Thursday, November 18, 2010

Diabetes and The Zombie Apocalypse

You could feel the chill in the air.

October was coming to a close and with it the month of Diabetes Awareness would begin.

Marking this start of November, the American Diabetes Association and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation joined together to kickoff their advocacy efforts that would be incredibly visible for a month but carry on long past that time. You had a panel of speakers on a stage, medical and scientific and real People With Diabetes talking up this chronic condition and all the basics one might need to know about.

Differences between Type 1 and Type 2 and the other varieties. What daily management looks like. Why insulin is life support, why a cure is needed to “Stop Diabetes,” and how people can do their part to push for that.

Apparently, I was working this story because I had a reporter's notebook in hand and press credentials tacked on to my belt. A swarm of reporters were nearby, with pens and cameras, writing the stories that would reach the masses. It was an evening full of D-Advocacy.

But something wasn't right.

The message transformed and the D-advocates began to talk about how we’re not doing enough to prevent or “stop diabetes.” That we don’t understand the causes of this disease that can lead to some scary things without us even knowing it. How diabetes is a global epidemic that is a “silent killer.” Everyone is affected and is just a stone’s throw away from being “pre-diabetic,” and we must take action now to “stop it.”

A fog was moving in. The chill in the air became eerie, like something even more chilly was happening than just a temperature shift. As the sun began to think about setting, the stage lights flickered. There was smoke off in the distance, as if something was burning. Sirens screamed in the distance, but within moments it became unclear whether those were police patrols or real people wailing in fear. An explosion rocked the stage and a nearby building, and suddenly from where the explosion came from a headless man staggered forward and fell to the ground in a puddle of blood.

The body twitched, and then you could hear it: Moaning off in the distance, leading one's eyes to wonder to the horizon where not too far away a mass of zombies stumbled foward with increasing flesh-hungry speed. Glancing over my shoulder, those who’d been preaching the D-Message were now in zombie form themselves. The JDRF folk actually looked like zombie versions of Frankenstein and had electricity-zapped eyes.

I ran.

Explosions came as the sun set, and it was clear that some survivors were trying to barricade the exit to the city so that these zombies couldn’t easily escape. A TV in a shattered storefront window offered news broadcast coverage of what was happening.

“We don’t know the cause, but for some unknown reason millions who have diabetes have turned into zombies. They are like cannibals and each bite turns you into the undead.”

Non-Funny News Anchor added: "But you can tell who they are, because they look sick and will come after you. If they bite you or get any blood on you, you'll become a zombie."

Suddenly, diabetes became the cause of the Zombie Apocalypse. Everything was so clear. What had long been imagined was becoming a reality, but with a twist on the cause. Not an Army chemical spill or crazy weird medical experiment, but the chronic condition I'd been living with since the age of five.

Why hadn't I turned into a zombie, if that were the case? Well, the reason was obvious: I was clearly immune.

A swarm of zombies appeared behind me and the fellow journalists huddled close, and we resumed running in the opposite direction. But just as I've felt behind and unable to escape from the real life stresses lately, I found myself falling behind and eventually just fingertips away from the diabetic zombies.

Luckily, we darted into a building and secured the door just in time. And that's when I noticed: the non-D newsman at my side looked to me more like a slab of ribs than a real human being, and I felt the urge to whisper something in his ear...

That is what jolted me awake. In my bed, darkness was everywhere. My clock read 5:48 a.m. Turning over, my wife was not there. Dog was nowhere in the room. I sighed, glad to know I'd been dreaming.

But it felt so real, and I found myself questioning whether this whole crazy zombie scenario was truly a dream. Maybe not. Maybe I awoke just in time, and what appeared to be a dream was actually a vision warning me fo what was obviously the approaching Zombie Apocalypse that would in fact hit the Diabetes Community first and by force.
Cautiously, I went to the window and looked outside but didn’t see any stumbling figures. Only streetlights dancing in the darkness. Maybe they hadn't found our neighborhood yet, I thought. My mind flashed to my previous blog post about the Unlimited Lancets being weapons of choice for PWD in the Zombie Apocalypse. I pondered whether it'd be smart to grab a weapon - maybe a golf club - to have on hand just in case. The ladder sat patiently in the corner near the ceiling attic entrance, too.

Going downstairs, my newly-awakened wife was yawning and sitting in the chair with the TV on. I explained my dream that might actually be playing out in real life, and how the ADA's pre-November awareness campaign skewed in the direction of everyone turning into zombies. She darted up from the chair went upstairs, returning within a moment with my black little blood meter case. Your nuts, I thought. But a test revealed she wasn’t – 51 mg/dL.

Clearly, I was Low and hallucinating. Munching on some glucose tabs and peanut butter crackers, my sugar rose quickly and I was able to muster a thought that maybe – just maybe – the Zombie Apocalypse wasn’t happening. My mind began to ponder the Low, and I realized that the night before I had stayed up a little later watching a DVR’d recording of “The Walking Dead” show on AMC. I’m a fan of the show that debuted on Halloween and have been watching every week since about how one sheriff’s deputy survived the Zombie Apocolypse in Atlanta. The show has thus far now spelled out how the city was barricaded, or what caused the zombie infestation.

I also recalled that prior to watching the show the night before, I'd eaten a slab of ribs at the local brewpub for dinner.

It all came together. Life has been crazy busy lately. In my hectic and action-packed life, especially with it being November and most recently that past weekend being World Diabetes Day, this was my mind's way of pulling all these pieces together and trying to outline everything my brain had been focused on lately. This was my mental way of mapping out everything in a way I might understand. Not only did it tap into my feelings of "being behind the eight ball," but it also brought in a recent dinner and TV show and work deadlines and D-advocacy.

On that last point, it tapped into my frustration with some D-Awareness issues overall - how Type 1 diabetes isn’t something that we can prevent or “stop” in the sense of just changing our own behavior, and it's not something that’s the end of the world. I don’t want people to think of diabetes as something that will cause mass hysteria or death or destruction. A virus or illness that will spread and destroy the masses. I fear what misinformation and even dread about diabetes can make people think.

WOW... Shudder. How wickedly weird.

Chuckling about this later in the day, I tweeted about the humor of not knowing whether this was actually a dream earlier that morning. "Am I imagining that the ADA used zombie-reference recently in advocating Stop Diabetes? Or was this Low-induced mind trickery?"

Fellow advocate and D-blogger Dayle Kern, a Type 1 who's a communications player with the ADA (not to mention a champion Wii bowler), responded: "Zombie references?! Really? Where? ... guess I do want your braaaiiinssss... :-)."

That made me laugh and appreciate even mroe the humor of this whole thing.

Even though this was a dream, it felt very real. But I'm glad it wasn't, and will do my best from this little corner booth to make people see the true picture about diabetes.
Now, I'm off to find that slab of ribs I'm craving...

1 comment:

Briley said...

Holy crap! I hope I never get your dreams when I'm low.