Authors: Lurlene McDaniel
Tags: #General Fiction
She went hot and cold all over. It was as if he’d shone a light into some secret part of her heart and something dark and ugly had crawled out. She
rejected Jeff because she didn’t want a sick boyfriend. She’d said as much to Katie at Jenny House.
“It’s any sickness, Jeff. It’s mine too. I hate it all. I know it’s not your fault, but it’s not mine either.”
“I’ll bet no one at your school knows you’re a diabetic.”
She said nothing.
“I’m right, aren’t I?”
“It’s none of your business.”
“You know, Lacey, you’re the person who won’t accept that you have a disease. Why is that?”
She whirled on him. “How can you ask me that when you’ve just admitted that girls drop you once they discover you’re a bleeder? You of all people should understand why I keep my little secret.”
ALSO AVAILABLE IN DELL LAUREL-LEAF BOOKS
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Copyright © 1994 by Lurlene McDaniel
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For my son, Sean. Twice a day, every day, for all the days of your life
I would like to thank Gary Klieman and all of the staff of the Diabetes Research Institute, 1450 N.W. 10th Avenue, Miami, Florida 33136, for their invaluable help in the researching of this book. Much is being done to cure diabetes, and the DRI is one of the foremost institutions working in the area of islet cell transplantation today
on her bed hating the filled insulin syringe she held in her hand. Another morning and she needed her shot. The needle made her feel like a prisoner, even though her doctor always said it made her life easier. She’d been a diabetic since she’d turned eleven, so she’d spent five years giving herself twice-a-day shots and of living in fear of untimely insulin reactions. She hated the whole business.
“Lacey!” her mother called from the kitchen. “The phone’s for you. It’s your friend from Michigan. Don’t be too long, or you’ll be late for school. I’m leaving for work now. I’ll see you after six.”
Lacey grabbed the extension on her desk. “Hi,” said her friend Katie O’Roark in Ann Arbor. “I know
it’s early to call, but I wanted you to know we’re bringing Chelsea home from the hospital today.”
“That’s great. How’s she doing?”
“So far no problems with organ rejection. Her new heart’s working fine.”
Lacey was relieved. She’d spent weeks worrying about Chelsea, afraid that her friend’s heart transplant would reject and she would die. She shuddered over thoughts about sickness and death. “How’s she dealing with Jillian’s death?”
“That part’s been rougher,” Katie confessed. “She was in the pits for weeks and almost lost her will to live. You know that Jillian left Chelsea a videotape and Chelsea played it over and over. I think that helped change her attitude. I think she’s crazy about Jillian’s brother DJ too. But it looks pretty hopeless for them to get together.”
Lacey had met Jillian only once, but the girl had had an impact on her. Lacey felt it wasn’t fair that people got sick, or needed organs and there weren’t enough to go around to make everyone well. Especially kids. She set down her insulin syringe, loathing it more than ever because it reminded her that although she felt fine, and looked “normal,” she was saddled with a disease.
“How long will Chelsea and her mom stay with you before she can go back home?” Lacey asked.
“Another six weeks.” Katie paused. “My parents have been great. We’ll all miss her when she leaves. She’s been living with us since September, so I’ve gotten used to having her around.”
Lacey’s bedside clock radio warned her that she
was going to be late for first period, but she didn’t cut off the conversation. “How’s track coming?”
“The season opens in April. I’ll be ready. Right now there’s snow on the ground.”
“I’ve read about snow. White stuff that’s cold. Here in Miami, it’s going to be seventy-five today. I may have to dab on some suntan lotion.”
“You’re mean!” Katie said with a laugh. “We probably won’t see the ground until March.”
“How’s your little problem with Josh and Garrison working out? It must be hard to have two guys longing for you, although I wouldn’t know.”
Katie sighed and Lacey sensed her frustration. “Josh still sees red if Garrison so much as talks to me in the hall.”
