Wednesday, November 21, 2012


In medical school the quick way to explain Diabetes was the phrase "dying in a sea of plenty." The irony of an illness that you have what you need, sugar, but it can't get to where it should be, inside of the cell.  Therefore all this sugar just hangs out in the blood just waiting for the magic bus, insulin, to transport it where it should be.  It's a scary thought to have what you need right in front of you but no matter what "you" do you can't reach it.  That is how the trip to the grocery store feels, staring at a sea of plenty.

I have been lucky that for the past 6 weeks I haven't stepped foot inside of a grocery store.  While in Phoenix I sat in the car when friends went in or the woman who helped me would go armed with my list.  While back in Wisconsin, I have had the woman who helps me here also to do that task.  I didn't realize that I was avoiding the grocery store, but after careful review, I was.  Therefore it took me by surprise when I made a quick trip the other day and I started to cry.  Not full out tears, but at the deli as I ordered some ham, I glanced at all the fruits and vegetables and all I saw was what I could not have.  As the deli guy asked if I wanted the ham sliced or shaved I could feel tears welling in my eyes and I willed those tears to defy gravity and head back to the safety of my tear duct. It was just overwhelming to look at all this gorgeous food, the abundance in front of me, yet so much of this beautiful nutritious food will cause me harm.  What does it take for a body to reject the most basic of nutrients?  That question is one that can bring me to my knees.

I pulled myself together as I walked past the potatoes, carrots and squashes.  I blinked hard as I moved towards the pears, apples, bananas and berries.  I just kept moving forward until I got to the floral department and took in the gorgeous arrangements.  I just stared at the beauty of them and willed myself to focus on something else.  I then mechanically repeated my mental list of gratitude:  I can afford the food I can eat, I do not have a terminal illness, I am getting better, this may pass, my family and friends are healthy, we didn't live through a hurricane, etc..etc..etc.. I repeat these mantras over and over but with my previous favorite Holiday Thanksgiving right around the bend which has now become the viewing table for all of my favorite foods that I can no longer touch - the tear and gravity won.

As I solemnly made it to the check out lane with absolutely no appetite I noticed in the aisle behind me a familiar face.  Someone I have known for a very long time but not known well.  However, she lit up a bit when I saw her, like she was seeing me for the first time because she had just read my blog.  To shield my teary eyes I joked that she had a Rotisserie chicken and commented that I forgot to even look thinking it later in the evening they would all be gone.  She laughed and said thank goodness they weren't because my family's dinner depended upon it.  We both checked out and she gave me a hug and said genuinely we need to get together and actually catch up.  And I turned back around and thought - I can eat a Rotisserie chicken and all of a sudden I just didn't feel that bad.

Acknowledgement  - it can bring you back from the abyss in a single glance.  So when I got home, I put together all the things I could eat with that Rotisserie chicken and had a shared camaraderie knowing someone else pulled together a quick meal with the same thing despite all the other choices in front of them.  All of a sudden it didn't taste like I had eaten this 100 times before, and I was grateful.

It's probably a good thing we grew up watching Charlie Brown fall flat on his back time and time again at Thanksgiving.   Perhaps that's the lesson of abundance - seeing what you can't have and appreciating the hope of getting it next year.  I heard Dolly Parton once say that once she "made" it she said to her large family you can have everything you need but not everything you want.  I certainly have everything I need.  I have love and family.  I have safety and security.  I have everything that really matters.  Therefore, when I get outside into the parking lot on a crisp fall day and am unloading my groceries by myself I am grateful.  I remind myself a year ago I couldn't have accomplished that task.  If I step back and get out of the confines of the display of abundance of food, I know that I have an abundant life in so many ways that others do not.  I am not lacking an abundant life - just mashed potatoes - and I can deal with that!

Seriously - Who can argue with Dolly -

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