On a Friday afternoon not too many months ago, I found myself sitting at my desk with a burrito in one hand and Type 2 diabetes in the other. The diabetes was in my burrito hand, as well, since technically, it’s just in me all the time, but I digress.
I called my wife and told her, to which she replied calmly, “So what do I need to cook for you?”
I didn’t know. Thankfully, I had a meeting scheduled for the next week with a dietitian and a diabetic counselor who hopefully would straighten things out for me. Until then, I had four or five days to blindly panic.
There are two diabetics in my office: One is Type 1 and one is Type 2. I also have a friend who is Type 1 with an insulin pump. Both of the guys in my office take insulin daily, and this was all I could think about.
Not being a fan of needles that aren’t putting ink under my skin, the idea of giving myself insulin injections every day for the rest of my life has been a big fear since I was 8 and saw an episode of Empty Nest where Dr. Weston diagnoses a child with Type 1 diabetes and follows him all the way to the time he goes off to college. Empty Nest was a spinoff from The Golden Girls; Harry Weston was one of their neighbors, and Estelle Getty popped in occasionally. Doesn’t matter.
Not being a fan of needles that aren’t putting ink under my skin, the idea of giving myself insulin injections every day for the rest of my life has been a big fear since I was 8 and saw an episode of Empty Nest.
Point being, I was more than a little nervous about my needle-filled future as I walked into the exam room to talk to my new diabetic counselor.
“Do you have a family history of diabetes?” she asked.
“I’m adopted, so I have no idea,” I replied.
Medical history is one of the two instances in life where being adopted gets a little awkward. The other is genetic sexual attraction, or GSA, which means that if I do have a biological sibling out there whom I don’t know about, the first time we meet, we’ll not only admire the similarities in each other’s physical appearance but also be so drawn to each other because of them that we’ll start rutting in public like Seth Green and that werewolf chick who was the lead singer of Shy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I made it a point to find a wife who was born outside of Louisiana just to be safe.
It could be more awkward. Because I’m adopted, I can live on in the illusion that my parents have never had sex. You, on the other hand, have no choice but to imagine your parents sweatily groping each other with their tongues in each other’s mouths and whatnot. All that before your father sprayed semen in and on your mother, and then nine months later, you slid your face along your mother’s vagina (probably with your mouth open a little, so the doctor had to pull out at least one pube) and then sucked on her nipples for months on end. Slow clap for you.
“I’ll tell you right now, you do,” was the nurse’s self-assured reply.
C’mon back to me, now. We’re here to talk about my diabetes, not think of the kinky bondage stuff your parents are into.
Remember that time you walked in on them?
Where was I? Oh, yes! Diabetes.
Because I’m adopted, I can live on in the illusion that my parents have never had sex. You, on the other hand, have no choice but to imagine your parents sweatily groping each other with their tongues in each other’s mouths and whatnot.
The nurse went on to explain that I was predisposed to insulin resistance, but my garbage diet and the fact I was heftily overweight weren’t doing me any favors. She suggested exercise and following a healthy diet that the dietitian would go over with me.
But first, some needles.
The nurse gifted me with a brand-spanking-new glucose meter with a colorful digital display. I thought this was particularly generous of her until I had to buy replacement strips for the thing and found out they run about $1.25 per strip and come in packs of 100.
The strip (which, no joke, has gold in it) goes into the top of the meter, and then you take your little spring-loaded lancet and stab yourself in the finger.
“Would you like me to do it for you the first time?” she asked. Nurses are very helpful.
“No. No, I think I need to get used to this,” I offered, stoically cocking the lance and placing it to the tip of my left index finger. It might as well have been a shotgun in my mouth for all the good I was at pushing the button. I got really worked up before clinching my teeth and squeezing the trigger, instantly putting a tiny, near-painless hole in my fingertip.
There wasn’t any blood. The helpful nurse leaned across the table and gave my finger a squeeze so that a drop of blood welled up, and she placed it to the test strip. The display flashed 112.
“Not too bad,” she nodded.
“Not too bad,” I agreed. “Can I sit on the floor for a second?”
I could. I did. Then I laid down on the floor. I did not pass out. That was the first thing I told the dietitian when I sat down at her desk 30 minutes later.