last thursday afternoon i visited my primary care physician for a routine check-up at a clinic in the bronx. she's a powerful latina; 60 years old, compassionate, kind, loving, progressive, and very thorough with her medical assessments. she always encourages me to honor my body, mind and spirit, no matter what challenges life presents me.
while giving me the results of my blood work from the last session, she informed me i'm pre-diabetic, which is her major concern regarding my health at this point in my journey. she said my "number" is 5.8. and, if the "number" reaches 6.5, it means i'm diabetic - and will require treatment, in the form of medication.
i tried to act cool in her presence, but i feel anxious, overwhelmed, sad, upset and worried. diabetes is not pervasive in my family, however, my mother and aunt maxine have diabetes. also, i just learned my oldest brother, michael, was diagnosed in march, 2012. he shared this with me on facebook as we chatted around 2:00 saturday morning.
all of these feelings have competed for undivided attention since i left her office. additionally, i'm 15 pounds overweight and developed fatty tissues underneath both armpits. initially, i thought the excess fat was a side effect from stribild, the daily pill i take for hiv. well, at least, i was hoping she would tell me this to relieve me from the responsibility of having to do something about it.
when i look in the mirror i don't feel good about my physical self. i've never had to deal with fatty tissue underneath my arms. never. several months ago i began to have this nagging feeling something isn't quite right. every time i lifted my arms i'd feel a new and unwarranted sensation. i thought it would go away. when it didn't, i struggled to survive my emotions.
i've recently fantasized about surgery to remove the uncomfortable weight. at age 53, my body seems to betray me. i try to eat right and hit the gym three times a week. still, i've been unhappy with the results. normally i would try to cover my emerging self-pity with fried foods and ice cream. but that unhealthy remedy stopped working years ago.
over the last decade or so, i've inventoried my dysfunctional relationship with food. i have a weight problem: i can't wait to eat. my weight tends to go up and down like luther and oprah, though not as extreme. last august i weighed 192 pounds. but when i got on the scale the nurse said i was 206 pounds. i asked him to delete a few pounds because i was wearing boots. i felt embarrassed.
when my doctor told me to lose 15 pounds last summer, i complied. not for her, but for me. I felt so good about my accomplishment. she was pleased as well, giving me a high five in her office after doing a double-take reviewing my chart. nonetheless, at the moment, i can't remember how i did it. the news she gave me has fully compromised my brain.
she asked me what foods have i been eating to cause weight gain. my first impulse was to lie by omission, a familiar shortcoming to mask old feelings of inadequacy, shame and worthlessness. I felt naked and vulnerable in her office as she looked me in the eye with her penetrating gaze. our relationship spans a decade and I trust her loving care.
she has my best interest at heart.
if i want to prevent diabetes, i have to stop eating what hurts me. she suggested bread, pasta and wheat products once a month only. i like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on wheat bread. for my lunch, it's economical, quick and tasty. i like turkey and veggie burgers on wheat bread. for dinner, these sandwiches also serve the same purpose.
i like to buy pre-packaged sandwiches for lunch, normally with salmon or turkey on wheat bread. not anymore. damn. i've decided to eat salads regularly for lunch. i like huge salads with bananas, croutons and mixed nuts. my doctor gave me a recipe for a salad dressing with olive oil and vinegar. i need to buy some cooking utensils to make it happen. sigh.
i like organic pasta with turkey meatballs and newman's sauce for dinner. $10 covers three meals, which takes about 10 minutes to cook. and now i have to change. i'll buy more frozen vegetables to eat with salmon, turkey burgers and veggie burgers. it's' another adjustment i have to make, yet i don't feel confident in my ability to discipline myself without slipping into old, familiar patterns.
i truly believe in my heart god won't give me more than i can handle, regardless of how i feel about the issue at hand. i've learned feelings sometimes don't make sense. i need to rely on his strength and courage, along with putting spiritual living first. am i scared? yes. do i believe i will be okay? yes. i don't want diabetes. however, i know i'm neither alone nor unique. i will survive, with a smile.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.