This morning, I met an interesting woman.
I was at the lab in the outpatient hospital where I see my endocrinologist, waiting to get a fasting BG reading in order to check the accuracy of my meter when compared to the lab test. I got there early, a few minutes before the lab opened, and joined others standing in line waiting for the clinic to open. All hungry people (early-morning people are always the ones getting fasting bloodwork!), avoiding eye contact and staring at their feet as they shuffle forward in line to hand in their forms at the counter before securing a seat in the waiting room.
There was a woman who was....chatty. She smiled at people, held doors open, and seemed like she was looking for a conversation. As I approached the back of the line she was sitting along the wall on a bench. Seeing the growing crowd of people made her realize that she should probably rejoin the actual line (so as not to lose her spot, I suppose), and I gave her a half-smile to indicate that I didn't care that she jumped ahead of me in line (she had, after all, been waiting longer, and I'm not too bothered if someone needs to sit instead of standing).
Fast-forward to the seated part: forms have been turned in at the desk, and I'm waiting for the voice to call my name for the blood draw. I pull out my meter to test and...high. again. Not HIGH high, but higher than I want to be. Take out my trusty HumaPen, measure out a correction, and inject.
Once the needle has been safely removed from my abdomen, I hear a voice piping up from 2 seats down: "Oh, do you have diabetes?"
The woman from the line. "Yes, I do."
I give her another half-smile. I really don't want to talk... I'm hungry, and a little grumpy that I woke up high and was still high. I start rummaging around in my purse for my phone, wondering if she'll take the hint and stop talking to me if I'm clearly focused on the device.
"I do too. Are you on insulin? Type 1?"
"Yes, I am." his time I put the phone down, and turn so I can properly face her. "You too?"
"No," she replies. "Type 2, for 30 years, but I'm not on insulin yet."
We started to chat about diabetes - the ups and downs (hah! that never gets old), what we do to manage it, all sorts of stuff. At one point, I mentioned how if she does go on insulin in the future, she can probably work with her doctor to find one that works for her - after all, 30 years ago the same types of insulin (long-acting, fast-acting, etc) might not have been available. I told her about how the insulin I was on and the amounts I took are very different now than they were when I was diagnosed.
She asks how long I've been on insulin: "21 years, this year."
Her eyes widen a little bit.
How old was I when I was diagnosed? "4."
She pauses. Her expression softens a bit. "...wow."
I have to admit, I wasn't really expecting that. For a second she actually looked like she didn't know what to say. She thinks for a moment, then tells me "Kudos to you. It can't have been easy to deal with that as a child. You lose so much, having to worry about diabetes growing up... just, jood job."
That one was unexpected. I don't think I've ever had someone tell me, just straight-up say "good job for making it through." We continued chatting for a bit - I countered by thanking her and telling her she too must have encountered health struggles over the last 3 decades, but the fact that she was still here and still getting her yearly blood work means that she's doing exactly what I do: just trying to stay healthy.
She got called in for her bloodwork first, then I did. We parted ways, wishing each other a nice day and agreeing that it had been nice to chat.
I liked chatting with that lady. It sometimes can be nice to chat with someone who experiences similar daily frustrations about food, BG testing, and medications -- and it certainly made waiting in line for bloodwork much more interesting!