Wednesday, December 10, 2008

December 10, 2008

Today, 11 years ago, I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. Here's that story:

In eighth grade I was on the modified swim team with Coach Miller and my best friend Rebekka Grohn. I started losing weight, my hair was falling out, I drank whole gallons of milk with dinner. I think everyone just assumed that I was 'growing.' At Rebekka Grohns 13-year old birthday sleepover, 8 other girls and I ate yardsand yards of Twizzler as we bounced on the first trampoline I had ever bounced on, drank sparkling grape juice and pretended to get drunk in a hot tub, ran yards around the house in our bathing suits and watched Event Horizon until it got too scary and we went to sleep. At some point, probably half way through my 4th coke of the night, a girl named Heather Jarrow remarked on how much I was drinking and told me that when Kelsey Hotchkiss (not present that night) was diagnosed with diabetes she had been drinking a lot too. Kelly McAree told Heather to shut up and that it was her turn to pick a Truth.

So that night I was slumber partied into the corner in the Grohns' dark basement by 8 girls in sleeping bags. Every time I got up to go to the bathroom (we're talking 6, 7 times here) I had to crawl through the blackness over people, and struggle up the modern Finnish stairs, and sneak around Kelpo the golden retreiver to get there, all in a sleepy bladder-bursting delirium. My dad picked me up in the morning and I told him about what Heather Jarrow as we drove down Triphamer Road towards home. He told me not to worry.

So three weeks letter I went to my physical with the cold-handed Dr. Uphoff and it was determined that my blood sugar was abnormally high. I was told to fast that day and the next morning my mom drove me to the hospital to get blood drawn before school. At the end of 1st period with Mrs. Kaplan the intercom requested that I report to the office where my mother was waiting for me. I pretty much knew that I was fucked as I walked the funeral procession to my locker to get my coat. My mom drove me to the doctors office where Dr. Uphoff told me that she was about 99% sure I was diabetic. I was 100% sure I didn't want her or my mother to hug me, but they did, and after they left the room to talk about what needed to happen next I started bawling in the arms of a small boned and wide-eyed nurse. As I left the doctors office one of the cool eighth grade girls named Nikkia Wharton was sitting in the waiting room. I said hello like nothing was wrong and my parents rushed me out the door.

At my house my parents floundered around and tried to help me as I packed a duffel bag in a catatonic state. We weren't sure if I was allowed to eat, but my dad decided I should be able to eat whatever I wanted since I was going to the hospital, so we stopped at the Ithaca Bakery on the way and ate pretty siently, making occasional lopsided jokes.

A nurse at the hospital told me I had two choices: I could learn to give myself shots or she would teach my parents how to give me shots. When you put anything like that to a 13 year old, the decision is pretty easy. I was there for three days and allowed to wear my own clothes. It was actually pretty awesome-- watching movies all day, thinking about my sucker peers sitting in their desks at Dewitt Middle School. My friends visited and brought me cards signed by droves of 8th graders I didn't even know, which was kind of fun. Nikkia Wharton wrote that she wouldn't tell anyone that she saw me crying at the doctors office and Jessica Robertson likened my experience to Stacey, a character from The Babysitters Club.

Eleven years later, I'm still here, still diabetic, and still not that great at it. Sasha and I were going to go to a lecture last night with psychologist Jessica Bernstein(who only meets with Type I diabetics) but I had to miss it because of the horrific traffic coming over the Bay Bridge after work in Oakland. This lady's theory is that telling people that the idea of 'control' is unrealistic for a disease that fluctuates daily. She also believes that suffering makes people stronger. Anna likes this story because of its glazed intensity and thinks I should make a zine about it. We'll see. I picked this picture for today because it's a self portrait from middleschool in our house in Somerville, NJ at 10 Grant Avenue. It was taken in 6th grade and foreshadows the rough patch to come. It's eleven years later and here I am in grad school, in San Francisco, working at the library and getting ready for my last crit of the semester. Last year, for my 10 year anniversary, friends and I celebrated with a dessert party. Today the plan is to do some homebody baking with a new friend. It's been a pretty good day--two people dropping books off told me that I look great this morning.

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