My best moment from #AADE18 didn’t happen at AADE

I told this story a couple of times this past weekend at AADE, and I thought it might be worth retelling here. It involves a memory from many years ago, and reacquaintance. In short:

The best story of my AADE experience did not happen at AADE.

The annual meeting of the American Association of Diabetes Educators was at the Baltimore Convention Center, in the heart of the city where I live and work. In fact, until about nine years ago, I used to work very close to the convention center.

Back then, I used to go through a building across the street from where I worked, directly across the street from the convention center, every morning on my way in to the office (I actually had an office then). The building had a newsstand in it, and still does.

Running the newsstand was a diminutive woman who was generally nice, but when the moment called for it, could be salty as hell. You didn’t want to get on her bad side.

Now, let’s flash back 15 or 16 years… when I was 11 or 12 years into diabetes… but before insulin pumps, CGMs, and way before I found the Diabetes Online Community. We’re talking Friday morning, in the spring or summer of 2002 or 2003.

I’m headed into work that morning, and I could feel that my blood sugar was crashing. I got off the subway and somehow navigated the block and a half to get to the newsstand. By the time I got there, I was sweating through everything, including the suit I was wearing. I must have looked awful.

I can remember there must have been a large lottery jackpot coming up or something, because there were more people than usual in the shop, and I had trouble getting to the back to get some juice. Eventually, I just slumped on the floor, unable to move any more.

People were looking at me like I was drunk, or under the influence of drugs. I’ve had a couple of moments like this in the city, where passersby shoot cell phone videos instead of stopping to assist you. If things go really bad, they might call the police, who might cart you off to the city lockup, and people around here know if you go into the lockup on Friday, you’re probably not coming out until at least Monday.

So here I am, unable to move in a newsstand full of people. And suddenly, this diminutive woman races out from behind her counter, leaving her lottery customers waiting and looking at their watches. “What do you need?”… “How can I help you?”.

I think I just muttered “juice”, and she raced back and got me a bottle of juice, which I finished in no time. Then she got another. I was about halfway through with that before I started coming out of my funk and she went back to her customers. She never charged me for the juice.

I took an extended break from work the next day to go over and pay her, thank her, and discuss the moment. We didn’t speak about it again.

Eventually, my company moved its offices about five minutes away. That was 2009, nine years ago. Not working close by anymore, I didn’t return to the newsstand.

Fast forward to last Friday. I took the subway for part of my commute to get to the convention center that day, and I really wanted a soda, and since that building is right across the street…

I walked into the newsstand, and she was not there. The only people in the place were what looked like a couple of regular lottery customers, who, as I recall, used to watch the place for my hero when she needed to step out for a minute. We waited and chatted together.

Then suddenly, she walked through the door, and as soon as she saw me, her eyes got big and she shouted “How are you?”! I flatly retorted, “I can’t believe you still remember me”. She said, “Oh, you never forget a day like that”.

I told her I was on my way to the convention center, why I was there, and that later in the day, I would be speaking about life with diabetes as part of a discussion panel at the conference. I took the time to remind her that if it wasn’t for her help all those years ago, I might not be speaking that day or any other.

I can’t stop thinking about the impact of that moment in time.

So my best story about AADE did not happen at AADE. It happened years ago, and was relived for a brief moment last Friday. As long as I live, I will never forget that day, this person’s selflessness, and the unknown opportunities it would present much later on.

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  • Rick Phillips  On August 23, 2018 at 10:31 pm

    As I recall I almost ended up in the fountain at my doctors office. I leaned left and fell right, a CMA ran out of an office and ran away, of course the ER staff showed up, fished me out of the fountain and of course wanted to do a breathalyzer (just to make sure). I later met that CMA, turns out she ran to the ER. Well heck my best day at the doctor was when I went swimming. Who knew?

    Liked by 1 person

    • StephenS  On August 24, 2018 at 10:00 am

      Your best day may have been when you went swimming and didn’t drown. 🙂


  • Lucia Maya  On August 24, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    Love this story. It’s amazing how someone doing a simple act of kindness can truly change ones life.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Karen  On August 27, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    I love this story, I love that lady, and I suppose I even love that you’ve made me cry. Thanks for a powerful post.

    Liked by 1 person


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