“You, my dear, have diabetes.”
I looked at my endocrinologist somewhat blankly. I knew this was coming, and yet, the words fell down around me like individual blocks of cement. I. Have. Diabetes. I. Have. Diabetes. Ihavediabetes. Diabetes. Dammit.
The family history is there. The individual risk factors are there. The pre-diabetic symptoms had made their unwelcome appearance over a year ago. The horrible “buzzy feelings” I get with high sugar levels. The pins and needles numbness in my limbs. The blurry eyes. And yet, I realized, the shock still comes. For friends who don’t understand the shock, I explain it like this — even when you are trying to have a baby, even when you know how to conceive a baby and are actively trying, when that pregnancy test comes back positive, you still have that moment of shock — that moment of, “Oh my, what have we done?” Except you wanted to get pregnant and I never wanted diabetes.
I cope best with information and a plan. I won’t bore you with the details of the multiple appointments and frustrations, but suffice it to say, that putting together information and a plan wasn’t as easy as I had hoped. I wanted to walk away with a precise way to deal with things and I didn’t get it. Coping with diabetes was to become — and still is — a journey. I’m in the early stages of Type II Diabetes and am controlling it through diet, oral medication (Metformin) and exercise. I monitor my blood glucose levels with a meter regularly. I started out feeling absolutely paralyzed about making food choices and was miserably hungry while adjusting to my new lifestyle — an effect of the insulin resistance on me was constant hunger. Now that things are under control, I find myself eating significantly smaller portions easily.
I have had intentions of re-launching my walking exercise regime over the years and always had one issue or another crop up, but this time I knew just how critical it was for my health. Even more so, I needed it as an outlet. Life suddenly felt very out of control, and I needed to feel like there was something in my control.
Because of the timing, the severity, and the physical impact, my diabetes also became the launching pad of what I like to call my Summer of Rediscovery or what my friend Julie calls my “midlife crisis.” I’m not much of one for navel-gazing, but both are correct.
I’ve turned 41. I’ve just completed 10 years of service in a major volunteer organization, several of which were in key leadership positions, the last of which was as the president. For the first time in a decade, though I’m still a member, I’m not even on a committee — I’ve gone from overbooked most nights to home almost every night. My diagnosis came literally days before I ended my term as president. My youngest child graduated from preschool a week later and will head off to public school in the Fall– the writing is on the wall, my days as a stay-at-home mother will be coming to an end in a year or so. My husband has patiently stood by as I took what little energy was left after being with kids all day and threw it into part-time work, volunteer commitments, and blogging over the past few years — and I realize there was little to none left for him when all was said and done. I feel like I woke up on a Monday and suddenly didn’t know who I was anymore.
Summer arrived and a blank chapter lies before me and I’m furiously writing it without knowing exactly where it ends. So I walk. And I think. And I pound the pavement with my Nike-shod feet as fast as I can. Listening to the kind of music I’ve denied myself for years because I’ve been so focused on making sure that the kids heard classical music as babies, and “appropriate” music or music in foreign languages as toddlers and preschoolers. In the car, even alone, I was always catching up on news or talking on the phone. The simple act of listening to music that doesn’t involve farm animal noises or something the kids had to learn for choir felt so liberating, it almost feels sinful. Like I am cheating on my entire family. My apologies to my neighbors when I occassionally burst out in (horrible) singing while walking with headphones on! I come home, bursting with ideas of things I want to do, to try, to write. Some are completely ridiculous (hair tinsel) and some are less so, but exceedingly ambitious (wanting to find out how to apply to manage the Nike + running web site).
It’s been a month. My eating habits have changed — I eat far more broccoli slaw, far fewer sweets and far less of everything. I’ve lost about 10 pounds (I say “about” as we had to replace our scale when it said we each weighed 0 pounds — so I have to start with a new baseline.) I’m slowly becoming an exercise-induced endorphin junkie. I’m finally cashing in all the iTunes gift certifcates I’ve been given over the past couple of years. And I’m rediscovering who I am — more than just “Mommy.” Different schedule, different diet, different routine. Trying to unearth the woman who is buried inside under the layers of mommy neglect — the woman, the writer, the wife, the person.