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Poetry and Medicine
August 21, 2013

Speak Diabetic

JAMA. 2013;310(7):751. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.1929

We diabetics have our own language,
hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia,
glucose in milligrams per deciliter,
meters and pumps and swabs and syringes,
preadolescent versus adult onset,
insulin dependent or pill persons,
Humulin, Humalog, Lantus.
Good morning, one hundred and twenty.
How are you?
Fifty-six and beeping in the middle of the night.
A need to participate: 36-24-36 chimes in
and we smiled because it happens.
I saw Emma Lou at the checkout stand,
told her I was seventy-six that morning
and all the listeners said Happy Birthday
and we smiled because it happens;
we ride the rollercoaster of ups and downs
in our struggle with highs and lows,
with diet and exercise
with multiple injection sites
with glipizide, glyburide, and glucagon
with sweets and carbohydrates
and with our communication skills:
I was one hundred and eleven this morning
and it is neither my weight nor my age.