I have had Type 1 diabetes for 23 years and most of the people I work with are well aware of that fact. I was working on displays at the charity shop I manage when a volunteer, who has Type 2 diabetes, yelled out “Meagan, we need sugar”! She was standing behind a customer and holding her by the shoulders while she guided her to the nearest chair. I acknowledged that sugar was on the way.
I raced to the backroom and called out to my assistant “I need a juice box!” as I ran to the cabinet where my glucose tabs were. Though I’ve never asked her for help with one of my lows, I felt bad as I realized that she probably thought I needed it and was about to pass out. She was flawless though, rushing to the fridge to grab a juice box that I had labeled “Meagan’s Low Blood Sugar Treatment” so that other people didn’t consume them as a fun beverage option. She has several family members that live with Type 2 and one that lives with Type 1 so she is a godsend as an assistant to me. I lucked out big time. She returned in seconds holding the juice. As I ran up front I explained that a customer was in need.
I placed the juice and a couple of glucose tabs in front of the woman. I pleaded with her to drink it immediately and she obliged. The woman was scared and sweating, but still able to reason. She was newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and was stunned at how her new prescription pills were affecting her. My volunteer explained that she also lived with Type 2 and told her how long I have had Type 1. It was definitely a case of her being in the right place at the right time.
The customer said she was following a new diet and taking the pills and didn’t want to get put on insulin. She also mentioned that she didn’t like checking her blood sugar. Wow, that comment took me back. I used to put up quite a fit when I had to check my blood sugar as a newly diagnosed teen. Seriously, it took me a good half an hour and painful poking without the lancet mechanism (because I hated the noise and wanted a sense of control), to get a good blood drop for my meter. I stressed the importance of checking her blood sugars. Everything hinges on those numbers.
We sat a good long time, the party of three PWD’s, at a dining table in the front of the shop. Diabetes gives you a strange bond with people. It’s a bond that people, without some form of a link to diabetes, could not fully understand. We could see it in her eyes, the familiar feeling of the new diagnosis. She needed to find us that day, to understand that she is not alone in this.
She stopped back at the shop a few days later and poked her head into my office to thank me. She said she felt bad taking my low blood sugar treatments, and I smiled and explained that I keep lots of them on hand. I have come to accept that it is a part of me. Like a Barbie that comes with high heels and a cute handbag, I come with insulin and low blood sugar treatments and that is okay, it is my normal. With those things always at the ready, I can do anything I want.