But thank you for asking!
5 months ago, the day before Easter, and in the middle of inhaling a piece of ice cream cake, my phone rang. I ignored it, because it was my doctor’s office and I thought it was weird they’d call on a Saturday. Then they called again.
“Ugh,” I thought, excusing myself to the other room. I answered with a bit a tone.
“Caira, your labs are back. Can you come in first thing Monday morning?”
Now, I’m not sure if you’ve ever received this kind of phone call, but nothing desirous ever results from this line of questioning. The reason you’d be asked to come in right away is never because you’re so great and they just miss you, or they accidentally overcharged you a thousand dollars and want to give you a refund. It’s like when your boss needs to see you at the end of the day in his office, and someone from HR is already in there. Or when you text someone after a second date, asking how their day was, and they reply, “good u?”.
I actually couldn’t go in to the office, first thing Monday morning. I was leaving the next morning at 5am for Seattle, embarking on a weeklong road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway.
I explained this to the doctor.
“Caira, your blood sugar is very, very high. [My first name was being used a lot here?] We need to check how much insulin your pancreas is making.”
In a 2013 essay for the New Yorker, author Meghan O’Rourke wrote about the strangeness in telling an illness narrative without an inception. The piece was specifically about autoimmune diseases and the slow, creeping way they moved in to the body and mind over a period of years. When I read it, it was over breakfast, and at a time when late night Google searches for phrases like “headache and dizziness”, or “symptoms exhaustion nausea” had taken over my evenings.
O’Rourke said “Illness narratives usually have startling beginnings — the fall at the supermarket, the lump discovered in the abdomen, the doctor’s call. Not mine.”
Not mine. It was this phrase in particular that stuck with me, and would eventually resurface when I discovered I had Grave’s Disease in the fall of 2014.
The hunt for Grave’s was awkward and painful – Months of insomnia and weirdness and twitching, proceeding years of diarrhea and blood sugar fluctuations. It appeared, finally, one humid and anticlimactic August morning.
If Grave’s Disease had been Prince William’s courtship of Kate Middleton (get on with it already), then Type 1 Diabetes was definitely Rob Kardashian’s of Blac Chyna. (Wait, WHAT?)
And so I stood, phone in hand, overloaded with sugar and disbelief, for just a moment, staring out the window into the street. Then I turned and left the room, and sat back down at the dining table with my family.