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The Friendly Skies.

“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?”

(What?)

“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.

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. My mom calls it glassy eyes. I’m pretty sure it was in the list of things to look out for that got sent to school too.

    06/10/13; 2:26 pm
  2. Dan #

    Hi Kerri,
    It was a smart move to discuss the issue. How can people help us if they do not know what is up…or down for blood sugar levels. The only way to get a message out is to speak up. Glad to here your flights were safe and successful. As always have a great day.
    Dan

    06/10/13; 2:32 pm
  3. I love that flight attendant.

    06/10/13; 2:44 pm
  4. Is it small? Or is it really big? I was at the Mall of Americas and this awesome waiter at this really awesome Italian restaurant recognized “the look”. Same look his neighbor gets when mowing the grass, and grabbed me some sweet tea fast just in the nick of time.

    06/10/13; 2:49 pm
  5. Tracy #

    Awesome. Although I choose NOT to share my affliction(s) with others – even most of my siblings – because in my experience, they are NOT educated and cause me more tribulation than them not knowing. :)

    06/10/13; 3:35 pm
  6. ria #

    I love this !
    my huband knows my “look”
    He’ll say “you’re eyes look funny, are you ok?”

    06/10/13; 3:58 pm
  7. Barb #

    This post really hit close to home for me. I am traveling alone right now too…

    One of my fears about being diabetic is related to this. I generally consider myself a pretty smart person, but I know that I lose the spark in my eyes when I have a bad low. When I meet new people, I look to their eyes as a first indicator of their intelligence. When I stop to acknowledge what I fear most about diabetes, it’s that it will take away my ability to be smart.

    06/10/13; 10:34 pm
  8. Laura #

    I really struggle with knowing what to disclose and how much to share . . . I often feel that the responses I get can be so frustrating and I wish I hadn’t bothered. I never learn though! It was really refreshing to read that post . . . it made me feel rather emotional. As you say the smallest details or someone showing some understanding or empathy can make such a difference.

    I am unsure about my eyes but I do know that my face drains of all colour. I go white as a sheet!

    06/11/13; 6:20 am
  9. Cynthia Boisvert #

    This column brought tears to my eyes. The simple way he asked the right questions and KNEW.

    06/11/13; 8:24 am
  10. Joe has said that I get “this look” sometimes when I have a low blood sugar. I would imagine the light going out of my eyes is probably similar. After I read that he said that, I knew this guy was legit! I hope that gave you some peace of mind on the flight, knowing that someone who really understood was around and not just knowing that someone was aware :)

    06/11/13; 8:55 am
  11. Tricia Moore #

    Was that flight attendant single and cute and did you get his number for me? He sounds like a genuinely awesome guy!!

    06/11/13; 10:19 am
    • LOL!!! I didn’t check on his marital status, but cuteness is confirmed. :)

      06/11/13; 6:49 pm
  12. Bailey #

    What airline were you flying?

    06/11/13; 12:55 pm
  13. Joe #

    It is always so great to meet random people who actually understand where your coming from!

    06/14/13; 2:44 am
  14. My softball coach can look at the way that I react on the field and tell me to check my sugar. I feel lows and highs; however, she can look at my eyes and tell if I need to check my sugar. She has saved me many times. I also enjoy talking to other people that know about it. I just hate to have to explain to someone the differences between type one and two and what it is… ect. :)

    06/29/13; 12:57 pm

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