Over the next four days, The L‘s resident diabetic Henry Stewart explains how taking insulin is almost as bad as taking no medicine at all.
It’s while lifting a forkful of potatoes to my mouth that I realize something isn’t right—that I’m anxious, too warm, dizzy, slightly nauseous. I keep eating, then can’t, and swing my legs out from under the table, sitting on the edge of the bench with my chest kissing my knees. “I just don’t feel good,” I tell my girlfriend, Jessica, and it’s hard to be more specific. I manage to finish dinner, every last nugget of roasted potato, but the sickness doesn’t wane. I decide I’m thirsty, but I’m not—not really. Water’s not going to help. But I get up anyway, turn into the kitchen and fill a cup to the top.
“I think I’m going to lay down,” I tell Jessica, and drag my feet down the hallway, staggering like a drunk. My field of vision slowly soaks up a beige blankness, like how the glucose monitor’s testing strips absorb my blood, and I try to move more quickly. By the time I make it to the bedroom, I’m blind: nothing registers in my eyes but what looks like a grid of white Christmas-light bulbs. It feels like my brain is made of lead and my body is not strong enough to hold it up. I stand next to the bedside dresser, or where I think the dresser should be, and wave the glass of water forward, hoping it’ll land on top, but it just keeps slicing through empty air. “Give me the glass,” Jessica, who has been following me, says. She takes it and we prevent one spill but not another: I drop to my knees, landing at the edge of the bed. My cheek sinks into the blankets and my vision slowly returns. “I’m OK,” I tell her.
This is my life with insulin.