“How long have you been on the pump?”
He stood next to his car, holding the gas pump to his tank, filling up his car while I was putting my debit card into the console near my car.
“Insulin pump. How long for you? I just got mine a few weeks ago.”
“Oh, I’m sorry! I thought you meant like here, at this gas pump. Yeah, I guess you can sort of see it, huh?” I was wearing running shorts and a t-shirt, with the outline of my pump and CGM clearly visible underneath my clothes. The tubing made a brief appearance underneath the edge of my shirt, even though I made an effort to tuck it away. “About ten years. I’ve been diabetic for twenty-seven years.”
“I was diagnosed about two years ago. Started pumping recently.”
“Yeah? How do you like it so far?”
“It’s good. Better than injections, that’s for sure.” He nodded towards my car, where Birdy was buckled in and talking incessantly about how I was putting gas in the car and how the gas makes the car go and soon we would go to the park and she could ride her bike and did that man have a bike, Mawm?
“Is that your daughter? How old is she?”
“She’s three and a half.”
“No, she doesn’t.”
“Yeah, I first learned about diabetes when my daughter was diagnosed, several years ago. She was two, at the time.”
I didn’t know what to say. Birdy filled in the awkward silence by yelling, “Hey, I see his pump!! That mans has a pump, like your pump!” The gas station stranger laughed, snapping the door shut on his gas tank.
“She’s got a good eye. Have a good day, and good luck to you and your daughter.”
“Thanks. Congrats on your new technology. I hope it works well for you.”
He went inside the gas station to pay, and I finished up, climbing back into my car and buckling in.
“Mawm, he has the diabeedles like you do. I saw his pump. It was black, and yours is silver. He needs to be careful in case his bwood sugar gets whoa. Does he know the glucose tab man? He should call him.”
My type 1 diabetes is often invisible, and evidence of its presence in my body is currently, and thankfully, limited to medical devices I chose to use to make diabetes management easier. Going on a pump was a tough decision, and one I made as an adult, after seventeen years of insulin injections. My pump and my CGM are external “symptoms” of diabetes, and sometimes they frustrate the hell out of me. But other times, they make diabetes less invisible for just a moment, letting kindred spirits connect in the wild.
In other words, it was two pumpers meeting at the pump. That’s a nice, full-circle moment, right there.