Diabetes dilemma

I have type 2 diabetes. In some ways it would be better to have type 1. Better because no one blames you; no one says you brought this on yourself, because you’re fat. On the other hand, type 2 is better because, with proper diet and exercise, it’s reversible. Also with type 2 I don’t have to take insulin.

I’m in a bit of a dilemma because I’ve been through this before. About six years ago I was given the diagnosis of pre-diabetes. I freaked out. I have a lot anxiety and worries about my health trigger it. Every time I had to go to the bathroom I worried it was too much. Was I hungrier than usual? If my hands or feet tingled from their falling asleep, I worried about neuropathy. I was also participating in a fitness challenge, so I became competitive about diet and exercise. I majorly cut carbs and was also trying to eat vegan, though not always.

I don’t remember the details. That time is a blur, because during that time I also went off meds. I would cheer when at each weekly weigh-in I’d be two pounds thinner. Again, I feared the needle and the threat of amputation. Even then, I wondered, could I keep it up?

I went from 199 to 126 in less than a year. From size 16 to six. Some people worried that I was anorexic. I personally don’t think I was, but I did start introducing more fat and sugar back into my diet. It took about five years to gain it all back, and then some. I was 230 when diagnosed with actual diabetes at the beginning of last year, and now I’m down to 200, basically back where I started.

From what I’ve read, this is normal. Most people who lose weight can’t keep it off for more than five years. Or, according to a peer reviewed study I read they start to gain it back slowly, and by the fifth year still weigh a small percentage less than when they started.

I have also read about the fat acceptance movement. By Googling “fat positive diabetes” I found a post on fatheffalump.WordPress.com that was helpful. She talks about fear-mongering and fat shaming that are prevalent in medical discussions about diabetes. This fits into my experience with all the talk about amputation and blindness. And about blaming people for getting it.

People can get diabetes who are not overweight, and not everyone who is fat has it. On my mom’s side of the family, we tend to get overweight as we age, and I’m the only diabetic. My dad was adopted, so I don’t know what my genetic history is on that side, so I suspect that’s where it might have come from. When I try to bring this up with him, or my step-relatives I just get a broken record, and they bring up someone they know who is in Weight Watchers. Fat activists have a name for this: Fat shaming.

I’m about to start a yearlong weight management class through the hospital patient education program. No doubt, I will succeed, and will probably keep it off for at least a few years. But can I do it indefinitely? Does losing and regaining every five years count as yoyo dieting? Do I want to spend the rest of my life weighing and measuring portions, or will I eventually decide insulin isn’t that bad – the needles are much smaller than they used to be.

This is my dilemma as I move forward in the new year.”””


Too Sweet for You

My blood’s sticky sweet like the corn syrup used

for pigs’ blood in Carrie.

I feel kinship with her because we were both the ultimate outcasts

and both had psychotically religious mothers—

but my blood is not from pigs.


(Do pigs get diabetes? My cat has it.)


I have never tasted my urine to see if it is also sweet,

though that’s one of the diagnosis criteria,

but I do regularly prick my finger, though not on a spindle,

squeezing out a crimson bead.

Then the countdown begins:




Sugar courses through my veins,

granules scraping the tender walls of blood vessels

like I imagine sickle cells do.




My heartbeat is audible and if I exhale slowly

I don’t have faith that my lungs will ever again fill with breath…

uh-huh  uh-huh

breathe in, breathe out


I’m here, she says offering her arm for me to hold

onto for dear life.




“Obesity,” accuses my list of diagnoses, “This is of your own making.”

I have eaten myself to death.

I want to show the doctor photos from seven years ago:

123 pounds; model beautiful; shaved head only accentuating my conventional attractiveness.

Those photos—and a closet full of size-six jeans and dresses that no longer fit—

are my only proof of how for years

I kept this disease at bay—adding a prefix,

a preview of a movie I never wanted to see

that made me check the backseat for the man with the knife

in the dark who crawled into the car window while I was

still in the theater.

But now I got front row seats for the feature,

so I sit back, sip Diet Coke through a straw, and can’t look away

from the jump shots ’cause what my imagination comes up with

will be worse that what’s onscreen.



Here. Eat this granola bar. You bottomed out.




Omigod, I can’t look!


c. Arlaina Ash 2015