“Lexie I didn’t know you were diabetic,” says the bartender at my step mom’s restaurant.
I look up from my kit, placing the orange cap back on my syringe.
“Yep, I’ve had it since I was 10,” I reply, hoping he doesn’t ask for more information. It’s Sunday after a long holiday weekend and I’m not in the mood to give the “Diabetes 101” speech.
He looks down at the glass he’s cleaning, pausing for a moment, then looks back up but turns his eyes away from me.
“I’m pretty much on my way to getting it,” he says, followed by a nervous laugh.
I look at the trim waistline on the twenty-something year old and think for a moment, trying to choose my words carefully.
“Does it run in your family?” I venture.
“My grandfather, my grandmother, my dad, both my uncles, most of my cousins, yeah, it definitely runs in my family. It’s only a matter of time before I get it,” he fires back.
I take a deep breath, and look him square in the eye. “Yes, you’re at high risk Jeff, but that doesn’t mean that you have to get it. Knowing that it runs in your family is half the battle, and there’s a lot of preventative measures you can take, it doesn’t mean that..”
He cuts me off before I can finish “My grandfather died from it. Had his leg amputated too before he died.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, diabetes is an awful disease. But there are amazing treatment options now, so if you did end up with Type 2 diabetes, there are a lot of ways to manage it.”
“Oh man, my biggest fear in this world is needles though! I would just freak out if I had to take shots!” he shares.
“Jeff, guess what? Everyone hates needles” I tell him. “You’re not the only person in the world who’s scared of needles. But if it was a matter of life and death, you’d take injections over dying wouldn’t you?”
“Oh yeah, totally, but wow, that would be awful” he says.
I’m at a crossroads right now. I can launch in to hundreds of stats and studies to explain to him that even with genetics stacked against him, Type 2 diabetes is not inevitable, and that he can prevent the onset and progression by diligently watching his diet and exercising. That even if he does end up with diabetes, that treatment and management options for him may never involve injections, and that even if they do it doesn’t mean an amputation is the next step. That he can live a long an healthy complication-free life if he only takes good care of himself. But I’m not sure Jeff is ready to hear that tonight.
“Jeff, there’s a phrase that I live by every day,” I say. I lock his gaze as he leans in over the bar.
“Well controlled diabetes is the leading cause of nothing.”
I watch him take in the message, the wheels turning in his impervious head. “That’s a good saying,” he says slowly. “Thanks for that.”