I thought type 1 diabetes was supposed to be a “rare” disease, but it seems like everywhere I go, I run into someone who works with someone, is related to someone, or is someone who has T1D. Why is it this never happened to me before?
- During the last election cycle, I encountered a man in his early 50s who was trying to get support for Maine's gay marriage law. He was looking for volunteers, and I regretfully told him that I had two small children at home and couldn't do any work in the evenings. "There's no hope of a babysitter?" he asked, and I said to him, "One of my sons has Type 1 diabetes, and there aren't very many sitters I'd trust to look after him." His eyes lit up and he told me that he, too, had Type 1 diabetes, and had been diagnosed as a 6-year-old in the 1960s. We compared notes about pumps vs shots, and age of diagnosis, and a1c measurements, for a while before I continued on my way.
- Last week, the school nurse called to tell me my son Nathaniel had a tummy ache. I was in a meeting so I got a voice mail, and called her right back afterward. We started to chat about what was up with my son's digestion, but before the conversation went very far, she said, "I'm sorry, I have to go -- there's a child here with diabetes and I need to take care of him before I can talk to you more. I'll call you back in a few minutes." (This was a notable conversation because it told me that my son would be going to school with a nurse who'd been-there-done-that in terms of caring for a child with diabetes)
- Yesterday, I had Eric with me when Nate began his lessons at a local martial arts dojo. After seeing Nate safely into his class, I turned to Eric (who was trying desperately to wiggle away to go play with the toys in the play area) and told him, "Honeybun, you can go play AFTER I take your blood sugar." Literally seconds later, one of the instructors -- a tall, thin man in his early 60s -- materialized beside me and said, "Excuse me, does your son have diabetes? I heard you mention blood sugar and I was curious, because I'm a diabetic myself." He told me of how he'd been diagnosed with T1D at 21 in 1968, just out of the Army, and spent 10 years in denial about his disease until he wound up at the Joslin, where he saw dozens of small children with diabetes and decided he had no business wallowing in self pity when he could see 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds handling the same problem with a lot more composure. He admired Eric's pump pocket and I told him I could give him my pattern so he could sew one onto his gi :