Monday, August 19, 2013

Boston: Retrospective on my Trip to Diabetes Mecca.

When we say things didn't meet our expectations, it may be that they were better or it may be that they were worse than we had anticipated.  My trip to Boston did both.

I had expected to be able to ask Dr. Faustman about her research and to shake hands and say thank you to Peng Yi.  I was disappointed in her staff's grasp of diabetes and overwhelmed by not only what Peng Yi tried to teach me but also all the things he hopes to learn.  Faustman's lab may not be Mecca, but Boston held many happy surprises, Peng Yi being but one of them.

My brother met me at the Stem Cell Institute and took his wife and I out to lunch on the quad.  As I tested and injected, I noticed that at last he is comfortable with what I do. Sticking myself with sharp pointy objects is just part of who I am.  On the entire trip, in restaurants, sandwiched among strangers on the train, no one commented or flinched or judged.  I didn't feel like I needed to hide or explain.

After lunch, my brother drove me to the Joslin Center.  I wandered around.  The CDE coordinator talked to me about the programs.  An entire building of people who get it.  A station to download meters and CGMs.  Upper floors of research labs (I hope Peng Yi is happy there).  The front of the building is decorated with a bas relief mural of the history of diabetic care, from ancient civilizations ending, not with Banting and Best, but with  Minot, who cured pernicious anemia, and was able to do so because he became diabetic and received insulin, leading him to realize the answer was to replace what was missing, either through diet or supplements,  We are more than placid recipients of care.  By surviving, thriving, we are able to create a better world.  Scientists like Minot, astronauts, teachers, physicians, dancers, musicians, actors....

We are a part of this world.  Not freaks.  Not gluttonous, lazy sinners to be scorned or shunned.  Not one of them, but one of us.

In Boston's South Station, I bought coffee and a croissant while waiting for my train home.  Au Bon Pain had a touch screen mounted off to the side of the register.  A plain croissant had 29 grams carbohydrate, the chocolate 57 grams.  I had the chocolate, tested, injected 6 units of insulin and delighted in the moment.

If this is how the world evolves, for all of us with diabetes, with test strips, meters and insulin, we can go anywhere and be just who we are.

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