I took my son to our local library branch for story time this morning. Shortly after we arrived a spunky grandma type sat down next to me. She had a little girl and some sort of fluffy toy dog in tow. (She quickly explained to the librarians that her pet was an assistance dog.) Normally I hate small, yappy dogs but Chocolate (hee!) was extremely well-behaved and never made a peep. She responded to her name when the librarians included her in the welcome song. So cute!
After story time was finished, I was wrangling a book and my son. I overheard a magic diabetes word which made my ears perk up just like Chocolate's had -- "...when I'm low."
When things had quieted down a bit I approached the lady. "Excuse me, but did you mention a low? Do you mean that Chocolate is trained to detect low blood sugars?" The lady smiled and said yes. I said I'd had Type 1 for about nine years. She responded, "Me too -- but for 58."
FIFTY. EIGHT. YEARS.
We exchanged the usual chit-chat about diabetes -- how things have changed since her diagnosis, was it hard for her to switch gears to carb counting, do you wear a pump, do you wear a CGMS, how is your pregnancy going -- but what struck me over and over was how vibrant, intelligent, and well...healthy she appeared to be. She even mentioned how she's hoping to "be a guinea pig" for a Swedish non-invasive blood glucose monitor. I mentioned that I recently attended a seminar for islet cell transplants* and she shared the experience of one of her Type 1 friends who has undergone the surgery. ("She's cured, basically, but she can't be around her grandkids or she risks getting very sick. It's been a tough trade-off for her.") So not only was this 58-year veteran of Type 1 looking great physically, she was also up to date on the latest diabetes gadgetry, research, and more or less hip with the kids in every way. I was so impressed, and so heartened for my future. She does have hypoglycemia unawareness -- perhaps an inevitable eventuality for every Type 1 after a certain period of time. But at least she has Chocolate to help her fight back! Turns out she didn't acquire Chocolate intending her to be a "low detector" but Chocolate rose to the occasion, so she's been officially certified.
Chocolate is awesome in more ways than one, yes? And even if I make it to 58 years with this damned disease, Type 1s like the woman I met this morning make me feel better about tomorrow. If she could survive the dark ages of urine testing, syringe sharpening, and a serious lack of ice cream ingestion, I can make it through our current dark ages. I'm actually kind of excited about the lights that might be ahead.
*More on this later...