Adventures with the “tuDiabetes meet-up”

I arrived at the Omellette Parlor in Santa Monica about 15 minutes late. Possibly later, because I parked so far away. I was trying to find Sarah and Rebecca, who I knew only from their messages on tuDiabetes and the pictures in their profiles. How hard could it be?

Confoundingly hard, in fact. It was only the day before that I confirmed that I’d attend the meet-up, arranged by Rebecca. But I didn’t have a phone number for either of them and for some reason, neither of them dressed in the same clothes they were wearing in their photos. I on the other hand, made sure to wear the same dorky hat and glasses I wore in my profile. For good measure I added my “Type 1” t-shirt. I decided to leave the tuDiabetes posterboard in the car as being over the top.

Inside the restaurant, which was full, either everyone looked like Rebecca or Sarah, or nobody did. It doesn’t matter which because I couldn’t find them. I wandered through the dining areas slowly and making a big show of looking around, waiting for someone to jump up and yell “Terry! There’s Terry! Over here! Over here!” Didn’t happen. Instead I got a snappy question from the hostess about whether I needed something (No thanks, I’m meeting someone I’ve never seen before) and distrustful glances from the people at the table I was standing beside.

Well, maybe I missed them. Maybe they couldn’t get seated and went somewhere else. Maybe I’ll go outside and sulk.

In mid-sulk a vision appeared in the doorway in a purple-tie-dye (I think) and a vaguely familiar face. “Terry?” “Sarah?” We flew into each other’s arms and . . . no, we didn’t. We shook hands in a very friendly sort of way and Sarah led me to the table where Rebecca waited. Rebecca looked just like her picture, so why in the hell didn’t I see her before? Sarah’s husband, Joaquin, was there too. A wise thing to bring a third party. (Sarah obviously listened to her mother when she told her to be careful about getting together with people she meets on the internet.) AND there was an empty chair for me! How nice.

The risk in meeting in-person the people you are merely acquainted with on-line is that they’ll turn out to be creeps. Or worse, that YOU’LL turn out being the creep. Speaking for myself, neither Rebecca nor Sarah is a creep. (Neither is Joaquin, for that matter. He’s a Type 3, btw, the s.o. of a diabetic.) We had a delightful time because they’re all delightful people.

As it turns out I am, at seven years diagnosis, a newbie. Both Rebecca and Sarah grew up with diabetes. Rebecca seems to have immersed herself in the world of diabetes support, especially emotional support. Sarah and Joaquin are newlyweds. (If I’m a newbie at seven years, then yes, they are newlyweds.) Sarah and I share an interest running and hiking. We’re all three pumpers. (Two MM’s and one Animas Ping.)

As a newbie, I haven’t had occasion to meet many other diabetics. I have to tell you what a difference it makes to sit at a table where other people are testing their blood sugars, talking about their meter and pumps and all that other diabetes stuff without having to describe anything to anyone. A ‘low’ needs no explanation - everyone knows what it is. We even looked at each others pumps. How cool is THAT? And no food police either. We’re much too polite.

So, after making life difficult for the waiter, we headed out to the Pacific Ocean. Rebecca changed into her shorts in the parking lot. It’s Venice Beach, you can do that kind of thing. Sarah kept her company, Joaquin and I provided cover at the back of the car. Then we strolled to the end of Ocean Park Boulevard and snapped a photo or two. It’s around here somewhere. I’ll find it. We exchanged numbers and emails and talked about setting up another meeting with even more people. Who knows? Maybe five. Six. Seven, even! We can dream.

If you get a chance to meet a tuDiabetes member near you - I recommend doing it. You may not end up being best friends, but if you’re lonely in your diabetes as I sometimes am, it’s nice to share with a live person or two. It’s okay to follow Sarah’s mother’s advice - be careful. Bring your Type 3 along. Your Type 3’s can amuse each other if you hit it off with your fellow tuDiabetes member. In case you don’t, coach your Type 3 ahead of time to say that you have to go now when you kick them under the table.

Joaquin never said they had to leave, so I guess I’m not a creep either.

Terry

That is awesome you have met up with other diabetics in your area. I would love to be able to do that. How did you come upon deciding to meet? Just finding them on tudiabetes and asking if they would like to? I wish I could find an easy way to search for or meet other diabetes in the Tampa, Florida area. I am sure it’s awesome to be able to sit & talk about diabetes and you feel like they completely understand what you’re talking about… because they experience it too! Because all PWD’s know that many times people who aren’t don’t really get it. Let me know if you have any advice on meeting other PWD’s!! Thanks!

P.S. You have a “Type 1” t-shirt?! Where from, or is it homemade? I would definitely rock one of those!

I want to have a meet up! Where are my S FL peeps? Glad you had fun.

Elaine and Claire - props go to Rebecca for organizing the meet-up. She chose a date, time and place and posted it in the Events section. I don’t remember exactly how I found it, but maybe Rebecca Rodick can enlighten you about advertising. You could advertise in one of the groups, like the FLA USA group.

Claire, you can do an “advanced search” on the member page - here - to find other members who live in your town. I know there is also a Group for Florida members. You could join, and suggest a meet-up. it’s really fun.

here’s the FL Group

Thanks…I just started a discussion in the Florida group asking if anyone is interested.

