Travel and Diabetes Ramblings with a Stranger
One of my favorite places in the world is the airport. I knew early on the significance of such a place having moved from another continent to this one as a young child. The airport is like a revolving door of possibilities and opportunities literally flying in and out all day in the most organized fashion we can manage. Each trip to and from an airport includes new sights and faces. Each trip holds a little mystery and anticipation. In an airport we’re forced to be patient. We’re forced to have faith in others, namely the pilot of the plane. We’re forced to sit still and be one with our thoughts and observations.
It’s so healthy.
It’s true that frequent travelers tend to dash about, mindlessly hooked to their device of choice, but I think even they must feel much of the same.
The other day as I checked my blood sugar on the plane I noticed how uncomfortable it made the older man next to me. So I started talking. I explained what I was doing and why. I shared the results, “141, I’ll take it!” The man looked out the window and let out a deep breathe. He said, “So many people have diabetes. It’s going to ruin our country.”
“If we let it”, I said.
“Well, I’m glad you seem to be taking care of yourself but what about everyone else? Why can’t people just eat better and exercise?”
I went into clarifying some myths and misconceptions about diabetes while the man listened intently. Then I said, “I wish we could bring everyone out on a trip somewhere and educate them all about diabetes and health here in the airport.”
The man laughed out loud and furrowed his brow at me. “Oh? Why at an airport?”
“I don’t know, just seems like a good place for all sorts of educational metaphors to really click.”
“Oh? Tell me more.” he said.
“Ok…well, just as with travelling, living life with diabetes is full of possibilities and opportunities. In fact, every morning we get to face a new day with blood sugars that haven’t happened yet and strive to make the best of them. Each day we have the power to choose what we are going to do with our health, you know, what we’ll eat, whether we’ll exercise or not, and how we’ll approach challenges. We can get organized with our lifestyle habits and diabetes management routine for better, more consistent results. We can choose to take inspiration and support from everything around us, from the people we encounter to the day’s weather. We can learn to accept the risks of living with diabetes and not let them slow us down just as we choose to get on a plane so we can go somewhere even if we’re scared to do so. We can learn to handle anticipation so we can move past unsightly blood sugar results. We can learn how being patient doesn’t mean we have to wait forever and that eventually, we’ll get where we’re going. We can learn how to trust others and ourselves to do the best we all can. I just feel like the airport is a peaceful and safe place for learning, I don’t know.”
The man stared blankly at me for a moment and then scratched his head. Then he laughed again and said, “And on the plane, we go over how to bring up diabetes with strangers by testing blood sugar in front of them. Then they can ask questions, be educated, and hopefully feel compassion and understanding and spread that around.”
“See? It would totally work!”
In between chuckles the man said, “It did, today.”