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I’m Living on Borrowed Time

May 12, 2011

Biking home tonight through the warm breezy city, after a wine-soaked evening spent with the beautiful people I sing with each Sunday morning, I reflected on how foolish it was of me today to go for a two-hour run – 20 kilometers! – without wearing sunblock.

It honestly hadn’t occurred to me, but today was one of the first days of the season where you legitimately could get burned. And burn I did. I’ve got a doozie on my shoulders and chest where my running shirt cuts off, and my nose stings to the touch. Sunburns, my mother always told me as a kid, aren’t what they were thirty years ago. They can be lethal, and we don’t yet know the long-term implications of them in this, our High-UV Generation.

And then, as I cut through the balmy night air with my bike, thinking about this bitter burn I’ll be nursing for the next day or two, and also allowing thought to the few stressful work problems I’m going to have to solve tomorrow after the wine fades, I had The Realization.

It came in loud and clear as I clicked from gear to gear on my rusty bike.

I’m living on borrowed time.

It’s a pretty drastic thing for a pancreas to do – to just decide to give up. What that says about my mind-body condition, or my psychic will to live, or my overall karmic positioning that a vital organ in my body gave up, I haven’t even had the energy yet in this last year to think about. I can’t go there yet. Maybe Year Two with diabetes will be about solving that karmic riddle. Year One has been about restoring balance, and practicing acceptance, peace and dignity.

But for all my pancreas’ efforts to call it quits on this little project called Sarah Pearson, through some miracle I, and the millions of other insulin-dependent diabetics out there, have been given a second-chance at life.

Life for a diabetic before the discovery of insulin was, as a 1st century physician wrote, “short, disgusting and painful.” Now, in the 21st century, life for a diabetic is complicated, consuming and expensive, but “short” is no longer the norm. As this fellow blogger beautifully states, insulin = life. And we owe it to a few brilliant scientists from my Alma Mater, as well as some hundreds of thousands of dogs, who gave their lives so that others could share in their pancreatic enzymes.

I got frustrated on my 2-hour run today because, for cripes’ sake, it’s just not fair that I have to keep eating powdery candy crap as I run JUST TO KEEP me from going hypoglycemic. It’s not fair that I can never stop thinking about this craptastic disease. It’s not like this for everyone. No one understands.

Life with diabetes is hard, and insulin is not a cure. But…when I think about how I’m living on borrowed time, I see things a little differently. My bike ride home shifted a bit, my anxiety about work projects due just lifted momentarily like dust on a swiffer.

I am living on borrowed time, and while tonight that mostly fills me with deep gratitude, I also can remember what a burden it is as well. It means that I can never rest in my diabetic vigilance. It means that this regime of insulin and blood testing is here to stay. And honestly, I can’t even imagine it any other way – life before diabetes seems unthinkable now. But let my grip on diabetes loosen, and I’m letting some serious darkness enter this fortress of health. The weight of what’s being held back has been felt tonight.

I am living on borrowed time. And consequently, the beauty, joy and miracle of that truth has been felt tonight as well, every bit as much as its weight.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 12, 2011 8:49 am

    Try some cut tomato (ripe) and rub on the sunburn. Messy, but works wonders to take the sting out. We in Australia sadly know too much about the effects of sun.

    Love the whole post!

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