A River Doesn’t Change Its Path Overnight

There are some memories that stick with you forever no matter how much time passes. At a young age, my parents used to run blood tests on me to check my numbers: cholesterol (LDL and HDL), triglycerides, hba1c, blood glucose, etc.

Metabolic syndrome runs rampant on both sides of my family so just as any parent would use a safety belt on their child, my parents thought that checking my cholesterol and blood sugar would keep me (the plumpest of all their children) safe. I learned about what cholesterol was way earlier than all my friends and therefore had an advantage. Yet ironically it still didn’t change the outcome in the end.

Whenever it was time to take a sample my mom woke me up really early in the morning before school. I sat down at the kitchen table, upon which there was a little kit containing their blood drawing supplies. She swiped the tip of my finger with an alcohol pad, pricked it with a sterile needle and squeezed it until a bright red globule appeared. She then continued to squeeze my finger and fill a tiny vial with enough of a sample for testing. Sometimes she would do this while I was awake, other times I would be still asleep at the table. And it wasn’t always my mom that did this, sometimes it would be my dad.

When they were done, they would clean my finger, wrap it in a bandage and send me back to bed until I had to wake up for school.

And afterward when my mom returned home from work (because she was the one that usually did the test at the lab), she would have my test results. It was usually printed on a rudimentary dot matrix printout with columns of numbers and data, but it determined the type of “talk” I would receive about my health and eating habits.

Sometimes if my cholesterol was a bit on the high side, I would get the “too much fat” talk. Or if my triglycerides were too high, it would be the “too many carbohydrates” talk. And if my hba1c or blood glucose numbers were too high, it would be the “diabetes” talk. They reminded me of how high blood pressure and diabetes run in our family, and named multiple family members on both sides who dealt with it. The possibility of being added to that list was minimal.

Twenty years later, I was still being stuck with needles and still reading test results. This time they officially came from my doctor. “You now have diabetes,” the latest message read.

The phrase was written in a harsh font, Courier New. Not many people like that font, but as a programmer, I appreciated it. It’s a fixed width font often used to differentiate code. In fact it was similar to the dot matrix printouts my mom used to bring home with my lab results. Now it was on my screen displaying a secure email from my doctor.

To get to the point though, the facts are as follows: my latest routine blood work showed my hba1c number increased 0.6 points. That’s the highest it’s been ever. Not only that, it put me in the “diabetic” range. So after spending the last couple years trying to lower everything–lower my hba1c and lower my weight–my body (or maybe it was me?) finally gave up the fight.

I have type 2 diabetes.

That same week I called my mom and I told her. She seemed disappointed, like all her hard work was in vain. Or maybe she was just disappointed to know that this could potentially complicate things for me a lot sooner in life.

She told me what I had to do to manage it and I listened, as if I hadn’t heard it a million times before. And at the end of the call she said, “You take care of yourself, ok?”

“I always do,” I said.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

I’ve been reading a lot on diabetes, especially when you’re in the pre-diabetic or in the “just diagnosed” stage. Everyone goes through a range of emotions in the beginning–from fear to anger and depression. Some people deny it or pretend like it’s less serious than it is. Where do I see myself on the scale?

I’ve been living with this for over 2 weeks now and I think I’m closer to accepting it now than I was before. I think of the things I could’ve done to delay this stage. There are so many of them. Maybe today will be the day I take things seriously.

2 thoughts on “A River Doesn’t Change Its Path Overnight

  1. I have been dealing with “pre” diabetes for many years due to having polycystic ovarian syndrome. It makes it very difficult to lose weight and is a metabolic disorder. I worry about becoming full-blown diabetes, but struggle to make the changes needed. I need to definitely do it!

    1. I understand the struggle. I have yet to find the secret switch that will magically turn on the part of my brain that thrives on carrot sticks and grilled chicken 24/7 🙂

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