Two interested people have already responded in 15 minutes!

To Terry and all the other commentators:

From your interesting reads, I can see you had a good time, Terry, and I’m glad the Florida people have found each other. For their info. there must be a Florida discussion group and an events page. I first went to the Southern California discussion boards and found the meet-ups listed there and eventually found the Events page. Since I typically organize many events, I jumped right in to set one up. Then I noticed another individual doing some meet-ups in other areas, about an hour away for me, which I attended and loved. I also noticed some people “talk” about meeting, but do just that, “Talk”, so I realized “taking charge” to set one up was all that was needed and apparently got noticed for that, too, and now I am just posting them on the two “sites”. I am also adding people on as friends and send an email of what is going on and tell them to look for the meet-ups on the events page. One diabetic suggested looking at meet-ups.com (or is that meetups.com) Anyway, I only saw two old meet-ups listed there for diabetics!!! However, Manny might have more ideas for you as well.

I have often felt very alone when dealing with my diabetes and there was rarely other diabetics around when I grew up. The very first time I was around a bunch of us was in my teen years. It was fun, but didn’t last long. It was run by a nurse from a nearby area.

The next time was when I went to work in a diabetic camp as a counselor, in 1984. I was the oldest counselor, at age 21 then, and I saw hundreds of diabetics then. I was amazed!!!

The biggest amazement was the instant bond we had because of a common disease! I felt like I was home!!! It was then I came up with the saying, “I think it is important for people of all kinds to get together with their own kind, at least once in their life, if not more.” Yes, it’s important to feel comfortable and free to be yourself and you have that when you are with your own kind. And I mean that----be it Spanish speaking people, or if you are Russian then being with other Russians, etc. You know you have to deal with the real world, but it’s always great to relax and be with your own kind!! In our case, to not be around the “Food Police”!!! or the “Nagging/Wagging fingers”, etc. (I have built such a resentment to those people, so beware!)

And the next time: At my first T.C.O.Y.D. event, about seven years ago or so. Hundreds, thousands? of diabetics!!!

One of the most lacking things in diabetes care, in my opinion, is the emotional support, so I’m surprised you mentioned that, Terry. All along I kept complaining that I always saw “Experts” come to talk to “us” and then not leave much, if any, time for questions, or sharing of experiences. I felt so frustrated. I just needed to talk, to vent!!! Why couldn’t any “professionals” see that, I wondered?

In retrospect, I realized it may have been because most “professionals” were (and still are, sometimes) not diabetic!!! Do they “really” know how we feel? Do they stop and take time to listen to us and really understand? I have to admit, that Joaquin, Sarah’s husband, is a great supporter of us diabetics. He was willing to share openly about how he learned of the disease and situations he has dealt with in caring for Sarah and the disease. Yes, I even learned something new from him… (Thanks Joaquin!)

So, recently, oh, just about 7 months ago or so or maybe it was a year ago, I realized I was getting very isolated in dealing with my diabetes. I live alone–well, I live with three cats, but no humans!—and I was getting very angry and very, very tired with dealing with the disease and eventually, thinking of suicide again.
So, yes, I sought out support groups again, but ran into the same problem–“Experts”!!----until I found this website and I can’t even remember what brought me here now—maybe it was another diabetic who told me about it. Regardless, it has become my “saving grace”. I need it and I’m really glad it’s here!!

Now thanks to the people I’ve met here, I found out there is a Behavior Diabetes Institute in San Diego. They say they are the only one of their kind and they deal with the mental/emotional aspects of the disease. It’s about time----just 90 years later…

Sorry, Terry, that we didn’t search for you sooner. I’m glad Sarah suggested she’d go look for you. I told the hostess, because I’ve known her for so long, that one other person was coming and I showed her the tudiabetes postcard, too, so I’m sorry she didn’t clue into the fact that you were looking for us! I, too, had brought a “sign”, my T.CO.Y.D. book, with the word “Diabetes” in bold letters for others to see!! But in a sea of many people in a patio packed environment, it was probably hard to see…

When I went to the other meet-ups I had a hard time finding the others, too. In fact there were no directions for those events which drove me crazy! That’s why I put directions for this event. As for my picture, Manny had suggested that. (I was trying to be anonymous since I am an actress, but then I realized why not be “out there!”) So, it was a good thing I did put a photo on here.

Next of all, Terry, you remember details like I do!!! Just so everyone knows, I NEVER change my pants to shorts in a parking lot!! (o.k, rarely) LOL!!! I’m such a conservative when it comes to that, that I’m surprised you mentioned it!! But yeah, I’ve got to admit, LA is a place where one can do that!

Okay, this is way too long… So I’ll stop here!!

Thanks, Terry, for your blog!!

So, my new friends, here’s hoping to more meet-ups as there is nothing like it…

Rebecca [;D

P.S. I forgot to mention---- I’m super glad we’re all not “creeps”, by the way!!! LOL!!! And what does “s.o.” mean in regards to Joaquin, btw?.. Rebecca {;~)

S.O. = Significant Other

Thanks, John! I feel “so in the know”, now. I’ve been working on catching up with the computer/text/technology terminology now that I do all that stuff!!! Sigh… ;/ LOL!!

Rebecca [;D