I received a letter today from my health insurance provider that began as follows:
Dear Member, Our records show that you have been treated for: • diabetes The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes...
I don’t have diabetes, but I do appreciate the concern. I did have diabetes for a few weeks in the fall of 2006. Okay, I didn’t really have diabetes then either, but a Nicaraguan doctor told me I did, and who was I to argue.
It began with the unfortunate incident of my extreme dehydration our first week in Nicaragua that resulted in a trip across the island to the hospital. As I was lying in bed swatting gnats away a man came in the room and started asking questions (in Spanish) about my diabetes. This caused a great deal of confusion to both Melissa and me, as I didn’t have diabetes. Eventually, despite the language barrier, we realized the guy was telling us I had a very high blood sugar.
A normal blood sugar level is less than 110 mg/dl. 126 or higher is considered diabetic. Mine was 246. We tried explaining to the guy that I didn’t have diabetes, but he didn’t believe it. As we were trying to figure out what was going on we noticed the word
“GLUCOSE” “DEXTROSE” printed on the IV bag that was draining into my arm. Hmm. We pointed this out to the guy and he agreed that a non-glucose IV would be better in this situation. Unfortunately, this hospital didn’t have one. So we took an “ambulance” ride (in an SUV) to the other side of the volcano to the other hospital on the island which did have non-glucose IV bags on hand.
We spent the night there. By morning my blood sugar had dropped to 170. By the next afternoon it was down to 101 and I was released. A couple days later I came back for a follow up and my blood sugar was 105.
My friend Brett mailed me a blood sugar testing machine, which arrived in less than one week (one of only two parcels we successfully received in the year we were there). I watched what I ate for 6 weeks or so until I took a trip back to the U.S. My blood sugar was holding steady in the low 90’s. My doctor at home verified that I did not in fact have diabetes.
Since that time I occasionally start stories with “Back when I had diabetes…”