A little over a year ago I moved to Richmond, VA. I grew up in Richmond but went away for college (Virginia Tech) and then moved away after graduating (Northern VA). Last August, my husband and I moved back to my hometown.
Growing up in Richmond, I never encountered any diabetics. I went my whole life without really knowing any. My step-dad’s niece has Type 1 diabetes (T1D) but she lives over in Bermuda so I never saw her much. A guy in a fraternity that my sorority used to hang out with had diabetes. I remember seeing him at a party with his insulin pump but I think I was more excited about our chronic illness connection than he was. A lady I worked with in Northern Virginia had Type 2 diabetes but she was more in denial and not taking care of herself so she also didn’t want to bond over D. My mother-in-law also has Type 1 Diabetes but we’ve never really talked about it that much because when we are together it’s also the only time she gets to see her son (she lives in New England) so we keep all the D-talk to ourselves.
Which brings me to my last year, my first year back home as a Richmonder. As it turns out, the house that we bought is right next door to neighbors whose son has T1D. I was pretty excited when I found that out, although he is off at college so I haven’t really had a chance to bond with him either. But it’s been nice to talk to his parents a little bit. They are very involved in his diabetic life which I think is really awesome of them.
I met my neighbor pretty much right after we moved in. A few weeks later, I was at the grocery store and a guy approached me whose daughter has T1D. I have never been approached by someone before and that was a lot of fun. We actually spent about an hour chatting. Turns out he lives in the neighborhood next to mine and he is actually friends with my pediatric endocrinologist. His daughter sees her now. I told him to tell my doctor hi (I actually loved my pediatric endo) and I answered various questions he had about my insulin pump, my CGM, how school was for me growing up with diabetes, etc. It put a huge smile on my face that I was able to answer his questions and I wonder if he realized how much the interaction meant to me.
Around the same time, I also walked in my first ever JDRF Walk for the Cure. I’m not sure why I never walked this growing up but it was so awesome to see all the families supporting their loved ones with T1D. I did the walk again this year and it was just as rewarding an experience as last.
About a month or two after we moved, we hired Orkin to treat for bugs in our yard and our Orkin guy noticed my insulin pump and told me how his girlfriend also had Type 1 diabetes. We only talked about it for a few minute about it, long enough for me to hear from him how frustrated she was with diabetes-you and me both!
Some time passed over the last year where I didn’t run into any more diabetics and I wondered if the first month moving here was just a fluke. Then this summer I met another diabetic! I was at the pool swimming and preparing for the triathlon that I completed in August and an elderly lady at the pool saw my infusion set, CGM and pump and came over to say hi. She also had a Minimed pump and we talked for about an hour. She had such an interesting story because she had pancreatic cancer (among other things) and made the decision to have her pancreas removed completely. It’s was incomprehensible for me to think about one day she had a functioning pancreas and the next day she made the decision to remove that hardworking organ. Granted she was doing it to save her life but she was saving her life and at the same time creating a completely new one, complete with finger pricks and insulin shots and guilt and worry. She was such an inspiring person to talk to. The hour long conversation with her almost didn’t happen. I was actually at the pool with my mom but my mom had to get going so as I was walking my mom back to my house (where her car was parked) the lady came up to me. My mom didn’t care that I had found a new D-connection and since she needed to get her car keys from my house, I left with her but after I saw my mom off, I went back to the pool to carry on the conversation. I wish I had gotten her contact info to stay in touch with her but she was only visiting her family that lived in my neighborhood.
And the most recent D-connection in Richmond I can 100% contribute to the DOC (Diabetes Online Community). Thanks for the DOC, I discovered Insulindepence. I signed up over the summer as I was in full work out mode, completing the 10k and signing up for a triathlon. However, I didn’t do anything more than sign up for the membership. Then out of the blue, I received an email from a girl that was also a part of Insulindepence and had just moved to the area. Since she had just moved to the area, she was hoping to connect with others and through Insuindepence found out I also lived in Richmond and contacted me and another girl in the area about getting together. So I am having my first ever diabetes meet up on Sunday and I am so excited. Hopefully I won’t scare them away with my excitement like I did the frat guy back in college or my next door neighbor’s son. 😛