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Postcards from Eddie.

Sometimes the only concrete proof that diabetes hasn’t been with me forever are the cards my classmates sent.  Made from Manila paper, the kind found in abundance in elementary school, the kids in my class used their Dixon Ticonderoga No. 2 pencils and a fistful of crayons to let me know they were thinking about me.

“Dear Kerri, I heard you were sick.  We cleaned out our desks yesterday.  You left your lunch here.  The pear was all rotten.  Hope you feel better soon.  – Mike.”  This card was illustrated in pencil, showing a skeleton picking up a spoiled bag lunch from the garbage can.

“Dear Kerri, Get well soon!  Love, Megan.”  A rainbow of three colors, – pink, blue, and purple – sprawled across the sky, represented by one line.  A tree with two apples hanging enormously from its branches stood exactly the same height as the building labeled “Hospitoll”.

These cards are safely packed away, somewhere at my dad’s house, with the pee alarm and the old blue comfort pillow that I used to clutch while I sucked my thumb.  My mother always claimed that she’d give me these things before my wedding day, a promise she followed through on when my husband and I married in 2008.

Even if I never see them again, I remember the cards.  I remember snippets of those years like they were postcards from someone else’s life.

A picture of the carousel near my childhood home brings back memories of black raspberry ice creams, riding my bike into the village with that Jack of Hearts card stuck in the rear tire, and collecting the perfect, miniature shells that washed up on the shoreline after the hurricanes made their tour.  No memories of a finger stick or an injection.  But I do remember that, if I rode my bike all the way to the beach, I could have ice cream without taking a shot.

I don’t remember everything about my diagnosis.  They spoke mostly to my parents.  My dad paced the room and looked out the window.  My mom sat at the table with the endocrinologist, listening and taking notes.  Books on long and short acting insulin, a proposed diet, and a chart to log my blood sugars slid across the table.

I wasn’t paying too much attention to these attempts at education.  The 13 year old boy who shared my hospital room had been bitten by a poisonous spider and was hooked up to an IV drip bag that I found much more interesting.  The bite mark was an angry pink and the boy said it itched tremendously.  He and his IV pole and me with my Kitty sat in the children’s ward and watched television.  He introduced himself as Eddie.  I told him my name, too.

“What are you in for?”  He raked his fingers down the side of his ankle, where the bite waged war on his immune system.

“I have diabetes.”

“Oh.  I’ve got a spider bite.”

“Wow.  Can I see it?”

“Sure.”  He rolled up his pant leg and exposed the sore.  “Where’s yours?”

“I don’t have any marks on me,” I responded.  We watched TV while our parents talked to doctors.

In a box in my attic today, I found a postcard from Eddie.  We corresponded as pen pals for for several years.  I remember writing to him about cats and going to the beach, ice cream and bike rides, but never diabetes.

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tim Steinert #

    I don’t have the notes from kids in my class about developing diabetes (it happened at 43), but I do remember when my BROTHER was diagnosed in 1971. There’s a picture of my brother in a hospital bed and my horrible printing telling about how my brother was sick and getting better (after coming in with a blood glucose reading of 900+!). It took me a month and a half to figure it out by myself. Slide over, bro!

    07/25/13; 11:50 am
  2. Wow, that is so cool that you still have those cards from your classmates! Shortly after I started my blog, I asked my mother if she still had the Get Well Soon cards (from construction-paper, crayon, and magic marker) that my classmates had me. She’s a packrat and I assumed she had them — but she said she didn’t. But I remember most of the kids thought I was in the hospital because of chicken pox, not diabetes.

    Any my pediatric roommate (can’t remember his name) was there because his brother ran over his leg with a lawnmower. Like you, his story was much more interesting story than mine. We played Monopoly, and he always got Boardwalk and Park Place.

    I loved reading your story!

    07/25/13; 12:24 pm
  3. Laddie #

    Kerri, you always paint pictures in my mind with your writing. Wonderful post.

    07/25/13; 4:36 pm
  4. ria #

    this really tugged at my heart strings…..
    or maybe my blood sugar is doing a low dance…………
    seriously, this is beaUtiful !

    07/25/13; 5:30 pm
  5. Ana #

    So similar to my experience!

    I was diagnosed when i was 10, 2 weeks before going home for Christmas Break in 5th grade. When i came back from break having been gone for almost a month from school i came back to an accordion-like stack of notes from all my classmates. I could never throw those notes aways because re-reading them brings me back to that time when i was 10 and diabetes wasn’t such a big deal or as daunting as it sometimes seems today.

    I also remember my hospital rommie had had an allergic reaction to peanuts and we chatted about our war stories for a day or two before he went home.

    Thanks for sharing this story it allowed me a trip back memory lane which i seldom now take!

    Just wondering at what age where you diagnosed??

    Thanks love reading your posts!

    07/25/13; 10:33 pm
  6. Cynthia Boisvert #

    Parents of D1 children want you to remember your childhood – the fun things. Kudos to your mom and dad for taking the load and that your memories are not of the stress that mom and dad’s go thru during initial diagnosis, hospital stay, and basically forever!
    the postcards, your log books (which I bet chronicle your childhood days) are windows to all that was good and going on in your life.

    07/26/13; 9:46 am
  7. This was absolutely beautiful… you often move me to tears! I still have all of the cards I was sent (none by my classmates – mostly friends of my parents), and my hospital bracelet. Sometimes, I drape the bracelet across my (still pretty small) wrist and marvel at how emaciated I must have been to fit in that at 12.

    07/27/13; 11:25 pm
  8. Krista #

    That first card had to be Mike H. if the drawing was any good!

    07/30/13; 7:39 am

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