For most of my working life I have worked with computers. And in that time I have become what could be considered “an expert” in one particular niche of the computer landscape.
I won’t bore you into a coma trying to explain what that niche is, trust me.
Yesterday I was at an all day conference of a hand full of similar “experts” from the company I work with, where the main player in mainframe computers, IBM, was showing us some new tools and things that of course they hope we eventually buy. That’s the way the game has been played ever since the first valve was screwed into the monoliths that passed for computers way back in the 1950’s. IBM build it then fly around the world trying to convince companies like us that we need it.
Because this was an all day event, my normal routine needed to be adjusted. And, as you have seen in earlier posts, any time the routine is adjusted there is an opportunity for something to go wrong. As with many things to do with T1D, this is all very subtle and invisible to the outside person.
IBM were covering a breadth of topics yesterday that all honed in on one set of tools that they were ultimately trying to sell. And one of those tools dealt directly with the tool that I am the expert with.
See, I told you you’d be bored. I know that you are already starting to slip sideways off your chair, so I’ll keep this very brief.
I could see that the discussion was being focussed toward me and I knew that everybody in the room knew that this was where I needed to ask the clever questions and make the earth shattering comments. And because I’ve been to enough of these things over the decades to know how they flow, I knew I had less than 10 minutes before my need to shine would be thrust upon me.
And that was when T1D tapped me on the shoulder.
I realised that I wasn’t following the conversation with crystal clarity. Crucially, I also noticed that my right foot had been shuffling around for a few minutes. Not following the conversation with clarity on its own could be explained away; I’m tired, I’m bored; I don’t agree with the subject, whatever. BUT, when you combine that with the shuffling foot, alarm bells went off in my head.
46 years of experience kicked in and I knew that I was facing a difficult moment and I had only moments to do something about it. Even though the presenter was speaking with a heavy French accent and was difficult for me to follow, I knew that in a few sentences I was going to need to make my first momentous comment. And there was my right foot shuffling around.
For non T1D people, this combination of circumstances was yelling at me that my BGL – Blood Glucose Level – was dropping and was already at a point where I couldn’t think at 100%, couldn’t put together words into sentences in the way an expert was supposed to and therefor wouldn’t be able to formulate the exquisitely insightful comment or question that people were now holding their breath for in anticipation.
And all of this because my routine had been disrupted.
I may have already left it too late, so I had to take action NOW. So while all the while looking composed and in control, as a professional and especially an expert was expected to do, I grabbed my bag of emergency supplies from the floor between my feet and reached in, looking for the juice box.
Shuffle, shuffle, reach, grab, pull out. Manipulate that damn straw through that silly little silver hole thing that often refuses to break, now in a professional, nonchalant manner suck that fruit juice down, trying not to make that slurping sound too loudly as you get to the bottom. A quick check of how the conversation is going – he’s not quite focussed on me yet, so I have a moment. Reach back into my bag and get out that packet of emergency lollies / sweets / candy. Try not to make too much fuss as I manipulate it onto the table so the open side is facing me and I can get pieces of lollies / sweets / candy and put them in my mouth. Don’t forget at all times to appear to be closely following the heavily accented technical conversation, and giving the impression that I am prepared to pounce at a moments notice on to that gem of information that just might lead to the success or failure of the organisation.
How’s the sugar going? The foot is still moving, but not as much. But I still don’t feel 100% clear in the head, so mustn’t say anything yet. Let the first opportunity go by, but put a thoughtful, hopefully slightly challenging, look on the face to cover the fact that I haven’t responded …. yet.
After a couple of minutes, with the conversation about to loop around to me again, another quick check finds that the foot has stopped – a good sign – and the thinking is back to 98%. And with the direction now obviously up rather than down, the BGL is ready for the professional to take over.
That is T1D as I have lived it..
Marathon des Sables – A Type 1 Diabetes Adventure