Despite my parents having been born in Italy, I can barely speak a word of Italian. I can order a coffee, ask for a size 38 shoe or boot, and enquire about where to locate a decent Nutella cornetto for breakfast. I also speak with my hands like a native, so I fool a lot of people into thinking that my Italian must be as good as my Italian hand-waving. Alas, it’s not.
It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with diabetes that I became bi-lingual. That’s right; I learnt how to speak diabetese.
When I am low, I become super fluent in diabetese. It is at that point that words I know to be correct in English completely disappear from my memory and are replaced with words that may or may not work. Frequently they don’t.
The other morning, I announced to the family that ‘I need fooding’. Hilarity ensued from Aaron and the kidlet while I looked on confused and annoyed at their laughter, trying to find the right word, and demanding they stop it and get me a freaking doughnut. Apparently it was so funny that it warranted a Facebook post, where someone kindly responded that I had spoken ‘like a true Calabrese’ (which actually isn’t too far off the mark when I think about some of the words that my grandparents turned from Italian to half-English. My mother still jokingly refers to the first meal of the day as ‘brekkafesta’).
On the same day, I couldn’t remember the word for a particular appliance. ‘Heat that up in the dishwasher…I mean washing machine…I mean microwave,’ I said, desperately searching for the name of the correct white good. (More laughter from the other inhabitants who reminded each other of my earlier ‘fooding‘ comment and laughing about that all over again!)
I don’t even need to be low for diabetese to fall into dialogue.
‘What was Amy Winehouse’s blood sugar level when she died?‘ I asked Aaron when we walked out of the movie the other night. ‘Huh?’ he asked, looking at me. ‘Blood alocohol?’
Of course there is the ability to have whole conversations in acronyms – ‘At the ADA conference I was at a session on IPT and CGM and a CDE pointed out that QoL is as important a measure as HbA1c.’ Makes perfect sense to me and my people.
Being able to speak a LOTE that may only be understood by a (very select, very intelligent) few is kind of special. But I would be more than happy not to have to ever, ever again.