My New Best Friend and Ole Jim
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When I was taking my physical exam around May of 1982, which was required to become a college student at Vanderbilt, the doctor suspected I was diabetic. After a four-hour glucose tolerance test, it was confirmed: Scooter had diabetes.
OK, so what did I do? I went to Vanderbilt and totally ignored it until in March of 1983, I had lost 50 pounds and felt like total shit. Thank God my family convinced me to go see Dr. Graber in Nashville who at the time was a leading diabetic specialist. He used to draw so much blood that I nicknamed him, "The Vampire." Then one day, he had a brilliant idea. "Scott," he started with one eye slightly drooping lower than the other, "How about you urinate in this jug over the next 3 days and bring it back so I can look at it?" Look at it? What kind of sick man is this? Oh, I get it, do a urinalysis. OK, sounds good to me, I guess... So off I go back to Vanderbilt with my new best friend: The Jug.
As a very serious new diabetic, I took this order to pee in the Jug every time quite literally. Not most of the time, but all of the time. I eventually did get the hang of it, even though on a few occasions I had to run back to the little refrigerator in my dorm room in quite a hurry! I did forget one thing, however. The very next evening was Friday night and this was my big "Mystery Date" with Anne. The "Mystery Date" was an annual rite of passage for pledges at the Theta sorority house, and I was slated to do my part. I had been fixed up by Elizabeth with Anne, with whom at the time I was somewhat infatuated. Well, intrigued really, but that is another story.
But I also had my new buddy, the Urine Jug, "UJ" for short, to think of. I was ridiculously serious about peeing in the jug every time, not missing a beat, wanting to make sure that the test would be incredibly accurate. Surely I could not show up for a date at the Theta house with UG strapped to my side. I can see it: "Hey Scott! What you totin' around in that urine jug? Looks like urine to us!" At any rate, although the whole idea of a "mystery date" was somewhat of a mystery to me, I went for it anyway. I left my cozy little dorm room and reluctantly said a fond farewell to my new friend, UJ. "Goodbye, old buddy! See you soon." Surely the night won't be that long. And I could always run home quickly to take a leak, right?
I wandered down the short two blocks from Banscomb Quadrangle to the cool, pristine rather Greek circa. 1975-looking Theta house. DING DONG! I'm here. OK, so, "What's the Mystery?" I asked Elizabeth Robbins who set this thing up. "We're all (about 25 half-loopy freshmen) going to the country for a hay ride!" Yikes! I never thought I would be more than 10 or 15 minutes away from my new friend... OK, I can handle this, I think. So off we go to a mysterious far away destination. Under my breath, as we pulled onto West End Avenue, I mumbled, "Oh, God, help me!"
So we arrived in the country. Not really the country, but about six and a half miles North on I-24 and off on Brick Church Pike. BCP is now covered with urban sprawl, but in 1983, it sure looked like the country! So we piled out of Nick's dad's car. Elizabeth's "Mystery" date was my running buddy at the time named Nick. Come to think of it, Nick was and continues to be a mystery, but that's another story entirely.
Ok, so where was I? Oh yes, piling out of the Country Squire station wagon that Nick, Jr. had inherited from Nick, Sr. on high school graduation day. There we were, small shed, lot's of rather confused looking freshmen, as freshmen are prone to look. "So, where's the beer?" I remember hearing. At that time, I did not drink. I was still too close to being a Baptist minister (although I was always a Methodist) to drink. Not to mention that my Grandmother had told me early on that I would die with my first drink of alcohol.
Here came the beer. Here came the horse and buggy. Oh boy, how exciting can life be? I thought carefully before the following words come out of my mouth: "Is there anything other than beer to drink?" Sure, there's water, diet cokes, you name it! It's a diabetic dream. In boredom, as we wait for our turn on the horse-drawn cart, I began, with absolutely no thought to the grave nature of the situation, dinking copious amounts of anything fluid and non-alcoholic. Gulp...
Soon, my old friend the Urine Jug (UJ for short) came to memory. "So, how long is this hay ride?" I asked with serious trepidation in my voice. The cute and bubbly and slightly tipsy Anne turns to say, "Oh, I don't know, but what's the hurry?" I think long and hard, and say, "Oh, nothing! Nothing at all."
Finally, "Ole Jim" the wonder horse struggled to pull a cart up the hill in front of us. Several people piled off the wagon, and our fairly motley group climbed aboard." It's finally coming to a close, I think. Soon I would be reunited with UJ and all would be happy, especially my bladder.
Have you ever noticed that when you really have to pee, I mean you really have to pee, and you can't, that a lot of really unfortunate obstacles and events start falling out of the thin air? That was the bumpiest trail I have ever, or ever plan to be, on. For Christ's sake, how much could I endure? 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 53.8 minutes, shake, rattle, and roll. I began seeing what I hoped were stars.
Ole Jim finally wandered back into port, and I was ready to cry. If I had only had a little beer to drink, gotten a little looped, and peed by a tree, everything really would have been OK. Sure, UJ would have been disappointed but who would know the difference? No, not Scott. Everything had to be in order, and by God, "You are going to pee in that Jug, so help you son!"
How could I get home? Who had the keys? Would Anne be annoyed??? Screw Anne, I was in desperate straights! "Nick, I've got to go home," I said with determined seriousness. "Why, we're just beginning to have fun," Nick replied. "I must go home now, Damn it! Where's the car?" I said as my patience continued to wane.
"What's wrong with that guy" I could hear moving through the crowd. "Thanks for setting me up with this weirdo," I was sure I heard Anne mumble to Elizabeth. She was still cute but I could not see it at the moment. Finally, Nick gets back on I-65 South headed to Vanderbilt. I close my eyes and start counting... 1-2-3-4. Please, God, get me to UJ, please get me to UJ!"
After what seemed to be enough pain as required to pass a kidney stone, we finally arrived at the front door to Branscomb Quadrangle. "BYE!!!" I yelled as I flung the back door of the Country Squire and made a beeline for Scales room 324. Run, don't walk. Don't say a word to anybody. RUN!!!"
Key in door... Damn who invented the lock?!? It opened, finally. I lurched across the room. "Hey Scott!" said Hoyt, my bass guitar-picking roommate." "Shut up and get out of the way," I yelled as I lurched towards the little fridge in the corner of the room next to the window that faced, Lupton, the girls' dorm. Look, it was UJ! Thank God, thank anyone, cap off, drop to my knees, zipper down. OH GOD! Thank you. I will never sin again.
Moral of this story is that if you have a hot date with a cute blonde from Atlanta, leave the jug at home and pee on the nearest tree with impunity. Also, drink beer. Hay rides are definately more fun that way!
One urinalysis later, I was confined to a bed at Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville for four days to get trained on how to take care of myself. twenty years later, I am still learning. By the time I am dead, for sure, I will get the hang of taking care of this diabetes thing.
Fortunately now I am under the care of Dr. Terri Jerkins, I test my blood sugar at least six times a day, and often more, and I am on a Minimed insulin infusion pump that has done wonders for my diabetic therapy.