As I was heading to the ER I had all these thoughts in my head. Diabetic. I'm only 34! I knew i was pre-diabetic two years ago but I had changed right?
Well... being honest to myself - I had not changed. Yes, i stopped drinking normal soda but I started drinking more sweet tea and I’ve definitely been drinking more beer since moving to NYC. I did start doing more sports but i stopped once I moved - that was 4 months ago... maybe those short walks don't really count as exercise like I thought. I definitely know I’ve been eating more - and making unhealthy choices and having too many desserts.
Maybe the test is wrong? And it's just because i had that iced tea? When I asked my wife, she promptly explained that in a normal person, even after eating, the blood glucose reading doesn't increase much when having sugar. The fact that I have several high readings means my body has already given up and is no longer able to self-regulate blood glucose.
"But i lost weight!" my internal voice cried out. Guess what - that's one of the telltale signs. I had not achieved anything - losing weight actually confirmed it. Just from reading a little, I fit the description to the T.
I'll leave the "what is diabetes" dissertation for another post - I knew how serious it was. One of my most cherished friends has lost several toes and one lower leg because of diabetes. My best friend's dad has about lost his eyesight due to diabetes. Diabetes is called the silent killer, but it's right up there with cancer in the seriousness category.
I suddenly found myself in the priority list for death. The fact that I got it at this young age means my life expectancy is halved - or worse. My lifespan, previously limitless and undefined, now had a decreasing counter, marking minutes before diabetes will impair me or take my life.
I found myself with little options. Either be an idiot and ignore the facts, or take control of what I could control. I could choose to be a man and take the bull head on. I could also be lukewarm about it, say one thing but do another. I could lie to everyone, including myself, and act like God decided that this was going to be my cause of death and I was submitting to his will.
Oh Hell no. Not when I've worked this hard to try to guarantee my family's future. I will not leave my wife alone to deal with life on her own. I will not deprive my children of all the advice their dad could give them. I will not let my parents bury their child. I will not, so help me God, go quietly into the night. Not when Invictus is my favorite poem.
Once I decided, I didn't really consider keeping this quiet. My family for years had been noting the weight gain and had asked me in all sorts of manners to slow down and lose weight. I just didn't listen. So, I will listen now. I will comply with my doctor's orders. I will not feign ignorance or conveniently forget my condition.
I broke the news to my immediate family and godmother through Whatsapp and the reaction was ... not one of disbelief. It was sadness (they knew enough) but immediately encouragement. My godmother in particular told me something that resonated:
What's done is done - but with your intelligence and hard work I know you can overcome this!
This calmed me a bit. It had not occurred to me that this was just another problem, that while irreversible, had a definite modus operandi and well documented behaviour. All I needed was gathering data, help from my doctors and support from the people next to me - and the rest was up to me. I just needed to show a little grit - this was a problem that could be solved. I was not about to let it beat me if I could avoid it!
At that moment i took off the ghost of diabetes's mask and, staring at it in the eye, I told it I respected it but I wasn't afraid. It would take all of what I know, all the tools in the toolbox, and it won't be easy at first, but being healthy will be part of me.
I leave you with an article that covers my favorite athlete:
Lee Duckwell, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, said ”Grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking to your future, day in day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years. Grit is working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it is a marathon not a sprint”(“The Key to Success? Grit”).
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