“Hi there. Are you the guy who is responsible for this section of the plane?”
He was holding a tray of drinks and paused to contemplate my question. “I suppose I am. I am responsible! Now I feel powerful!” He flexed, as much as he could in the limited corridor.
“Awesome. I don’t mean to trouble you, but I am traveling alone and wanted to let the closest flight attendant know that I have type 1 diabetes. Not a big deal, but just something to have on the radar if I were to have an issue of some kind.”
I don’t mind traveling alone – sometimes, when it comes to the chaos of TSA and luggage and all the rest of it, I prefer alone – but when I am literally flying solo, I feel a little vulnerable. I always wear my medical alert bracelet when I’m away from home, but sometimes that doesn’t feel like enough. And for this particular trip, where I’d be in the same plane seat for upwards of seven hours on an overnight flight, I wanted to make sure someone had diabetes in the back of their mind, just in case.
“Not a problem at all. Type 1 or type 2?”
“Type 1, diagnosed when I was a little kid. Do you have diabetes in your family?”
“My brother was diagnosed when he was eleven. Lots of shots, lots of all of that growing up. But he’s doing just fine now. Two young kids, one more on the way.”
“Aw,good for him. So you know it better than most, right?”
“I’d hope so, after sharing a house with him and our parents for so long. Do you mind if I ask what your symptoms are, for your reactions?”
“Honestly, you’ll know something’s up if I start crying without just cause, or if I go pale and shaky, and have a hard time communicating.
“Does the light go out of your eyes, too?”
It’s funny how only those who know, who have seen hypoglycemia in their personal lives, understand what that means. How low blood sugars make the light go out of your eyes, makes them empty for that brief moment.
“That’s it. That’s it exactly.”
“Well,” he said, resuming his semi-flex and throwing out a reassuring grin, “as the one in charge of this part of the plane, I can assure you that you are in good hands. No trouble at all – we’ll keep a quick eye on you.”
“Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.”
We continued on to our final destination without diabetes incident, and I was again reminded of how small the diabetes community is, and how understanding it can be, down to the smallest detail.