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Age or Illness

Eric Lagergren

September 15, 2011

I’m 37 years old. That’s not young, despite people 15 or 20 or 30 years older than I am telling me, “You’re still young.” People, I’m over twice the age I was when I graduated high school. My friends have children who are graduating high school this year. I have gray hair.

As I creep toward 40, and then 50, I’ve realized that what I would like is to have something that I can never have. No, I’m not talking about a world without diabetes. (I do want that, but perhaps one day that’s actually possible.) What I want is a window into a parallel universe in which, everything else being absolutely equal, another me lives without diabetes.

Yes, yes, I know that there’s a lot wrapped up in wanting to see an identical Eric in bizarro-land walking around doing the same things I do, only sans Type 1 diabetes. I don’t know how it would work, but I’m not getting into the specifics of it, especially because when you have diabetes it influences your life in so many ways that I don’t know that the other me would be in any way like the me with diabetes (for example: What would bizarro me do when I visited the endocrinologist?).

It’s too much to wrap my head around right now. However, I’m not one who really claims to understand the rules of science fiction, so I’m going to continue with the conceit and not worry about the specifics. I’m simply what-iff’ing.

If I had an alternate-universe Eric who wasn’t carting around chronic illness, I could look into his world and be able to say, “Oh, he’s got that problem, too. It’s age! It’s not the illness!” I’d be doing an awful lot of it, too, because lately if the little blips that are now showing up on my body/mind radar are attributable to age, I think I would feel better than if they are attributable to diabetes. I don’t want diabetes to have the upper hand. Old age is inevitable, complications from diabetes aren’t.

I develop a sore on my arm that I think at first must be some kind of acne-related issue. That’s just a pimple? Maybe I scraped myself or bumped into something? But it’s sticking around after a few days. It’s not healing. Is that because I’m older now and the body’s slower to heal, or is that because I have a chronic illness that’s making it difficult for my body to heal itself? Couldn’t I check that alternate universe to make sure it’s not the diabetes?

I’m sitting on the couch watching a football game and I reach down to scratch my foot and notice that my heels are much rougher than they used to be. There’s a bit of a callus on my heel and it’s larger and something I don’t recall having in the past. I’ve had calluses on my feet; I used to run. But this is different. This looks to me like the beginnings of what I’ve seen on old people’s feet. Old people! But I’m not old yet. Sure, I’ll protest that I’m not young. But I’m not yet old. Can I check into that alternate universe to make sure it’s not the diabetes?

Age or illness? I want to know.



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