Diabetes Is A Bitch

But I’m going to make it my bitch.

You couldn’t pay me to be 20 again. Not one dollar. Not ten million.

I’m perfectly happy with my 58-year-old brain. If I had to start all over and re-learn everything, I’d stab myself in the eye.

Every wrinkle on my face corresponds to ten in my brain, and without brain wrinkles, I’d do stupid things all over again. Like drinking ten shots of tequila without dinner and begging my husband to make the bed stop spinning during the night.

(Wrinkle wisdom = keep one foot on the floor at all times when metabolizing tequila.)

I’m good with brain wrinkles because I earned every single one of them.

We live. We learn. We wrinkle.

But this 58-year-old body? It’s making my head hurt.

At age 49, my doctor diagnosed me with diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension.

It seems I was perfectly healthy.

Until I was not.

One day, I felt young, strong, and healthy, and then, poof.

Of course, I know it didn’t happen that quickly, but looking back, it sure feels that way.

Seems like just a few years ago, I worked with my husband in his roofing business. I was 45. I busted my ass in the sun, ripping the old roof down, and loading up the new shingles.

I hung with boys and girls on that roof who were half my age.

At 5’6” tall and 172 pounds, my body type falls into the apple body-type category.

God’s ample sense of humor shows in the mirror where I see long legs and slender arms with a round little belly on top.

Um, can you say candy-freaking-apple?

Depending on which expert-of-the-month you believe, I’m 40–60 pounds overweight.

Which isn’t confusing at all, right?

Multiple factors determine a person’s health, not the least of which include lifestyle and family history. I gotta question anyone who pins their assessment of my physical health on BMI.

I agree with the folks at Web MD about BMI.

I have to believe there’s so much more to each of our stories than a simple calculation dividing height into weight.

We can’t let anyone reduce our value to the sum of our physical parts.

Our bodies are mad machines, but we’re driven more by spirit than blood, muscle, and matter.

Our spirit is what moves us. It’s who we are.

Lucky for me, I’m much more interested in health, energy, and vitality. I want to feel happy and energetic again.

Scale numbers don’t impress me, so I’m not worried about the weight other than how it affects my all-around health. I am, however, worried about muscle loss. I lost most of my muscle tone about the time received the diagnosis of diabetes nine years ago.

Horrible, stupid, evil metabolic syndrome.

I’m not particularly athletic, never have been, but I didn’t expect to lose all my muscles overnight.

Well, it seemed like it was overnight.

I had good muscle tone, and I was moderately active, even if I was a bit overweight.

So how did I get so fucking old so fucking fast?

I knew I wouldn’t stay young forever, but damn.

Diabetes sucks ass.

Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking it’s easily avoided or managed.

It sucks your life away from you, one hour at a time.

I’m not exaggerating.

You think it’s all about eating too much sugar, don’t you? You had a mental picture of an old woman who couldn’t control her Twinkies and sweet tea and now she only has six toes and is blind in one eye, didn’t you?

Well, fuck you. I have eight toes, don’t eat Twinkies, and have perfect vision.

What does diabetes feel like?

Diabetes is stabbing yourself for your glucose monitor in the morning and then stabbing yourself with an insulin needle right after that and then stabbing yourself off and on again throughout the day, before meals and before bed.

Diabetes is gaining thirty pounds in thirty days because of a fucking pill called Actos that your doctor ordered because of blood sugars so high she considered admitting you to the hospital to regain control of the blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

None of which you knew you had until you saw the doctor.

It’s your doctor not caring about those thirty pounds because that pill kept you from pissing away your nutrition, which was why you lost weight in the first place.

Diabetes is spending nine years trying to lose those thirty fucking pounds again and failing every month to even lose a pound.

It’s reading every crackhead explanation about diabetes you can find online and winding up more confused than when you began.

It’s researching every drug you’re taking and being completely horrified at what those chemicals are doing to your body.

It’s a skinny, cute 29-year-old Physician Assistant telling you it’s okay to check your blood sugars five times a day because it doesn’t hurt.

Because she says you can’t really feel it. Because she knows how it feels to live in your skin.

It’s being exhausted from taking a shower.

It’s waking up every morning listening to your heart pounding like a big bass drum in your ears.

And wondering if today’s the day you stroke out.

It’s working two jobs to make ends meet and then losing a toe to osteomyelitis because you didn’t have time to go to the doctor during office hours.

It’s losing a second toe because your dad got sick so you focused on keeping him alive instead of your stupid toe while you argued with the attendings and admin about what was BEST FOR YOUR FATHER during COVID because apparently, it was A-Okay to admit a covid-free man with a pulmonary problem into a COVID-RAMPANT NURSING HOME to recuperate from not having FUCKING COVID.

Sorry, maybe that’s a different rant.

Diabetes is sitting on your husband’s lap and crying your eyes out because you’re scared to death. Of dying. Of all of it.

It’s praying to God every night to help you figure it all out.

I’m in the beginning stages of Charcot in my right foot. That foot pulls inward because my arch doesn’t want to hold up my ankle anymore. The bones are becoming soft because of relentless neuropathy.

Besides that physical horror, diabetes assaults my good fashion sense because my sandal days are behind me.

Nope, I’m down to sturdy shoes with orthotics to keep that stupid foot straight for as long as I can.

That same foot keeps me from walking as much as I want, too. I can walk short distances with no discomfort but even with good shoes and an orthotic, I become weak and fatigued if I walk more than a city block.

I’m not lazy. It’s not a mental block or an exercise in sloth. It’s a real physical obstacle. And I hate it.

Last year, my doctor diagnosed me with PAD, peripheral artery disease, and I had to have atherectomies with stent placement in my legs. I had to have the procedure repeated again earlier this year.

I wanted to go back and slap my family physician for all those times she told m I need to walk more to get my blood sugar under control.

Turns out I was fucking lucky to walk into your office, doc. Good catch diagnosing my complaints about leg cramps, champ. <major snark>

Look, I’m not trying to paint a morose picture begging for sympathy.

I am, if nothing else, an eternal optimist, but I’m also well aware of a few bad choices made by no one other than me. Genetics may predispose me to metabolic disease, but poor eating habits and non-existent exercise routines got me here on the express train.

I own this.

All of it.

What’s Next?

Time for major change, that’s what’s next.

Time for mindfulness, of paying attention to my body, thinking about what I eat.

Time for mediation and prayer and peaceful moments of introspection.

And after peaceful meditation?

Time to stomp some diabetic ass.

The only one who can stop me is me. It’s always been me.

I know where I want to start.

One small step at a time.

Anyone can start a new life. Anytime they want. By adding one little thing at a time.


Including me.

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