A Diabetic’s Shock: When Your Life Changes Forever

01/12/2010 11:08 AM |

I had been daydreaming about what sort of tact the doctor would use in this worst-case scenario, what kind of care and delicacy would be applied; I tried to imagine the gentleness I would use to deliver such traumatic news. She spoke as though to tell me I had a bit of spinach in my teeth.

“Yeah, look at you sugar, it’s 300,” she said.

“Is that high?”

“Three hundred?” she snorted. “Yeah, how much higher you want it?”

“I don’t know?”

It was difficult to speak because I was devoting all my strength to holding back tears.

“What’s normal?”

“100, 120.”

“Is it Type 1 or Type 2?” I miraculously thought to ask.

“Uh, I think it’s Type 2.” There was a pause. “So just, uh, stay away from carbohydrates and eat vegetables and lean protein, like chicken.”

“I’m a vegetarian,” I muttered.

“Oh! So you eat tofu,” which, though structured as a description, she inflected as permission.

She ordered a few more tests, told me to come back in a month, and wrote me prescriptions to combat my insulin resistance and high cholesterol, the latter, most likely, an insult-to-injury result of the former.

I cried all the way down 56th Street.


The increasing rates of diabetes in America, which many professionals have taken to calling an “epidemic,” are of Type 2, the one associated with obesity, poor diet and an inactive lifestyle. (These are risk factors, not causes per se.) The vast majority of diabetes cases in the United States are Type 2, like mine. Or so I thought.

Part two of Henry Stewart’s story appears tomorrow.

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