Monday, July 9, 2012

The Post I Don’t Know How to Write . . . .

I’m exhausted.  I have a sore throat.  My blood sugars have been skyrocketing and crashing and no matter what I do I can’t get my CGM to show me a flat(ish) line.  But I can do nothing but smile, because I spent the last five days at Friends for Life.  With people who really are my friends for life.

The plan for today was to write a post that makes you feel like you were there.  That conveys how odd it feels to look down at a simple green bracelet on your wrist and feel pride and belonging.  (That green bracelet is given to all attendees that have Type 1 Diabetes.  Our family and loved ones wear orange bracelets.)  I need to write a post that gives you a taste of the comfort of discussing diabetes burnout with a room full of people who get it and two wonderful session leaders trained to help you cope with it.  I have a million stories, a million thoughts, a million experiences and I shed a million tears, both happy and sad.  I don’t know how to write about all of this in a way that will do it justice.  It is just beyond my scope.

So instead, I will tell you my first story from this year’s Friends for Life, and hope I can do the conference a small sliver of justice. 

Shortly after checking in, Pete and I were off to find registration and our friends who had already arrived.  As we stood waiting for the elevator a family joined us.  The mom and younger sister had on orange bracelets, and the older sister had on a green bracelet.  So I asked them where we needed to go to pick up our bracelets and registration packet.  I was starting to feel a bit of that fuzzy headedness as the mom explained that we needed to go to the first floor and then walk to the end of the long, long hallway.  I immediately muttered something like “better test” as I pulled out my meter.  And then, somewhat to my surprise, the bonding began.

The sister with the green bracelet excitedly exclaimed “You have diabetes too?  That is SO COOL!!!!”   Although I can’t be sure, her reaction and the tone of her voice makes me think I was the first fellow diabetic she had ever met.  I couldn’t help but smile, even as a 41 flashed across my meter.  In the jumble of the next few excited (but low-brained for me) minutes, we shared our stories.  Mom told me her daughter was diagnosed less than a year ago, and I told them I was diagnosed over 32 years ago.  Mom and I quietly murmured about expectancies for PWDs back then, and she asked pointedly “How are you?”  I was so proud to be able to tell her that I am healthy and complication free, and to see both relief for her daughter and gladness for me flash across her face.  As we got on the elevator I turned to Pete to tell him my blood sugar was 41, and the family all said “What??? 41????”  My friend with the green bracelet said “How are you smiling right now?” and tried to insist I take the small chocolate milk she was holding.  I can’t tell you how honored I was that she would give me her chocolate milk, and I thanked her but told her I’d be fine as I had plenty of Starbursts (which I was shoving into my mouth at that moment).

The elevator arrived at our floor and we all began walking down the long, long hall.  My new green bracelet friend asked if I wanted to sit down, and when I said I was okay to walk she put her arm around me and walked beside me.  (I swear, I was so touched I almost cried.)  Her sister seemed to delight in telling me how crabby my new friend gets when she is low - something I completely understand.  We all laughed about being crabby because of a low and being crabby just because we all sometimes get crabby!  We came upon a “Hydration / Low Station” and my green bracelet friend suggested I have some water.  She poured a cup and I poured a cup, and then was surprised as she handed  her cup to me and explained that she had poured it for me and she wanted me to drink it.  Then she reached into the bowl of glucose tab packets and said “Here, take these too”.  I told her the sign said to please only take them if I needed them, and I had already treated my low with Starbursts, and she wisely responded “Your blood sugar was 41, that means you need them so please take them”.  So I thanked her again and did.

NewFriends
By then it was time for Pete and I to head to registration and for them to head to the pool.  The mom and Pete snapped pictures, complete with my two cups of water and emergency packet of orange Dex4s.  I have never in my life felt such kindness and compassion from a complete stranger, let alone one that looked to be less than 10 years old.  The minute I heard the excitement in her voice upon realizing I had diabetes too, I knew without a doubt in my mind she was going to have an amazing experience at Friends for Life.  And I know she is going to have an amazing life.  I wish I had run into them again before the conference ended, but unfortunately our paths didn’t cross after that first night.  But I will always be thankful for the chance to meet this family.  And I will always remember how one small girl with a green bracelet drove the entire point of Friends for Life 2012 home to me during my very first moments there.

32 comments:

  1. I love, love, love this story, Karen. This is what FFL is all about!

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  2. I want to comment but at the moment I can't hardly see because tears are filling my eyes making my mascara run and my chest hurts from the swelling of my heart. I think you just did exactly what you intended to do - share exactly what FFL is about. I wasn't there - I have never met you or the two beautiful young ladies standing next to you - yet my heart is filled with joy and I do indeed feel like I was with you - maybe I was the mom of the child with type 1 helping a 32 year vet with a low blood sugar. Hugs from here to eternity for you all.

