Ode to Diabetes, or Oh Diabetes

Maybe it’s the season, or that this is Eric’s last blog entry of 2007, but whatever it is, he’s pushed his prose into line breaks this week. So without much further ado, here’s Eric’s poem to close out his first year as someone with Type 1 diabetes. If any of the details of the poem make you say “What?” don’t worry; you may want to reference his first few blog entries from back in July, though. And Eric says that you needn’t worry—he won’t continue the poetic blog entries in 2008.


On My First Year With Type 1

Remember how easy it was last January
grabbing whatever was in the fridge or on the shelf
and looking past common sense simply
to indulge for delight? Late at night
the reduced-fat peanut butter and the strawberry preserves
were never wrong, and even after I’d glop one extra
tablespoon to get at that berry, nearly whole, and place it
in the center of the peanut-butter-on-bread, and even
when I was halfway finished and the sandwich
oozed onto the plate those pools of sweet strawberry
thick with sugar, dripping and heavy with carbs,
I didn’t care.

And then Cleveland. At least that’s how we remember it:
Cleveland happened. Snow, outlet malls, cough syrup.
Our four-day midwinter getaway became a Friday
in a hotel we hated, a seventh-floor downtown room
where I’d sleep and then get up and pee
and then drink and then sleep and then get up and pee
and then drink and then sleep and then, yes…on and on
all night, all next morning, and even after we got back home
for at least the next week. But it had to be the weather
or my cold or my meds. We joked that it might be diabetes
but we joked because we didn’t know
and because there was no way that it was.

Now that we know
we joke that it was Cleveland that gave it to me.
And we will never go back.

There is no in time, no what if, no blame,
and no matter how often I think I may want to say it,
the why me isn’t worth it. For the past year
I’ve lived a life wholly unusual according mostly
only to me. So when last Monday
my endocrinologist asked how it is
that I’ve so smoothly made the transition
to living with this, the only thing I thought to say—
and which I don’t fully understand
even as I write it down now—was that
I’ve nothing better to do than embrace it to beat it.

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  • Sharon

    My thoughts exactly. Can’t do anything about it so might as well spend the energy on embracing it. My pancreas was removed Mar 06, and that changed my life, very suddenly. I was relieved when I discovered that I could eat out which I love to do. In fact, as time went on, I discovered that I could do anything I put my mind to. Walking actually made me feel better, something I did not believe before, and now I go three miles a day and love it. My “great experience” was this Sep when we went hiking in the Pacific NW. One-day hikes. I discovered how to eat so I wouldn’t go too low, but mostly I discovered that life is good, maybe even better, than before having to take insulin. Lots of discoveries here, but that’s what it’s been like these almost two years.
    I love your blog. Keep it up!

  • SH

    It’s been three years for me (diagnosed type 1 at age 30), and I feel the same way. I don’t know that I’ve “embraced” diabetes since day one, but I’ve grabbed it by the horns and never let go. It’s kind of funny the nostalgia I have for certain food indulgences of my past. Especially at this time of year, I’m always saying, “Oh man, I used to LOVE that!” (And don’t get me wrong, I do indulge in certain things.) Perhaps what I miss most is blindly filling a bowl with cereal… and adding extra if there’s too much milk at the end. Ahh… but I think, like Sharon, my life is better now in many ways. Go figure!
    Happy, Healthy Holidays!

  • Tony

    I have to agree with Ms. Sharon. You might as well spend your energy embracing the fact you are diabetic. I think it is much better than the alternative…a nice long dirt nap. This time last year I was in the hospital for DKA. When the doc told me that I was Type I diabetic and will be medically discharged from the Navy…it crushed my soul. I wanted to make it a career and get out in 20+ years. But life likes to throw you curve balls. My command gave 30 days of leave to recover and to adjust to my new lifestyle. The first couple of weeks I spent most of my time watching movies or playing video games to keep my mind off my situation. I did not have the energy to go to the gym or go outside to for a walk. After completeing a couple of games and going crazy with cabin fever I decided that I might as well make the best of things and embrace my diabetes. I went back to the gym and to hapmudo (martial arts) taking it easy of course. Today I am a week away from my discharge date and cannot wait for new civilian job. Life is beautiful…live it or die trying!

  • jess

    Eric, thank you. I’m going to print your ode for my grandmother. And although I care for her very much and continually nab the potatoes she stashes here and there — she has yet to be convinced to embrace a diabetic lifestyle. I enjoy reading your blog.

  • Colette

    I have been living with type 1 diabetes since Feb. 2006. Diagnosed at age 50, I am a low maintenance girl with a high maintenance disease. It struck suddenly – I had none of the classic symptoms It is good to read about other adults who have type 1. There is very little research or resources about adult onset type. You are so right Eric – the why me? isn’t worth it!

  • helen

    Wow, and I thought I was the only older type one! But so far I am the oldest onset I was DX last Nov at 67. I had the flu and it attacked my pancrease and took most of my Bets cells. I did the sleep, eat, pee thing too we were on vaction too, and also joked about it being diabetes( I am a nurse!)
    I have accepted it and to add to this my husband became a type two this Nov. Get that! But it was not because we carbed all the time, as we ate healthy. He has a family full of it so came by it naturally even though we ate well. Maybe not all the time but I cook from scratch and we ate all the colors and no sugar no salt for the most part. SOOOO, I was not happy to have this all happen. But alas, we find ourselves doing the things that have changed our life and finding life is not over. Take heart you newbees in a year you too will find life goes not and can even be ok
    Helen and Ken

  • gary

    “”WOW i thought i was the only type 1 to be diagnosed later in life I was 58 and diagnosed in Feb 2006. I agree with you completely it was very difficult for me at first but then I decided I had 58 years of doing what I wanted and now had to take this in stride. Not fun but not that bad either. Happy New Year to all and good health

  • maggie

    Wow, all of your comments make me feel so much better! I was diganosed on tax day 05. Type 1 right off the bat! I too have decided to deal with it, live with it and get on with my life. I live a healthly lifestyle and really don’t miss anything. Although I do miss having a huge chocolate chip mint sundae every once in awhile.

    Happy new year and god bless

  • CalgaryDiabetic

    Since we all must be labelled how would one tell for sure if one is a type I or insulin dependent type II ? Since type II should be insulin resistant would they use much more insulin per kg or lb of body weight than type I ? Or is the question of academic interest only ? I think not because over isulinating will increase ones obesity. Any thoughts? My GP immediately labelled me type II since the onset was later in life.