After an exhausting brainstorming session, my colleague and I decided to take a break and get a cup of coffee. We walked together discussing work, seeming more professional in the pantry than we are in our seats.
My colleague grabbed a cup and filled it with a couple of spoons of sugar. And then she held it under the nozzle of the vending machine which ground roasted seeds and dispensed the magical liquid into her cup. It was my turn next. I grabbed a cup, skipped the sugar, and went straight for the nozzle.
My colleague looked at me surprised. She wasn’t the first one, and I know she wouldn’t be the last. I drink sugarless tea and coffee, I avoid processed sugar five days of the week, and am trying hard to quit the weekend candy crush saga.
Countless people tell me I shouldn’t be as obsessive about sugar as I am.
However, none of them know what’s it’s like growing up in a diabetic household. None of them know that my blood line is infested with a line of ants all lining up to get a whiff of our sugary blood. My grandmother was a diabetic. My mother is a diabetic. My aunt is a diabetic. Tell me I’m not paranoid to think I’m next in line.
Living in a sugar-coated family has changed the way I see my life. The last thing I see before going to bed at night and the first thing I see when I wake up is medicines. We have at least five plastic boxes, all colour-coded and named after every diabetic tablet available in the pharmacy. We’ve adopted med-speak as our secondary language; we speak in milligrams and figure out how diabetic someone else is based on how many milligrams they swallow every day.
Our conversations begin with stories about the time someone forgot to take their sugar pills, and our dinner talks involve verifying if there are enough medicines for the whole month.
I’m now accustomed to living in constant fear of self-raising flour and simple carbs. No other food has scared me as much as the soft, white, and deceptively harmless glucose granules. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve looked up the difference between glucose and fructose, without understanding it once. And sometimes, when I think I deserve a piece of candy or cake, I devour it, only to feel terrible about it later. I hate myself that I sometimes eat a sweet treat in front of my glucometer-cradling mother.
Still, every time I handle a spoon full of sugar, I hesitate and wonder how much is too much.
The types of diabetes you can get, the different ages in which you can get it, the symptoms, and preventive measures to keep your blood sugar in check are everyday discussions in the family of a diabetic. And when you’re growing up with these details hammered into your brain, it’s more than enough to suck the enthusiasm out of your life bit by bit.
There’s nothing sweet about living with diabetes. And there’s nothing bitterer than living with a diabetic.