unBEARable Life: The Last Christmas

Writer’s note: This is going to be a continuing thing. I actually planned to start this a while ago but never got around to it. But events prompted the start so we’re kicking it off with a recent crisis. This is kind of the “part 2” of what happened and here you can find “part 1

I will never understand why it is customer service doesn’t hold honesty in higher esteem. I mean sure, telling me what you think I want to hear has a certain appeal, but eventually I’ll find out right? Then I’mma a be super pissed! My wife scheduled a cab for me in the morning before my appointment, and half hour after it’s scheduled it doesn’t show. This is going to be a theme for the day. An hour after it’s scheduled, and several sternly worded conversations later, the cab arrives and takes me straight to my doctor’s appointment. At this point I’d like to mention that I love my doctor. She’s young and from India, and has wholly enjoyed taking in Canadianisms. She also has a hard time not asking my wife and I about our health when she runs into us at dinner or at grocery stores. I tell her my tale of woe and she’s quite surprised that Health Link didn’t know that the steroid I was taking was a diuretic, and slightly more concerned that given my symptoms I wasn’t immediately advised to stop taking it. A battery of tests are ordered and she needs me to go to the hospital straight away.

“Royal Taxi service.”
Yeah, can I get a cab to my clinic?
“Sure, should be 15 minutes”

I wait in the lobby of the clinic. It’s pretty plain but they have an iPod hooked to a small stereo in the corner. Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” followed by MJ’s “Don’t Stop ‘Till you Get Enough” which segue’s into Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock and Roll”. There are worse ways to spend the next two hours. Gotta make sure that’s clear. I’m going to phone the company every 30 minutes, and every 20 minutes they’re going to tell me “Should be 15 minutes.” It should be noted that it’s only after the 4th call that the dispatcher apologizes. I can’t complain. The two ladies at reception keep my company and even let me stick around 40 minutes after closing. The cab arrives just as the ladies offer me a ride, and I’m off.

I get to the hospital for my blood work and nobody is around. I make jokes with nurse who mocked me for making an appointment in the first place. And then it hits me and I try to hide the panic on my face;

I don’t know where I am.

For 5 minutes I’m trying to figure out why I’m sitting in a chair and someone is drawing blood. I say someone because my blurry vision is in full effect and they’re wearing plain clothes. My heart is pounding now as I try to look around and guess at where I am. A page over the intercom, code blue. A sense of guilty relief, I’m at a hospital. “All done.” The nurse says laughing. I’ve clearly been telling jokes. So now it’s time to go into the lobby and call a cab that’ll be here in 15 minutes every 20 minutes. While I’m there the Access a Ride comes around. It’s a bus service specifically for people with disabilities. There’s a man in the lobby with me who evidently uses this service. He’s on the phone yelling at who I presume to be his aide about how he’s diabetic, and he’s tired of these late rides. My instinct is to jump in and help him out but fear grips me. 20 minutes ago I didn’t know where I was, do I really want to help an addled person? I hate myself a bit for not helping, but I hate the cab service even more. I scheduled a pizza delivery for an hour after the appointment and I have to bump it up twice to 3 hours after my appointment. It’s 8 PM, the blood work area is closed, and I’m starving… Or am I?

My appetite is my next symptom. I’ve ordered a P’Zone from Pizza Hut (shut up, they’re delicious) but I can barely stomach half of it. I can barely stomach anything. That day all I had was cucumber slices and a few carrots. I head to bed at around 10 PM and that’s when I get my warning call.

“Is Justin there please?”
Yeah let me… No, sorry, I’m here.
“Sorry?”
Yeah don’t feel bad lady, that confused me too. I’m here what can I do for you?
“Well we’ve run your blood work and your blood sugar is 40.”
O…K?

I should know what that means. I not only have a father-in-law who is diabetic but I had friends growing up and a cousin who was diabetic. This is my warning, and I don’t see it. It’s not until the next day I get a phone call from the clinic that I MUST come in that day and they have already scheduled a cab for me. Must have told her that I am without a car. I arrive and I’m immediately ushered to an exam room. I’m there for almost 10 minutes, and then a knock on the door. It’s now that I finally understand the significance of the phone call from the night before because it’s not just my Doctor who greets me, it’s a psyche nurse as well.

“Your blood sugar is 4x higher than what is considered safe. You’re peeing a lot because your kidneys are failing…” this part is straining. I’m probably the first person she’s had to give this kind of news to, “a long with your liver and your pancreas.”
Which is where you come in.
The psych nurse smiles sheepishly “Yes, hi. My name is-”

I didn’t mean to throw her off but like a pro she recovers. She asks if there’s someone who can pick me up and I lie. She’s got a lot of other questions but all I can think about is playing catch with my dad. Horseshoe lake, him by the BBQ and me up the road a bit. Throw, snap. Throw, snap.

For as far back as I can remember I’ve had a preoccupation with death. Even my dreams normally end in a very vivid death of someone close to me. But now that I’m here faced with it… They want me to make sure I’ve put things in order. The prescription I’m given might help, or I might be too far gone. They don’t know. But if I can’t bring my blood sugar down…

I don’t remember coming home or how I got there. I just remember baseball, then lying to my wife over the phone.

It’s fine, I tell her, they gave me some medication. I feel guilty about this, I really do… but all I can think of in this moment is her on bad winter roads trying to come home.
“So are we going to your brother’s for New Year’s?”
I dunno, what would you like to do?
“I really want to go, my brother says the roads are fine.”
Your call babe.
“We’re going, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

It’s time to put my affairs in order.

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