Over the weekend, Chris and I ended up in a harborside restaurant in South County, RI. We stood in line and read the chalkboard menu until it was our turn to order from the girl behind the counter.
"What can I get for you?"
"Can I have an iced coffee? Do you have iced hazelnut?"
"I'm sorry - we don't have hazelnut. But we have snickerdoodle or french vanilla. Either of those work for you?"
"Snickerdoodle sounds awesome. Is that a syrup? Is it sugar-free?"
She gave me just a quick look. Not judging, just looking. "It's definitely sugar-free. Medium or large?"
"Large," I said, and she turned away to make my coffee and I saw the pink Animas pump clipped to the side of her black pants, the tubing sticking up all crazy.
And instantly, I want to ask her a million questions.
I wanted to ask her how she liked the Animas. I wanted to see how long she'd been diabetic and did she go to Joslin, too? Did she know any other diabetics? How long had she been pumping?
I wanted to tell her that the tubing gets all crazy on my pump, too, sometimes.
But do I have the right to make her diabetes my business? Just because I write about it doesn't mean I have the right to grill her about her diabetes. She wasn't asking me why I wanted to make sure the coffee was sugar-free. She was just going about her business. Did I have the right to poke into hers? Just because she wears an "external symptom" of her diabetes in the form of that pink pump, did I have the right to ask her about it?
There have been a few times when a diabetes discussion was thrust on me without my invitation. "Hey, what's that thing on your hip?" becomes this moment of advocacy that, while effective, wasn't what I wanted to do that day. Sometimes I just want to order my coffee without being grilled about why I need to make sure the syrup is sugar-free. Other times I'm blogging about the teeniest minutiae of life with diabetes. I oscillate between wanting to be a diabetes advocate and someone who lives a quieter diabetes life. Sometimes I don't want to talk about it at all. That day, I didn't want to be an advocate. (Or a pain in the rear end.) I just wanted to get some coffee and enjoy the day.
Maybe she doesn't want to talk about it, either.
She made my coffee and added some cream. I handed her my money.
And I left without saying anything.
It's not always what we have to talk about. There's way more to us than this.