“At least I know I’m the sweetest person in the room”
My mother’s lower lip began to quiver, my father shook his head sadly, and the doctor gave me a smile dripping with pity there was practically a puddle of it on the floor.
Joking about my freshly diagnosed diabetes hadn’t exactly had the desired effect.
Their reactions were understandable, though. It isn’t normal to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at the ripe old age of 20. I was treated like a ticking time bomb over the next few days, the way people would walk on eggshells around me anticipating the justified breakdown a person is supposed to have when they discover they have a life-altering disease.
Suffice to say, that hasn’t happened. Yet. Part of the reason I’m having trouble engineering what most would classify as an appropriate response is because I feel perfectly normal. Given how high my blood sugar levels were, I was supposed to feel fatigued. I was supposed to feel ill. The day before my diagnosis, I went for a 5 kilometer run.
Watching the nurses race across the emergency room in an attempt to prepare and administer the required dose of insulin into my bloodstream was all very dramatic. I certainly didn’t feel as if my blood glucose was at a critical level. I almost felt as though I should tell them to calm down.
I doubt I’ll ever understand how or why my body was shrugging off what was going on inside it like a champ. The only noticeable symptom I had that anything was off was a sort of unquenchable thirst. I’d liken it to drinking a glass of water, but having it flow straight into your stomach without alleviating the thirsty feeling at the back of your throat.
As a person, I’m the world’s biggest fan of ignoring the problem until it eventually goes away. The crooked toes on my left foot because of an injury I got when I was younger are testament to this attitude: “They can’t possibly be broken, I’d be in a lot more pain if they were”
(They were broken)
It was pure good fortune that I actually made the effort to go and get my blood tested, instead of taking the usual approach and letting my problems sort themselves out.
Another warning sign that went unnoticed was my weight loss. Given that I frequent the gym, I attributed it to an increased metabolism and basked in the ability to eat pretty much whatever I wanted to and have it magically melt away. The results from my urine test explained what had actually been happening: my body had turned to breaking down its fat stores for fuel because the lack of insulin meant it wasn’t able to absorb the glucose in my bloodstream for energy. I received a call from the testing lab telling me to get to the emergency room ASAP because I was on the verge of going into a diabetic coma.
I definitely didn’t feel that way. The first thought I had when they told me I needed to be admitted was: Damn it, can’t go for my run today.
A question I’m asked a lot is “How are you feeling?” And the answer is always the same: Fine. I realize that this is going to be an inconvenience, to put it lightly, but it’s something that I need to deal with. I could spend a lot of time being angry and asking “Why me?” but none of that is going to change the situation.
I made a decision a long time ago that I was going to love my body. The normal association with that statement is about how you look, and I’d be lying if I pretended as though that wasn’t the basis of my thinking when I made that resolution. But right now my vital organs need some lovin’ too, and I am not going to sit here and wage war on my body for not being able to do exactly what it’s supposed to. It’s got enough on its plate.
All of this is easy for me to say now, I suppose. Who knows what my mentality will be like after living with diabetes for a year as opposed to a week? Maybe one day I’ll lie down and have the dramatic crying fit that I was supposed to have when the doctor told me I was stuck with this condition for the rest of my life. Today though, is not that day, and I don’t feel as though tomorrow is either.
Yes, I have diabetes. Yes, my life just got a lot more complicated. Yes, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to cope with than I can fully comprehend at this early stage. But you live with the cards you’re dealt, and I’ve been dealt far too many aces to let a low card ruin my game.