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PWD in the Wild.

We were sitting at the coffee shop having a really nice Melbourne cappuccino (they make the best cappuccinos I've ever had in my whole life, with the steamed milk almost like a marshmallow topping on each coffee - amazing), talking about the Australian diabetes social media summit. The weather was sunny and crisp, with plenty of other patrons enjoying their caffeine jolt at the outside cafe tables.

"I guess when I was diagnosed, it didn't matter much to me that I didn't know anyone else who had diabetes.  I didn't really know what diabetes was.  But as I grew older, I wanted to find that community, and that's where the Internet has helped tremendously," I said to Renza, talking about the impact of the diabetes community on my emotional well-being.

"And here we are now," said Renza, laughing as she stirred her coffee.

No joke - Melbourne has the best coffee I've ever tasted.

We chatted on about the Summit the day prior, and what we thought of it. And then our conversation tumbled into our personal experiences with diabetes and pregnancy.  Thinking back on this conversation, we probably said the word "diabetes" at least a dozen times in a ten minute conversation.

Which is probably why the young woman was staring at us from her table, just a few feet away. She was holding her coffee cup near her mouth, but hadn't had a sip yet.  She was fixated on us.  Her young daughter was drinking a frothy mug of hot chocolate, swinging her feet as the wind caught and tousled her bangs.  

"Excuse me," she said, almost to herself.

My seat was facing her table, so I leaned in and said, "Hello!"

"I couldn't help but overhear - you both have diabetes?"

Renza shifted in her seat.  "Yes, yes we do.  I'm sorry - were we being too loud?"

The woman laughed nervously, her cup still close to her mouth but merely an accessory at this point.  "No, not at all.  I was happy to hear ... I mean, my daughter was just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a few weeks ago.  We've never met anyone else who has diabetes."  She made a sweeping gesture with her hand.  "And here you both are!"

"Real life people with diabetes, in the wild," I smiled.

Renza leaned back and extended her hand, introducing herself and explaining to the woman that she had type 1 diabetes and also worked down the street at Diabetes Australia Vic.  "You can come visit us any time you'd like - and I'm at this coffee shop all the time."  She handed the woman her card.

Thank goodness for the poise and professionalism possessed by Renza.  I couldn't help myself - I waved animatedly at the girl and her mother and this stream of information passed my lips:  "I'm Kerri and I live in the United States and I've had type 1 diabetes for twenty-six years and I have a husband and he and I have a daughter who is two and a half." 

I wanted them to know I was okay, and that even though my life has included type 1 diabetes for several decades, I was still okay; it was a consolidated diabetes life story in one messy sentence, delivered with a caffeinated edge. 

"How are you doing?  How are you both doing?"  I asked.

The woman looked at her daughter, who was staring at us.  "We're good. We're doing good.  We come to this coffee shop often because they are the only ones who really listen to how I want her hot chocolate prepared.  Her daycare is right around the corner, so it's a nice place to stop.  They do listen ..." her voice trailed off.  

"We do know." 

We talked for a few minutes, and the woman gathered up her belongings.  "It was so nice meeting both of you.  Really.  Thank you."  Her daughter stared at us with her big, brown eyes, the same as her mother's.

"Our pleasure.  I hope to hear from you.  Please do reach out," said Renza warmly.

The woman took her daughter's hand and crossed the street toward the daycare center, her delicious Melbourne coffee still untouched on the table but every single sip of her daughter's special-made hot chocolate all but devoured.

Comments

Advocacy and mentoring is where you find it sometimes. Lovely story... thanks.

I LOVE opportunities like this. Thanks for sharing!

Kerri, this brought tears to my eyes: The mom and her young daughter being in the right place at the right time.

I thought the picture of your coffee was ice cream at first!

My absolute 100% favorite thing is random diabetes conversation moments like this one. I'm sure it made that woman's day.

This mother will remember your encounter for the rest of her life. It was the moment she knew her her family wouldn't have to travel this journey alone. It is a profound experience. It may take weeks, months, or years before she feels ready to dive in, and begin devouring the wisdom that can be found when sharing another's journey. I guarantee she will always remember seeing the two of you sitting there -- in a normal moment -- and realizing that, one day, her daughter will be able to do the same.

awesome !

Thank you for sharing this. You're right, we're a special group with oft times instant bonds. The sight of a pump, and we're friends... My last encounter was from the sound of the pump! When I mentioned that I heard her "pancreas beeping" she looked surprised, the we ended up comparing our pink pumps!
Thank you.

Wow - goosebumps - you and Renza were SO meant to be in that cafe at that time :)

Oh, thinking about this still warms my heart, Kerri. I'll never forget the look on her face when we both started talking to her. Thank you for writing such a beautiful account.

And yes - Melbourne coffee does indeed rock!

Such a wonderful story!

This story all but made my heart melt. When I was first diagnosed at 7, I felt so alone. I still to this day (18 years later) I remember my first meeting of someone else with it. Someone who had a boyfriend, a real life, and was an adult. I am SO glad such a strong figure could be that person for that child.

I love when this happens! And even more awesome that it happened when you were in another country!!! :D

This gave me goosebumps. I hope this happens to me someday--I think I'll move to Australia.

A very touching story, Kerri, and told in your unique style. Thanks!

Your story really touched me. Tears are welling up. Thank you for sharing!

Just so you know, stories like this are a big part of why I believe in God.

I'm just in awe of the sheer number of people you've helped along their diabetes journey. You have the timing of a very much needed angel, my friend. ♥♥♥♥♥♥

This brought tears to my eyes. I'll never forget welling up when my son was newly diagnosed. He was in the hospital participating in a study, and I was still reeling as it had only been two or three days. In bustled our nurse, chipper, happy, confident, competent - and long since diagnosed with type 1. It meant SO much to see her living a normal, productive life I could hardly keep from crying. We still meet with her regularly for the study at Stanford, and feel so encouraged and uplifted every time.

Beautiful Kerri.

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