It started with a rash. My dermatologist was puzzled that it wasn't responding fast enough to the medication he'd prescribed, so he said he wanted me tested for diabetes.
Diabetes?! I freaked out. Quietly. Internally. But I freaked out.
I had the blood test, and of course the results came on a Saturday so I couldn't talk to him to discuss them. I turned to the Internet. Big mistake.
By every single standard, with a glucose reading of 107 I was "pre-diabetic," despite the fact that I was otherwise asymptomatic. So I spent 48 hours reading, reading, reading, thinking about how I had to change my life.
I was no stranger to the gym, but after a rough year of too much work and coping with a dog dying of cancer, I had stopped working out a regular three times a week and had gained weight (though my BMI was still normal). Working out more and losing weight were common recommendations everywhere I turned on the Internet and that seemed simple. But changing how and what I ate felt more complicated until a good friend who is diabetic told me this:
"When I was in nursing school, I often thought that if I had to have a chronic illness, diabetes would be my chocks, simply because how it affects you is largely up to you. You don't have to lose control of your life and your health. So even if you do have it, it's not the end of the word. You'll just have to learn a few things and eat more conscientiously than most people have to."
Well, that helped some. I looked up support groups in my area, downloaded and read a book from Amazon, printed off do and don't sheets from various web sites, food lists, and felt on the verge of acceptance. I was calming down. Some.
And then I went to my GP on Monday, someone I'd been seeing for over a decade. He looked at the results and said, "Bullshit! I'd be worried if you were reading in the 120s. This is probably an artifact of what you ate the day before, even with a fast. But let's do another test that's more reliable to put your mind at rest." I returned home weirdly unsettled.
Here I'd made the transition from shock to acceptance and now I had to shift gears? I was ready to be pre-diabetic, but not ready to not be pre-diabetic, if that makes any sense. When I got home and recounted what the doctor had said, my spouse quipped, "I guess I can stop writing your eulogy." After days of anxiety, I welcomed the laugh.
Two days later, the second test showed that I was normal.
I wish my dermatologist had originally said something a little less specific like, "Let's do a blood test to see if we can figure out what the problem is" or something equally general. I might have then assumed it was a vitamin or mineral deficiency. But that word, diabetes, triggered panic.
And I remembered how when I first started complaining about migraines, my GP had recommended an MRI "to see what's going on." He thankfully never said the words "brain tumor."
I'm doubly grateful for his common sense after my difficult weekend.
For more by Lev Raphael, click here.
For more on diabetes, click here.