Instant Friends

If you want to see me completely freak out, put me in the same room as another person with diabetes.

I’m downright surrounded by diabetes buddies online, but sitting next to a living, breathing diabetic person is something that occurs rarely in my real life. And when it does happen, I tend to make a big deal about it.

Take my friend’s wedding. I knew that one of his groomsmen had Type 1 diabetes — and an insulin pump — but I’d yet to meet him. I sat through the ceremony, waited for the pictures to get taken, and then, just as the wedding party was about to enter the reception area, I spotted him. As soon as I saw the telltale curlicues of clear plastic tubing trailing from his pocket, I made my move — much to the embarrassment of my husband.

“Mike?! Are you Mike?”

He turned around cautiously. “Yeah?”

“I have something to show you!” I proclaimed. At this point, I can only assume that poor Mike was terrified — what I was trying to show him was my insulin pump, and that insulin pump was attached to the leg of the pair of Spanx I was wearing. Under my dress.

“Check that out!” I said, flashing a little upper-knee action and the illuminated screen of my MiniMed 722.

To his credit, Mike was more than receptive to my unusual method of self-introduction, and we spent quite a bit of time that evening comparing d-stories and complaining about the things that only other diabetic people understand. I still see him around town every few months, and each time I bound up to him like a total dweeb, ready to compare pump features and low-carbohydrate adult beverage recipes.

I throw a similar fit of happiness any time I meet another PWD. Because even with the largest, awesomest network of supportive friends and family, it’s easy to feel alienated by diabetes. No one else knows exactly what it’s like to live in fear of the eye doctor, or to have to leave a party early because you can’t keep your blood sugar up — or down. No one else, of course, except a person with diabetes.

I’ve got plans to attend the Children with Diabetes Friends for Life conference this summer, and I’ve already warned a few fellow DOC-ers that they may want to consider wearing body armor and helmets to the event. I simply can’t guarantee that I won’t become overwhelmed by a wave of PWD mania and cling to my new-found D-friends like an attack spider.

And that warning doesn’t just go for official gatherings. I know you’re out there, diabetic people, so you’d better keep your well-examined eyes peeled. One day, when you least expect it, you might see me skipping your way — crazed expression on my face, pump in one hand and friendship bracelet in the other.

27 comments on “Instant Friends

  1. Karen says:

    I had someone interrupt me while I was on my cell in line at Target once – turns out he’d seen my tubing and was all excited to show me he had a pump too. I quick hung up, and then I stood at Target lifting up my shirt and swapping site and pump tips with this complete stranger for half an hour….

  2. Yes, have to admit: I go a little insane at times, too. Like in a Denny’s parking lot at 2 a.m. with a fellow PWD, as we both lift our shirts to show off infusion sites and CGM sensors and exchange syringes and drugs. I’m sure any late-night patrolling police officer or casual window-observer from inside the restaurant would be alerted to suspicious behavior by this single man and woman lingering in the parking lot. Fortunately, no bail money was needed that night. But try on a 2010 D-Summit with a group of 40 others in the DOC – OMG. I almost fell over in awe at being surrounded by such awesomeness!

  3. Beth says:

    I’m a type 1 and I used to live in Jacksonville! We could’ve been D friends if I had only known you before I moved last year. Poo. 😦

    I don’t really know many T1s in real life. The only exception is my good friend/ old roommate from Jacksonville. She’s been living with the ‘betes for 25-ish years.

  4. Fiona says:

    I have the same reaction. I met a D-Mama at a cooking class (she spotted my pump during the intro and politely inquired) and she was my BFF for the rest of the class!

  5. Tina Kicklighter says:

    Loved your post. You are such a great writer!

  6. Joanne says:

    Okay, I thought I was the only was that went a little gaga when I spot a person with D. I always (very excitedly) point them out to my daughter, who at the age of 3, is already embarrassed of me. I can’t say that I blame her.

  7. Trevor says:

    There is something special about meeting another face-to-face who understands. Istant connection!!! Love your humour.
    My 2 daughters and myself have Type 1 and my younger daughter has a pump she is so proud of her Mr Wizard!

  8. Renata says:

    This made me really laugh. I totally get the aloneness at times. I can’t say I have met another D-Parent and just kind of got all puppy dog excited, but I feel like I have missed out after reading everyone’s comments.

  9. Lindsay says:

    I have to say, I am the exact same way. I know I freak people out sometimes and I’m sure I completely embarrass myself. I really don’t know anyone else my age in “real life” (not online) that is living with T1 Diabetes. I get so excited when I see an insulin pump or meter, it seems to happen so infrequently. Love your story. πŸ™‚

  10. Here’s the best part: 2 minutes after I posted this, our newest intern walked by with an ANIMAS PING hooked to her pocket!!!!!!

    I’m pretty sure I scared the crap out of her.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    I love the image of you runing up to him and pulling something out from under your skirt! Haha!!!

    I haven’t had a lot of these opportunities, but I think I’d be the same way!

    I do have a RL friend with type 1, actually. I knew her before I got diagnosed, which made things a lot easier to handle. I’d learn all this medical stuff from my CDE and they certainly gave me lots of rules for everyday living, but then I’d see Bonnie at a group dinner and get to ask her how it’s worked for her in real life. Or, when a camping trip came up, I emailed her and asked for tips on handling D for two and a half days in the woods. (The best tip she gave me was to take more low-treatments than I thought I’d need, and she was TOTALLY right! And she’d stroll by my tent drinking a Yoohoo while I sat in the door eating Starburst, and we’d be like, yeah, lows suck…)

    It also helped that she served as living proof that not only can you do just fine with T1, but that a lifestyle like ours (some drinking, lots of dinners out with friends, a few parties) wouldn’t be off limits.

