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Long live the pancreas!

Posted: Sunday, May 22, 2011

Being a diabetic is not easy. If someone offers me a carrot I want to stick it into a huge snowball and add some pebble eyes. Or thinly slice them into coins and stuff them into a candy machine. Hearing the words "blood sugar" makes me think about red velvet cake all sugary and blood red. Odd. Also recently, I switched to soy milk to feel pompous. However when I think of soy beans I just think "beans" and end up visualizing myself pouring refried beans over my cereal. And my ultimate fail as a diabetic is not eating enough vegetables. Even now I had to use spell check, because I can't even spell "vegetables" right. Lame.

My first impression of a diabetic was my grandma. She ate spinach like Popeye and beets like Barry Beets (I made him up just now). I don't have many memories about her being diabetic, except watching her take shots (insulin shots, not tequila shots).

My second impression of diabetes was my wonderful college roommate. One thing about diabetes is handling people that are oblivious. Basically, I was "that guy" for her. She told me about her diabetes, while I just nodded like a 19 year old bobblehead. It was as if she told me she had an extra toe. Nothing too weird. Just one more toenail to paint if she gets a pedicure. Will they charge extra? I'm not sure. I didn't think it was too serious until her family busted out the chart about what to do if she had a seizure. I frowned. I thought diabetes just meant she ate a lot of spinach and beets? Ah, ignorance.

You can blame anything on being diabetic, such as unpredictable mood swings. You might be hormonal, but it could also be having low sugars. Either way you're convinced that your mild mannered co-worker is now the bane of your existence. Are you shaking because you're entering hypoglycemia or because those shoes you wanted are no longer on sale? Low sugars make your thoughts start to wander in every direction. For some reason you feel betrayed by your behavioral counselor. They were wrong. About everything. You can also have fun with it and say phrases such as, "a party is just what the doctor ordered!"

If people laugh harder than you prefer, you can immediately go straight faced and say grimly, "Seriously though. Physicians say parties create laughter. And laughter lengthens your life span. I guess you could say ... it offers hope."

One time I went through the airport with my diabetic supplies. It was no big deal. After time went by on my flight it was time to give myself an insulin shot. As the needle whipped out into the open, I warned the guy next to me, "No worries. This is totally legal." Then I slowly smiled and got shifty eyed to make him nervous for fun. It probably doesn't help that I am eastern Indian, because let's face it, whether we admit it or not racial profiling happens. So to ease any concerns I hollered, "Mahalalala!" Just kidding. Ofcourse I didn't do that. I just wanted to make sure the guy knew about my situation with my bounty of suspicious supplies in tow.

On that same plane, the flight attendant man (I believe that's the professional term) with the beverage serving cart was a few rows down, so I thought I should quickly give myself a shot before he got to our row. Instead, I underestimated this professional, and with lightning speed he was now hovering over me as I was in the middle of injecting myself. I'm going to be honest, after being pregnant and having my body hijacked twice it's easy to feel like a scrambled egg afterwards. Basically, there are not a lot of goods (none) I'd like to flaunt to a total stranger. So when I give myself a shot, I try to do it in the most discreet way possible by lifting up my shirt and quickly giving myself an injection. Well. That didn't happen. He didn't know I was diabetic so I looked like I was just, you know... giving myself a random injection for good luck. The guy next to me was trying to reach the drink that the attendant was trying to hand him, but my elbows were all up in everyone's face with my "I've had two kids" fanny pack hanging out. My husband on the other side of me kindof chuckled. Like it was funny. I glared and wielded my needle for him to proceed with caution. It all worked out in the end.

Diabetes is more common then you might think. Gaining knowledge about this issue is so great for you and your peers. For more information on what diabetes is all about please visit www.diabetes.org. Power to the pancreas!

Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at columnkasi@gmail.com.



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