"Man, You Just Don't KNOW."
After an unexpected overnight in the airport in Baltimore, the passengers of Southwest flight #627 were finally queued up for their flight home. I was sitting in the seats closest to the windows by gate A5, drinking some water and bleary-eyed with exhaustion.
The guy next to me was wearing sunglasses and a hat, clearly exhausted by the evening's chaos.
"Did you get your new boarding pass yet?" he asked me, nodding to the line of people at the customer service desk, waiting to be reissued boarding passes for the new flight.
"I did. I went out and back through security, because I figured it would be quicker." I gestured towards the staggeringly long line. "I think I did the right thing."
"Security isn't fun, though. All that unpacking and repacking and the shoes and the bitching and moaning ... everyone's always unhappy, and no one can get through without a hassle. I once had a piece of gum in my pocket, and the scanner picked it up. Something about the aluminum in the wrapper. Such a pain."
"I hear you. I wear a medical device, and it's a little bit of a security funfest at times."
He took a knowing sip of his coffee as he looked at my hip. "Insulin pump?"
"Yeah, how did you know?"
"You're young, you look healthy, but you mentioned a medical device. I figured it was an insulin pump." He proudly tapped his shoulder. "Diabetic for seventeen years. Only I do shots. My doctor keeps talking to me about the pump, but I'm not there yet. I work outside, and in construction, and I think it would be in the way."
"I did shots for seventeen years before switching to a pump. I don't know; I like mine. It took some time adjusting to physically wearing something, but for me, things are just easier when I have it handy. I can sleep in, or skip meals ... gives me a lot of flexibility."
"So you like it?"
"As much as you can like a robotic pancreas, yeah."
He smiled. "Doesn't hold you back or anything?"
"I don't think so. I've worn it camping. And hiking. And in swim-up bars on vacation. And on my wedding day. And while I was pregnant with my daughter." I laughed. "And now I've worn it for an impromptu no-sleep-sleepover in an airport. Adventures!"
"I have some bad lows. Man, you just don't KNOW how bad a low feels until it's right on top of you. I've had some at work that have made things really tough, until I can get my hands on some candy. I try to explain it to my coworkers but they just don't know." His voice broke on the word "know."
I smiled gently. "Well, I know, if it helps. That's part of why I went on the pump, because I was having some really insane lows in the early morning hours. It was really ugly, and dangerous."
"Maybe I'll check it out for real at my next appointment. I see my doc next month. I'll tell her that a random girl at the airport convinced me to get an insulin pump."
"Or you could blame sleep deprivation."
We talked about the Dexcom (he wore a blinded one for a week, on the recommendation of his endocrinologist; I said that I rarely, rarely take mine off), about watching our kids for signs type 1 (compared notes on testing their blood sugar at random), and the effects of travel on diabetes (sustained chaos for both of us).
The flight attendants called us to line up to board the flight, and as we were gathering our belongings together, he touched my shoulder.
"It was nice talking to you. I don't get a chance to talk with other people who have this thing, too, but it's nice to."
"Same here, man. Enjoy the rest of your trip!"
It's so odd, how you can chat with a complete stranger about medical concerns and intimate diabetes moments and never even KNOW one another's names.