Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Two years ago today I walked shakily into my doctor's office. My heart was racing. My family and friends had been telling me for weeks not to worry, that it was probably nothing, but my gut (who, incidentally, has never yet been wrong) told me otherwise.

The muscles in my legs felt like they were ripping away from my bones as I sat down in the waiting area while Greg checked me in. I fumbled in my bag for my water bottle. It was empty. My tongue felt like a raisin embedded in a wad of cotton.

The nurse took me back to check my vital signs. While the automatic blood pressure cuff was inflating, she asked me to extend a finger. "Why?" I asked, even though I knew the answer.

"There's a note on your chart for us to check your blood sugar."

"Oh, that's strange, I wonder why..." I trailed off.

Cha-chunk. The nurse squeezes a drop of blood from the tip of my index finger. It comes reluctantly. It still wants to hold on to these last few moments of "before" as much as I do.

The nurse sucks up this tiny drop with a test strip, and the machine counts down


"Um, wow, I've never seen that before-" the nurse disappeared and I heard her ask another nurse "What the heck this means."

I exchange helpless glances with Greg. He knows now, too.

She comes back looking white and rushes me into an exam room, telling me hurriedly that the doctor would be in right away.

Greg and I say nothing. I feel my eyes well up with tears.

The doctor comes in, slides her stool very close to me, and looks at me squarely in the eyes.

"Well, the good news is that we've figured out what's going on with you. The bad news is that you have diabetes."

My memory gets foggy here. I remember her pulling out a note pad and drawing a cell, a sugar molecule and a key that she labels "insulin." She tells me that my pancreas has stopped producing insulin, so no sugar can penetrate my cells to give them any fuel. She makes quick downward spiking arrows coming from the sugar molecule, explaining that I have been "just peeing everything out for months."

That explains those twenty pounds I lost. That also explains all of the peeing (more on that later).

A nurse comes in and starts feeling my arm out to place an IV. My doctor explains that they need to take me to the hospital immediately. My blood sugar levels are so high their meter cannot even detect an actual reading. It just says "HIGH." No one understands how or why I am still walking around. I am, apparently, on the verge of slipping into a coma.

I'm just thirsty. Oh and I can't walk up or down stairs any more- it's too painful. And I can't sleep because of the leg cramps. And I have to pee every 7 minutes or risk wetting myself.

My mind is elsewhere.

What happens next?

The doctor keeps talking but I just hear pieces.

Insulin management.







I am lifted onto a gurney, strapped down, wheeled out.

A biker in an EMT outfit throws a mustached smile in my face.

"Hiya honey! What the hell is going on with YOU?"

We make small talk in the ambulance. The biker EMT tells me I'll be fine, I'm so young.

I look at Greg. He is white. Staring at me. Mouth agape.


I have been living with Type 1 Diabetes for exactly two years now. I can't decide if that feels like the correct amount of time. It's difficult for me to remember a time when I could just pick up a piece of food and eat it without thinking. Without math. Without needles or buttons or blood.

Most of the time, I don't think about it. I just do it. Test. Count. Inject/Program. Eat. Wait. Test. Repeat. Live.

But it never goes away. And it never will. And that's okay.


  1. i remember this day. and the awful silence and confusion hours instead of the 'i'm fine, let's get a burrito' phone call i was hoping o hear!

    just glad yr alive, dude.

  2. I'll never, ever forget this day Jess. You were planning to come to St. Peter's to take me out to dinner for my birthday! Instead I received a call from Greg telling me you were in Jeff!! Part of me died that day.
    Two years later and I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of you the way you are able to handle this pain in the ass disease. Thank God math is one of your strong points.
    I love you Jess.
    All my lovin'

  3. This brought tears to my eyes. The picture of you and Greg made me think of me and my wife. I would be right by her side if something happened to her.