Standing at the counter of my usual morning coffee shop, I was flustered. I placed my order and stepped out of the way, juggling my phone, glasses, loose change and handbag. I’d been ignoring my vibrating pump since I’d walked into the café – I knew that it was telling me that my BGL was heading south. I knew that. I had it in control. I knew I wasn’t low yet – just headed that way. I knew I was still more than safe and there was no need to panic.
But my pump doesn’t understand the subtleties of diabetes. It works in absolutes and it was absolutely telling me that my BGL was dropping and dropping too quickly.
And then, because it thought that I was ignoring it or hadn’t realised it was trying to tell me something (it sits hard up against my sternum, held in place by the tight elastic of my bra – how could I not know?!) it started wailing. Well, maybe not wailing, but that is what it sounded like to me.
In a move completely devoid of any classiness or poise, I dumped everything in my hands on a nearby communal table, giving an apologetic –and grateful –glance to the office worker who managed to catch my phone before it crashed to the ground.
Continuing with the grace and polish I was exuding, I roughly reached down my top, pulled my pump out and silenced the wailing with a firm press of the ’ok’ button before, equally elegantly, depositing it back in my bra, tubing still poking out.
I took a breath, gathered my things and shoved them into my bag and turned to continue waiting for my coffee, the alarm now silenced. And caught the eye of a man who had just been handed his coffee.
Almost imperceptibly, he nodded at me; his head inclined downwards only a tiny bit. I must have looked puzzled. He placed his coffee down – also at the communal table I had just used as my dumping ground, and reached into his pocket where he pulled out the same pump as mine. He waved it at me, picked up his coffee and walked out.
‘Renza? Your coffee is ready, hon.’ The barista was calling my name. I thanked him and grabbed my coffee, walking into the cool morning air outside. I looked around for the man with the pump, but he was nowhere to be seen.
I seem to have had a significant number of diabetes in the wild experiences recently. Even though I am frequently around others with diabetes, I still get a thrill when I find myself seeing evidence of diabetes out of context or unexpectedly. When I am in a room full of others with diabetes, my experience is legitimatised and normalised. But perhaps that is the case even more so when I see someone just going about being themselves, doing their daily activities. With a little diabetes add on.
There’s no rhyme or reason why songs go through my head. Here’s one that has been on repeat in my mind for the last three days.