who were in the same boat as myself, with the same embarrassing poop stories, but also to hear their stories of personal growth & success as a continent ostomate. At the end of the day, we gathered back in the conference room for the physicians panel where we listened to a few doctors discuss many topics and answer any questions we had for them. It was a casual setting where we could ask them anything about concerns we may have and get a genuine/ helpful answer in return. I would recommended this to anyone who is considering a surgery in the future, as well as current ostomates.
On the final day we listened to Dr. David Kunkel speak, followed by a QLA membership meeting about what’s new with the QLA and board member politics. Finally, we met one last time to relax a bit and say our good-byes with a lovely dinner, dancing, and shenanigans.
Overall, I would say this is must-do if you have never been to one of these QLA conferences. I found it very helpful, empowering, and just a lot of fun too! The whole conference was like a vacation while learning valuable insight to many aspects of our continent ostomate lifestyle! Here is a link to next year’s conference that will be held in Clearwater, FL: Click Here. I would recommend this to anyone who is already a continent ostomate or may be contemplating surgery in the future. You should also consider joining the QLA organization by becoming a member here: Click Here. The QLA are a great resource for those who have a continent ostomy, or are considering an intestinal diversion. I look forward to attending next year’s conference. See you by the pool!