How I Almost Made a Grown Woman Cry in the Grocery Store (Starring All Your Favorite Diabetes Myths)

It was Sunday evening, and my husband and I were standing in front of a bunch of dry spaghetti.

A middle-aged woman passed — glancing at us — then stopped abruptly, backed up and stood in front of me.

“Is that an insulin pump?” she asked, pointing at my hip.

“It is!” I responded enthusiastically. I was waiting for her to tell me that she had one too, or maybe that her child or sister wore one.

For a few beats, she stared at me with a look of bemusement on her face. “But . . . you’re so young!”

“Yeah,” I said. “And I used to be a lot younger! I’ve had diabetes for about 20 years.”

“Type 1,” my husband added. He’s all about accuracy in reporting.

I asked her if she had diabetes (she did — Type 2), and if she was thinking about getting a pump of her own.

“I just don’t know.” she said “Do you like it?”

I gave her the little speech I give most people who ask me about my insulin pump experience. I told her that I’d spent half of my diabetic career on some type of syringe regime, and that now, I couldn’t imagine not having the pump in my diabetes arsenal.

When I was finished, she repeated, “But you’re so young!” At this point, I just kind of shrugged. This lady was being super-nice, and I didn’t feel like Aisle 4 was the place to give a tutorial on the different kinds of diabetes.

“Well, you must be doing something right. I mean, you seem pretty healthy. You seem like you’re doing okay.”

I nodded. “I am. So far, so good.”

She started waving her hands in front of her face, and I knew I was in trouble. “You’re gonna make me cry. I’m getting misty. You’re just so young.” She stepped forward with her arms outstretched: “I have to give you a hug.”

I accepted the hug (who wouldn’t?), and she stepped back with a sad smile on her face. “You’re going to be okay,” she assured me, moving on. “I know it. You’ll have that insulin pump for a little while, and then you’ll be fine and you’ll be off of it.”

I think I smiled and murmured something about how, no, I wouldn’t be off of it, I’d have this pump for the rest of my foreseeable future — but I don’t remember exactly what I said. I still had a bunch of shopping to do and I didn’t want to make this lady any more verklemmt than she already was.

So, I took my hug and my spaghetti and made my way through the store. Sometimes, it’s all you can do.

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14 comments on “How I Almost Made a Grown Woman Cry in the Grocery Store (Starring All Your Favorite Diabetes Myths)

  1. It is amazing how ill informed people are…I had a conversation with a mother outside the pre-school Ellie goes to about Ellie being diagnosed with Type 1. She told me she was diagnosed with Type 1 in her teen years (she appears to be in her late 20’s I think). She asked me a ton of questions regarding how I knew to take Ellie into the doctor. She and I had a wonderful conversation and at the end of the conversation she asked me if I feared for my son to be diagnosed now. I told her sometimes I do, but mostly I know there is nothing I can do, if it’s in the cards for him then it is and we will have to deal with it. She smiled and said, “ya, that’s why I’m really, really careful what I feed my daughter…I don’t want her to get diabetes”. Whaaa!? I really didn’t know what to say??? Food? Cause and Effect…Good night people! What on earth is going to finally get it through the heads of people??? It’s not food! (I hope! If it turns out to be High Fructose that is the trigger…Ahhhhh! just kidding!)

  2. Steph says:

    We are in dire need of some major education about diabetes, especially when someone who even has it really doesn’t understand it!

  3. OMG… This is incredibly funny and sad at the same time. I both laughed, and shook my head and felt my fists start clenching – what an emotional range for a post! No. I didn’t cry, though. So ther. Guess I’ve got that on the Grocery Store Aisle 4 Lady. I am somewhat surprised she didn’t have a cow over the fact that you were eyeing the spaghetti. Would’ve thought she’d say something like that. Yes, we so need more education.

  4. Renata says:

    Man oh Man…it’s one of those times that you know you should probably say something but then you feel it would be easier on the woman if you didn’t. I am with Michael though, this made me laugh and shake my head.

  5. Lorraine says:

    Wow!

  6. alexis says:

    all i can say is oy vey!

  7. lyramarlene says:

    All I can say is wow… People never cease to amaze me in how uninformed of things they really are…

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Wow… At least she was sweet.

    I’ve been pretty surprised by how many people think I might be able to stop taking insulin someday. I mean, I get that most people don’t know the difference between T1 and T2…. But aren’t T2s also on insulin permenantly once they have to start taking it on a regular basis? Or… can the rest for their pancreas let it start doing a better job again?

  9. Jen says:

    I have some neighbors who are so, so sweet but always ask me how Addison’s diabetes is. They proceed to tell me miracles do happen and they will pray for him and that maybe that will help his diabetes go away. I appreciate the prayers and know they are being genuinely sweet but deep down a part of me wants to explain type 1 until my eyes fall out so they will understand..You handled this very gracefully!

  10. Joanne says:

    I could picture this whole scene going down in my head and it made me laugh and sad all at the same time. It is mind boggling how ill-informed people are.

  11. Cherise says:

    The conversation sounded like it was going to end good…lol well at least she gave you a hug. WOW!

  12. shannon says:

    Based on your title alone, I thought she had shared her diabetes myths with you and you had made her cry by setting her straight! This was a much better story, though still kinda sad in its way. But you told it very entertainingly, as usual!

  13. Hannah McD says:

    Don’t you know that we have it REALLY BAD? Silly us. One day I’ll be free from this insulin regime because I am eating 3 cans of cinnamon a day. 😛

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