San Francisco Bay Area resident Patrick Totty writes about his experiences living with type 2 diabetesSee all posts »
The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay
Back in the day—I’m dating myself here—when they taught poetry in the public schools, one popular poem was “The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay,” a famous 19th-century verse by Oliver Wendell Holmes.
A shay was a small two-person buggy, drawn by one horse, that was immensely popular before the arrival of the automobile. In his poem, Holmes describes a deacon’s perfect shay, a vehicle built by master craftsmen with painstaking care from the finest materials.
The shay is built so durably and well that it goes 100 years without a single breakdown or need for any repair beyond routine maintenance. The conveyance is a marvel to all who have ever seen it.
But one day, suddenly, in the wink of an eye, the shay simply falls apart, collapsing into a pile of wooden beams, and spokes, and brass, and leather.
Ever since my diagnosis with type 2 diabetes I think of that poem, especially when I am trying to be resolute about managing my disease. We type 2s have a condition that, thankfully, we can manage so that its worst effects take years to unfold. For some of us, we can manage it so well that what eventually finishes us is something entirely different than diabetes.
But even the one-hoss shay, as marvelously built as it was, could not escape the inevitable. All things—and all bodies—no matter how well kept or maintained, cannot defeat or elude the effects of time.
So while I’d prefer to finish like the shay, I’m philosophical enough to know I’m just not that well built.
I try to keep that in mind when I get dispirited about how well I’m managing my diabetes. While setbacks are serious, and are to be taken seriously, in the grand scheme of things the best I or anybody else can do is delay.
We should do it as resolutely as possible, keeping in mind that in 21st-century America, almost all of us have a reasonable expectation of living well into our late 70s or early 80s.
That includes people with type 2. There are enough therapies in existence or coming down the pike to give us abundant hope of making it to a ripe-enough age.
(For a look at some of them, go here and then click on the line that reads, “For a complete set of this week’s Home Run Slides on Diabetes.” The PowerPoint presentation is a bit dry, but there’s some good side-by-side comparisons of current and impending type 2 drugs.)