We made plans to go to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland before we had left for our trip, so I knew I’d be a little bit jet-lagged and a little bit moody about missing the kids, but I was excited to see this “wonder of the world,” where geothermal hot springs pool to create a steamy, cyan-colored bath.
When you arrive the Blue Lagoon spa, you have to undress and shower before going into the pools. You also need to cake your hair with this thick conditioner to help prevent the minerals in the water from frying out your hair. (Done and done.) This was not a problem. I like showers. I am way into conditioner. And being the mother of two, I’m accustomed to a less-than-private bathroom experience.
But I felt really stupid parading my diabetes devices out for the world to see.
Yes, I’m acutely aware that no one cares, or notices, except me. But I do notice, and despite trying not to care, there are moments when I’m over the diabetes bits and pieces. I’m also very aware of how my pregnancies have changed my body. And to pretend I’m not self-conscious and still adjusting to these new changes would be a lie. I’m still in an adjustment phrase regarding my “new skin.” Not regretting anything, not riddled with self-loathing by any stretch, but a little more self-conscious than I was three years ago.
Didn’t help that a few ladies in the changing room looked at my devices sideways. Didn’t make or break their day, but put mine through a different lens for a few seconds.
Their sideways glances, plus my jetlaggy moody judy-ness, coupled with the diabetes stuff, made me feel like my insecurities were under a hot spotlight walking out to the Blue Lagoon.
“This is awesome!!” said Chris.
“Yeah!” I responded, trying to get comfortable with the awesomeness because I felt my own power on the decline a bit.
Until I saw her.
She was across the … literally, the crowded lagoon, her hair slicked back into a bun with conditioner, the bright orange GrifGrip tape around the Medtronic sensor on her arm.
Immediate comfort. This woman might not speak English and she might not have kids but she knows exactly what it’s like to wake up in the morning and check her blood sugar. She knows what it’s like to slip on a bathing suit, being careful not to knock the diabetes device on her arm loose. She knows that people might stare and she needed to put their stares behind her cares, making health a priority over feeling a little bit embarrassed.
Another PWD in a hot lagoon was a mental salve. Like high-octane conditioner for my soul.
We found one another and talked for a bit, comparing notes on her experience with Medtronic against my take on Tandem and Dexcom. We high-fived over device overlay tapes. We talked about other people with diabetes that we’d met “in the wild.” And then we went to our respective corners of the pool, the connection made. And the magic of finding a random PWD peer in the middle of a geothermal mineral pool was enough to slough off my self-consciousness and reinstate feelings of empowerment.
Yes, peer support is that necessary. And that effective. It works instantly to make you feel less alone, less isolated, and more in control. Apparently, you just to add hot af mineral water and stir.