Thursday, April 26, 2012

Starvation in the Midst of Plenty

Starvation in the Midst of Plenty

Syran Wrap covers my eyes
they’ve decomposed before their time
focus. fail.
focus. fail.
bones cut skin like butter
wasting weight wears away
I’m skin and bones
And hunger
ravenous and extreme
I dream to eat all I see
And do
but not an ounce or gram or inch
do I gain
I remain a fading frame
and I thirst
I want I crave I need
to drink entire seas
And do
but it runs straight through
drains as quickly as it came
I shrivel and dry
skin cracks it lacks it dies
I’m weak
muscles hang on tired frame
of which my body
does consume
I feel my death
its coming on and soon
my eyes grow tired
focus. fail.
I’m weak
still I eat and eat
but not an inch do I gain
and soon,
not an inch will remain

I came across this poem this morning. It was something I wrote for a a class just months after my diagnosis, when the symptoms of uncontrolled high blood sugars were still very much at the front of my mind. 

Focus. Fail. My eyesight had blurred substantially over the course of a single week. One day I could read street signs from blocks away. Literally the next, I couldn't read them while sitting at the stop light they hung from. I forced myself to the eye doctor who persuaded me into believing that I was wrong--this hadn't occurred suddenly, it had been coming on for months. Yes of course doctor, you do know what I see better than I do.

Wasting weight wears away. I lost six pounds over the course of one week. I went from 114 to 101 before I decided (my mom actually decided) that something was wrong.

I dream to eat all I see. And did I! My body, starved of glucose, craved food--sugary, syrupy, sweet food most of all. My stomach was a bottomless pit. I would clear my plate in seconds and then set my eyes on the plates of those unfortunate enough to be sitting next to me. At my friend's birthday dinner at Old Chicago, I ate an entire calzone, half a plate of pasta, and half a sandwich (and I wouldn't have stopped there if there had been food left on the table). My friend and I joke that I once ate her entire kitchen. It would be more amusing if it wasn't true (box of oreos, packets of instant oatmeal, half a liter of soda, chips...). I didn't gain a pound. The glucose cycled endlessly through my bloodstream for days, then slipped out through my kidneys. My body fed instead on the protein in my muscles.

And I thirst. I couldn't sit through a 90 minute movie at the theater without getting up five times to run to the drinking fountain. I got up multiple times a night and guzzled water. I once had an anxiety attack while driving home to my parents' because I hadn't brought a water bottle. I thought I was going to shrivel up on the seat. My lips were so cracked that I had open, stinging cuts in the corners of my mouth. My throat was permanently parched. My tongue was a salted slug.

It runs straight through. Trips to the bathroom were frequent but an afterthought, really. I was in there sucking water out of the faucet anyway. It seemed an obvious consequence.

I'm weak. I didn't want to get out of bed in the morning. I would lie there with a swollen bladder and cotton mouth, but I would not want to get up. I forced myself to the rock gym multiple times a week (after all, I was consuming thousands of calories per meal--my girlish frame couldn't hold on forever). I could barley make it up a 5.7 route, even after weeks of practice. I was fatigued. On weekends I would sleep all day (getting up every hour to drink and pee of course).

After my diagnosis and subsequent hospital stint, things rapidly fell back into place. I gained seven pounds from IV fluids alone. My cracked lips healed. My eyes almost instantly sprung back to 20/20 (still, the persuasive eye doctor refused to give me a refund for the glasses). I felt alive again. The only thing that never got better was the insatiable appetite. My guess is that I wore out all the hormones meant to keep my eating habits in check. Without strict portion control and a focused willpower, I can still easily over eat to the point of pain (and blood sugar explosions). Over the last three years I have developed a system to help keep myself in check. I've turned my obsession with food into an obsession with health through food. Superfoods, supplements, health shakes. I feed my hunger through food education, cooking fresh meals, and the satisfaction of knowing that what I put in my body may not fill me up, but at least it will make me feel good. (Of course, even after years of practice, this can go out the window with a little tequila, a long work week, and reason to celebrate).

A symptom list from Diabetes for Dummies (Wiley Publishing, Inc. 2008)

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