I know my beeps. I know my beeps similar to the way a parent can recognize the cry of their baby. I know the sounds that my insulin pump and meters make. I don’t get them confused with other alarms, dings, and noises of everyday life. And since I’m usually not surrounded by other pump wearing diabetics, I know that the beeps are for me. That is until I go to a diabetes event. What a strange phenomenon it is to be surrounded by dozens of other diabetics. My beeps become lost in a sea of similar noises, mixing with the sounds of countless other pumps and meters. My unique identifier becomes a unifying force, a sound signifying a shared experience.
|My contribution to this year’s mosaic mural|
The past two weekends I’ve had the pleasure of attending 2 different JDRF walks, one in Chicago and one in Ann Arbor/Dexter. In Chicago, I was volunteering with an amazing organization called Project S.N.A.P, collecting artworks drawn at the walk by T1Ds, their families, and their friends to become part of a giant mosaic mural. You can read more about my experiences with Project S.N.A.P in this post, or on their website. The second walk I attended as a representative of the Young Leaders Committee of my local JDRF chapter. It was the second JDRF walk that I’ve ever attended as a walker.
I attended my local diabetes walk with my mom. The walk was in a beautiful Metropark, the path winding through trees with changing colored leaves. Although it was raining, it was still a beautiful and enjoyable walk. At one point my mom turned to me and asked if I was sad/upset that we didn’t really do these walks when I was growing up. I wasn’t mad. Mostly because I knew that my family always supported me. The walk that day was a perfect example. Knowing that I wanted to go to the event, my mom skipped her normal Sunday plans to wake up early and drive 45 minutes to walk in the rain with me.
But even though I am not upset, I know that I did miss out on some amazing experiences. When I looked around at the walks, I saw teams sometimes with 10-30 people all there for one special type 1 diabetic. They were there showing their support by physically coming together, by putting on their team t-shirt with their creative names and bright colors, and spending the morning dedicated to that one child with diabetes. I can only imagine how special that child must feel. Yes, they were being singled out because of their diabetes, but in a positive way. For at least one day each year, that child isn’t alone in their experiences. They aren’t the only child with diabetes. They are able to come together and see other children just like them, to meet and talk with them.
My parents had their own reasons for not pushing to go each year, but I know that if I had expressed an interest to attend these walks when I was younger, that we would have gone. Perhaps I didn’t know at the time what I was missing out on. I was content with the support from my friends and family and with the few other diabetics that I knew. But these past two weekends while I stood in a sea of other diabetics, I heard those beeps, my beeps. And while it was confusing and odd to hear them, each beep seemed to say “You. are. not. alone. beep. We. are. in. this. together. beep.”