After three days on the river, our boat finally pulled in to our final dock, and we began to unload all the coolers, tents, oars, life jackets, and other supplies we’d used. I looked down at my waist and clicked in to my DexCom, which was secured in my Tummietote. 121mg/dL. Nice. I turned around and took in the sights around me: the high peaks of Hell’s Canyon on the sides, the deep gorge painted by the Snake River that twisted and turned and churned. Being in the middle of nowhere had such a calming feeling to it. I started to walk back down the boat ramp to haul another load up to the truck. That’s when I saw him.
He was a young man, maybe 30, wading in the river in his swim trunks, a deep tan and athletic build indicating he’d spent his fair share of time working out on the river. He dunked himself underwater and as he rose back up, there it was: the unmistakable white tape of a DexCom sensor on his stomach. On his right hip, I saw an insulin pump clipped to his shorts, the tubing tucked away out of sight.
I don’t know about all of you readers out there, but I get excited anytime I meet someone else with diabetes. It doesn’t matter if I’m at a convention for people with diabetes, or if I’m out to dinner somewhere, or smack dab in the middle of nowhere like I was that day but there’s just something awesome about it. When I see my hardware on someone else, a little bell goes off in my head, like an alarm alerting me that kindred souls of the same Dead Pancreas Club are nearby. Getting a visual on someone with the same set-up as me is like having a secret handshake – you automatically know they get it.
I walked up to the water’s edge and saw his DexCom receiver laying on top of his shoes and shirt which he’d left by the shore while he took a swim.
“Nice DexCom,” I said, pointing to my reciever.
A wide grin broke out on his face. “Ha. No way. You too!”
We chatted for a few minutes about keeping devices waterproof while on the river. He had the Animas pump which is already waterproof, and I showed him how I kept my DexCom in a waterproof camera case. Turned out he was waiting for the same boat we were to get back to the other end of the river, so he joined us for lunch. Our crew marveled at the sight of another “Robot Pancreas” person.
How on earth, in the middle of Eastern Oregon at a random dock on the Snake River I managed to run into another person in our crazy little club beats the heck out of me. But it was a great reminder: people with diabetes are out doing all sorts of activities. And if there’s something you want to try that maybe you’ve been afraid of because of diabetes, then just remember that someone with diabetes is probably out there doing that exact activity right now. So find them, ask them how to do it, brainstorm with others. There’s a way to do it, whatever it is. We just have to find out how.