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Arden's Day Blog

Arden's Day is a type I diabetes care giver blog written by author Scott Benner. Scott has been a stay-at-home dad since 2000, he is the author of the award winning parenting memoir, 'Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal'. Arden's Day is an honest and transparent look at life with diabetes - since 2007.

type I diabetes, parent of type I child, diabetes Blog, OmniPod, DexCom, insulin pump, CGM, continuous glucose monitor, Arden, Arden's Day, Scott Benner, JDRF, diabetes, juvenile diabetes, daddy blog, blog, stay at home parent, DOC, twitter, Facebook, @ardensday, 504 plan, Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal, Dexcom SHARE, 生命是短暂的,洗衣是永恒的, Shēngmìng shì duǎnzàn de, xǐyī shì yǒnghéng de

An Unexpected Conversation

Scott Benner


Arden didn't want to see 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' but the rest of us did. She told us that she would come anyway and, "take a nap if I get bored". It wasn't long after she snacked on some popcorn and chips that Arden shifted herself around in her seat, raised the arm rest and laid her head on Kelly's leg. Arden probably slept through the last ninety minutes of the movie, her BG from the snacking didn't take the same break.

I had Arden's DexCom receiver under my leg and was watching it for a rise in her BG. I rarely seem to cover those movie snacks in a way that completely holds down a spike. I probably checked the CGM once every twenty minutes, setting one temp basal over the first hour.

About thirty minutes before the movie ended Arden's CGM shook, she was going to need another bolus. Before I bolused I wanted to go back through the recent insulin delivery history so that I could make a good decision, I was trying to avoid testing Arden in the theater while she was sleeping. I had a pretty good feel for what I wanted to do but felt like it was important to review the last two hours before I pushed any buttons. I must have gotten engrossed in the data because I unknowingly brought the PDM up to my face to read the numbers. When I did the barrier that my seat and legs were providing against the light was lost, the PDM screen was now visible to others in the theater.

Before I could realize what I had done, an angry female voice emanating from my left spoke, "put that phone away, it's rude".

The instant that her words reached my brain I was enraged. My chest felt as if my heart had turned to molten lava and my mind was begging me to release the mixture and drown her with it. I'm embarrassed to tell you how insanely angry I was. My heart rated doubled, I could feel the adrenaline coursing through me. I instantly had a genuine desire to eviscerate the person that spoke in the dark. I wanted to rip her open and pour the hot pain that was boiling in my chest into hers... so that she would know how terribly misguided her words were.

Except that she was right...

I was that guy holding a bright light in a pitch black movie theater. I was interrupting the people around me. The woman who spoke made a completely reasonable assumption that I was holding my cell phone, I probably would have done the same thing. I knew that intellectually, but I still wanted to scream at her. I had to use breathing exercises to let the anger out of my chest. It took me a long few minutes to ride out the adrenaline. I kept thinking about her words as I waited for my primal response to dissipate, thinking of everything that I wanted to scream at her. I thought about it over and over until I could absorb and believe the truth. I was so blinded by anger and my desiree to defend Arden that I was unable to give my thoughts enough clout to overcome my rage. Eventually, my better judgement won out and I began to allow the truth to rule this moment, I was being unreasonable. When I was finally able to relieve myself of the rage that filled me, I was flooded with the notion that, "If she only knew, her reaction would be so very different... if she just understood that Arden has diabetes".

When the movie ended I checked with my son to make sure that the woman sitting two seats from him was the one who spoke. He told me that it was, I immediately stood up and approached her. "Excuse me, can I just have a few seconds of your time", I said. She wasn't sure what to make of my request and so I sat in the empty seat between her and Cole and began to speak before she could answer. "It wasn't a cell phone... it was my daughter's insulin pump, she has type I diabetes".

She calmly replied with an air of superiority, "You still should have taken it outside"...

Well, that didn't sit well with me as perhaps you can imagine. I politely but sternly asked her if I should have taken my daughter outside to give her the insulin that keeps her alive. My displeasure was on display.

To her credit she rethought her statement and recanted it, making up an only half-believable excuse about not understanding what I initially said. If I'm being honest, she was on her guard as I approached and I understood that her first words were defensive.

I explained again, apologized for not doing a better job of quelling the light and thought that, with that, we would part ways. Except that she seemed hell bent on making her point about rude people and their cell phones. It seemed that she was beginning to feel badly about our misunderstanding and wanted to legitimize her response. She began to defend her self but I cut her off before she could get on her soap box, and said this...

"If I can just have thirty more seconds of your time. There is a piece of writing that I love, it's a speech called 'This Is Water', the author makes a number of points in the text, one of them is this. We all see people everyday who drive like assholes. Chances are that most of them are actually assholes, but one of them must have a good reason for speeding and switching lanes too much, one of them must have an emergency that we could all understand. The author makes the point that you can spend your life assuming that those people are assholes, or you can make the humane choice to believe that they have a really good reason for driving that way. I choose to think the latter and I hope that this experience helps you to make the same decision next time something like this happens to you."

Now I must tell all of you that I am not normally the guy that lends strangers advice that they don't want and didn't ask for. I was driven in this moment by the desire to not just defend Arden but each and every one of you. Maybe I was out of line, I think that I was, but people living with diabetes deserve a little bit of... of what? We deserve a little extra compassion. I know that because I live this life, the same life that you live. As I was speaking to her my own words reminded me that everyone has diabetes sometimes, that we all need a little extra compassion once and a while. That acting with concern instead of contempt is one of the most basic and loving human gifts. Too often we respond to others pain with judgement, and if my experience on this night is any indication, we do so because of the judgment that we perceive has been previously levied upon us.

I apologized to the woman again for impugning her, I insulted her by insinuating that she saw the drivers as assholes. Perhaps she doesn't, maybe she's just been to one too many movies where someone pulled out their phone. Either way, I said my peace, defended my daughter and tried to be an advocate for, not just you, but for everyone that could use a break once and a while. Maybe I thought, maybe next time she'll find the strength to hold her boiling lava inside and approach her next issue as I did. Maybe I started a positive wave that will carry into the future. I hoped that my actions would be the start of more human kindness - but maybe she just thought I was an asshole.

When we got to the car Kelly asked me why I was talking to the people next to Cole. I told her this story and then I told my children this. "When I was young I would have yelled at that woman, I would have embarrassed her the way that she embarrassed me, I would have mocked her and verbally punished her for daring to speak up for herself. I grew up just outside of Philadelphia and I wasn't raised to take shit from people, even if I deserved it... I'm glad that I grew up. I hope that you can control yourself when this happens to you one day, and it will." I told them how difficult that it was for me to maintain my composure and I did my best to describe how angry and defensive of Arden I felt when she spoke. I really hoped that my kids got something more out of this evening then popcorn and a movie (and a nap). I'm sharing my experience with you for the exact same reason.

The woman thanked me for taking the time to explain, we shook hands and wished each other a Happy New Year. I think that she was glad that I spoke to her, I at least hope that she was... I know that I was.

Everyone needs a break sometimes... Do your best to remind yourself of that in 2013. It's not always true that the ignorance you face has understandable beginnings, but it does you far more personal damage to believe the worst in people and the assumption gets us no where, it actually holds us back. When you give others the benefit of the doubt, you may be starting a kindness that will one day find it's way back to you or another person whose life is not that much different from ours.

Happy New Year!

All my best, Scott