My Life in Diabetic Moments
Age 1: I am nursing. I will be breastfed for what counts here in the U.S. as an "extended" period of time. Theoretically, this offers a degree of protection against developing diabetes. Someday I will become one of the unlucky ones who gets it anyway. And then I will nurse my own son and hope that it works for him. But for now, I am just a healthy, average, nursing one year old without a care in the world.
Age 6: I'm reading a book from my favorite series, The Babysitters Club. It's called The Truth About Stacey, and it's all about a girl who has diabetes telling her friends about it. I know what diabetes is because my grandmother calls herself a "borderline diabetic." I am sitting in her living room, which is littered with bright pink Sweet'N Low packages, among other things.
Age 8: I'm sitting in the hospital, watching Dirty Dancing for the 8th time, still not catching on to the "unwanted pregnancy/abortion" plotline in that movie. (As a teenager, I will watch the movie again and receive quite a surprise when this time I "get it.") I'm reading Get Well Soon cards from my classmates, and feeling frustrated that my nurse seems to think she has to explain diabetes to me yet again. Hello! I've read The Babysitters Club. I know all about this disease. But still, she makes me practice giving oranges and baby dolls shots. This is slightly disturbing and not the least bit like giving myself a shot, as I'll discover for the first time in a few days.
Age 8, part two: I'm back in school. My blood sugar is high--200. I have to jump rope for 5 minutes in the principal's office to bring it down. If it doesn't go down, or if it gets too low, they'll call my parents again and make them drive the 30 minutes to come get me, again, because the school staff can't handle it on their own, and I'm not old enough to take care of myself yet. By the end of the year, I'll be homeschooling.
Age 10: I'm playing on the trampoline in my back yard with a friend. My mom calls me in because it's time to check my blood sugar. It's normal. I run back outside and keep playing.
Age 11: I wake up in the middle of the night to discover medical personnel in my bedroom. I've been having a low-blood-sugar-related seizure. This will only happen 3 or 4 times, ever, but it makes me feel weird, like my body is not my own if it can do things that I don't even remember.
Age 14: I'm in my cabin at diabetes camp, listening to Abba CDs, when my friend Alice has a low-blood-sugar-induced seizure. I feel relief not only that everyone knows what to do, but that here, it's not such a big deal, that no one will freak out and make her go home. That I'm normal when I'm with these people.
Age 19: I'm at college. It's 2 a.m. and my friends want to order a pizza. We sit around in our pajamas in the lounge (In PUBLIC! In our PAJAMAS! So LIBERATING!) and laugh and talk until we're exhausted. But I don't eat the pizza because I'm worried what it will do to my blood sugar. When I wake up in the morning, I'm low, and I regret my self-control.
Age 23: It's my wedding day. I'm in the "bride's room" about 30 minutes before the ceremony is set to begin, and I have low blood sugar. I eat some Disney Princess Fruit Snacks, and my photographer takes a picture. Then I go get married!
Age 23, part two: It's November and I'm sitting with my husband in the office of an OB I've never met, the first OB I could get an appointment with, because I'm unexpectedly pregnant after years of being told it might be hard for me to conceive because of my diabetes. My latest A1c was 6.5, within the "normal" range. The doctor walks in and her manner is all astonishment, because, well, don't I realize that I'm diabetic, so it's really dangerous for me to be pregnant at all, and what was I thinking, being so careless? She wants to schedule my cesarean for the following June. I'm only 6 weeks pregnant. I find another doctor.
Age 23, part 3: I've just found out that we're going to have a son. I call my sister and say, "Guess what, Sandra? You're going to be an uncle!" We laugh as I realize I'm low, and I eat something while we chat. This will become a lasting "inside joke" that will undoubtedly confuse my son's friends when they hear he has an Uncle Sandra.
Age 24: I am in labor. My blood sugar is low, in the 40s. I can't eat anything, so we ask the nurses to give me some IV sugar. It takes them almost an hour to get the ball rolling, so I have to force myself to eat in the meantime. I have some string cheese with crackers. It doesn't help. My mother or my doula finally tracks down some Sierra Mist. It will be a long time before I can look at string cheese without feeling vaguely nauseous, but I will always have fond memories of Sierra Mist.
Age 25: It's October. I have had crazy ups and lows for the past few days, so I do a Google search. I discover a million diabetes blogs and an entire diabetes online community. I realize that I need to connect with the d-world again. It's like coming home to discover all I have in common with these people, and to remember how wonderful it is to know someone who really knows what an "afterlow hangover" is like or how it feels to be a diabetic parent. To remember that with these people, I'm normal.
(Note: I got the idea for this post indirectly from Maggie Mason's book, No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog. Indirectly because I've never read the book, but she wrote a post called #42 Make Your Timeline on her blog, which I did read.)
(Also note: I posted this on my other blog too.)
(Additionally: I should mention that of course, all moments since I was diagnosed are in some way "diabetic moments" for me. Those presented here are simply moments that I remember vividly, that show the way diabetes has shaped my life a little more specifically.)