Last Tuesday was my 21st diaversary. I celebrated by going to Mexico.
Well, we didn’t really go to Mexico because of my diaversary. We were already planning to go, and I thought it would be fun if it happened to coincide. Turns out, I was right.
The day after my 21st diaversary, I saw an Animas pump on the beach in Mexico. It was clipped to the bikini bottom of an older blonde woman. I thought about calling out, “Hey, nice pump!” but I didn’t know if she spoke English. Or if she would hear me. And it would be kind of awkward to yell something like that and not be acknowledged, so I didn’t say anything.
Later on, I did hear her on the phone speaking English. And I thought again about going over and saying hello. But I didn’t. What if she doesn’t like to talk about her diabetes? What if she doesn’t want to talk about it while on vacation?
We’re in Mexico, after all.
So I kept reading my book, but after awhile the sun went down and it got cool in the shade. We walked over to the pool and got in. In the pool with us was a blonde woman, but I wasn’t sure if it was the same person. She was wearing a hat this time and I couldn’t see her bathing suit beneath the water. We made circles around each other for awhile, and then Erik and I decided to climb into the hot tub. Perhaps not the smartest idea while wearing an Omnipod (cooking insulin is never a good idea) but my blood sugars were so terrible that whole week that I wasn’t convinced it would make much of a difference. But that’s besides the point.
The woman eventually came over and got into the hot tub. It looked like the same bathing suit, but she wasn’t wearing the pump anymore, which I thought was strange since Animas is waterproof. We introduced ourselves, and we chatted about the resort and what we had been doing in Mexico. We talked about work, and soon her two friends joined us. We talked about where we were from (she’s from Montreal), the weather (way better than where we’re from), and skin cancer (it made sense if you were there).
But we didn’t talk about diabetes. At one point, I got out of the pool to use the restroom, and I tested when I got back (still high). I don’t know if she didn’t see me test or if she didn’t want to say anything, because she didn’t say anything. Neither did I.
Then later, she got out to test and ate some dates. I caught her eye, and smiled. But when she got into the pool again, she didn’t explain what she had been doing.
We probably spent over an hour in the hot tub, and the word diabetes wasn’t uttered once.
But we were on vacation. And I didn’t really want to talk about diabetes. But I felt really guilty about it.
What if she doesn’t know anyone else with diabetes? What if I’m her only chance to get connected to the community and know that she’s not alone? I started making a mental list of all the Canadians I knew with diabetes. Maybe a little ridiculous of an assumption, but I felt really panicked about not asking about her diabetes.
In the end, I think it was the right decision, though. I was on vacation. I wasn’t having the greatest diabetes week. Even though I just marked another successful year with diabetes, I just didn’t want to talk about it. And I bet she was probably happy to not have to talk about it either. It was nice chatting with people regarding something other than our mutual health conditions.
A couple weeks ago, Erik and I were having dinner with some other couples. It was our second dinner, but it was the first dinner where I decided to mention that I have diabetes. We were talking about theme parks and I mentioned the disability pass trick we sometimes use. Then one of the husbands mentions that he also has diabetes. I had no idea! The conversation lingered on diabetes for awhile, and I felt self-conscious about all the attention.
Not all attention is bad, of course. Earlier this month, I met a woman at the gym who also wears an Omnipod. She glimpsed it when I had partially lifted my shirt to adjust my sports bra. She had been diagnosed 3 years earlier and told me that she had never met anyone else with diabetes.
Me? I’ve never seem to have any trouble. I even find them in foreign countries.