You can remember one single moment. It stands out most, it’s burned into your mind, and it replays every time you think about that phone call.
“Do you have any questions?”, your doctor asks.
You swallow hard.
“With the medication, and the right diet, and exercise, this can be reversed, right? Eventually I can get better, and I’ll be healthy?”
The moment. Silence. The moment is just one moment, quiet and so small that it’s barely perceptible, but it feels like forever.
Your doctor clears his throat. You instantly know what he’s about to say. Not word for word, but you understand the gist of what he’s going to tell you before he even speaks.
This is that moment; the moment somebody realizes they have to tell you something you don’t want to hear. It’s the moment they realize they have to break bad news to you.
“Because you’re otherwise healthy, this is a condition you’re going to have for the rest of your life. If you were obese, it would likely be something that could eventually be managed without medication–”
You don’t hear the rest. Guess what, you think to yourself, you’re chronically ill now. Congratulations, you’re diabetic!
“Do you have anymore questions?”
You try not to let the fear come through in your voice, but it cracks mid-way through the sentence.
“No. That’s it. Thank you.”
You think back on the past 24 hours. You were at your friends’ house when you got your lab results back. It was just past midnight; 12:01 AM, exactly, when you received them.
You opened the section labeled “Hemoglobin A1c Panel” and looked at the results, but it told you little. Just a triple digit number and a percentage.
329 mg/dl; 14.5%
Is that bad?
You plug the numbers into google and read the first result.
“Guys,” you say, “I’m diabetic”.
Everyone is quiet. You leave shortly after.
It just didn’t feel real until the doctor said it. You try to replay the phone call with your doctor. You’d hoped there had been a complication with the test, or some kind of error, or you were one of the exceptions where you only report high blood sugar when you’re actually normal. There wasn’t. You weren’t.
“You have extreme uncontrolled diabetes”, your doctor said.
You try to process everything, but it’s a jumble of thoughts and emotions you weren’t prepared to deal with. You’ve had symptoms for almost a year now, sure, but you thought it wasn’t going to be this bad, and you certainly thought you’d have the option to reverse it.
That’s impossible, you think, I go to the gym, I eat right, I have an active job. How did this happen? Why the fuck is this happening to me? I have friends that don’t try at all, and they’re fine.
This medication is going to work, right? It has to. They wouldn’t have prescribed it if it doesn’t. I have to start pricking my finger. God, I hate needles. What if I have to start using insulin? Can I do that?
Alright. Alright. This is going to be okay. You will not let this defeat you. You will overcome this. God, listen to you. This isn’t even that bad. It’s not cancer or a death sentence. Get over it.
The first tear falls and you just start crying. Everything comes out. Ten minutes pass, then twenty, then thirty, and then you take a deep breath, and you calm down.
You’re going to be okay.
You call mom and dad to tell them. They react almost identically to you. Could it be an error? Could it be a complication? Maybe you have some condition where you only report high blood sugar. This can be controlled with diet and exercise, right? One day you could be healthy again, right?
You tell them what your doctor told you, and they cry. They tell you they love you and everything will be alright.
You go to the pharmacy and pick up your medication and the glucometer your doctor ordered for you, and while you’re there, an earlier thought comes to mind. You do try to live healthy, but how hard have you really been trying?
You’ve wanted to go to the gym more often. Now you don’t have a choice.
You’ve wanted to eat healthier. Now you don’t have a choice.
You wanted to see a doctor more regularly. Now you don’t have a choice.
In a funny way, this is one of the best things to happen to you. You’re going to be okay. It’s going to be alright. You’re going to make it, and you’re going to be a better person for it.
Congratulations, you think again, You’re diabetic.
This is an ongoing series about living with Diabetes, the emotions that come with it, and the challenges I’m working to overcome told through a bunch of different narrative devices. I hope you enjoy it.