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.