Smuggling, what a word, one that usually has illegal connotations associated with it. There are several things that I think of when I hear the word smuggling. The geek in me thinks of the Millennium Falcon, Han Solo’s famous smuggling starship, and how he had to conceal Chewbacca, Luke, Obi-Wan Kenobi and himself, in his smuggling compartments as they were being captured by the Death Star. The recently graduated college student in me thinks of the all too common conversations that occur shortly after spring break among the students that went out of the US to places such as the Caribbean. Students trying to smuggle Cuban cigars into the US, attempting to get past customs in the stateside airports with their illegal contraband, the cigar shops they stopped at, the illegal in the US perfect tasting Cuban cigars they bought. It’s been heard time after time, the ones that make it through customs and the ones that get caught. The diabetic in me thinks of my own smuggling story.
My smuggling story is slightly different from Han Solo’s and the college students returning from vacation. It isn’t exactly a cliff hanging, are they going to make it out of the Death Star alive or did they make it past customs with the cigars story. It isn’t a story of “what’d they do when they caught you, did you get detained, did they confiscate them, did they threaten you with a visit to jail, and did they tell you that they would be watching you on your future trips out of the country…” No, my story is far less detrimental on the federal level and yet maybe more detrimental on the personal level.
Every Halloween after I got diabetes I hated the fact that there’d be bowls of candy just sitting around. Be them in kitchens of friends, on the teacher’s desk, or by my front door. One would think this odd given my history of not having a bunch of candy every Halloween prior to diabetes. Sure, maybe a piece or two for a few days following Halloween but never did we go trick or treating and come home with pillowcases full of sugary goodness. And the one time I do remember trick or treating, the people on our street were healthy distributors and we got apples and pencils and a couple pieces of candy. Nothing huge, the candy didn’t last us for months; we weren’t kids that at Christmas time we were still munching on Halloween candy. No, that wasn’t us, so the fact that the candy bowls taunted me was new, because I don’t ever remember them taunting me before. Of course, I’d been allowed the occasional piece of candy previously. The story completely changed when I got diabetes and I was taunted by the “unobtainable” Halloween candy. I was in a situation where “I couldn’t have it and so I had to have it scenario” and you know what, I got it.
It didn’t matter where the bowl was, it was as though the bowls contained the Sirens that were singing to Odysseus in the Odyssey as he made is way past the isle of the Sirens. The candy bowls were singing to me, tempting me, urging me to steer myself into the extreme rockiness of high blood sugars and all that accompanies them; at the worse point, that rockiness would’ve been the same rockiness that Odysseus would have sailed into had he not been strapped to the ship rail making it impossible for him to give into the temptation of the Sirens, death. I however, somehow managed to not be strapped to my ship, and I would sneakily creep past whatever obstacles were in my path and I’d smuggle candy.
I can remember one year in particular. I must’ve been fairly young still, in the 11 year old range, it could’ve very possibly have been the same year I got diabetes as I was still wearing footy pajamas. I can distinctly remember my parents handing out candy from a bowl they had waiting by the front door. But they also had a surplus of candy in the kitchen, the remainder of the bag that wouldn’t fit in the bowls, it was there on the counter. And so occasionally, I’d grab hold of the legs on my jammies, hold them up that way the feet weren’t dragging as I really didn’t want them to hear me on the kitchen floor, the plastic bottoms of my feet hitting the ground. I’d as quietly as I could I’d go down the hall, praying that my sisters wouldn’t catch me (because they were the type of sisters that would have nothing to do with the trouble I was going to get myself into, they never were supportive sisters in that fashion, they were no cohorts of mine), and I’d come to the end of the hall, and peek, very carefully of course, around the corner to get the location of my parents, after assuring that I was safe, I’d turn into the kitchen, pick up a few pieces of candy, drop them down my jammies to my feet, and quietly recede back into the safety of my bedroom. Once in my room, I’d crawl up onto my bed, unzip my jammies and unload my feet. I’d tuck the candy away into my headboard, I’d put some into my backpack, and I’d eat some.
