"I'm pitiful/Feeling sorry for me."
— Aretha Franklin
The best way to get a good wad of toilet paper going is to hold the roll aloft with your right index finger and then with your left hand yank the paper down to your destination. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
I learned a lot over the last few days. After losing consciousness twice the afternoon of New Year's Eve, I spent that most sacred of all party nights in a room on Six South in Christ Hospital.
Yep, I passed out. And not from the revelry of the pending new year.
High blood sugar, low blood sugar, too much/not enough/no insulin. Stupidity. Laziness. Neglect.
Slothfulness. A death wish. Call it what you will — my friends all have.
The last thing I remember is standing in the furniture section of the Goodwill store in beautiful downtown Oakley. I was holding a Nutrageous candy bar in one hand and a can of Hawaiian Punch in the other. I hadn't yet shot my first of two daily doses of insulin or eaten. I was treating with mountains of sugar what I thought was low blood sugar. Oops. It must have been after 3 p.m.
It came on suddenly. Inanimate objects moved, took flight actually. Voices hummed. And the floor swallowed me whole.
The best feeling is passing out. When you come to, everything is again possible. It's like starting life over.
My mom says it's God's way of delivering us from unbearable pain. She's right.
I was slapped and yelled into consciousness by a friend right there between the oatmeal-colored chair and a battered dresser. The first things in focus were her green eyes, bloodshot and teary. That and my name being yelled repeatedly.
Faces loomed above my wavy, rolling head like a scene from Rosemary's Baby, like looking at life through a fish-eye lens.
There were these other people — kind, attentive, nosey, concerned strangers offering beverages, advice and phone calls. I remember two black ladies, in particular. One lady retrieved a green ceramic pot from the housewares section for me. By then it was too late. The Nutrageous and Hawaiian Punch were already regurgitated all over the carpeting and the lower side of the dresser.
The second lady hung out in the aisle where the errant can of Hawaiian Punch ended up. Standing with her basket, she looked down on me and recommended food I should be eating when I felt up to it. She wouldn't leave. She was like a good-natured Aunt Esther.
I wanted to make jokes, but there was nothing funny about my soon-to-be-36-year-old-ass laid out on the floor in the furniture section of the Oakley Goodwill on New Year's Eve. Neither was it funny that this debacle of poor personal care and diabetes — the bane of my fragile existence — crashed headlong into one another.
Damn. It was time to stop screwing around with my health. I feared for my life for the first time since I'd been diagnosed with diabetes. (When was that exactly, anyway?)
So I sat there, drank water, looked around, muttered apologies, asked finally for paramedics, vomited, refused transport, staggered to the friend's car and asked that she take me here, to Christ Hospital, where this is being written.
Another black out and more than five hours later, I'm in a hospital bed with a portable heart monitor taped to several points on my chest, 15 needle pricks across my body and a ferociously snoring roommate. (Ever heard water being sucked down a drain?)
Two hours later and I'm in a different room alone watching a gangster movie marathon on USA (all three Godfather flicks, Carlito's Way, A Bronx Tale and The Suicide Kings) wondering what everyone else was doing and how I'd explain this to those who hadn't already heard.
True, dealing with a disease is personal business. Obviously I'm not equipped to do this on my own. Hell, it took me two years to embrace the fact that diabetes is a disease.
I started out with this menace on shaky ground. The day my grandmother died I was with a nurse in Fort Hamilton-Hughes Hospital in Hamilton shooting myself in the stomach.
With only a few shining exceptions it's been missed doses, finger sticks, vomiting, diarrhea, night sweats, weight loss, lying, cheating, passing out, mood swings, depression, denial, hopefulness, wretched days and mediocre days ever since.
But this is it. I want all the feeling returned to my toes. I want my crisp, defined vision back.
For the people who love me, I want for them the restoration of my good nature and even temperament. I want a liver that'll last me to my grave.
I want good days and the good health that define them. And I'll die trying.