Sunday, January 21, 2007

Ode to Socks

OK. I have caught a cold. And I am doing my usual thing to get over it which involves a couple good nights' sleep, drinking fresh lemon tea, and some drugs. It works very well only if you call out from work the day you start to feel sick and fight for at least 48 hours. If not, then you will be really sick before your body gives out and the rest is history . . . it will take a week or weeks to get rid of it. I advise fighting it when it is a scratch in your throat or a runny nose and don't give the evil germ an inch in terms of settling in your respiratory system, your head or your nasal cavity.

So, while in the kitchen today, I tell my stepmother that I had a revelation, I need to where socks. I live downstairs in the basement where there is an office for working, pool table for boredom and a long bar for stacking all my books. It is very cold downstairs as compared to upstairs, so my winter long habit of no socks has been abandoned in the wake of my cold.

I meant my statement to be a joke, but my stepmother immediately starts shouting at me telling me that as a diabetic I always need to wear socks, and that I just choose not too. OK, here's a list of issues.

1. The majority of diabetic information, magazines and promotional gimmicks are designed for the elderly -- so, sometimes I feel like all of the precautionary measures make me feel old. I don't particularly like house shoes because they make me feel like the guy from Father Knows Best, and I prefer beach shorts and long sleeve shirts in the winter. Just me.

2. If I am not wearing socks those that have me under dietary (and now podiatric) surveillance think I am not "fighting for my life".

3. I should wear socks because cuts on my feet may not heal, though my healing rate from minor surgery 9 years ago and the removal of a rotten tooth that shattered into 3 pieces in my mouth 2 years ago were above average. I have said it before, I am a fast clotter and heal on cue. For how long? I don't know, but I knock on wood.

4. I don't like this perception that every waking moment is a fight for my life. No one in my family talks to me about my love life, my professional life, or my life as an artist anymore. I am just the sick member of the family.

5. Being treated constantly as a sick person is a form of being a none person because everybody knows what is best for me from food, to clothing, to work, to insurance, etc . . . Maybe they should make the decisions. There is also this perception that you are not living "right", because you are sick. I have encountered that among a lot of people, especially African Americans when I first came down with the disease. I could give a million stories about going to the pharmacy and elders not letting me leave without shedding a tear for me while I am trying to make an appointment across town. I will leave that for a later blog.

6. The soles of my feet are red and show good circulation. I know this from conversations with several doctors. Which are private and I should not have to recite my discussions with doctors all the time. But sometimes I do in the mist of reaching for something to drink from the refrigerator.

7. My protest at being interrogated this afternoon was looked upon as having a "shitty attitude". I understand that people are concerned, but I don't like being talked to with a raised voice and a critical eye and then stand blindly in the face of such preaching. Why do I not get to ask questions of other peoples behavior, even if they are correcting me?

8. People constantly come to me telling me what they "heard" about diabetics, but no one talks to me about what I know about being a diabetic. I have been one for 12 years, I do know a thing or two.

9. The same people that have all this new found concern after 12 years of not really asking are pissed when I buy diet soda because they think it is selfish because no one else can have any.

Now, I write this list because I think being diabetic is as much an identity crisis fought against a backdrop of those that are not diabetic, as it is a medical issue. There are several assumptions made about you and who you are. To voice any consternation about how the non-diabetic perceives you is to have a "shitty attitude" about your own health.

To say that you have a problem with what seems to be a small rule, like socks, because it is not "you" invites the response by the non-diabetic (who could be channeling a recent memory of their grandmother's foot amputation) that "your opinion does not matter" in terms of your health. It is the same as saying that "you" do not matter. And to go further and say, "Hey, I need some help dealing with this Father Knows Best Conservative Republican Subconscious Issue behind my objection to the rule" is lost in the commotion. It is probably dealt best with another medical/psychological professional than by the person pointing out your lack of self worth because you are not wearing socks. To not listen to a diabetic while passing judgement is dangerous. How would you react to someone saying to you that you have no self worth over and over and over again?

Before diabetes so many things were of just no consequence, I could just run around without socks, and my bare feet would connote a certain freedom or Southerness. It could also be taken as a sign of being a simpleton without many cares. Bare feet may be sensual to some, a larger fetish to others or a claiming of territory. Still for others it is an issue of not soiling the carpet with shoes, or a lack of formality. But, let a diabetic run around without shoes or socks and it becomes irresponsible, suicidal, a lack of self respect, amputation, foot ulcers, neuropathy, passive in the face of disease, stupid, idiotic and the waste of a young life.

Before diabetes, minutiae were plentiful and fights were few. After diabetes, fights overflow, my stubbornness abounds and a certain spite is brewing towards those that seem to know everything about having sugar, but have never experienced its social ordeal, the personal guilt and the restrictions everyone is willing to verbally and emotional enforce on you despite you trying to change. It is as if anytime you falter, people read it as moral lack, when you are just being yourself -- despite not wanting too.

Maybe I should just develop a sock fetish. Hell, I think I already have.

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