On this particular year, I didn’t get caught, which is good because I would’ve been in some serious trouble with my parents, of course, it could’ve possibly prevented the recourse of eating the candy. I don’t remember what happened, but if I had to guess (because at this time in my diabetic life I wasn’t smart enough to take insulin in secret for the things I was eating) my blood sugars probably went high, and I probably lied about them to my parents about how I didn’t know how they had gotten so high and that “no, I hadn’t eaten any candy.”
This is really the one smuggling instance that sticks out in my head as my first act of smuggling. It was the first of what would become an ongoing smuggling spree. And it wouldn’t just be kept to a yearly Halloween incident. It would spread. I would become tired of being limited in what I could eat, I would become tired of people asking if it was ok if I ate [insert some questionable food here] and I would thieve and smuggle sweets whenever the chance was presented to me.
Yes, this was just the beginning of my acts as diabetic crime lord. My growth as a crime lord was aided and abetted (unknowingly) by those that cared. The people that wanted to keep me safe from “unhealthy foods”. The Sirens of those “unhealthy foods” still call out to me. Sometimes I can resist the sweet desserts, other times though I cave. When I can resist the sweets, I get praised. When there’s this look of deep longing for the sweets in my eyes or I ask a question about them, I get blocked, a tall thick brick wall goes up in front of me as they (the caring party) tries to protect me. What they don’t understand is that their protection is more detrimental to me than if they had let me have a piece of candy or a bite of a cookie or cake…And actually, maybe the caring parties are to me as Odysseus’ ship mates were to him and they have wax in their ears (read: a working pancreas) to protect them from the Sirens (read: evil food) but have bound me to the ship so that I can hear the beauty of the Sirens song but not cave into an atrocious decision that would lead to my death.
The only problem with this, the Sirens that sing to me don’t sing the beautiful song that they sang to Odysseus and even though there’s people to “protect” me, they’re going to get taken out at some point as did Odysseus’ men when Scylla ate his sailors. There’s only so much protection that one can provide and eventually the person being protected will fall, either due to our own devises or someone else’s. And the protection that people were trying to provide for me actually sends me spiraling downward. I can only resist for so long, and if I’m deprived long enough, when I fall, I fall hard. And that fall is usually worse than if I hadn’t been protected in the first place.
I had to smuggle when I was younger, if I didn’t smuggle, I wasn’t going to get it. I can remember when I didn’t feel as though I was getting enough pretzels at lunch, and so one day I took some to my room and put them in my dresser drawer and in the afternoon I got caught eating them. There was another instance where I got a sugar free Popsicle while everyone else got Klondike bars. And so after everyone else had gone outside, I went back inside, stole the last Klondike bar from the freezer, went to the bathroom and ate it. And the next morning when I got called on it, I lied; I lied for years about that incidence, about how I didn’t take it.
Yup, that’s me a smuggler and it all started with Halloween Candy. I’m improving though. 15 years after my first smuggling act in the name of diabetes, I ask mom what we’re handing out this year for Halloween. She tells me a variation of what she’s been telling me for 15 years “It doesn’t matter, you can’t eat it anyways”. That was the night before Halloween. On Halloween, when I got home, I wandered around the house a bit, crossed the path of my parents and went for the bowl, right in front of them. As I dipped my hand into the bowl mom scowls and says “Only one” I roll my eyes (as if I didn’t know exactly what I was doing) and mutter under my breath “Yeah, I know”.
I took that one Reeses Peanut Butter Cup and stared at it. It was the only one I got, did I want to eat it now or later. Would I be able go out after they went to bed and get more? I didn’t know if I’d get more, but I ate the piece I had, I ate it slowly, enjoying each bite. For some strange reason, after the house was dark and quiet and everyone was in bed, I didn’t sneak out to the kitchen or living room get more candy.
The next morning, in some kind of state of amazing self control as I headed for the front door to go to work, I passed the candy bowl, still full of chocolate candies. I backed up a few steps, looked into the bowl, and went to reach for a handful of candy and then something stopped me and I turned back towards the door and I left. For the first time in my diabetic life, after 15 years of being a smuggler, I didn’t smuggle Halloween candy this year.
This is excerpt from my NaNoWriMo project: Confessions of a Type 1 Diabetic. It’s 1872 words for the curious.