I’ve decided to learn to play a musical instrument. My family will quickly tell you that this is well outside my current skillset. I’m not renowned for my sense of rhythm or pitch. However, the husband plays the tenor horn in a wind orchestra and in a pub after a recent concert I was bullied/coerced/persuaded/pressured into learning. Lots of enthusiastic cries of “the husband can teach you and then you can practice with us” and a little bit of beer lead to me agreeing to learn to play the baritone.
I don’t remember my diagnosis with diabetes, but learning a musical instrument has given me some sense of the complete bewilderment that happens when you are dragged into a world you didn’t really know existed. While the new diabetic grapples with basal rates, carb ratios, hypos and hypers I am being told to tighten my embouchure, control my diaphragm (which I’m yet to locate) and to believe that one day I will be able to translate the dots on the page into some form of enjoyable music. This is like being told at diagnosis that one day you will be able to carb count a whole meal without the aid of a calculator and several reference books. It’s very hard to believe at the time.
There are lots of new things to do. Those who aren’t pancreatically challenged consider it abnormal for someone to stab themselves in the finger to illicit blood or to inject random areas of fat throughout the day. Those of us who aren’t musical are perplexed by the revelation that some people are able to beat a rhythm with their feet, whilst their fingers press down the valves and their mouth blows in the air to create the notes. Changing my first infusion set was not this confusing, I’m sure of it.
The sense of bafflement isn’t helped by the fact that people keep moving the goalposts. Like when you learn to carb count and you learn what insulin you need for 10g of carbs. You start to get confident, this isn’t so hard after all. And then they tell you that actually 10g of carbs from an apple will be absorbed at a different rate to 10g from a pizza, so really it’s a lot harder than it first appears. The same happens in music. You think you’ve got the hang of the counting thing and then they change the rhythm you’ve got to count in. It’s a cruel world.
One of the marvellous things about diabetes is that you get to start again every day. Just because you were a 15 all day yesterday doesn’t mean the same has to happen today. Music appears to be similar. Last night’s rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was quite frankly an embarrassment to nursery rhymes. Today’s however was a shining example of wonderment, assuming you like your nursery rhymes belted out from a lower brass instrument. Things change quickly in the worlds of diabetes and music.
So, as I blunder into this new musical world it does make me realise how much I take my diabetes knowledge for granted because I have no memory of having to learn all this stuff. I’m quite grateful for that. If I’m not very good at the baritone I can always hide it under the table and forget all about it, sadly the same doesn’t apply to the diabetes.