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.