I had the pleasure of meeting Rhonda from Fifteen Wait Fifteen recently. (She and her daughter took a day of their vacation to spend with me and The Kid. How cool is that?) We connected after reading each other’s blogs and recognizing some kindred spiritedness.
When I meet fellow diabetes online community compatriots in real life, I’m consistently struck with this thought: “Even if we didn’t have diabetes, we would be friends.” That was definitely the case with Rhonda, who had me laughing within two minutes of her arrival. And kept me laughing throughout the day.
We had met at my dad’s house (it was midway point from her vacation spot and chez moi), which put an interesting spin on things as my dad joined us for lunch. He played the role of Pépère (grandfather) to two darling toddlers who, I’m not joking, charmed a lady with their good manners and smiles to come to our table and give them cookies after we sat down. And yes, we let them eat the cookies before lunch. She and I believe in the “Life’s too short, so eat dessert first” ideology.
My father got to hear about diabetes from another T1 adult’s perspective, and as Rhonda was diagnosed at 21, he got to learn about the frustrations of having parents who didn’t have the benefit of classes and learning how to deal with a child with diabetes. I’m grateful that she was able to talk openly about that and just as grateful that he paid for lunch.
While we connected because we’re both T1s, diabetes didn’t dominate the day. She was dropping when they arrived and later in the day, I shotgunned a Mountain Dew to prevent a crash (Damn you, delayed gastric emptying. I’ll get you back one day.) There were boluses and finger sticks and a conversation about our spouses and how diabetes can impact relationships, but the majority of the day was spent talking about other things.
And that’s what I love about meeting people from the DOC. Diabetes may be something that we live with 24/7 with no breaks or vacations (try as we might), but with many of my friends in the DOC, it’s not just about diabetes. The connections are deeper.
If I had a million dollars (Please hum along with Barenaked Ladies if you know the tune…), I would build a place where all my DOC friends could come and hang out and just be…us. We may talk about diabetes, but there are so many other aspects of our lives that diabetes doesn’t touch – and that’s the core of who we are. I love going to conferences, but when my DOC friends are there, it’s a constant struggle to get all the goodness out of the conference AND spend enough time with them outside of the diabetes tent. A few of us joke that we need a national/international diabetes meet-up where we just get together for three days in a room and hang out. Who’s with me?
I now miss Rhonda as I would a friend who I long to see again. And for that, I thank diabetes.
(But I’m not thanking it for the delayed gastric emptying. No way.)