By Jenny Garten
Being friends with a diabetic has definitely been interesting. The first time I met Mattie we were playing Red Rover during recess with the other children in our grade. Mattie seemed just like any other kid, running around and having fun. When I got to know her better I found out she had diabetes, and as a safety measure she had to be escorted everywhere around the school. In case she had a seizure or other diabetic complication, the escort (usually another student in her class) would be able to send for help. Mattie asked me to go with her to the nurse’s office before lunch one day so she could test her blood sugar. I agreed, as it was a great excuse to get out of class early.
We walked to the nurse’s office together, talking about whatever 6th grade girls talk about. Our conversation continued even while we were in the nurse’s office and Mattie was retrieving her diabetes supplies and prepping them to take a blood sugar. I didn’t know much about diabetes, so I was completely horrified when I saw Mattie, mid-conversation, stab her finger, squeeze blood out of it, and then stick a glucose meter in the blood. But of course, I wanted to seem cool, so I did my best to continue the conversation while trying not to pass out from the sight of blood.
I couldn’t believe someone who acted just like any other kid could have a disease that had to be monitored so often and so painstakingly. I was afraid she might break any minute. Luckily, Mattie has always been very open about her diabetes. Learning from her and how to help if a life threatening situation arises put me at ease and allowed me to view her as a friend again and not as someone who needs to be protected from the world. It took Mattie a while to get her blood sugars under control, but now that she has, we have traveled around the world together. Not only is Mattie an awesome person in general and a great travel companion, but because she has diabetes, she almost always has snacks with her. And who doesn’t love snacks?