Deep in the Archives
This was one of the first things I wrote regarding diabetes and one of the first times I realized that writing can be a great medium for diabetics to connect with each other.
So, as I sit to write over my fish taco lunch, I start to calculate. Just how many fish tacos have I had in the last 13 years? 5000 maybe? 10,000? I was introduced to this culinary masterpiece in February of my freshman year at UCSD. My friend Aaron was already hooked. I would tease him for eating this monstrosity, until the day he challenged me with the magic words that were, and still are, my achilles heel, "You can't knock it until you try it." It always played against my pride. I needed to be right about the fact that fried fish just shouldn't be wrapped in a tortilla and called a taco. It's just plain wrong. So to prove my superior intellect, I needed to try it so I could knock it legitimately. I did. Unfortunately for my pride, I was hooked, too. And I sucked at admitting it, especially to Aaron.
For a while the only fish I would eat was a Rubio's fish taco and the halibut Aaron would catch out of some stream somewhere. We'd bar-b-que it up and eat it right out of the pan. Every other version of fish was, and still is, just plain wrong. And so it was... long run on Tuesday, get cleaned up, 2 fish tacos and a coke for me, a Corona for Aaron and off to Bible study (and, yes, I see the irony of a Corona before Bible study, but that's a story for another time.)
The fish taco soon became my rock. It was the only meal where I knew what it would do to my blood sugars. Always 5.0 units for 2 tacos, side of beans, side of chips. And like clockwork my b.s. would flatline. Whenever food became my nemesis and all else was crazy, I could depend on a #1 combo and 5.0 units of insulin. Always. Rubio's soon became my place. I would study there, write there, hang with friends there. I suppose it was fitting, then, that when I started to date Tony, he was working there. I'm sure the 50% off tacos helped his case. It was in the parking lot after a plate of fish tacos that I told him I wanted to date and soon marry after he long pursued me.
It was, also, over a plate of fish tacos that I had my first meal with another diabetic. For 12 long years my only conversations with other diabetics were the 10 second kind when you see a pump hanging off someone's belt in the grocery store. Excuse me, I saw your pump. Are you a diabetic, too? Yep. Cool. And you? Yep. Cool.
And so it was that I picked Rubio's to mark this momentous occasion. It started out like most meals--order, sit, small talk. You study theology (note my John Piper book on the table)? Yep. Cool.--until the guy across the table asked me how many carbs I thought were in his taco. At first, I had no idea what he was talking about. Maybe because a fish taco equals 2.0 units. Like it was written somewhere in the heavens, fish taco equals 2.0 units. How could he not know. And then the question was so foreign because the only time I heard that voice was inside my head. How much insulin is that, is that carb laden with hidden fat, exactly how many pretzels did I eat, how big is a medium apple? It was like being in a Sci-Fi movie where they could project your thoughts on a big movie screen for everyone to see. The conversation I had been having with myself for 12 years was suddenly out in the open, out for all to see and grade.
I think I must have looked like an idiot because I stumbled over my words for so long while I processed the novelty of this all. When I had finally reached an answer of fish taco equals 2.0 units, I realized that that was only true in my body. Maybe not in his. And that's the truly tricky thing about diabetes, what works for me probably doesn't work for the diabetic next to me. Wouldn't it be great to have a book ( or maybe an iPhone widget) that had all the dosing for every food made. Fish taco 2.0 units, turkey sandwich 2.0 units, triple scoop of ice cream with two tablespoons hot fudge 7.0 units. But since it would never work for everyone, I think most of us have to come up with our own dosing book. Problem is, it only seems to work on days whose dates are prime numbers or are perfect squares. All other days, all bets are off. Whether stress, exercise, lack of sleep, or finding a new love, it all screws up everything. Its like trying to take a math test without all the problems written out.
#1 4 x 2 = Oh, that's easy, it's 2.
#2 14 x = How could I possibly know the answer to that with out knowing what to multiply by. I can make an educated guess (well, the prof. hasn't used 7 yet, maybe that's it. Or then again maybe the prof.'s superstitious and won't use the number 7 for fear of being hit by a falling piano.)
Now, I do have some pretty cool tools, but until I get a Stress-O-Meter and a Just-How-Hard-Was-That-Last-Workout-O-Meter, I'm at best guesstimating. Which is why I'm so often off. It makes me sit in amazement at the splendor of the human body and all it does. That's some good computer programming it got at birth to be able to solve that equation in 10 variables correctly every minute of every day.
So with all the complexity and unknown variables I have to deal with, I guess I am doing a pretty good job. Even when I'm not doing "as well as I used to do." I should probably cut myself some slack. It is, after all, a pretty gnarly equation.
For more information on the memoir this post inspired, click here.