"Are you ..."
"Yes. Hi! Are you ..."
When people who have never met before, yet know one another from the blogosphere, suddenly collide in person, it's always a fun mix of awkward, comfortable, and excited. And last night I had the wonderful opportunity to have dinner with Karen from Bitter-Sweet Diabetes, R (who I have met several times before), and a woman I will call MW (for "MathWhiz" because she is good with numbers and I am absolutely not).
I've mentioned it before, but the diabetes connection is an instant and easy discussion, helping people who otherwise may have nothing in common to talk freely and comfortably about something that is a huge part of their lives. Karen, R, MW, and I had trouble ordering our dinner because we were so busy chatting that we barely cracked open the menus.
What was really interesting to me was that MW was 29 years old, like me. But unlike me, she was diagnosed 6 months ago. I couldn't stop thinking about that. R and Karen, also diagnosed as children, have spent most of their lives living with diabetes and for the three of us, life has always included diabetes management. For MW, diabetes and all its bits and pieces were new to her life. Life before diabetes for me is something I can barely remember, and it was all I could to do keep myself from quizzing her: "How do you feel now that you have diabetes? Do you feel like everything is different? Do you feel like your life is completely restructured? Do you remember sometimes that you didn't always have to do this stuff?" I had to exercise restraint and keep myself from asking all the questions that were floating around in my head.
Diagnosed as a kid, this is just the way things have always been. Soccer games always started with a glucose check, bedtime always involves a glass of water and a bottle of juice, and now, each skirt hopefully comes with a small, conveniently placed pocket. For people who were diagnosed as adults, I can't imagine how their lives have changed. Some people will say that being diagnosed as a kid is easier because you grow up with this disease and it becomes your "normal" without much effort. Others say that an adult diagnosis is easier because you have decades without the disease, thus maybe lowering changes of complications. From my perspective, I can't even wrap my head around an adult diagnosis. I only know what I know. But I am always eager to learn from others.
We sat at dinner long past when the chairs were put up at the other tables and past when the waitstaff was sitting, watching the football game at the bar. We compared pumps, weighed out the pros and cons of different CGM systems, and when a quiet beep sounded, we all looked quizzically to see which one of us had "gone off." The diabetes bond was enough to bring us to the table, but it was the company of kind people and easy conversation that kept us there.