There's that instant connection between people who have diabetes, because we really know
. We know what it's like to test blood sugars, count carbs, wrangle in pump tubing, battle numbers, fear complications, and live life with this disease every single day. We get it, physically and emotionally.
And then there are the people with diabetes who you connect with, regardless of the disease bond. When I heard Fran Carpentier take the microphone at the Women's Empowerment, Diabetes, and Development event (sponsored by Novo Nordisk, World Diabetes Foundation, the MDG3 Global Call to Action, and the Global Alliance for Women's Health), I knew this lady was on my wavelength.
"I didn't cry when I was diagnosed because my mother was too busy fainting," she said with a loud laugh, filling the room with her warmth and charismatic spirit. Type 1 for over 39 years and a Senior Editor at Parade.com, Fran looks healthy, sounds healthy, and has a seemingly unbreakable spirit. And she's passionate about diabetes. Diagnosed in 1969 and "Patient No. 2" of the landmark DCCT trial, Fran stated confidently, "You not only survive, but you also prevail!"
After the speakers finished their presentations, I made my way over to Fran to introduce myself. Instant connection - we started comparing diagnosis dates, insulin pumps (we're both Medtronic users these days), questions about CGMs, and talking about those moments that only another diabetic woman can understand.
"So my pump is here," she reached into her shirt and pulled out her insulin pump.
I laughed. "Mine, too. In the bra is the best place to hide it in a dress!"
We sat at one of the tables in the conference room and chatted without effort. Life as a diabetic, life as an editor, growing up in RI versus growing up in NYC, insurance battles (at that time, I was mid-stream in my war with Oxford for the CGM), and diabetes blogs.
"I've been a diabetes blogger since May 2005. It's a fantastic way to connect with other diabetics, and to help me feel like I'm not the only one out there who is dealing with this." I grinned at her. "It's what connected me to dLife in the first place."
"I know! I've read your stuff! I'm starting my own diabetes blog next month at Parade.com."
The conference ended, yet we found ourselves at a diner down the street, sharing stories over many cups of coffee (don't worry - we switched to decaf to prevent off-the-wallishness). Diabetes brought us together and gave us "war stories" to share, and we spent several hours chatting each other up. It was like connecting with an old friend, even though we'd never met before.
I sat across from Fran, a powerful career woman with a laugh that caused heads to turn at the diner and with her pump casually hanging out of the front of her dress, and I saw what I hoped would be my future. Thank you, Fran, for being someone I can relate to, respect, and hope to be just like.
Editor's Note (read: more from Kerri): Fran's blog is live! Check out Diabetes, Day-By-Day over at Parade.com!