“That’s not who I’m asking about. How does Katie feel about Garrison?”
“I wish I’d never mentioned him to you. You ask too many loaded questions.”
“Remember what I told you over Thanksgiving break at Jenny House,” Lacey answered. “Some guys like to mess with a girl’s head. It makes them feel important.”
Katie sidestepped Lacey’s question. “How about you and Jeff? Did you hear from him over Christmas?”
“Jeff sent me a card from Colorado, but I ignored it.”
“You are so cruel, Lacey.”
“Don’t preach. I know what I’m doing.” Like the others in her circle of Jenny House friends, Jeff was also sick, a hemophiliac. Lacey knew she couldn’t
handle having a sick boyfriend no matter how much she liked him. The clock stared accusingly at her. She was going to be very late. “Listen, much as I hate to cut this short, I’ve got to go to school.”
“I’m sorry to make you late. I miss talking to you.”
“Same here. I’ll call you and Chelsea on Saturday, when the rates are lower. Tell her I’m really glad she’s doing so well.”
Lacey hung up, grabbed her books, and headed to the door. She was turning her car into the school parking lot, when she remembered her insulin syringe lying beside the phone. If she returned home for it, she’d be worse than tardy, she’d be given a detention.
All right, so you forgot
, she told herself philosophically.
No big deal
. It wouldn’t be the first time. She’d simply cut back on her eating all day and locate near a water fountain to deal with the thirst she knew would come.
By noon her burning thirst seemed unquenchable. Lacey pleaded sickness—in fact, she felt sick to her stomach from high blood sugar—and got out of phys ed. When the school nurse saw her, she sent her home. When Terri Gutierrez saw her in the hall on her way out, Lacey told her, “Touch of the flu.” She didn’t like fibbing, but there was no way Lacey wanted anyone from school to know she was a diabetic. She’d hidden that tidbit of information and would continue to do so.
“You’ve got to be better by tomorrow night,” Terri insisted, her large brown eyes full of concern.
“Todd’s having a blow-out at his place after the basketball game. You know what fun Todd’s parties are.”
“I’ll be fine,” Lacey assured her.
By the time she arrived home, Lacey felt awful. She figured her blood sugar was sky high and that ketones, poisonous wastes from lack of insulin, were building in her bloodstream.
She realized that she should test her blood with her glucose monitoring machine, but that would mean pricking the sensitive tip of her finger to squeeze out a drop of blood onto the testing strip. “Forget it,” she told herself, deciding instead to try to rid her body of ketones and excessive sugar by drinking large quantities of water and getting insulin into herself as quickly as possible.
She threw away the syringe filled with her morning dose of long-acting insulin and drew up a syringe of regular—short-acting—insulin. She reminded herself that too much would carry the risk of a reaction. And too little wouldn’t solve her problem.
With a wince, Lacey inserted the short needle into the fleshy part of her abdomen. She pushed down the plunger, and as the insulin flowed into her, it burned. She withdrew the needle, pressed the site with an antiseptic-drenched cotton ball, and waited for the burning to cease. Finally, she broke off the needle and threw the debris into the garbage.
Her forgetfulness about her morning shot would mean another shot of regular insulin later that evening.
Why couldn’t medical science figure out a better way to get insulin into a diabetic’s body?
Chelsea had once asked if she could qualify for a pancreas transplant—the organ that produced insulin in the body. She’d asked her doctor, who was also her uncle, about the possibility, and he’d shaken his head. “It’s not practical. As long as you continue to do well on standard therapy, we won’t rock the boat.” Then he’d peered over the tops of his glasses and added, “If you’d come to some of the seminars and support group meetings at the hospital, you’d learn about these things.”
“I attended some of the meetings,” she’d said defensively.
“You came twice.”
“Who wants to hang around with a bunch of sickies? I’m not sick,” Lacey insisted.
“Lacey, be reasonable. Diabetes is a manageable disease. And support groups can help work out your feelings.”