Ever since I’ve started wearing the Freestyle Navigator — Abbott’s continuous glucometer — I’ve gotten a lot of comments. That’s not surprising — with a transmitter the size of a matchbook, not to mention its accompanying messy layers of lint-covered adhesive, it has a way of standing out. Especially when it’s on my arm.
Please note: This is not actually me.
The last time this happened was yesterday, when I was walking around Oakland’s Lake Merritt with my husband. For those of you not familiar with the Bay Area, Lake Merritt is right next to downtown — and is less a bucolic nature preserve than it is a dumping ground for dozens of city storm pipes. (It’s also a stopover for hundreds of Canada geese, whose nearly human-sized droppings make every jog into an obstacle course.)
I frequently get spoken to when I walk around Lake Merritt — most memorably when a man asked my (female) friend and me how many laps we were doing and, when we told him just one, suggested we stop, since he “had a lap for [us] right here.” (He then encouraged us to “do ourselves a favor and get some of that chocolate flavor,” which, I’ll admit, struck me as rather creative.)
Anyway, on our way around Lake Merritt yesterday I noticed a homeless-looking guy on a Razor scooter coming up behind us. From what I could tell, he was talking to himself. Again, not unusual around Lake Merrit. I moved over to let him pass and, as he approached, he pointed at my arm and said, bluntly, “What’s that?”
For a second, I thought he meant my arm — and if he had to ask about basic anatomy, he was worse off than I’d thought. But of course, he was actually talking about my CGM.
I should pause here and say that when people ask me what the transmitter is, I usually just tell them. I’m a very bad liar — and besides, people are just asking out of curiosity. But I’m always tempted to make something up, just to see their reaction. Like, for example, it’s an anti-shoplifting tag to prevent anyone from stealing me. Or it’s a tracking device stuck there by my parole officer. Or it’s one of those dog collars that gives me a shock if I wander too far out of my husband’s sight. The possibilities are endless. If I were feeling mean, I could go for the paranoia-inducing. “It’s how the aliens communicate with me.” Or, worse, “It’s how I control you.”
But of course, that wouldn’t have been nice. And the guy was genuinely curious. And, despite my daydreams, I’m not actually an asshole. So I just said, “It’s for diabetes.”
Usually this results in several follow-up questions, with me delivering an impromptu educational diabetes talk (which I suppose is a good thing — making me into sort of a brand ambassador for the disease). But that’s not what happened with this guy. Instead he just said, “Oh,” with a touch of what sounded like empathy, and scooted off down the path. No follow-up questions. So instead, I have one for other CGM wearers: what are your favorite alternate uses for your transmitter? I need some new ideas.