    We do occasionally digress into D-talk at gatherings, too. πŸ™‚ Sometimes because I have questions for her, and sometimes because it’s just good to talk about it with someone who “gets it” or is just as interested in what may be the next step in diabetes management (I’m SO rooting for “smart insulin” to get to the market!).

    There’s so few of us, I was just really likely to already know a T1. And thank goodness for the internet, because now I have TONS of you guys to talk to!

  12. Christina says:

    Just found your blog and I love it! I am so guilty of this, I do it to young children, adults, anyone. I am so starved to see a REAL LIFE diabetic πŸ™‚ I’m glad I’m not the only one πŸ™‚

  13. Heidi says:

    Love unexpected D-meetups..they’re the best. Since pumps became more popular,you can’t live in a major metro area(or sometimes,in a backwater town) and not eventually run into a fellow PWD.

  14. Wendy says:

    I love it when that occurs. My first CWD FFL conference. I ran into Ellen while going to our hotel room. I can’t wait for FFL 2011.

  15. Kaitake says:

    Awesome! I totally understand πŸ™‚ the only other diabetic I know as an adult is my diabetes nurse educator, and it’s kinda hard to have a diabetic-friend-chat with her :S

  16. Jennifer Kenny says:

    I spotted a pump on a woman next to me in yoga class and it took all my yogic will power to wait for the class to end so I could pounce on her. Any Type- oners in Washington or Oregon, give me a shout out!

  17. Tim says:

    I find I learn the same from 1 hour with another diabetic as I do with 6 hours with a specialist nurse as I do with about 6 weeks with a doctor.

    Diabetes meet ups are great! I’m organising one in Edinburgh, Scotland in a few week’s time if anyone fancies coming along! πŸ˜‰

  18. Holly says:

    I’ve only had one occasion where this has back fired. I spotted a girl at church who had a pump clipped to her skirt, and I met up with her when the service was over. She was trying to walk away from me, and I kept following her and asking her questions. Now whenever we see each other, we just awkwardly nod.

  19. shiv says:

    I’m the same re: freaking out when meeting other people with t1/a pump. I went to FFL UK in 2010 and it was amazing. I only wish I could make it out to the US one! I’m there at FFL UK 2011 though!

  20. I am the exact same way. I once spent 30 min. talking with a girl at Baby Gap when I was pregnant, because she was newly diagnosed (bless her) and fascinated because I had a pump and was pregnant. It was so much fun and I so wanted to spend more time. I love meeting PWD.

  21. Ruth says:

    I have had Type 1 D for over twenty years and only met one other Type 1 D. She was a secretary at a car dealership.When she somehow heard I had Type 1D m she left her office and came running over to talk to me about her new pump, how she got one after getting sick and spending a week in a coma. Who else would understand I guess. So thanks for the post.It’s true not many of have real live friends with D.Maybe we need some adult Type 1 D Camps Ha!!

  22. Same here. My sister-in-law is Type 1 too and she and I were just talking last month about spotting pumps at the mall or out and about. She gets just as excited as I do when I see a pump! I saw a woman at the mall with 3 kids and a pump hanging off of her…I just looked at Ellie and said see she’s Type 1 and she has a husband and children and can do whatever she wants! Ellie is four and I’m sure had no idea why I was saying all that…but I want her to know she’s not alone and has as much a chance as anyone to do whatever she wants!!!

  23. Marla says:

    Fortunately/Unfortunately my 7 year old daughter had a little tpye 1 classmate when she was diagnosed. They would skip off to the nurse’s office 4 times a day together. They still do, 2 years later! She was the 4th type 1 kiddo in our school that year. Tomorrow, her diabetic mentor, a type 1 girl from our local high school, will come and have lunch with our little girl and her classmate. We feel very lucky that she doesn’t feel isolated but I’m so bummed that there are so many type 1’s in my town.

  24. Wendy says:

    WAHOO!!!! I love this πŸ™‚ I’ll never forget the first time someone approached me about my daughter. She was a new mom, nursing her baby while I sat on the bench beside her. We were in the play area at the mall. I had my daughter come over so I could test her and she got all excited!!! I hadn’t ever seen a pump before and she lifted her floor length skirt to reveal a pump attached to her ankle!!!

  25. Erika says:

    So glad that others feel the same way!
    Thanks for writing such an awesome blog. I just joined the DOC, and stumbled onto your blog. I am a new-ish T1 (33, F) and it feel so good not to feel so isolated anymore. It seems like others feel and have to go thru the exact stuff I do. Thanks again, and reading this really lifted my spirits πŸ™‚

  26. Jen says:

    Oh boy can I relate!

    I work on a college campus and happened to be in the financial dept, depositing money for my department.
    I kept hearing a pump warning beep, but every time I went to look at my pump, it seemed fine.

    When I was walking out to leave, I spotted a student in the teller line, waiting to pay his school bill.
    I heard the beeping again and saw him pull a pump out of his pocket.

    I literally ran over to him in excitement, pulling out my own pump, totally exposing the neon pink underwear I was wearing that day to him and his goofy college friends that were standing in line with him.

    I think I scared him and his friends, but I didn’t care, I was excited.
    I told him where I worked and that if he ever needed anything, he could come to my office or send me an email.

    I held back the motherly-side of me and decided not to ask him if he had his blood testing machine and glucose on him. I think he was startled and dazed enough for the day πŸ™‚

  27. Karen says:

    I’ve been to lots of D-meet-ups, but I still can’t fathom what FFL is going to be like. We are all going to totally lose it, I think!! πŸ™‚ In a good way, of course.

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