For Diabetes Awareness Month in November of 2014, ShopRite of Kingston held an informational event with free glucose level screenings. Shoprite's Dietitian Rachel Robinson invited me to attend.
I was there for the Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play project and set up my table at the entrance. I greeted the public, handed out recipe cards for fruit-infused "Waters With A Twist" and Seared Greens. I studiously avoided volunteering to have my finger pricked to test my glucose levels. I am 39 and have never had my blood sugar checked. My grandmother Zimboul was a type 2 diabetic.
I have memories of visiting la abuela Zilda (Zimboul's nickname) in Buenos Aires every two years as a child. I have a vivid memory of her opening up a very 1970s Brazilian tulipwood cabinet, furtively going into a drawer and extracting and handing my sister and myself garotos de amor (to this day one of my favorite bonbon confections). "Don't tell them I gave you this."
Only recently have I started to piece together a diabetes story around this grandmother. She was always napping. Or, rather, sleeping long hours in the middle of the day. She wore stylish wigs. A ritual before visiting Argentina was to go wig shopping in NYC for her. As an adult, putting two and two together, I now know that hair loss is often associated with diabetes. I also know that diabetes can cause fatigue. I begin to understand my Mother's fears around sugar and weight. I begin to understand the un-mourned, unnamed legacies of grief which exist around illness.
I associate my not testing my own blood sugar with my initial, usually ostrich-like response to fear: I stick my head in the sand until I have to come up for air and face reality.
Rachel casually suggested why not test my sugar. So, I did. And, it turns out, I am fine! Actually, I am superlative! My blood sugars were 74 in a fasting state! What a relief. Next stop... more regular blood work!
You never know when personal transformation will strike. It could happen for you too in seemingly unlikely places. Test your blood sugar levels. Whatever the result, you can work with the reality of it. You can name what is going on. It's way more fun than having your head in the sand, dreading the unknown.