Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Last Thing

The last thing I ever ate unhesitatingly and wholeheartedly, was some watermelon chunks. I sucked on them as we drove to the hospital, at 6 am the day after the 4th of July. 

We had made the plan the night before, when the wheezing wouldn't stop, the stomach pains were overwhelming, and we spent a lackluster holiday together in a crappy motel room, watching sitcom reruns and the Food Network (I think) as I drifted in and out of sleep. The plan was this: in the morning, we would get up at 7 and drive to the local medical center (helpfully marked with a blue H on our free visitor's guide to Flagstaff). He would drop me off, and while I spent the morning getting some medicine, he would go on a hike nearby and come pick me up afterwards. 

But that night, we both slept fitfully, both of us waking each time I turned over, just to make sure I was still alive. As the sun rose, I sat up and told him it was time, I couldn't wait anymore. He agreed readily, and so we grabbed our things (I think? I barely remember honestly). I ate a few chunks of watermelon, not wanting to go in on an empty stomach. (An empty pancreas, sure. But not an empty stomach.)

We drove over, parked, and headed in. The first sign that things were a little far gone was when, shivering and struggling to fill out the intake forms, I was ushered into a small room for a consultation...ahead of everyone else sitting in the ER. The second sign came when, as I answered the nurse's questions, and she told me that I weighed roughly 30 pounds below my normal weight. The third sign was when I was ushered immediately into an exam room and my then-boyfriend followed me in. I looked at him strangely, wasn't the plan for him to go on a hike while I dealt with this? He looked at me like I was nuts and soothingly reassured me that he would go "later." 

The nail in the pancreatic coffin came a few minutes later when another nurse bustled into the exam room. She stepped inside, sniffed the air, and asked the question I haven't been able to shake since: "Do you have diabetes?"

I said something roughly along the lines of, "you tell me lady, I'm the one that's in the hospital. Do you think if I knew what was wrong with me I'd be here?" but only more polite. I think I actually just said, "I don't know." 

That's when she explained about ketones, and DKA, and got me the insulin and the IVs and drew blood for tests and got me a stretcher and wheeled me down to the ICU, where I spent a fun few days relaxing, recuperating and getting exposed to tuberculosis (story for another time). 

You know what's funny though? I don't even like watermelon. It was just part of that time, when I was ruled by my thirst and craving for sweet. So I didn't even get my last meal right. It's not like I got to guilt-free enjoy some waffles or ice cream cake or things that make me tighten my seatbelt for the blood sugar roller coaster these days. 

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