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  3. Thank you for your post; I have goosebumps of joy! We weren't fortunate enough to be abe to go to this one (Charlo was only diagnosed four months ago), but your write-up cements my plan to go to one as soon as we can. I so want Charlo and her brother to feel the warmth of this new community (and I want to be a part too!). Again, thanks, you made it come alive for me.

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  4. What a great story, my friend! And I have no doubt that you touched that family just as much as they touched YOU. :) I cannot WAIT to be able to go to this conference.

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  5. aww such a great post! so glad you were able to share that moment. it was probably a great feeling for her too-being able to help instead of be helped. (hugs) can't wait to see you next year...if not sooner!

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  6. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!!

    Literally brought tears to my eyes. But I didn't cry...I swear.

    I'm going to do everything I can to make it to FFL next year. See you there!

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  7. What a beautiful story! Best. BGnow41. Ever.

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  8. Just think of the hope you shared with the young girl and her family! Just like you share with us...

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  9. tears! this is what it's all about. <3

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  10. Such a sweet story. Between that and the baby hormones, I had tears streaming down my face. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. lovely lovely girls--> she will never forget you!

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  12. Those gals get around, lol! I have some photos of them from the art session that should be awesome, assuming they turned out ok... I haven't had a spare second to look at them. Having chatted with the family, I'm confident that elevator run-in really made a positive difference for the family, and especially the young lady with the green bracelet :)

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  13. I love this story Karen... and it just sums up the whole event. I totally believe that anyone there would have offered you their chocolate mils

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  14. My eyes are flooded o can't see e keyboard hence e typos. Amazing, I cannot wait to give you a big in real life hug. This is the best thing I've read all day.

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  15. Aaaurgh! Your post just made me cry! My CWD wanted to go to FFL so much this year! But flying out there from Tokyo, amidst our intercontinental move seemed too overwhelming. She needed to go. She feels so alone in this right now. She needs someone's who totally understand what a low feels like. Next year. I will register next week!

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  16. Great writing. Even better because it came from the heart. Thanks for sharing.

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  17. Such a great story! I'm hoping to make it next year, it will just depend on if I can save up enough money. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  18. I love, love, love this post, Karen. It totally sums up everything FFL is about. Actually, what the whole DOC is about.

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  19. and i'm crying again. what a story, karen!

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  20. L.O.V.E!!!
    Totally getting chills and smiling from ear to ear and wishing FFL could last forever!

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  21. That story warms my heart inside and out. It completely sums up the FFL experience...without a single mention of the sessions, speakers, food, or entertainment.

    It's the essence of FFL captured in a few fleeting moments between 2 beautiful green bracelets.

    Thank you for making last week so special for me. Thank you for listening to me when my heart was heavy...and for just being you :)

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  22. I LOVE THIS story on so many levels - And It shows what D bonding/CWD is all about!

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  23. oh karen! such a lovely story, beautifully told. thank you so much for sharing. what an impact you had on that family! :)

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  24. Thanks Karen, this really makes me want to go to an FFL meet. I wish it was not so expensive, and it was in a cooler part of the year. My wife and I suffer in the heat and humidity. I have been type 1 for 66 years, and have never been to an FFL meeting. Maybe I will go next year. ( I have been saying that for several years now.) It is very unusual for an old buzzard like me (72) to have tears and sniffles, but your wonderful post did that to me. Lol!

    Richard

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  25. I felt similar goosebumps throughout my entire time a FFL. It was truly a spectacular few days.

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  26. Thank you Karen for sharing such a wonderful story! Being this side of the pond makes me a little envious that opportunities for D-Meets are so limited. :)

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  27. And we will always be your Friends for Life, all 3000 of us that were there..... this was our tenth conference and my son always says the same thing...Friends for Life that is such a stupid name but what else would you call it because that is what we are..........

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  28. Thank you so much for sharing! FFL is the most amazing experience for everyone but your story also has me looking for tissues. Wonderful!

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  29. Karen, I'm with all the others with tears in my eyes. Wish I'd made FFL again, the only time I've been before was wonderful, joyous and cathartic. Everyone with diabetes needs to get to FFL at least once in their lives.

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  30. What a great story! Thank you Karen,

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  31. This brought tears to my eyes! Thank you for sharing. I SO hope I get to go to the conference next year! That little girl is just one example of how amazing I am sure the whole event was!!

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