It’s been a big week in diabetes. And even though it’s Friday, it’s not over yet. Tomorrow, I’ll be facilitating an event for Medtronic Australia when they bring together some diabetes advocates from across the country. (More on that another time.)
I don’t often feel overwhelmed by the diabetes world. Of course I feel overwhelmed by my own diabetes – frequently, if the truth be told.
This week, I have found it overwhelming. The NDSS CGM Initiative announcement last weekend has, as expected, resulted in a lot of interest and a lot of work. It’s been long hours in the office and then longer hours at home. (In case you missed last night’s webinar, you can watch/listen here.)
Yesterday I called Aaron and the kidlet who are enjoying school holidays and begged them to come and meet me for lunch so I could have an hour of diabetes-free time with my favourite people.
We sat outdoors at a café in Carlton, talking about anything but my work and it was lovely. The kidlet told us about the book she had her nose planted in, announcing proudly ‘I can swear in Gaelic now’ delighted her, and reminded her parents why we should never have encouraged this reading palaver!
The sun was shining, the weather was warm, the food was great. And the coffee was taking the edge off the frenzied place I’d been lost in for most of the week.
As we were chatting about something (possibly the many languages our child can swear in), I looked up at the exact moment a young woman walked past our table. And there, firmly attached to the waist band of her jeans was an insulin pump. An Animas Vibe pump, boldly fastened just above the pocket, catching the sunlight. I jumped in my seat a little.
‘Look!’ I hissed, pointing. ‘Look!!’ (Yes – I am all decorum and subtlety. Obviously)
Aaron and the kid turned around and immediately noticed what I was getting excited at.
At that moment, I knew I just needed to go and say hello. I knew it was exactly what I needed. In fact, the words I used were: ‘I’m going to say hi. I need some diabetes in the wild right now.’
I think what I meant was that I needed some ‘anonymous’ diabetes. A connection with someone who wouldn’t know the constant madness that has been so present this week.
I walked into the café. The girl was standing there with a young man and another woman who I figured was her mother.
‘Excuse me,’ I said to her. I then noticed my kid had followed me in, eager to see this encounter.
The girl spun around and looked at me.
‘Hi,’ I said, smiling widely. ‘I’m sorry to be so intrusive…but…um…I noticed your pump, and um…I have one just like it. Oh and this!’ I pushed my left arm forward, lifting the sleeve of my shirt to show her my Dex.
‘Hey!’ She said. ‘I used to use one of those!’
I introduced myself and she told me her name. I apologised again for rushing up to her.
‘No! I love it and I don’t mind at all,’ she said. ‘I stopped using the CGM after summer, but I really loved using it.’
‘You know there was an announcement about a funding initiative just this week. Do you mind if I ask…? How old are you?’ I ask.
‘I’m twenty. And yes, I know. I’ll only be able to access it for about 6 months, but it’s great.’
‘I’m so pleased!’ I said. ‘It really is such useful tech…I wouldn’t – I couldn’t – be without it.’
I looked at her mum and smiled. She asked me how long I’ve had T1D. ‘Nineteen years this month,’ I said.
‘Wow…so…’ she looked at the kidlet who was watching all of this in interest. ‘Is this your daughter? Did you have her…’ she let her voice trail off, thinking about what she wanted to ask. I smiled gently, knowing full well what she was about to say.
I introduced the kidlet to the group. ‘I’d had diabetes for 6 years when I had her. It was hard, but it was absolutely the best thing. She’s 12 now. I used a pump, but there was no CGM in Australia just yet. The tech is so much better now.’
I could see the look of relief flood over the mum’s face. ‘It’s the thing I’m concerned about. She’s still young…but it feels like the next big thing to deal with. When she’s ready.’
I mentioned a few different things she may like to check out and we chatted a bit more before we said our farewells.
The kid and I walked back to our table. I sat down and took a deep breath. I felt myself fill up. I’d just connected with one of my own and that small interaction refocused my energy and eased a lot of the pressure that had been pushing down on me throughout the week.
This week has been huge. It has been busy. I have felt overwhelmed. But it has been great. It took this brief encounter to help me pinpoint the reason for it all. People. I wasn’t really sure how I’d forgotten that.