“Is that an insulin pump?”
I was standing outside of the stall in a bathroom in Tomorrowland, waiting for my daughter to wash her hands.
“Yes, on my arm here? Yes, it is.” I pointed to the infusion set on my right arm, the tubing snaking back up my sleeve into my dress.
“Oh!” The lady smiled really big, relieved. “Do you mind if I show my son when he comes out of the stall? He’s five – was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was three.”
The bathroom continued being a bathroom for a minute more, then her son came out.
“Henry, this lady is wearing an insulin pump. Remember I told you about those? Look, it goes right into her arm here!”
His little face was so little, just a few years older than my own son, a few years younger than my daughter.
“Hi, Henry. I’m Kerri. I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was seven. This insulin pump is what I use instead of shots to take my insulin. Want to see?”
“This is the little spot where the insulin goes in, and this tube connects here,” I pulled my pump out so he could see it. “And the insulin is stored in here.”
Henry’s mom smiled. “I was telling you about this!” She turned to me. “I was telling him about this.”
“If you touch this screen, it lights up. Want to try it?”
His face broke into a grin. I showed him how to tap the 1 … 2 … 3 buttons on my t:slim X2 to wake it up. “If I wanted to take some insulin to have a snack, I’d press this button, tell it what to give me, and then I’d be all set!”
I turned to his mom. “Are you guys here for the conference?”
She looked confused. “What conference?”
Showing her the green bracelet on my arm, I explained that we had just spent the week at Friends for Life, hanging out with friends and making diabetes feel commonplace for a few days. “So many families go. Some parents bring their kids who have diabetes. And in my case, I’m the one with diabetes, so I bring my kid to meet other kids of parents with diabetes.”
(This whole conversation is taking place while our kids are washing their hands and playing with the hand dryers.)
Before the next stall could flush, we’d figured out that we lived close-ish to one another, and that we had some common stomping grounds. At my urging, Henry’s mom opened my phone and started an email to herself.
“I’ll send you an email after we leave the park with some details on the conference. And if you have any questions about insulin pumps or connecting Henry with other kids who have diabetes, or anything at all about anything, I’d be so happy to connect,” I said.
All hands washed, we shook them, laughing about the awkwardness of meeting in a bathroom. And then I sent my now-new favorite email intro ever, opening with, “We just met in the bathroom at Magic Kingdom (great way to start an email, right?) and I wanted to email you right away.”
A few days ago, I heard from Maggie. Our bathroom connection has come full circle. Advocacy can happen anywhere: in a conference hall, on an airplane, in the grocery store. Even in a bathroom at Disney World, our community is flush with connection and possibility.