Last month, I gave one of my favorite presentations at the 10th Biennial Pediatric Sleep Medicine Conference hosted by my alma mater, Brown University.
My “TED-style talk” had two key messages:
- Prescribing social support to people with narcolepsy,
- Partnering with patients, patient leaders and organizations to develop patient-centered research toward recognizing and addressing stigma.
I’d spent months preparing for this speech. Having only 18 minutes, every second mattered. I practiced and revised and revised more. Arriving at the conference, the room was much bigger than I’d expected, between 200-300 pediatric sleep researchers, doctors and technicians in the audience.
Once on stage, I didn’t get through my material perfectly, but I hit the emotional arch I wanted and I articulated my first key messages in new ways that I believe resonated strongly.
The response was tremendous, people stopped me all weekend to thank me, even as I loaded my suitcases into my lyft the next day, a doctor approached me to say that she is going to change how she treats her patients because of my talk. Wow!
Also kinda funny, I overheard two doctors talking about me in the hallway (really nice things), and I had to awkwardly be like “Oh, um hi! I’m right behind you.”
To me, speaking is an art form and I’ve fallen in love with it, and I can’t wait to continue developing this talk and sharing these messages in more places.
From there, I traveled to Washington, D.C. for Project Sleep’s Congressional Briefing and Hill Day co-hosted with the Sleep Research Society (SRS). I felt ready for this advocacy day and the activities went super well. I believe we are doing unique and important work advocating specifically for sleep health and sleep disorders research and awareness. Read the full re-cap on Project Sleep’s blog.
While in DC, I got to meet some very special people, including Project Sleep’s newest Board Member, Anne Taylor and Project Sleep’s 2017 Jack & Julie Narcolepsy Scholarship recipient, Cassandra Stewart. I also had some important meetings that will likely mean exciting things for Project Sleep in the years to come. I can’t wait to share more, all in good time.
I know this might seem strange, but I truly feel like I’m becoming a new and better version of myself. This aura of calm confidence washed over this past month and I feel like I am operating from a higher place within me. (I cannot describe this perfectly but that’s my best try.)
I cannot thank each of you enough for your support along this path. I hope I can continue to make you proud and elevate our voices and stories, because I believe it is our voices and stories that have incredible power to impact change for good. And I believe we are on our way to a brighter future, together!