Several years ago my doctor saw some routine lab work of mine and thought my blood sugar level was too high. But before taking out the prescription pad, he wanted—reasonably enough—to make certain that my pancreas was, in fact, on the fritz, and that I was indeed diabetic. So he asked me to run a glucose tolerance test at home. I was to take an initial glucose reading with one of those needle-delivering gizmos that diabetics use, then drink a glass of bright orange goop (a kind of thicker and sweeter Gatorade), then take further readings every half-hour, all morning long.
A lovely prospect.
I must say I have nothing but admiration for insulin-dependent diabetics, who have to go through the pin-pricking and the insulin injections all the time. Even the pin-pricking—well, I’d just as soon someone else do it for me while I turn my head away and squinch up my eyes. But I did as the doctor ordered.
This at-home test was a money-saving step. We could have you come in and do it here, said the doctor, but if you just follow the instructions at home, we can save you and America’s troubled health-care system a couple of hundred dollars.
Who could say no to that? But as I began running out of unpunctured fingertips, the experience did begin to wear thin. How to fill the hours, sitting there waiting for my body to do whatever it does with orange goop, while every half-hour I, essentially, bled myself? So I decided to report the results of my glucose tolerance test in sonnet form—a Shakespearean sonnet, to be exact. Here’s the result, just as I faxed it to the doctor.
For thee, I pierced my flesh; at 8:00 a single drop
Of blood I shed. It measured ninety-one.
And then I drank that glucose-laden soda pop;
Drew yet more blood as soon as I was done.
Now: ninety-three, the digits darkly glowed.
I thought: not much effect, at least not yet,
But half an hour passed, and then it showed.
One-eighty-seven: That’s high, too high, I’ll bet.
The tide had risen, would it fall or further climb?
I thought of Matthew Arnold’s long, withdrawing roar.
One-sixty-six in sixty minutes’ time:
And now one-twenty-five in just an hour more.
Time is a puzzle and so is the heart—Alas,
For you, my friend, the question is my pancreas.
It turned out that I was fine. The original, needlessly alarming lab report was just a fluke. And so once more, as Hamlet famously remarked, “We defy augury.”
(This is the second of a pair of old posts on the exciting theme of Kaze’s internal organs. I wrote both for 317am back in May 2010. I’ll be back next week.)