Sugar

The latest episode in my health story led me to a pathology lab in Highett for a Glucose test. This, I gather, is to test for potential diabetes. That’s not something I want to be diagnosed with, though I expect if it comes to that, it will be at the minor end of the scale. I know it’s a reasonably common occurrence in people as they get older, but if it’s to be, then I figure it’s something I can manage. Having said that – I doubt I have it.

There is some family history. My sister, when still a kid, had her kidneys operated on because they weren’t functioning properly. I have a feeling she has only one and a hald now, though it’s so long ago, and so rarely mentioned, that I’d almost forgotten altogether. My memory tells me it was something to do with blood sugar, but no doubt the medical experts out ther can set me right.

My gandmother on my fathers side had a minor form of diabetes also, though she called it ‘sugar’, as so many of her generation did. “I’ve got sugar,” they would say, meaning some variety of diabetes. In her case, she wasn’t on insulin or anything, but had to monitor her blood sugar and watch her diet.

Anyway, it was quite a tedious morning. I had to fast leading into it, so no coffee this morning. They took some blood and then I was made to drink some sickly sweet glucose concoction and sent away to the waiting room. The idea was that they’d take another blood sample an hour later, and another an hour after that. By comparing the results, they could measure how efficiently I was processing the sugar in my bloodstream.

So I read for an hour by myself as people came and went in the lab, the bell ringing, old people shuffling in for their weekly test, and shuffling out again. I watched with half an eye. The book I was reading is excleent (Transit), but I felt restless too.

Generally, you go along with but a cursory look to one side or another. This is your life, these are your routines, that’s what you can reasonably expect. My recent past and more generally inquiring mind lead me to look a little further afield perhaps, but it’s true all the same that you become conditioned to the life you lead – even as occasionally you rail against it.

It’s not all like that though. People live different lives. They have vastly different routines, or no routines. As for expectations? They’re all over the shop. Here I am then, sure, I’m being tested for diabetes but you look at me, and I’m a robust looking fellow who might just be bulletproof – certainly, I feel that way often enough. I’ve got a quick mind still, am conversationally fluent, and all of this feels a bit like an aberration. I’m here, like, in the lab being tested, but I’m not really here, you know what I mean?

And then you see the old dears come in and the shuffling old men and the men who feel like they have to tell you all about their hospital stay last week, propped on a cane, and you get an idea of this other world. That’ll never be me, you think, as you do. Sure you’re being tested for something, just like them, but you’re robust and bulletproof regardless and, look at me, I could do a tap dance here and now if you asked me to. But, you know it’s bullshit.

Ten, fifteen, twenty years ago, maybe half of them could tap dance as well. So when you go in for your second test, then your third, you’re bright and airy, cool as a cucumber, you engage and laugh about craving the first coffee of the day as if to say, look at me, aren’t I well? Aren’t I different from them?

I note all this like an anthropologist would. There’s always a part of me cool and detached. I guess that’s why I write – there’s always a part of me watching. I know I’m different, so to did the nurse who took my blood – but in ten or fifteen or twenty years, I could be just the same.

At the end of it all, a little over two hours, I drove away and bought the coffee I promised. In a week I’ll know the results of the test and I’ll take it from there.

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