“Well thanks for coming on this adventure with me today,” I said to my friend, without really thinking about it. We had planned to take a walk after class in the forest together and we accomplished that, but only because she stuck with me as I rode the waves of my blood sugar.
First as my post-lunch bg got up to 170 or so I stood by her at the bus stop, drowsy and dull. The bus was 11 minutes away so I suggested we walk down to the next stop or so, hoping that might bring me down a little. She pushed her bike alongside her and I tried to explain why I felt dizzy and why walking would help. Fifteen minutes later we got onto the bus and 45 minutes after that made it back to my house and my car, to the forest entrance, waited behind men in trucks doing something, and then onto the access road.
I loaded up my Ecuadorian fanny pack with glucose tabs and as we headed off into the woods I felt the muscles of my face and neck finally relax. Sometimes I hold tension when my blood sugar is high and I can’t exercise to bring it down but I also can’t take insulin because I’ll be moving soon. Since we had plans to walk together, I couldn’t just abandon my desires to walk in the forest and respond to high blood sugar by walking around campus in uncomfortable shoes to bring it down. I followed through. Sometimes I feel like following through is a rare event for me because blood sugar sidelines me. Or because I’m not feeling great I’ll decline plans with friends because I don’t want to drag them onto the rollercoaster with me.
We walked 2.5 miles in the splendid mid-October falling leaves, a little less luminescent here than in the mountains but still beautiful. Back at the parking lot I checked before driving and I was 67 mg/dl, so I suggested we wait while my bg came up. As I ate glucose tabs we talked about our classes. When I said, “I’ll check again, I think we can go now,” my friend admitted she had no idea what we were waiting on. People just don’t know! When you live so intimately with a condition you start to assume that it’s evident on your face or in your words, that people understand it like you do, but that is so rarely the case. I explained why before when my bg was high movement helped me feel better, and that when I am low I need to eat something. I explained why I would treat a mild low before driving vigorously with several glucose tabs whereas if I was just going back home I might eat one tab and then have a snack.
After I thanked her, back at my house, she thanked me for the education. I thought about the name of my (somewhat dormant) blog. Diabetes has a way of making everything an adventure because it always throws in that spice of unknown. You have to adapt to it constantly, get creative, think about solutions. You have to be willing to change plans, be thrown off course, and clamber back to your path. It’s like inviting that oddball friend on the road trip, the wild one who is always suggesting weird detours. How wrong my thinking was ten years ago when I was diagnosed: that life with this condition would be boring.
And maybe most importantly, letting my friend come along on the adventure of blood glucose with me and being vulnerable in that way created a deeper trust between us and gave to us both.