Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lest We Forget

It is still 1983.

Somewhere, in that alternate universe, space shuttles Challenger and Columbia still fly, and the World Trade Center still stands. Michael Jackson is still alive. He glides across the floor with his sparkly glove, the strains of "Beat It" in the air. TV shows like "Dallas" and "General Hospital" keep us glued to our sets every week.

In 1983 the personal computer is an amazing new device, and on a university campus or two something called the Internet is learning to walk. It is quieter, since mobile phones aren't everywhere yet. Most administrative jobs still require you to know how to take dictation.

There's a war on, but it's a simpler one, and the opponent is known. But signs of a thaw abound. At night the main source of news is the network broadcast, and if you're lucky, you have cable TV for the rest.

And, in 1983, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

So much has changed in my personal care regimen. No more urine test kits, no more brick-sized meters that take minutes and divining skills to decipher. No more Lente or Regular. No more waiting 30 minutes to eat, no more rollercoaster highs and lows. A little machine beeps at my side, miraculously telling me my blood sugar in real time (or close to it). Better meters are more accurate and less forgiving. Better medicines work faster and better knowledge makes me realize I'm not alone.

But I will still need to count every carb, and I will still need to monitor my blood sugar before and after I eat or drink nearly anything. I will still need to immediately treat low blood sugar, and I will still spend hours coaxing high blood sugars down from the rafters. I will still pray the night before doctor's and eye appointments that I can keep my eyes, my feet, my kidneys. I will still need far more health care than the average person in their lifetime. I will still die without insulin injections.

For all that's changed in 27 years, it is still 1983 for me.