Every single day he is looking out for me. It’s been that way since the day we met, when I was 16 and he was 17 years old. I’ve been so lucky to grow up with my best friend, the person I want to hold hands with for the next 100 years, the person I want to wake up next to for the rest of my days, my soulmate.
We’re young but we’ve spent a lot of time together.
There was even a period when we lived together, worked together, scheduled days off together, grocery shopped together, went to the gym together, watched the Sopranos every night together, always together. We can’t help it; we just can’t get enough of each other. You’re either thinking AWWW (gross) or EWWW (need that), but I mean seriously I love hanging out with this guy so much. I can tell him every thought that pops into my head.
Let’s try that new restaurant! Let’s go to Amsterdam! Let’s travel the world in a mini van!
He wants to do all the things I want to do. But it’s tough for him. Every day, he has to roll the dice. He wakes up, checks his blood sugar levels, takes a shower, gets dressed, pricks himself, packs up his insulin, grabs a banana, walks out the door. Before he can eat a meal, before he can fall sleep. He rolls the dice. Sometimes he gets lucky, other times he doesn’t. Not only does he look out for me, but he deals with this full-time job on a daily basis.
And sometimes, no matter how well he takes care of himself, he can still end up in the ICU.
We had just come home from one of the best trips to New York we had ever had. We did drunk karaoke with major debuts to Led Zeppelin and Stevie Nicks. We even sang one together. “Pictures of you” by Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock. Can’t say we hadn’t practiced that one before. We were visiting his best friend and it was St Patrick’s Day weekend. We cruised through the ‘island’ of New York in the nighttime with unlimited booze and tons of dancing. It was way too hot for coats so we ditched them and grabbed the free drinks. I had just graduated college and we had been working so hard nonstop and craving free time together. What a perfect way to celebrate our vacation and a little bit of us. We saw the Statue of Liberty, danced to the classics, and let loose.
On our last night, we didn’t want to think about leaving because we were already missing it. So our friends took us to their favorite foam machine bar in Bushwick. We ditched our coats like the locals. We were having so much fun dancing around, laughing, catching all kinds of feelings. It was just like the warehouse party from Girls Season 1. On the walk home we were still feeling it. A release from work, a vacation kind of pleasure. It was four in the morning and we were walking home. But it was snow under our feet and we were millions of miles away from Florida. The next day our flight home was at 4 pm.
By midnight, we were already in the emergency room.
At the hospital, none of the details matter because I was watching him slip away every minute that passed. It didn’t matter that he was freshly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 22 years old. Now he was barely conscious, throwing up, he couldn’t eat, he barely spoke. The nurses barely spoke. The doctors barely spoke. He wasn’t getting better, and it was so obviously a code red even though he wasn’t being treated that way. I was in a Lifetime movie and nobody wanted to help the crazy girl. The whole scene made my stomach empty.
And my thoughts were moving like a train.
Can someone tell us what is happening to him? Is he battling ketoacidosis right now? What is his blood sugar at? He is a Type 1 Diabetic and nobody is keeping tabs on his blood sugar? Why else would he be like this? He hasn’t eaten in 2 days. Do you know how many carbohydrates are in this meal? Why would they send this dinner without the nutritional information? Has the doctor spoken to his Endocrinologist yet? What was that beep?
Nothing. Blank stares. Smiles from them. Frowns from me. Annoyed faces. Agitated me. Silence. Impatience. Was this normal?
I finally tried my luck with the secretary. I told her I wanted him transferred to another hospital. I told her about how we caught the doctor in a lie. I told her about the nurse forgetting to make some plays. This wasn’t just any stupid game we could lose. Every move mattered here. Finally, I found empathy in her eyes. She made some calls and just like that, he was getting rushed out of his room and into the ICU. You shouldn’t celebrate your beloved getting rushed to the intensive care unit, but we did.
He would finally receive 24-hour treatment, we would get some answers, and everything would be fine. Without his family, I would not have kept my sanity. They were my rock. Along with my family members close by. Our friends everywhere. On the phone and in person.
For 3 days, I came home without him.
On the night before he was released, some friends visited and I watched his spirit come back. Every person that came to visit him brought some light back to him. And me. The day he was released from the hospital, all he wanted to do was be outside. He just stood there, letting the sun hit his face, breathing in the fresh air. It was like he was meeting nature for the first time. The wind smelled sweeter and the leaves were extra green.
Health doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter what you are or where you came from. It is the only thing that can touch every human, mentally and physically. It can send you to the hospital if it wants. It can kick you to the ground if it wants. And ironically, healthcare is the one thing we can’t all agree to fix as a whole.
They say you learn a lot when you’re that close to the veil of a universal truth.
It wasn’t about me, but I learned that nothing is more important than the time you have with someone. The little fights about who cleans the dishes don’t matter. Arguing with someone to prove your point doesn’t matter. The sacrifices don’t matter.
But friends matter. Family matters. Love matters.
It matters to be conscious and aware that everybody is fighting to overcome something, even if they aren’t talking about it. Whether it’s managing blood sugar levels, managing depression, managing work, managing school, managing stress, managing time, managing happiness, or managing a whole new life without someone. There’s so much fear wrapped up in a situation with an unknown outcome because nothing is promised. But that should never stop us from moving forward. There’s beauty in the unknown because everyone is facing their own version of it. If nothing else can inspire you to keep going, just remember….
We’re all human beings and we’re all just trying to wing it.