If you know me you know that I rarely talk about being diabetic. I’m not ashamed of my condition. I just don’t want it to define me, and I’ve never let it stop me from doing anything.
Over the past 14 years of living with the condition I’ve had more than a few days where I’ve hated the illness because I have to inflict pain with a needle every time I indulge in the pleasure of food.
Diabetes has rarely played to my advantage. Other than getting me a few TV credits and some bylines in some periodicals it has been a big financial, physical, and emotional burden.
Two months ago, however, I heard an advertisement on the radio that a diabetes research institute in San Diego was looking for healthy diabetics for multiple studies…and they paid for participation.
The first thought in my head was, “finally, a benefit to being diabetic.”
I immediately went to their website and applied. They contacted me within a couple weeks and told me about a couple of studies they were conducting. Both required two over night stays in their facility, but one paid more, so obviously I went with that one.
First they scheduled me to come in for a physical to see if I qualified. That went well minus me nearly blacking out while they drew my blood. I’ve got blood drawn every 3 months for the past 14 years and never experienced a near black out, so I was obviously nervous proceeding further. A week later, however, the institute notified me I passed my physical and was eligible for the study.
I won’t get into the particulars of what they are studying, because of a non-disclosure agreement I signed, but the study required two 30+ hour stays in their facility, with 28 of those hours attached to three IVs.
I arrived at the facility at 6am on Wednesday for visit 1 and was surprised to find an empty room. I had the place to myself. I was really stoked on that because I’ve had to share a hospital room in the past, and it is not fun. I wondered why it was so empty, but then recalled their strict participation guidelines. Then the nurses punctured my arms and I remembered it’s not exactly fun being attached to machines for 24 hours. I still have the scars on my hands from my diagnosis 14 years ago.
My desire to participate in the study was two fold. I have a project I’m trying to finance and every little bit of money helps. If it was good enough for Robert Rodriguez to be a lab rat to finance “El Mariachi” then it was good enough for me too. Also, I wanted to help future diabetics. The findings in my study could help improve future medications.
Once I was attached to the IVs I was told I wouldn’t be allowed to get off the bed until Thursday at 11am.
I had my mac, iPad, and iPhone to go along with the DirecTV they provided. I actually needed to catch up on rest, because I rarely sleep well, so the doctor ordered bed rest was a much obliged command.
The first few hours went agonizingly slow. A digital clock served as my nemesis until a nurse covered its view with the curtain around my bed. Boy did that curtain come in handy on more than one occasion.
That curtain served as my only sanctuary. I was under constant surveillance by doctors or nurses to make certain the study wasn’t tampered with by me taking medications or consuming food. They also drew blood from me every half hour and stabilized my glucose levels when needed. It was pretty nice not having to prick my fingers or use a syringe on myself for the first time in 14 years but I was not keen on the constant supervision.
I enjoy being alone, so it was a bit awkward having to ask a stranger for a container to piss in. At first I didn’t know how I was going to get that done without leaving the bed, but once the curtain surrounded me I maneuvered into a pissing position. It did require the equivalent focus and patience you witness of a dog pooping on a lawn.
12:30pm eventually came which brought with it the Padres game on TV, followed by the Heat vs Knicks at 4pm, and the Clippers vs Grizzlies at 6:30pm. Before I knew it, 9pm rolled on by.
If it wasn’t for my stomach I probably wouldn’t have had a sense of time passing. I was told to begin fasting at 9pm on Tuesday. I had my last piece of food at 8pm, so by the time the Clippers game ended it had been 25 hours without food, with another 14 to go.
From about 10pm to midnight I flipped between movies. I didn’t want to go to sleep because I knew the battle that entails when in a hospital bed. But I had to try, because I had to be back in Los Angeles the next afternoon and didn’t expect to be sleeping again until 3am on Friday.
I had to sleep on my back, which I don’t normally do. I find it odd, like I should be in a coffin. That contributed to the stop-and-go 5 hours of sleep I got.
I simply laid in bed from 6am to 9am to take advantage of the time to think. No one was there to bug me about everyday bullshit. When you aren’t allowed to get off a bed for 28 hours you do a lot of thinking. Mortality, career, and aspirations are just a few topics that crossed my mind. The last time I had that much uninterrupted time to think by myself was when I spent a week in the hospital when I was diagnosed 14 years ago.
Back then, that time to think motivated me and launched me in a positive direction in life. It made me realize life is short, which got me cracking on my writing career at a young age. I’m at a point now in life where I need to reach new levels and this study allowed me the time to formulate a game plan for my personal and professional life.
I was given a food menu at 9am and was somewhat disappointed with my options. I don’t know why I expected a four star meal, maybe because I hadn’t eaten in 39 hours, but nonetheless I chose the turkey sandwich and veggies, something light. I had to prove to the doctors that my glucose levels could be maintained off the IVs and I wanted some San Diego Mexican food before going back to the garbage they serve in Los Angeles, hence the lighter selection of a turkey sandwich.
I have one more over night stay next Wednesday as part of this study and then a follow up visit the following Wednesday. I will most definitely participate in future studies they need me for, not only because the money is good, and because I’ll be helping future diabetics, but because I also learned a lot about my own body.
I’ve always known I’m healthy, but I discovered my heart is extremely efficient and primed for a long life. I also learned my body processes glucose efficiently, which is important for diabetics. Those are likely a result of my exercise habits. I had those assumptions about my heart and glucose levels but the doctors in the study were able to verify that information.
So, I hate to break it to any of my haters out there with voo doo dolls, but I’m not going anywhere any time soon, and I’m only more motivated now.