From the base of the rock, the sound of the quick-draws caught on a gust that pushes through the narrow corridor behind Turtle Rock reverberates, a climber’s personal wind chime. I squat by my backpack, open the lid and pull out my glucometer. The red that bubbles up from the prick on my finger is the same as the stripes of iron that bleed down the steep, golden granite. It’s at the base of the climb that I still feel my diabetes and know that I have it. It’s tangible: test strips, syringes, vials and glucose tablets. These are the things I want to forget.
My test strip sucks at my blood, every day it pulls in some of my life, five times, seven times, sometimes up to 15 times. And there’s that comic little blood drop that flashes on my glucometer. I never watch it, because it reminds me of that prick, specifically that re-prick when the first fails to produce that little bead of magenta. It’s at the base that I know I am a diabetic, but it’s here to that it begins: my transformation.
I have always felt a connection to nature. My dad took me out into the unknown before I can remember most other things. And what I remember most is forgetting. I’m not unconscious though; I feel connected and hyper-aware of my surroundings. Still, something is forgotten that I want to be lost and it is good to be rid of this bad memory; the knowledge of something foreboding, the idea that no matter how well you control your blood sugar it still may not be good enough.
So I tie in, reweaving my figure eight, watching a line of ants walk up the quartz and feldspar peppered rock in front of me. There’s the rubbing of branches and leaf upon leaf that creates an audible texture and I feel it course through my body. And there’s that clanking, the anchors waiting, the entire climb before for me. But then there’s that caustic beeping of my glucometer, tearing me away from where I want to be, reminding me again about reality. Whatever the number, I am fine as long as I can go back to forgetting, as long as I can slap my hands together and watch the chalk plume drift away into the desert and grab on to the holds that lead away from here. I want to move far from the thoughts of nerve damage, distance myself from the images of lost limbs and blindness.
I’m good. The number says, so I can go and get lost now. A breeze rises and takes that mechanized scream from my glucometer far away, to be forgotten in the yuccas and Joshua Trees and Juniper. I make my first movement upwards and I forget about my diabetes. It is here that I am truly free. As I climb, I feel a complete attachment to the world without the knowledge of my having diabetes and there is nothing more that I can ask for. My wind chimes play against the rock. The evening desert air feels pure as I methodically inhale and exhale, my thoughts solely connected to this piece of rock. And then I’m at the top; I look down at my fiancé and smile and for a moment, three minutes, may be five, I have lived without diabetes. It’s gone.