I brushed my teeth for a full two minutes this morning. I sorted my vitamins, my beta blockers, my ACE inhibitors and my other pills into a 7-day organizer — and I’m 3 days into it. I remembered to use my special face goop before I went to bed last night. I just refilled my test strip supply, and I’ve got a fresh sensor taped to my butt.
I’m fortunate to find myself in one those zones that my best friend refers to as “having your stars aligned.”
“I used my Water Pik today,” she’ll say. “And I slept for 8 hours. My stars are aligned.”
The reason all of these seemingly mundane accomplishments are remarkable is that my stars are so often unaligned. In fact, as a person with diabetes, I feel like I spend a lot of extra time trying desperately to smack said stars into alignment. I’ll have a great week as far as blood sugars go, but I’ll be behind at work. I’ll remember to take my assortment of daily pills, but I’ll go six or so straight days without eating a single vegetable. I’ll have plenty of alcohol swabs and infusion sets, but I’ll put off putting a new sensor in.
A few days ago, as I was immersed in the game Plants vs. Zombies, a new metaphor struck me. When all is well, not only are the stars aligned, The Zombies Are at Bay.
Allow me to explain: in Plants vs. Zombies, a ridiculously entertaining time-waster that goes for a few bucks at the iPhone App Store, you’re guarding your home from an onslaught of cartoon-y zombies. To keep them from reaching your house, you must plant a garden of zombie-fighting flora. Cherry plants blow the zombies up; corn stalks launch pats of butter at undead heads; walnuts stand in the zombies’ way. There are 50-something plots, and it’s necessary to keep most of them full of defensive plants in order to keep the zombies away. If you slack, or if the zombies come on too strong, they eat all your plants and barge into your home and eat your brains. And then, of course, you’re dead.
The consequences might not be as severe, but when it comes to successfully fighting back all of life’s stuff, my day-to-day existence strikes me as quite similar to a game of Plants vs. Zombies. In normal life, the zombies are things like cavities and high blood sugars, weird stress test results and pants that suddenly get too tight. The zombies are stinky food in the fridge and overdue phone calls to the insurance company. And the scariest zombie of all? The other D: Depression.
There’s a familiar sense of panic and dread when you know you’re in over your head, when the zombies start chomping the crap out of your carefully planted corn stalks and pea shooters and you realize there’s no way to keep up. Yes, you realize, the zombies are indeed coming into your house to eat your brains, and you’ll have to start again from scratch — fighting them off one more time.
So while right now I can take comfort in the fact that the zombies are far off and the stars are in perfect order, I don’t feel like I can stop planting cabbages or watching the sky. I realize that it’s just part of life, and that it all ebbs and flows, and that billions of people the world over have a much harder time keeping real-life terrible things out of their lives. I just wish it was all as amusingly addictive as an iPhone game, and I wish I could turn it off when it starts to look like I’m losing.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to floss my teeth and brush the dog and take a vitamin. My stars are aligned, and I’m going to keep them that way for as long as I can.