A while back, I promised here that I would one day share my most embarrassing moment, then ask for donations to a worthy cause. Today is that day.
On February 27th, 1998 – thirteen years ago today – my youngest brother, Martin, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. This means that his immune system attacked one of its own organs, his pancreas, and his body no longer produces insulin; he now takes insulin in shot form, constantly monitors his blood sugar levels, and has to be aware of everything he eats. It means that, until we find a cure for the disease, he will not live one single day without a very physical reminder of this day, the day his body turned against him.
Makes my body’s rejection of one fertilized egg seem like small potatoes, huh?
In my family, we do everything we can to ensure that Martin, and the millions of other Americans living with diabetes, can have the best possible life until that cure is discovered: we donate money, we volunteer at a camp for kids with diabetes, we ride our bikes in the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure charity ride. We try our best to bring awareness and education to the masses, to show empathy to the afflicted, and, above all, to push for the cure.
Of course, all that awareness, education, and empathy comes with a price. I am terrified of getting diabetes – even though I’ve been tested several times and always come up negative. It’s my one hypochondriac thing. If I forget to eat and start feeling low blood sugar symptoms, I worry that I’m diabetic. If I’m really thirsty one day, I worry that I’m diabetic. And now, as promised, my most-embarrassing-moment story (in which, of course, I worry that I’m diabetic):
It was a few months after my miscarriage. Despite being on antidepressants, I was still having trouble falling asleep at night, and, at the time, I was overseeing the vitamin section of my grocery store. I decided to start taking melatonin to help me sleep.
“You’ll love it,” a friend told me. “It gives me the craziest dreams, but then I wake up feeling completely rested.”
She was right; I did love it. I loved the way it tasted: it was in chewable tablet form, and was the sweetest peppermint ever to grace my tongue. I loved that when I woke up in the night to pee, I felt heavy, warm, serene – almost drugged – as I stumbled to the bathroom; no middle-of-the-night ruminations for this small-bladdered light sleeper. I loved the energized, rested feeling I was left with in the morning. I even loved the crazy dreams.
Then one night, after I’d been asleep for about three hours, I woke up to pee as usual… but I woke up too late.
“Doug, wake up,” I said, nudging him. “I think I peed in the bed.”
He reached his hand over to my side. “Yeah, I think you did. It’s okay, you must have just been really tired…”
But I cut him off. I would have none of his sympathy, none of his understanding, none of his offer to help me clean up. Here was my most embarrassing moment: I, who had never wet the bed in my adult life, had just done so at 26.
I kicked Doug out to sleep on the couch while I washed all the sheets, then and there, at 3 in the morning. He kept trying to tell me not to be so upset, and I kept snapping at him.
“Normal people don’t pee in the bed, Doug. Only people who are really old, or really young, or really sick, or really crazy.”
At first, I naturally figured I fell into the “really crazy” category: maybe this whole miscarriage thing had taken more of my mind than I thought. I mean, wasn’t there that girl on Grey’s Anatomy who had the hysterical pregnancy and then peed herself on Alex’s couch? Maybe I would need to be committed.
Once I’d talked myself out of that, I settled on the “really sick” option. The next morning at work, I went straight to the one diabetic in our store and begged her to test my blood sugar. I cried as I told her what had happened, and how embarrassed and scared I was. Surely this was going to be the day that I would join my brother in the Diabetic Marandolas Club.*
My glucose test, of course, was normal, but I’d called enough attention to myself, what with my tears and my bleeding finger, that a group of women had gathered around me in the breakroom. Surprisingly, not one of them laughed at me; in fact, they all made a point of reassuring me that I was neither sick nor crazy. Just probably, as Doug had suggested, sleeping too deeply. I stopped taking the melatonin that very night, and, fortunately, had no repeat performances.
I haven’t shared this story with anyone since the day it happened. And now that you’ve read it, you are under contract to visit my Tour de Cure page and make a donation. Join me in the fight against diabetes; because once a cure is found, my brother will be able to reclaim control over his body, and I might be able to reclaim part of my sanity. Thank you in advance for your support.
*Club does not exist. Yet.