There has only been one time – ONE TIME – that I used diabetes as an excuse. One time. And I was always so adamant about not letting diabetes ever keep me from doing anything… the irony is thick. It was in seventh grade. The experience haunts me still.
Here’s how it went down: The way the gym at my middle school was set up was such that the gymnasium floor was at the base of a high walled, enormous room. Bleachers lined the incline on all sides. It was set up like a basketball arena. Very easy to see the victims … ah, participants on the floor.
My classmates and I had changed into shorts and t shirts and were filing in to the gym. And there, spread out before us like a gladiator coliseum, was The Obstacle Course.
The gymnastics horse was there. Rearing its ugly head, sneering at us all. The parallel bars mocked us. As did their uneven friends. And the nefarious rope climb was set up at the dead center.
“Line up. Girl, boy, girl, boy. Come on.” Gym Teacher put one hand on his hip, the other gesturing towards where we were to form a line.
I felt my pulse quicken. A bead of sweat emerged from my hairline and made way for my brow. Clammy skin. That pit in my stomach that signified panic. I felt disoriented and confused. What was happening?
Is she low? Faithful Reader asks.
No way. I was panicked at the idea of performing these physical feats in front of my classmates. I was well liked in school. I never had a shortage of friends. And my confidence stretched from academia to social settings. But I had no faith in my athletic abilities. I fell over my feet on a regular basis. I was notorious for slipping while standing still. My legs were those of a newborn colt on a banana peel laden floor. And, at 13 years old, I couldn’t find a way out of that gym fast enough.
“Gym Teacher, Gym Teacher.” (Of course I didn’t call him that, but there is no way I’m blowing my cover now, after all these years.) “I don’t feel very well. I need to go to the nurse.”
Being the only diabetic in the school and a well-known one at that, Gym Teacher dismissed me with the flick of an over-tanned wrist. And I trotted, riddled with a mix of guilt and relief, to the nurse’s office.
To the credit of my integrity and ever-plaguing conscience, I didn’t actually lie. It was more lying by omission. Just by saying “I don’t feel well” and being the diabetic, my need for medical attention was never questioned. But it is the only time I’ve ever let diabetes play the role of crutch. And I can’t let myself forget it. Sure, I’ve forgiven myself. And even now, as I write this, I laugh a little bit. But I can’t forget it.
I forgive you. Faithful Reader puts a hand on my shoulder.
I hope so.
That it is, Faithful Reader. That it is.