Thursday, April 22, 2010

Diabetic Sighting

Last weekend, Brad and I were at Lowe's for some gardening supplies and to shop for things for other household projects. At one point, in the light bulb isle, Brad leaned over and whispered, "Look at her! She's wearing an insulin pump!" And he motioned to a woman who walked past us and stopped a few yards away.

"Are you sure?" I said.

"Yeah. On her other hip."

So I casually strolled past her pretending to be on the lookout for light bulbs (read: not sly at all) and when I got to the other side of her, sure enough, there was a pump (a Minimed) clipped to her waistline. Tubing and all!

I walked back and told Brad he was right and congratulated him on a super-slick diabetes sighting. Then he said, "You looked like you were going to say something to her."

I told him I wanted to but what the heck do I say?

"Hello, I noticed your insulin pump."

"Hey, nice pump! I have one too"

"Come here often?"

What is this? Some sort of cheesy diabetes pick up line? I looked at her and tried to find a reason to talk to her. Something we had in common other than the diabetes. She was a she and that was a start. She looked older than me, maybe late 30s or early 40s. Physically fit. Was she a mom? If so, did she experience pregnancy with diabetes? (Yes, I always think of pregnancy-related things! Don't you know I have baby fever?!?) I wonder when she was diagnosed? Was she new to the pump or using it for years?

I had all these questions wracking my brain. I love the DOC and talking with people online but meet-ups in real life are super sparse around these parts. I would love to meet more folks here just to chat and vent. (Although, I did meet a local fellow T1-er, Christi. We met for lunch a while back and have chatted online and I love knowing that there's someone close by to share with. Hey Christi!) Sometimes I feel like such a rare breed that seeing another person like me out in the wild invokes a crazy need in me to reach out!

Am I nuts? Have I absolutely lost my mind? And I wonder if I had gone up to her if she'd be wondering those same things about me?!? Brad and I moved on but we kept passing her while we were in the store. I went to pee while Brad was checking out and she even ended up in line next to him! (No, he didn't talk to her.) Every time I passed her I wondered if I should say something? Would it be weird? How do I start that conversation without sounding crazy? And if we did get to talking what would my poor husband do while we waxed on about our diabetes kinship-ness.

In the end, I never said anything. I wanted to but couldn't figure out a good opening line. In most situations, I'm not shy. I like talking to new people. Plus, I'm usually in an environment where socializing is expected. Work, parties, gatherings, etc. These are all times when it's socially acceptable to find someone to talk to and actually strike up a conversation. But at a hardware store? I needed to find a reason, an opener. This time I couldn't find one that didn't sound forced, contrived. And what do I know? For some diabetics, their diabetes is what it is and just doesn't play a large role in their lives. I've met a few that don't feel like diabetes has an emotional component for them, they never wonder about other folks with diabetes, never feel the need to reach out or compare stories, never need to vent. They just do it and move on. More so, some even feel awkward talking about it, especially with a stranger.

I'm sure most folks in the DOC can't relate because, really, why else would we be here? But I'm telling you I've met these people. They are out there. And what if the random person I go up to feels that way? Not only am I a freakzoid but now I'm an unwanted-stalker-freakazoid who is invading their privacy and making them feel uncomfortable! Scary!

What do you think? Should I have just gone up and introduced myself? Should I walk away and leave the diabetes fraternizing to the DOC? Am I the only one who gets (maybe a little too) excited when they have a diabetes sighting in public? Who feels the need to bond with strangers wearing pumps or checking their sugar in public?

Please let me know if I need to seek help!



  1. I feel the same way!! I get WAY too excited seeing other diabetics. I have only met 3 and two were visitors at my work and the other is a nurse practitioner :) The nurse practitioner came in and asked for a triple a battery and for some reason I just knew it was for a pump. When she pulled it out, I asked her what it was (just to make sure, bc I've mistaken pagers for pumps before) and she started to explain...then i pulled out mine! It was awesome :)

    I don't think you need to seek help, I think its normal!

  2. Haha! I'm exactly the same way!! Anytime I do see another diabetic with a pump I feel so cheesy going up and striking a conversation - so I don't. There aren't many around these parts either so its a rare thing.

    I totally know what you mean, as well, about those people that just do it because they have to and that's it - or they are super private and don't want to talk about it. I see one of those every week (she works at a store my uncle owns and my cousin and grandma work there too, so I visit a lot) she wears a minimed pump and just doesn't like to talk, although I try from time to time.

    Oh well.

    I'm trying to be a little more open and introduce myself as a 'fellow diabetic' (even that sounds like a A.A. meeting/thing) because I'd like to see more in my area.

    You're definitely not the only one either! I get SO excited when I see others testing/wearing a pump. I also find myself laughing and pointing out to my husband when there is a random test strip on the ground in a parking lot that I did not leave there! :)

    Maybe we both need to seek help!? Heehee!

  3. So fun to see my name in your post! I'm just seeing this now because I've been MIA this past week online - work has been crazy busy! I was just thinking about how we needed to schedule another get together soon. :) I agree that having someone to meet up in person really is theraputic.

    I have only seen someone with an insulin pump once and it was neat to see it. I pointed it out to my husband but didn't go introduce myself. I'm not quite as outgoing as you are. So if you couldn't do'll understand why I didn't. :) It is a bit awkward to strike up a conversation, even with the common denominator of diabetes.