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The topic of the week is Death. Again.
In January of this year, I learned that I had Type 2 Diabetes. As I type this, my blood sugar is steady at 151 milligrams per decaliter. According to my smartphone, that is high, but I just ate lunch. What is supposed to be normal is something that is somewhat debatable. I would ordinarily drop by my doctor’s office for a consultation but there are a number of complications in the way. The first is something that any Katrina survivor would tell you, as should any Stoic: You’re On Your Own.
The rest of the complications are something that I expect are a great deal more arcane and are somewhat beside the point that I’m going to die sooner than I expected, but I’ll list them anyway noting in passing that I don’t play victim games. Now that I’ve said that, what I should call this essay has become immediately clear.
Secondly, it’s COVID season and basically hospitals are exercising their prerogatives for triage and such. Thirdly, I’m switching hospitals and doctors and I haven’t been able to determine with any certitude if the new ones I like are at liberty to service me. I have to clear the matter with Blue Cross Blue Shield. Funny when I typed it, it came out Blur. Twice.
According to WebMD, 50% of diabetics will suffer irreversible neuropathy. That essentially means that in my extremities, toes first, I will begin to lose sensory perception and ultimately motor function. It will be rather tragic for my career as a programmer and as a writer unless Siri gets a whole lot smarter and my patience with myself allows me to remain employable. It also means, much to my dismay, that I may have to engage in theatrics for a living. Somewhere there is a line from a Shakespearian tragedy that illustrates how loathe I am to even consider the possibility. Or perhaps there is a verse in the Book of Revelations. In the meantime, diabetes millitus is doing its damnedest to quite literally get on my last fucking nerve.
Of course, I’m not going down without a fight. As soon as I can get with a new and argumentative doctor we’ll hash out a battle plan. My last one told me that my relatives have been lying to me because as an African American, surely there must be some blood relative who has it and isn’t telling me. I know the whole shebang is my fault, primarily because I thought for many years that drinking lemonade instead of soda was a good thing. Wrong. Both are equally sugary. So I drank lemonade like I now drink water. I also enjoyed my dad bod for entirely too long because I literally couldn’t think of anything to do with a healthy, sexy good looking body that wasn’t morally suspect. That was, until my Martial Education. And quite frankly I’ve lived in California too long. I am a clothes horse and poisoned by Reebokism, the projection of body as fashion. I tried to run a mile and figured out that I couldn’t but couldn’t think of a good reason why I should that wasn’t purely egotistical. Now I get it, but it took a while to get the right mentality through my thick skull.
I now wear a continuous blood glucose monitor. It is a sticky round disc about the size and thickness of two poker chips that sticks a sampling needle into my left tricep and lasts for 14 days. Refilling them adds 75 bucks a month to my trips to Target. Every once in a while people might observe what looks like me sticking my iPhone into my armpit. It sniffs out the sensor and tells me how long I have to live. It’s horribly distracting to know, especially when I’ve just had some Doritos or when my toe feels especially tingly as it does this very goddamned moment. Nevertheless I have changed my diet rather dramatically and my A1C went from 8.7 to 6.9 in five months. I also take a timed-release anti-sugar pill and a statin on the daily, all of which is a relatively mild regimen considering what pain and suffering the human body is capable of absorbing. It doesn’t matter. YouTube is going to start up with the Ozempic ads as soon as I post this essay and I will start displaying symptoms of acute aesthetic and ethical disgust which include dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
The pissy part of my hates that I had no physical way of telling this very common chronic disease was creeping up on me outside of my mild discomfort at not being able to look good in an oxford shirt. I lived, as most of us do, in a sugar-coated world. We don’t even know what’s going wrong. I watched a WSJ interview of Elon Musk in which he mentioned that we have had basically three candy companies in America and nobody has seen a new candy bar in decades. He’s right. That’s a big fat status quo. I was a big fat status quo, and it took me 50 years of life before I even bothered to pick up on HP Lovecraft. I should have known. We all should have known.
As I said, I hate being performative. I even hate that the word exists inside my filter bubble because it means this narrative performance thing is bigger than I thought. That means it’s starving out literature and my old man hopes for text to sustain us. In ten years when I’m doing shit like Akira The Don, you’ll know I’ve lost my ability to type and/or my faith in words. I’ve been thinking, in light of my accelerated mortality, that perhaps the public is damned. So maybe it’s OK to say ‘the public be damned’ - because we lack the sense to communicate economically and seem always ready to pay for more and more bandwidth. What does it mean to watch the broadcast news about what somebody tweeted but no longer can tweet? That’s why, despite my aversion, I placed the video about Blood / Sugar. I’m on Caltech’s mailing list and they are staging the performance. It’s is all quite bleak from my perspective. When Nancy Reagan said “Just Say No” that was quite enough. Why do we need performance art? Is everybody’s head so thick that we need the shiny? Remember when 1080p was enough?
As I develop a growing distaste for being the foodie I have been all my adult life (first date with the Spousal Unit included gator), I will compensate in some other way I reckon. My aspect is not darkening as my prospects are. There is some satisfaction in having my smartphone’s POV on my metabolic dysfunction. At some point, I suspect I will decide to tempt fate and start smoking cigarettes, eating foie gras and driving like Steve McQueen. Before I bungie off that bridge, I’ll find a new doctor and attempt some Joe Rogan-esque regimes of death defiance. I’ve got the blender, I’ve got the dietary supplements. Now if the governor will only let me go outside.
Diabetes is my no-joke enemy. I have encountered the first punch in the face and so I will plan anew. I aim to be even harder to kill. That’s really all there is to say...