This past week I took part in a wonderful scientific meeting. It was hosted at my home institution, and the local participants were given the same meal plan as the out-of-town attendees so that we could share meals and socialize with them. I'm not going to complain about the food (suffice it to say I'm not surprised at all the college freshman who get pudgier), because having that extra socialisation time really was a great opportunity. The dining hall and the restrooms were on a different floors of the same building, so I ended up bolusing right there at the table.
On the last night of the conference (the "gala" dinner) one of the other researchers sat to talk with me about noticing that I am a diabetic. He told me about his two sons who were both diagnosed with type 1 in their teens, and how he always tried to ensure that they never felt impeded or stigmatised by their condition. He also talked about how he felt they were healthier than the average young men because they were thoughtful about the food and exercise they were getting, and how he noticed how supportive and aware their friends were.
It was a pretty special conversation for me. While I know that many people are private about their diabetes, I made a decision awhile ago that I wasn't going to treat it as any more of a secret than the colour of my eyes or something like that: it's just there whether someone notices it or not. I guess I just hoped (perhaps somewhat grandly) that eventually someone might see that they weren't alone and it might help somehow. Having that conversation reminded me that the connection can go both ways, and the importance of community should never be overlooked.