November. My birthday is in November, as is Thanksgiving. And November is Diabetes Awareness Month.
Diabetes Awareness is important. It’s important that the public understand the looming threat of type 2 diabetes, and the constant burden of type 1 diabetes. It’s important because sympathy goes a long way in helping us all move forward, and because we need as many voices as possible to urge legislators to get their hats out of their rears and start funding the NIH again.
On the other hand.
On the other hand, I hope, if you are not a diabetic, or the parent of a diabetic, or a loved one of a diabetic– I hope you never have to be aware of diabetes like I am aware of diabetes. I hope you never have to think, every moment of every day, in a constant background track to life, “What is my blood sugar? Where is it headed?” I hope you are never brought to tears by your own inadequacy, unable to mimic even a single organ’s competency. I hope you never learn that shots are the easiest part of diabetes, that food is only one of a thousand variables to keep track of, that lows leave you sweating and exhausted and dumb as sand, that highs rot your veins from the inside. I hope you never have to cry every time you go to the opthamologist, just because you know one of these days she’s going to tell you she sees red rivers invading your retinas. Ferment the cider till the raisins are bloated, I read; don’t let my body ferment, don’t let me grow bloated like a raisin from the sugar in my veins, I think.
I am never not aware of diabetes. Not during work, not during spring or Thanksgiving, not during sleep, not during orgasm. It is always there, and I am always running the numbers, regretting decisions, calculating my next move, counting the number of mistakes I can make before the complications catch up with me.
May you never, ever be as aware of diabetes as I am.
Even more than that– nothing against you, but you’re not the one I have to protect– even more than that, I hope– God, please, I beg– please let this baby inside of me never have to be aware of diabetes. Please, let him be born at a normal size, his shoulders unencumbered by my blood sugar levels. No congenital malformations because of mistakes I made too early. Please. And let him grow up, and let him never, ever have to know like I know. Let him never even have to know like my husband knows. Please, God, let it be one of those weird things his parents worry about that seems silly and antiquated. Please don’t ever let his body turn against him, please keep him ignorant of this cellular genocide. Please, may he never drink too much water, or eat without end and without consequence, his body unable to process any of the sugar. Please, God, each and every receptor, each and every antibody– make them perfectly formed in his body. Let him reach his quarter-life and complain that he has nothing to write a dark novel about. Let no one hesitate to say, “Hey, at least you’ve got your health.” Let him eat candy with abandon at every damn Halloween and birthday party and holiday.
Please, God, let him never be aware of diabetes like I am aware of diabetes. May he be blindly, naively, even offensively unaware of diabetes.
Please, God. Please.