We went out for supper a couple of weeks ago. No where fancy. Just a place where I knew they had nutritional info available and there were some healthy, low fat choices. This particular restaurant has the added bonus of a treasure chest my girls can rummage through to choose a toy while Mom and Dad pay the bill.
While we sat perusing the menu I proceeded to perform our pre-meal blood sugar check on Jenna. Enter our server--a young woman named Jen, about 20 years old. She sees me squeezing a drop of blood from Jenna's tiny finger and says with a great deal of genuine sympathy "Oh... she has diabetes? That makes me so sad to see little ones having to deal with this." She then proceeds to remove her own insulin pump from it's hiding spot in the waist of her black work pants.
I nearly leaped into her arms, the poor girl.
"OH MY GOSH!! Jenna's a pumper too!!" I blurted out with little regard for the other diners present or how Jenna might feel about me 'outing' her. I admit, I could have played it a bit cooler. But I figure I'm still somewhat of a rookie at the whole culture that is diabetes. I asked Jenna if she wanted to show Jen her pump too. Jenna was a little guarded but after a moments hesitation while she assessed the situation and realized she had something in common with this person, she unzipped her pump case and somewhat proudly showed off her pretty pink pump.
And so began a dialogue with this very good natured young woman who just happened to have type 1 diabetes and was by chance our waitress that night and just happened to arrive on the scene while I was testing Jenna's sugar. We discussed pumps, diabetes camps, which she highly recommended for Jenna when she is a little older, endo appointments, her rebellious teen years and other stuff 'diabetes'. She assured me that Jenna is going to be just fine with this. I could have cried when she said this to me. Even now as I recall her saying it I get emotional.
The bond that diabetes creates between people who are otherwise strangers still amazes me. It is created out of a need to connect with people who understand the demands--the relentlessness of this disease. Because as people with type 1 diabetes and the families who love and care for them know, it is something that must be lived, 24-7 to be appreciated for the challenges it presents and the physical and emotional chaos it can cause.
Thanks to all the 'Jen's' out there for your compassion, willingness to share and offer encouragement and to simply say "I understand." That includes all you bloggers out there who share your journeys with diabetes online whether that journey is as the parent of a child with diabetes or as an adult living with the disease. This is one Mom of a child with diabetes who is incredibly glad you're out there.