The Wednesday that Changed My Life

Today is Wednesday, November 23, the day before Thanksgiving Day and two days before Black Friday-a day where more than a few of the humans tend to lose their minds. Left to themselves, Wednesdays, in general, have a certain element of “blah” attached to them. Most of us want to get through a typical Wednesday so we can start thinking about a typical weekend. Stuck right smack dab in the middle of the work week, Wednesdays seldom inspire much joy or excitement among the masses. The week of Thanksgiving, for example, we need Wednesday to prepare for Thursday. I would think it’s safe to assume more than a few are at the grocery store right now buying items for the big dinners they’ve planned for tomorrow. Historically, churches still claim Wednesdays are their own…but if attendance records mean anything, I’m not sure the church in 2022 has a right to claim Wednesday as personal property anymore.

Out of curiosity, I chose to start digging around about the specific sentiments for Wednesdays in general. It didn’t take long to realize Wednesdays are a pariah. The website, Spinditty, lists the top 100 songs with the days of the week in the title. Saturday and Sunday cleaned house and were mentioned most with 31 and 25 song titles respectively. Wednesday only had 4 (3 of which I had never heard of) and missed the bottom spot only by 1 to Thursday, who had 3. Music Study ranked the top 29 or “best” songs with days of the week in the title. Monday claimed the title with 6 songs in the top 29. Wednesday came in dead last with only 1 song making the list. Both lists had Wednesday at the bottom or near the bottom when it came to writing the catchy songs. Wednesday just doesn’t have the draw. It doesn’t stir the heart or make it sing. It never has.

In 1986, I was a student at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville when I suddenly became sick…literally out of nowhere. I had just graduated from Halls High School with some really nice folks and had made the leap to UT without realizing where I was headed or what I wanted to do. After the fall semester started, my body started to break down. The first symptom I ran into was a really dry, unquenchable thirst. I seriously could not drink enough water or any other liquid to quench the thirst I was suffering from. The next noticeable symptom was a series of mad-dash sprints to the bathroom…which I reasoned in my brain to be the result of drinking so much. In a very short amount of time, I became terribly weak and sick. I could not even sit through a class without getting up 3-5 times. Sleep became almost impossible as getting up 10-12 times a night to go to the bathroom became the norm. I didn’t know what was wrong…I just knew something had changed. The skin around my eyes had taken on a grayish tint. My eyes stayed bloodshot from not sleeping. I looked and felt terrible.

At the urging of a couple of very dear people, I made my way to the clinic on UT’s campus on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. Between urine and blood tests, I found out I could literally drift off into coma at any moment as I was greeted with the wonderful news that I was officially a diabetic and that I needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible. My blood sugar had officially maxed out the clinic’s meter of choice. (Which meant it was over 500) The news was worse than coming out of “nowhere” or “out of left field.” A bomb had gone off in my world and its impact would be felt by not only me, but also my family and friends. I was stunned. All these years later, I still am.

I left the clinic that day and went straight to UT Hospital. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was literally leaving one life behind and was stepping into a new world of counting carbs, calculating insulin dosages, and coping with the over-hanging fear of what diabetes could do to a person who wasn’t paying attention. I was scared out of my mind. The next day my family was supposed to get together and thank God for the many blessings He had poured out on our family. I remember laying in the hospital bed Wednesday night…staring at the ceiling. Thanking God wasn’t on my mind. I was mad. Somebody somewhere owed me an explanation…or at least that’s how I felt at the time. My mad spell lasted most of the night. Early Thursday morning, I was given the good news by my doctor that I was going to get to home for Thanksgiving dinner with my family. He simply asked that I be back at a reasonable time Thursday afternoon to begin my education on what the rest of my life was going to be like. The words were as heavy as the circumstances.

It is almost impossible to believe that fateful Wednesday was 36 years ago. I relive it every year at Thanksgiving. I don’t think I will ever forget that Wednesday (or Thursday) in 1986. Both were huge in my little life. Wednesday was shock, awe, fear, and anger. Thursday was genuine Thanksgiving…gathered around a table with family…feeling weird and nervous about the news we were all trying to process. I hugged everyone…and they hugged me back. I was scared…so were they. I didn’t know what to say…and neither did anyone else. But we managed to thank God for His blessings that day…just as we will do tomorrow. My family thanked God for the food, for each other…and they prayed for me and whatever was ahead of me.

I am 54 years old. I am 36 years a diabetic. My endocrinologist told me I would forever have two ages to keep up with. Today I turned 36 years old in my Type I Diabetes life. I am in reasonably good health, all things considered. I have been blessed from day 1 to have great doctors and great people around to help me carry this burden I never asked for. I jokingly call it my anniversary. I went to the clinic that day with questions and concerns. I left the clinic with some answers and a life that would never be the same. My family (Mom, Dad, Brian, and Joy) gathered around and helped me when it all started. Today, I am blessed with a wife and son (Kris and Nate) that picked up where they left off. Friends back then rushed to my aid…and over the years friends have continued to show up help me carry the burden.

I won’t lie and tell you I like being a diabetic. I also won’t tell you how thankful I am to have it. Many times, I’ve all but screamed over the hardships it’s brought to me and my family over the years…financially, emotionally, and even mentally. But I can say God has been faithful to me in the midst of it. He’s met all my needs and has provided me with a network of support that has included some of the best people on the planet. On that note, I am an extremely blessed child of God. A day will come when my diabetes will be cured. I truly long for that day. As I age, I find myself longing for that day more and more. But until that day comes, I find peace in knowing I’m never alone. Like you, I have untold blessings…far too many to count. Thanksgiving Day gives us all an opportunity to “play the tape” and revisit His goodness. Take advantage of the opportunity…and give Thanks.

Bro Mark

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