My alarm went off at 6am, as it did every morning. I fought the urge to close my eyes once again, and switched on the lamp on my bedside table. My blood glucose meter was still sitting there, in the same place I have kept it for the last five years. I knew it was probably time to find a home for it somewhere, but I still hadn’t convinced myself that I didn’t need it. I still ripped open a test strip, from the same perfect angle that I’d mastered a long time ago. I still wouldn’t believe anything until my meter confirmed it. I stuck the strip in, pricked my finger, and let the blood flow to the test strip. 4.2.
I made my bed, got dressed and walked into the dining room. “Good morning Frankie,” Dad said to me, very enthusiastically for this time of morning. I walked over to the coffee machine and placed my half filled glass of hot milk under the nozzle. I noticed the sugar bowl sitting next to the machine as I stood there watching the dripping coffee infuse with the milk in my glass. I was tempted to spoon some into my glass. I knew I could, if I wanted to. But somehow I just couldn’t stop thinking about how hard it had been to cut out my sugar over the years. And how proud I was of myself for it.
There were leftover pancakes in the fridge that my sister had made yesterday. I was so tempted to grab the plate, heat them up in the microwave and drown them in maple syrup. But I couldn’t rid myself of the thought of my blood sugar levels spiking if I did. I closed the fridge, instead opting for my usual slice of Burgen toast and hard boiled egg.
It was 6.40am, and time to head off to work in the dark. I still carried my satchel with me to work every day, even though I knew that everything I needed would now fit into my pockets. But somehow, I just couldn’t convince myself that I didn’t need to carry my meter, insulin pen and jellybeans around anymore.
There was morning tea on the table at work. Iced donuts, Tim Tams, Choc Chip Cookies, Cupcakes, Potato Chips and Lollies. I’ve never been able to resist morning tea, and grabbed one of everything to eat. By the time it was over, I was feeling full. Guilty. And unhealthy. I went back out to work, but the thought of not having had any insulin yet was driving me insane. I couldn’t function properly. I was convinced my blood sugar levels must have skyrocketed by now. 18? 25? Ketones? An hour had passed, before it got to the point where I couldn’t sit there for a minute longer. I hurried off as fast as I could to the locker room. I seized my meter, tore open a test strip, furiously pricked my finger and began frantically squeezing for blood. After all that crap I’d eaten, I couldn’t believe the number 8.2 staring back at me.
I was back home and done with work for the day. And it occurred to me that I could go back to having junk food in the afternoons if I wanted to, just like I did back when I was in high school. I walked over to the cupboard, and stared longingly at the bag of Red Rock Deli Honey Soy Chicken potato chips in there. My favourite, none the less. I could eat the whole packet, if I felt like it. But I couldn’t rid myself of the thought of spoiling my appetite for dinner. I couldn’t stop thinking about my blood sugar levels spiking at bedtime because of all the fat in them. And I couldn’t stop thinking about how unhealthy I would feel for it afterwards. I closed the cupboard doors, and opted for my usual cuppa instead.
I could go back to my old habits now, if I really wanted to. I could go back to eating white bread. I could go back to eating junk food after school. And I could go back to eating as much as I liked at dinner time. But knowing what I know now, I couldn’t go back to that old life. Somehow, I’m proud of the diet that I’ve adopted because of diabetes. Somehow, I’m proud of the food habits that I’ve overcome because of diabetes. And somehow, I still won’t be able to rid myself from thinking about what the food I eat will do to my blood sugar levels.
Don’t get me wrong, I do look forward to being able to eat anything and everything that I want on occasion. But if I were to go back to my old life today, it would feel like living with diabetes for all those years was for nothing.