Friday, February 26, 2010

Well, there goes Ice Cream Saturdays...

Usually, my blog posts (few and far between as they are) focus on my family life, kids, Mrs. Write, or the trials and joys of being a Stay-at-Home-Dad/homeschool coach/amateur author/Interdimensional Assassin/etc. They tend to be tongue-in-cheek and mirthful, with the occasional angry rant. Today, I'm going to be serious.

A week ago today, I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes.  It came as a shock.  Granted, I am a rather overweight man pushing 40; but, you know how men are.  I rarely think about my age unless something brings it up: a flare of pain from my bad hip, finding it hard to stand up from crouching due to my knees (from working in a carpet store years ago), my class song playing on the "Classic Rock" station, etc.  Like most men, I still saw myself as young-ish, a vague sense of existing between twenty-five to thirty-five.

A little backstory: I rarely go to the doctor.  S/he never has good news, and it always boils down to "The Talk" about my weight, diet and lack of exercise.  I used to have a strict diet and workout regimen, and was in great shape.  But, like the fuzzy-age thing, I forget that this was about 16 years ago.  Not coincidentally, when I met my wife. (She's a great cook).  I also donated plasma once a week, both for a little extra pocket money and for the good that it can do.  I haven't done so in a couple months, as I was informed there was some sugar in my urine.

Cue to November, when Mrs. Write, upon hearing this news, makes an appointment with her doctor for me.  As if I wouldn't do it myself (I wouldn't).  Influenced by her constant nagging loving concern, I went.  Got to endure "The Talk", scheduled blood tests, the whole nine yards.  Of course, it took renewed nagging threats of violence enduring compassion from my wife to make me actually get the tests done.  Last week, the results came in.  Normal blood sugar levels are 80-120, mine was 250.  I have Diabetes.  Now, I've struggled with depression most of my life.  With a little pharmaceutical help, courtesy of the same doctor, it is under control.  The weekend after I got "The News", I spiraled down.  I doubt my family ever realized how close I came to giving up.  Around them it was all smiles and sunshine, showing an upbeat we-can-beat-this-together attitude.  When Mrs. Write took the kids out Sunday evening so Dad could relax, I finished off a bag of cookies, half a two-liter of Coke, some ice cream, and the rest of the Doritos.  I never pig out like that.  I may need to shed some weight, but it's due more to the sedentary lifestyle of a SAHD than gorging.  This was the closest I ever came to a suicide attempt in ten or more years.

I was angry, at my body, at the doctor, at the world.  At everything.  Understand, I didn't blame anyone else but myself.  But, it all seemed so damned unfair.  I don't drink alcohol, I don't smoke cigarettes, I don't use any drugs of any kind.  Yes, ANY drugs.  Call me uncool, but dope is a drug, not an "herb", it should not be legalized, and I don't smoke it.  The only time I take any drug is with a doctor's prescription, and then hesitantly.  Even painkillers are used sparingly.  If the pain is manageable without chemicals, I manage it.  It took convincing from my wife and my doctor to get my on anti-depressants, and I take the lowest possible dosage.

Yes, I eat junk food, and fast food, and love to fry things.  When my current employer asked me if i would pass a drug test if administered on the spot, I asked "Depends, do they test for cheeseburgers and Doritos?".  But, I am a loyal husband to my wife; never strayed, never will, never considered it.  I don't beat my kids.  They are homeschooled and parented by two adults who care for their welfare.  I pay my taxes, pay my bills, provide for my family financially and emotionally.  Why was this happening to me?  To us? 

What irks the most is how this affects my loved ones.  Mrs. Write must now monitor my diet, watch so I don't show any signs of low or high blood sugar, and fret as only she knows how.  The kids are learning all they can about Diabetes, not in school, but because they worry.

It's not fair to them, and it's not fair to me.

Now, a week later, I'm managing.  The crisis of blues has passed.  While taking four different medications a day (to also control mildly high blood pressure and low hdl cholesterol) is no picnic, I'm managing.  Never one to harbor a sweet tooth, I miss my potato chips, french fries, tortillas and salsa.  I can easily give up candy and chocolate; they were the first things tossed when I started watching my diet lo those many years ago.  But crunchy, salty snacks?  They are my weakness and my bane.  Every time I pass a bag of chips on sale at the grocery store, I have to remind myself of a line from Scrubs: "Doesn't she realize my legs will fall off?".

Most of the credit for my coping goes, of course, to my wonderful wife of 16 year.  After many a late night talk in the last week, I have come to adopt the we-can-handle-this-together. attitude for real.  Daily pinpricks to test my blood sugar (I hurt myself far worse fixing the car) show a steady decline in my blood sugar levels.  I feel better than I have in a year or so, which is surprising as I hadn't realized I felt so lousy in the first place.  I miss sugar.  Although I harbor no weakness for sweet snacks, i miss cane sugar.  A cup of tea or iced tea, a bowl of cereal, just isn't the same without a couple spoonfuls.  And those "sugar alternatives" all taste like chemicals to me.  My motto for years was "There's no such thing as too much sugar,".

I guess I was wrong.

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