Today is Sept. 11, 2012 and it is the 11th anniversary of the day that changed life in the United States of America forever. For many of us it was the first and hopefully the only time that we experience violence on our shores directed from an international enemy. An enemy that many of us didn’t know that had existed until those two planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Quite often since that day the question that is most often asked is, “What were you doing on the day and time the planes hit?”
For me the answer is quite simple and significant for another reason. You see, on that day, I first acknowledged that I had diabetes. I say acknowledge because, of course, diabetes just doesn’t pop-up…like the planes on that day, this had been in the works for some time. There were signs that I had ignored…signals my body was giving me and I chose not to recognize what was going on with me. I can’t say that was what was going on with the government offices that were set up to protect us from such an attack, but like with myself the questions had to be asked… “What did I know? When did I know? Why now? Why didn’t I do something about it sooner?”
Comparing my acknowledgement of contracting diabetes to the 9/11 attacks is a tricky thing to do. So, just to let you know, that’s not what I am really trying to do. It’s just that it is such a weird circumstance that the manifestation of my health issue coincided with the tragedy that took place that day. Like many of the people that have contracted diabetes, I did not recognize the signals that should have alerted me as to what was going on inside of my body. Were there any warnings that the U.S. was going to be attacked? Subsequent information on the planning of the attacks indicates that there was. And for me, there were plenty and somehow it never registered on me that I was under siege. Even though there was strong evidence that something was wrong, somehow I tricked my mind into thinking either nothing was wrong or I was going through some sort of phase. The first mind trick was that I went on a water diet, hoping to lose a lot of weight. I had put on what I wanted to call “stress-related weight” because my family life and professional life was in conflict. My mother had been in the hospital that year since April. Most of the time she had been near death…we were urged to pull the plug three times and most of what I was doing, between eating and boozing, wasn’t healthy at all. Then there was my job; my boss never known to be the most sympathetic person on the planet, was all over me to increase revenue for the agency. He had let go most of the agency’s sales department and was coming down on me pretty hard to make up the lost revenue. There was a lot more pressure than the norm to perform and this combined with my mom’s situation I can easily admit that I wasn’t handling any of this well. Anyway, for me, I thought the water diet was a good idea. After all, I always would drink a lot of water, so why not take advantage of it. My water intake went up sharply. I went from an average of 6 glasses of water a day to 10 – 12. This was probably the first obvious clue, though the weight gain should have made me stop and think too.
Then there was the candy consumption…the urge for sweets. I thought that as a kid I had eaten enough candy and junk to last a lifetime and so, as an adult, I rarely indulged in sweets. I was very disciplined, limiting myself to eating cake only once a year on my birthday and setting tight restrictions on what type of sweet I would eat if I were inclined to indulge. Well, about two days before 9/11 I found myself craving…dying for candy. At first it would be a single candy bar. Doing it my old way, I would open it and eat just half, saving the rest of it until later. That was the plan! But what really happened is that I would eat the first half and then 5 minutes after eating that I would come back and finish the rest of it. Life was terrible those two days, as I would have strong cravings for something sweet well into the night. Thankfully, I made it through those nights but it was the first thing on my mind when I got up the next morning. There I was drinking tons of water in an attempt to abate my appetite and “jonesing” for something sweet like a heroin addict needs his dope.
Then it hit me. On the morning of 9/11 at approximately 8:46 a.m. (I was on vacation that week) I was watching the “Today Show” when they showed a plane crashing into one of the towers of the World Trade Center and as the announcers were speculating as to what was actually happening a second plane came on the screen and I along with the rest of the country watched (like it was in slow-motion) as the second plane crashed into the other tower. Quickly there was word of other planes in the air and their subsequent crashes (one into the Pentagon and the second, supposedly heading toward the White House, in a field in Pennsylvania). At that moment, I really wanted a candy bar. Thinking it was nerves and nothing else, I got dressed to go to the store. I was feeling a little lightheaded so I decided to walk instead of drive, which was probably a good thing for when I stepped out the door I was really disoriented. My vision was blurred and I walked on very unsteady legs. I made it to the store, which was about 100 yards away from my house, and I bought two candy bars instead of my usual one. When I got home, I ate the first one as I watched the news reports and quickly ate the second one…I wanted more. Just as I was walking out the door to go buy some more, I saw a commercial that asked if I or if I knew somebody that was experiencing the following symptoms:
- Sudden weight gain and/or loss
- Drinking excessive amounts of water
- Appetite loss
- Craving sweets
- Blurred vision
I don’t know how many times I had seen this commercial but on 9/11 that was the first time I really saw the commercial and I got scared…really, really scared. I had all of the symptoms and on that day as hysteria was raging across the country; I was going crazy thinking about the fact that I may have diabetes. As much as I wanted to sit and watch what was going on, I had to go out and get myself some more candy and this time some soda pop. I had stop drinking the “sugar” sodas a long time ago, but I wanted…no needed the sweetness of a Faygo Red Pop, straight up. I barely got out of the store before I had to open it and guzzle it down. I ate an entire candy bar and finished off the pop before I made it to my front door. I was out of control and embarrassed about it for three reasons. The first being that my self-proclaimed discipline was sorely lacking; the fact that I was the first in the family to contract diabetes in spite of my efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle; and third I should have been more into the catastrophic events of the day…my county…my people had been attacked. I had to settle down and fortunately I did.
I abstained from consuming more sweets and my vision came back to almost normal. I called my doctor and set up an appointment. I got in touch with family and friends and made sure that they were all right. I thought about my mom, lying in her hospital bed, so I called her too, in case she needed some comforting. I then tried to make sense of what had happened to the people in New York, our country and to me. For all the right reasons, I was still scared. Similar questions ran through my mind. If I was thinking about the attacks, I would ask, “Why Us?” If I was thinking about having diabetes, I would ask, “Why Me?” Thinking about the attacks, I would ask, “Why wasn’t the government prepared”? Thinking about diabetes, I would ask, “Why wasn’t I prepared”? About both, I would ask, “Wasn’t this preventable”? And lastly, what are we/I going to do now? You see, that’s how the two events, though separate, become comparable…they are linked by coincidence and by the fact that they, as I said so earlier, were life changing…life change for our country, the world and for me on that day forever!
That’s my story…what’s yours?
- We Will Never Forget: Incredible Pics Show World Trade Center Tribute Lighting Up Night Sky (judgementofamerica.wordpress.com)
- Congressional 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony (mcconnell.senate.gov)
- A Day of Remembrance: 9/11 Anniversary Events in Boston (bostinno.com)
- Flags and ceremony honor victims of 9/11 attacks (charlotte.news14.com)
- How South Sound will remember 9/11 Rising again (thenewstribune.com)
- Anniversary of 9/11 proclaimed Patriot Day (upi.com)
- Natick remembers 9/11 with World Trade Center steel (metrowestdailynews.com)