Diabetes, freaking out

Hypo and my eyes go all fuzzy like a broken TV set. Salt levels changing, causing brief spells of confusion; I get up and start changing the track on the CD player and mumble on about it sounding like something else instead of eating the Dextrose tablets in my hand. Bed sheets always drenched in sweat during the night; I awake freezing cold, my sleepwear on the floor. Death warmed up and my GP’s solution is to prescribe anti-depressants? Which, I reject. Sitting in on client meetings, completely useless I’m sure they will agree; trying to keep myself from falling asleep, can’t be very flattering for anyone in the room; their own fault for being cheap-ass and not supplying coffee.

‘If I wanted to become a murderer, I’d become a Diabetes Nurse. In fact they should change their uniform to a black cloak with a fucking scythe.’

‘YOU’RE GOING TO KILL ME.’ ‘Paul, Paul, look at me. No, listen, listen to me. It’s me, breathe,’ kneeling beside me, holding gentle eye contact, stroking my hand, trying desperately to calm. ‘I’m too scared even to think.’ Forcing me to test my sugar takes more than some convincing, “28.0” ‘SHIT.’ The place is spinning. Part of my brain knows high sugar and alcohol is responsible. ‘Just leave me alone. Just leave me alone, I want to go home.

When my sugar is high, I get this feeling; I am waiting for something bad to happen. When it stays high I have nightmares about being bitten by dogs and people coming into my house. The worst is when I awaken and the fear stays with me; mix this with strong coffee and it’s a recipe for panic attacks and wanting to curl up on the sofa to hide from the world. The only way to remedy this; eat properly, drink lots of water to flush out the simply imperfect blood sugar and watching a good comedy often helps.

Living in denial of the detrimental effects of our condition; over and over pushing near escape to the backs of our minds through want of being normal. To some extent we are all guilty, but in truth, only with a rightful understanding can we accept a just responsibility. – Please don’t just have some more insulin.

Then again, this is coming from a guy who sat at the window in Starbucks and watched a teenage boy drink carton after carton of cranberry juice; obviously trying to quench an undiagnosed thirst, and moments away from collapsing on his way home. You know how in a film when you see a horse fall, and you know it’s a stunt horse and you know it’s going to be fine, but it still makes you feel sad? It was a lot like that; I really should have stood up and done something to help.

It’s not about guilt, but there has got to be a point when saying, ‘It’s not my fault,’ is not enough.

We are a sensitive market, being devoured by vultures, a commodity more lucrative than the illegal drugs trade of heroin or cocaine. A resource being mined for all our worth, and we’re worthless when we get well. Eventually, as proven through tobacco and alcohol, trust will crumble as the number of diabetics’ increases to critical mass and tax gains from sales of what got us there over cheap-solutions no longer top the cost to society in terms of health care and lost man-hours. The question is whether a taxation and condemnation of harmful foods will follow or precede the diabetic having to pay the unrealistic cost of medical expense.

For us diabetes amplifies everything; if you feel just-not-right then broken blood sugar will make it wrong, as alcohol does an alcoholic; every bone of contention, every pulse of ill will, slight upset or lull, every wave of exhaustion and misunderstanding all amplified. Deformation of sadness, doubt, and dependency; symptoms lost in a bigger world, it leaves us wilting. We push on.

‘You know all about diabetes from that chart? Do you know what it’s like to have your fiancée bring your sugar and test sticks into the bathroom when you’re caught having a hypo during a poo? Trust me, you don’t know a thing about diabetes and I’m going to make you listen to every word I have to say.’

Excerpts from ‘Persona non grata with diabetes’ by Paul Cathcart