Friends with Diabetes

Kerri Sparling Health Guide
  • Sometimes when I think about my best friend, I marvel at how much diabetes affects her life.  She's best buddies with a type 1 diabetic like me, and she's also an ER nurse, dealing with diabetes emergencies as they enter her emergency room.  But in addition to those factors, both of her parents have type 2 diabetes, making her closer than Kevin Bacon to all things diabetes-related.  It's a wonder she hasn't just given up and removed her own pancreas at this point, in efforts to join the club.  (Joke.  It's just a joke.  But it made me laugh a smidge.)

    My best friend goes by the internet moniker of NBF (Nurse Best Friend), and she's been a part of my diabetes life for over a decade.  We met just after high school, when I applied to be a waitress for the summer in the breakfast restaurant her parent's owned.  Little did I know that I was about to find my best friend, and to also forge a special relationship with her wonderful mother.

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    I had just left my previous waitstaff  job because I'd fallen at a catering gig and fractured my tail bone.  So when I arrived, two weeks after my injury, to apply at the Yellow Bench Café, my hindquarters were still a little tender.  I opened the door one afternoon and slipped through as the breakfast shift was ending.

    "Hi, I was coming by to see if you guys were hiring waitresses and ...OOOW!!"

    The door came slamming shut behind me, tagging me right in the tush and sending searing pain up my spine.  I couldn't control my own response.

    "Oh, I'm sorry!  I broke my rear end two weeks ago and that door just caught me right - ow!  Sorry ..."

    NBF's mom sized me up in a millisecond while she tried not to laugh out loud at me.  "Broke your rear end, eh?  Here's an application.  I think you might fit in well here."

    I loved working there.  Her family made me feel like I was family, and they accepted every inch of me without question.  After I was hired, I told Mr. and Mrs. NBF that I was a type 1 diabetic, and that I'd need to keep some juice on hand in case of low blood sugars.  But it turned out that Mrs. NBF was a type 2 diabetic, and she already had a stash of juice at the ready.  "Whatever you need to do is fine," she said.

    During the course of that summer, Mrs. NBF and I would test our blood sugars between tables, occasionally gripe about the finer points of diabetes management, and had a bottle of Carey's Sugar-Free Maple Syrup on hand for our personal pancakes.  We even shared a hairdryer in the back room, kept there for post-low blood sugar blowouts, when I'd need to take a minute to dry my hair after a troubling low blood sugar.  (Note:  Lows used to make me endlessly sweaty, so this hairdryer was a godsend, especially when I was trying to flirt with restaurant patrons.  Come on, I was 19 years old!)

    While my best friend and I have gone through just about everything together (and we're now both pregnant with our first children - talk about timing!), there's a very special bond I've always shared with her mom.  Diabetes has that way of being such a pain in the rear end, but it can bring people together in ways they least expect.  And that's a welcome silver lining.

Published On: October 20, 2009