I admit it, I am a secret diabetic spotter. I’m not quite at the anorak wearing, binocular carrying stage yet (despite photographic evidence to the contrary), and I haven’t ever kept a log of my sightings, but I am always on the lookout for others who are playing at being a pancreas.
I’ve known about this habit for years, but it really came home to me quite how bad I’ve got it when I realised I was watching Sir Steve Redgrave carrying the Olympic torch, and my main interest was trying to spot where he’d hidden his pump.
It’s not just on TV though, I’m like this in real life too. A glimpse of another pump out there in the wild is enough to make me smile. Spotting someone doing a blood test in the same row as me in the cinema? I feel all warm inside.
Sightings of other diabetics at diabetes events are always enjoyable, but not as satisfying. It’s a bit like a naturalist seeing an animal in a zoo – it’s a fascinating encounter, but not the same as seeing one in the wild.
I’m never quite sure what to do when I spot another diabetic. My instinct is to rush over to them, shouting “me too, me too!” but apparently this is a little frightening for people and could ultimately lead to them calling the police. So mostly I just observe, like a creepy diabetic stalker. I have been spotted numerous times by other diabetic spotters. In points terms, I would be quite a low score for a spotter because I’ve always tested and injected in public and my pump is usually hanging off my waist with tubing flailing around everywhere so I’m hardly an undercover diabetic. Normally I notice them staring at me mid blood test, injection or bolus and when I smile at them, they confess all and we have a nice chat.
Diabetic spotting is of course a great family sport. We’ll be sitting in a restaurant and the husband will whisper “blood test, man in blue shirt, table to the left”. My parents return from holidays with tales of insulin pumps they spotted. Diabetes may be an invisible disease, but the signs are there if you know what to look for.
Do you spot diabetics in the wild? Please tell me I’m not the only diabetic spotter out there.