When I turned 50 in February'pretty old for a columnist in an alternative newspaper'I had my annual physical. My doctor told me that, despite a few marginally abnormal scores in my blood work-up, I was healthy as a moderately overweight horse. But I wasn’t.
I attributed some moderate tiredness to a schedule no lawyer with my seniority should endure. Other symptoms of my insidious condition were that I simply couldn’t lose weight despite cutting calories and working out every day. I also had a few cuts that took longer than normal to heal.
This summer, I lost a little more energy and found I could only work until 11:00 p.m. instead of midnight after putting my boys to bed. I mentioned my symptoms to a friend and client.
He recommended I see his specialty doctor, a New-Age type guy who consults a book of Chinese tongue medicine to diagnose medical conditions. When I saw the office dÃ©cor of symbols on the wall, I almost left. I’m glad I didn’t.
He ordered me to take a series of blood tests immediately, including the glucose-challenge that measures blood sugars. I drank sugar water and fed the vampire the same day W. visited Salt Lake City and lied to the VFW about the Iraq war.
Weeks later, the test results and I met with the symbols on the doctor’s walls and I heard the diagnosis. My blood sugar levels were on another planet'high enough to merit a diagnosis of Type II Diabetes. The only good news was that my pancreas was still pumping out massive amounts of insulin'enough insulin that my body was barely functioning normally, despite an onslaught of blood sugars that would make a candy store jealous. Enough that I can still take care of the problem by diet'difficult, but not impossible, for a 30-year vegetarian'and medicine.
Days later, I talked with someone about stressful periods in my life. She asked whether they had caused me to melt under the pressure. I replied that melting down wasn’t an option because of my responsibilities to my boys and my clients. What I hadn’t known was that my body was melting, doing a perverse version of Dorian Gray'healthy on the outside, rotting away on the inside.
I write this column not for sympathy, which I don’t want and would never get anyway. I write it to say that you can’t abuse your body indefinitely without consequences. There are more important matters in life.
Take care of yourself. Get tested.
Life is too important to lose.