Tuesday already! Today's guest is Jacquie from Typical Type 1. I love what she said to me when she emailed this across to me. 'Diabetics of the world unite!'. Couldn't put it better myself. So I'll let her take it away with a story of a far off land...
"How much do I bolus for a pan-fried fish with the head attached?"
It was the first time I'd ever asked myself that particular question. Then again, it was also the first time I'd ever been in Greece -- or anywhere outside of the United States, for that matter.
But there I was, on one of the peninsulas of Halkidiki, surrounded at the dinner table by my husband, his dear Greek friend George, George's mother, father, and wife, Eleni. Oh, and a plate full of fried-crisp whole fish: heads, tails, bones, fins, eyeballs and all.
We'd been in Europe for almost three weeks, and while I was thoroughly enjoying the adventure, I was also coming down with a debilitating case of homesickness. After all, foreign countries can be . . . pretty foreign. I'd noticed that the streets were home to little herds of stray dogs. Virtually everyone was a heavy smoker. The elevators counted the first floor as "0", and the 2nd floor as "1." And although the friends we stayed with spoke English, most of the conversations around us took place in Greek.
I might have succumbed to my homesickness if it wasn't for one amazing coincidence: Eleni, my husband's best friend's wife, has Type 1 diabetes -- and an insulin pump. See, I'm one of those dorks who will run shamelessly up to a complete stranger -- smile on face and pump in hand -- if I even see a hint of transparent plastic tubing peeking from his or her waistband. It's why I feel an instant connection to each and every D-OC'er, no matter where they're from or how old they are or even how long they've been living with diabetes. I can't help it.
From what I knew, Eleni was a little more reserved about her T1 status. She, too, had lived with the disease for well over a decade, so the ins and outs were old hat. She and her husband had just had their first child, and hers was a pregnancy without complications. Here was someone living the kind of diabetic life I'd always hoped for -- only on the other side of the world and without as many pets. Although she insisted that she could barely carry on a conversation in English, Eleni spoke the language better than some of my friends do. She explained to me what it was like trying to feed a baby when your blood sugar's in the 50's, and how her husband jokingly tossed a candy bar her way any time she started to get grumpy. Thinking back, I wish I'd asked her how to say "My blood sugar's low" in Greek.
That final evening of our stay in Halkidiki, I was pretty much ready to go home. I was upstairs, changing into the last clean outfit I had in my suitcase and borrowing Eleni's hairdryer before our dinner of fried fish. (I was dying for some Chick-Fil-A.) The doors between our two bedrooms were both open, and just as I was ready to head downstairs, I heard the noise that's the same in every language: "Ka-CHUNK!"
Of course, it was Eleni's infusion set inserter. I looked over and saw her in the familiar position: shirt pulled up to expose the site on her belly, neck craned as she looked down to smooth the edges of the site with with an alcohol swab. She glanced up, we smiled quietly at each other, and I descended the stairs to take my seat at the dinner table.
I haven't talked to Eleni much since we left Greece, but I hope to see her again in the near future -- either on our side of the pond or hers. Meeting her was one of the highlights of my trip.
Out loud, "How much do I bolus for a pan-fried fish with the head attached?" is a question that doesn't make much sense when I'm among English-speaking friends in the States. But across the table from Eleni, at that moment, asking it made me feel right at home.