I like your phone case.

I looked up from my laptop and over at the woman sitting next to me in the crowded Qantas Business Lounge.

Oh. Thank you!’ I said to her. We were sitting at one of the high desks, both charging different devices before our flights.

‘I could do with one of those,’ she said to me. ‘I don’t like the word non-compliant, but to be deliberately compliant sounds like a lot of fun. Where did you get the case?’

A friend designed it for me and started to sell it on his online shop after I spoke at a conference for healthcare professionals. I’m with you on not liking the word. I’m a diabetes advocate and to me, non-compliant is a dirty word.’

I saw the woman sit up a little straighter. ‘You have diabetes?’ she asked.

‘Yep. I’ve had type 1 for twenty-one years.’

‘My daughter was diagnosed three years ago. She’s eighteen now. She just started at Uni this year. She’s doing really well.’

I smiled. ‘That’s great to hear. What is she studying?’

Music. She’s a singer.’ There was undeniable pride in  her voice. Now it was my turn to sit up a little straighter.

‘Really? I did too. I was a classically trained flute player in a former life, studying at Melbourne Uni. I don’t play anymore, but I certainly loved it at the time. I thought it was going to be my forever ‘thing’. Then I kind of got side-tracked!’

We sat there and chatted more about music and having daughters and watching them grow up. We talked about raising strong and challenging girls, reminding each other that it was good that they were like that, even though we wished they would challenge others more than their own mothers! She told me about her job which takes her all over the world and we compared notes on coping with too much long-haul travel and far too much time away from our families. We complained about coffee in airports and on planes and how ridiculous our first world problems are. She asked me a little about my job and how long I had been doing it. Our conversation was peppered with expletives and laughter.

I heard my flight being called and started gathering all my things, tucking them back into my overstuffed bag.

‘Lovely to chat with you,’ I said as I stood up to leave. ‘Good luck to your daughter with her music studies.’ I began to walk away, but quickly turned back. ‘Oh, and her diabetes, too.’

‘I can’t wait to tell her that I met someone who has diabetes and studied music.’ She paused for a second. ‘I think she’ll be happier when I tell her that we hardly spoke about diabetes though. She hates it when that is all people ask about her.’ 

‘She is so much more than diabetes. We all are. And there are far more interesting things about those of us with messed up beta cells. She sounds like an absolute gem, ready to take on the world.’

I walked to the gate and as I was boarding my flight, I noticed the woman in front of me had a Libre sensor stuck to her arm. And that she was wearing the most fabulous red, high-heeled boots. I smiled to myself. So much more than diabetes.