So some background for this post: I am taking an intro to creative writing class this semester (for funsies) and decided to submit a personal narrative of what it is like to have diabetes in college. Most of these situations are real, or as real as my memory serves them. I also dramatized some of my reactions because hey, this was a story after all… that being said, I hope you enjoy and no one takes offense. (like seriously, it’s a piece of creative writing, don’t hate). I broke up my narrative into two pieces to post, so expect the second installment next week.
Enjoy, and please don’t be too brutal. lol.
Prick my finger. Let test strip draw up blood. Watch the wheels spin on the electronic screen. Hold my breath. Say a little prayer to the man (or woman) upstairs (I don’t discriminate). This seems to be my daily routine these days after my diagnosis about a year and a half ago.
336. Damn. I knew I shouldn’t have had that half of a bagel two hours ago. But I mean, it doesn’t take Einstein himself to know that his namesake makes the best bagels. How is anyone supposed to abstain from the fluffy, tasty, caloric, carbohydrate-filled, yummy, cream-cheese-y goodness that is a pumpkin bagel? Seriously? I am only human.
I rub the blood from my index finger onto my thumb and pretend that this is not disgusting, painful and all around miserable. I assess the damage, feel the familiar pounding in my head from a carb/sugar-high, and down a bottle of water after allowing my pump to give me what I pray is the correct amount of insulin.
I take a deep breath. One high, one low, one day at a time. This overwhelming feeling of forever floods through my chest, creating a monsoon of dread. What if there is never a cure? What if my pancreas just chills in my abdomen forever? What if I die from this? What if I pass it on to my kids? What if, what if, what if….? STOP IT, pull it together.
You got this.
You can do this.
I pack up my bag, filled with books, a laptop, schoolwork, and…. oh yeah, my 10 lbs worth of diabetes supplies. These supplies consist of my PDM insulin pump pack, which also has 2 emergency syringes (fun and totally calming, right?), a lancet to stick my fingers with, insulin in case of emergency or my pump fails, a backup pump, batteries, alcohol swabs, and test strips. Oh, and my emergency Glucagon that basically can bring me back from the darkness if I were to pass out from low blood sugar. Oh, and snacks. All of the snacks.
I swear sometimes I think that my friends think that I carry snacks around to hand them out and be a good person. El oh el. I carry these snacks around to save my life. Okay, that might be a tad dramatic, but honestly, what do they think? I love chowing down on applesauce 5 times a day? I love the way it feels when my blood sugar drops down to 45 (80 being the low-threshold, 50 hospitalization worthy) and I can’t speak in coherent sentences? When my tongue feels so heavy that swallowing is work? When my head feels like it’s stuffed with cotton balls? It’s hell. The whole thing is hell.
But, I could have it worse. You could always have it worse. That’s the thing with health. There is always someone out there suffering more than you, and that’s supposed to give you some sort of comfort. But honestly, that makes me feel worse. I don’t want to think about others suffering. I understand that there are worse, more life-threatening diseases out there. That is a horrible, sad, messed-up truth of life. Something always lurks in the corner threatening to ruin everything you and your loved ones worked so hard to achieve.
Whoa, don’t go down that dark path. Stay on the beach.
So, I pack up my bag, ignore the thirst and constant feeling of having to pee, and walk to class. I will not let any of this stop me. This is a part of me now, but not a definition of who I am.
Hello class, I’m Emily and I’m a type 1 diabetic. No, I do not have gummy bears on me; skittles and applesauce are my drug of choice. Yes, I do have an insulin pump. No, you cannot see it as it is currently on my arm and it is 40 degrees outside. Yes, I find that I prefer the pump to those hematoma-causing needles from the shots I gave myself after my initial diagnosis.
Now I’m in class and take off my jacket, my shirt sleeves ride up exposing my pump. Great, it’s been spotted. The girl next to me turns to me, looking questioningly at my arm. I explain to her that it’s my insulin pump, and I am diabetic. She scrunches her nose up a tad, as if to say EW that looks painful and a little bit gross. I give her the biggest smile I can muster and hold back the oncoming eye-roll. My mother always said, kill ‘em with kindness.’ But maybe I’m just being paranoid? Ugh whatevs.
After 50 enthralling minutes of listening to my professor drone on about the IMF, I head to the Student Union to grab dinner and do some homework before making the trek back to West Campus.
Hope you liked the first part! Check back next week for more 🙂
Stay warm, classy, beautiful and sassy peeps