These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Diabetes FAQ

Posted on October 9, 2013 by The Director of Digital Media

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What do diabetes and Pardes have in common?

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For you, probably nothing. But I’ve been at Pardes for two years, with one more to go. And for me, these two are intrinsically linked!

See, in the last month of my first year at Pardes, I was mistakenly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I left for summer break expecting to drop a few pounds and come back in the Fall as if nothing had happened. Instead, I found out that I had Type 1 diabetes, two weeks before my 26th birthday. I started insulin therapy three weeks before that second year started.

Most people didn’t realize that I had just been diagnosed.

For year three, I find myself answering the same questions again and again. As flattered as I am to be the local authority on failed pancreatic function, I’d rather spend my time answering your Talmud questions and talking to you about how much I like tea while enjoying my lunchtime-chef-cookie. So lets get these biggies out of the way, and get onto the rest of our lives –

  1. “What are you doing there?!”
      I’m taking insulin, my friend! That thing that looks like a pen IS a pen – an insulin pen! It’s full of “I” which I need to break down carbohydrates. Or, maybe I’m checking my blood sugar with my meter. I need to see that number to know how much glucose is in my blood. The number tells me if I need to eat more sugar, take more insulin or continue life as normal.
  2. “Does that hurt?!”
      Friend, have you ever got a shot before? Do I even need to answer this?
  3. “But you must get used to it! How long have you been diabetic anyway?”
      Since I was 26 – I’m 27 now. And while the shots/finger sticks are manufactured as small as possible, and will always sting a bit, it’s more of an annoyance than a pain. No biggie. Did you know that anyone can develop Type 1, at any age? Crazy, right?
  4. “Oh you poor/brave/strong –” “I could never do that -” “I would die if-“
      Stop, stop! This is just how I live! If you found out you had Type 1, you would do the same things I do, and you would find a way to live with it. There’s nothing sad or brave about it. It’s just life.
  5. “So…. You probably shouldn’t be eating that, should you?”
      I see right through this! You just want my cookie!
  6. “No really, why are you eating that?”
      I can eat anything I want, including delicious cookies. I just have to take enough insulin for the carbohydrates in what I eat. That’s right friend, carbs, not sugar. That whole wheat bagel will be harder on my body than a scoop of ice cream. Trust me. Sometimes I choose to not eat things with more than 15grams of carbs, so that I don’t have to take any insulin. The choice is up to me.
  7. “Do you need some juice/peanuts/crackers/water…?!”
      No, I’m okay. If I’m having a low blood sugar (73 or lower) then I need to eat something with fast acting glucose, but I carry those kinds of snacks around with me everywhere. If I need help, I will tell you. Peanuts and water though, as low carb foods, are absolutely useless for low blood sugars. Thanks anyway!
  8. “I heard that if you excersize more, you can reverse diabetes!”
      HAHAHAHAHA oh that’s funny. Type 1 diabetes means that my body woke up one day and decided to kill off all of the beta cells in my pancreas – those are the happy cells that make insulin, and they ain’t never coming back. But I don’t doubt that medical technology will make something equatable to a bionic pancreas in the next ten years!
  9. “If you’re diabetic, how do you -?”
      Okay okay, I’m totally willing to talk to you about the wonders of daily diabetic life, but not while I’m eating my afternoon cookie. I can talk about diabetes anytime that I’m not eating.
  10. “Can you relate this to Torah?”
      No one has asked me this yet! But, I have thought about it a lot; that blood is both a life force, a punishment, and a means of purification in different Jewish texts. My favorite is the line from Nach that we say on Passover: ‘and I said to you, you will live because of your blood, you will live because of your blood.’ My blood is like a window into my body, and I think about that line at least once a day.

There ya go. 10 fascinating diabetic truths, straight from the hallways of Pardes!

This FAQ is in no way comprehensive nor medical. Check out WebMD or Wikipedia for real info. And the next time you buy a lunchtime cookie, please get me one too. I love those guys!