I was diagnosed as having Type 2 diabetes in early fall of 2005. I went through many of the predictable emotional states – shock, anger, terror, and eventually resignation. It took a few weeks, which included many sleepless nights brought on by nighttime hypoglycemia attacks…my stumbling in the dark period – before I even began to get the hang of diabetes management. If it wasn’t for my good friend Amy Briggs of Glendale – who was very helpful in getting me directly in front of the center of the stage at 2 concerts (one where Peter Murphy performed solo and another where he performed with Bauhaus) and whose father also had type 2 diabetes, and my dietician Mandy Gailey who prescribed a weight loss meal plan that allowed me to lose weight w/o suffering the lows that kept me from getting adequate sleep, I seriously doubt that I would’ve lived to tell this tale.
More than anything in the world I love being creatively inspired. If I was going to live with this beast called diabetes for the rest of my life, I wanted in return to be creatively inspired by it. But first I would have to learn to live with it, and looking back I realize that had to come before any creative inspiration could come from it. That was my end of the deal.
I won’t lie to you; I hope to raise some consciousness with this novel…hopefully perhaps even a movie. At least a few eyebrows, anyway. Let’s face it; we are living amidst an epidemic, surprise, surprise. Current statistics project that the population who have diabetes will increase 25% -- a conservative estimate considering the millions of people who may never, ever bother having their first A1c blood test. There have been many movies that have featured a main or at least minor character who has one type of diabetes or another. As time progressed, the information conveyed in these movies about this disease has gotten increasingly accurate…to a degree. What’s lacking in these movies is the fact that this is a growing epidemic. What I seek to do here is to present a portrait of a relentlessly growing epidemic that we’ve all seem to have gotten used to.
It goes without saying that any community…even a small one…is a microcosm of the entire nation. Having many characters in this story that has one type of diabetes or another will go a long way to accurately reflect the magnitude of this epidemic.
I want to make one thing clear: there is no correlation between diabetes and the punk rock underground subculture. Even so, this particular group of people is not by any means immune; in fact no particular group of people can expect to escape this disease unscathed. This is an equal opportunity epidemic.
So besides communicating this simple fact by having some of my characters be fans of post punk era music, and for the record not all of them are, there’s a greater chance to present this story in a humourous way albiet the humour in this story can be quite dark. Consider yourself warned. Some of these characters are to say the least quite eccentric and quirky (You, gentle reader, may find that to be the understatement of all time after reading this!). Along with these offbeat characters who have this disease are the equally oddball friends, family members, and lovers who have known and lived with these people for a long time and know exactly what to expect, when to step up to the plate…and when to back off!
Overall a significant element in this story is that the main characters who have diabetes evolved beyond mere stoic resignation, beyond even merely making the best of a potentially deadly circumstance, going as far as to have as much fun with it as possible – as illustrated by one of the main characters placing wagers on her grandmother (a dear soul who means well, but can go a bit overboard in trying to manage others’ lives and neglecting her own health issues in the process.), in addition to the various pranks being perpetrated throughout the story.
This is not to say that this story lacks tragedy, as it is clearly illustrated in the deaths of two of the characters in this story. In bringing this to light I hope to demonstrate the lethal potential inherent in any failure to adequately address either extreme in glucose levels. One case goes to show what happens when untreated diabetes coupled with untreated high blood pressure and an overall “fuck it!” attitude while the other goes to show what happens when one is prevented from self treatment from those who are unfamiliar and indifferent to the situation. And in the case of the latter it doesn’t help that hypoglycemia often mimics drunkenness.
A bigger picture of diabetes than what is usually presented in both fictional and non-fictional media of any kind is the end result of what I began to put down on paper so far. In doing so I hope to risk going “too far” in pushing boundaries, making plenty of room for many details that are always, always, part of the big picture.
It must be noted that this portrait of diabetes does not by any means represent the entire population of people who have diabetes. After all this is a fictional account and I can only speak for so many people. These characters that have made a home in my imagination share my attitudes, my sense of humour, my musical and cultural interests, day to day experiences, and a courage that surpasses even my own. Although this story is hardly autobiographical I’ve taken a tremendous amount of inspiration from the culture I’ve indulged in, and a lot of ideas from this story are culled from my own personal history … which includes my mental flights of fancy.
This concludes the lecture part of the story…yeah, ya wish!