Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Latitude and Longitude

Today is a day that students and teachers at my college anticipate (and I'm sure some dread) alike; the first day of a new semester. It's a fresh start, full of possibilities; the frightening prospect of failure twinned with the giddy prospect of success. I feel it too. Will my students click with me, or won't they? Will they be excited to learn, or will they drag their feet? In terms of "fresh starts," yesterday I also joined a gym for the summer, in the hope of dropping some weight, but more importantly getting in shape and helping my blood glucose numbers. Ideally, I'd like to be in shape enough to be able to be active and sing at the same time.

So many hopes, so many possibilities.

Diabetes is doing its best to stymie both of my fresh starts today.

My first class today was lovely. My students seem nice and engaged. As they were finishing class by writing a diagnostic, I wondered why, then, did I feel the need to throw up? A quick look at my side showed that my site was no longer inside said side. As students wrote on, I tested at 18.6, and then, as the class ended and some students stayed after to finish up, I couldn't take it anymore and changed my site, hiding behind the professor's podium. (I think they were nursing students, so they've probably seen worse.)

I was going to take an exercise class at 2pm, but I still am not doing too well and I haven't eaten anything yet. It's perhaps heartening that a number like 18.6 can do this to me, because it shows my results have been better lately.

In the TV show The West Wing, Sam Seaborn, the show's idealist, has his world uprooted. He says, brokenly, "it's just there are certain things you're sure latitude and longitude." As diabetics, we have this notion tested again and again. We used to be sure of the function of our bodies; that they would take care of us, always be functional until we aged significantly. Sure of things like latitude and longitude. Our bodies have proven otherwise.

Now, we place great trust in our devices. We try to believe that they will never fail us. We place our lives in the hands of plastic and metal and batteries and medical research, sure that they will work; sure that they will always deliver some sort of base measure of performance. Like latitude and longitude. We know this isn't true. Plastic fails. Metal fails. Batteries are spent. People get sick. People die. We take a lot on faith. Like latitude and longitude, which are invisible.

Donna tells Sam that, according to CJ's cartographer meeting, he shouldn't be so sure about latitude or longitude. The more we know about our condition, the more we know we can't be sure of anything. That BG result? 20% margin of error is apparently acceptable. That cure? Mice only. That pump? Defective model.

Life is precarious, but there are some ideals that are worth hanging on to. Like Sam's idealism. Like latitude and longitude.

Like tomorrow's fresh start.