“On Courage” Honorable Mention: Melissa Ratner

Melissa RatnerMelissa Ratner lives in Sacramento, CA with her two dogs, Omar and Tallulah, her cat Obsidian, and a library worth of books. She is a fiction author, essayist, dog lover, and graduate student studying English and Creative Writing.

Melissa’s nonfiction story “A Diabetic’s Perspective” was awarded Honorable Mention in our “On Courage” contest.

I write because: it moves me. Everything I have ever experienced that is worth remembering I can capture in words. Fun, misery, hatred, joy, fear, excitement. It doesn’t matter what it is. If I can feel it, I can write, and I can share it with you.

Something surprising I have learned about courage over the years is: one has no idea how much they really have until they have to use it.

I feel most courageous when I am: fighting hypoglycemia. When my blood glucose drops into the 50s or 40s or 30s, I become acutely aware of my mortality and fragility. It is in those rare moments that I have to accept that I have done everything I can to save myself and then let go of the outcome.

 Some Things You Might Find Interesting About Me 

1. I am a Certified Reiki Master Teacher.

2. I adopt rescue dogs.

3. I learned to SCUBA dive when I was eleven-years-old

4. I can rub my belly and pat my head, and then change directions without interruption. 😉

5. Sometimes I think that having diabetes saved my life—it gave me the drive to do all of the things I hadn’t done before.

 About “A Diabetic’s Perspective” 

Last night, my blood sugar dropped to 40 with almost five units of active insulin in my system. I miscalculated. Maybe I was distracted. Maybe I miscounted my carbs. Maybe the fat in my food delayed the rate of metabolism in my body. Maybe my blood sugar just dropped for no reason. I was about to drive home when I decided to check my glucose value. I asked my friend to drive my car. I can’t drive when it’s this low, I said. He drove me home as fast as he could. What do I do, he asked. If I pass out, take me to the hospital and tell them I had a hypoglycemic episode. Obviously, I made it through. I had sugar packets and glucose tabs in my purse. I came home and had a glass of juice. But for those moments before my blood glucose crawled back up from 40, I again found myself contemplating failure. To manage my condition. To survive. Diabetics go through this every day. I’m not special. I’m not unique. But no one sees this silent disease except our loved ones and caretakers. It’s an invisible illness. I wrote “A Diabetic’s Perspective” because I need someone and everyone to know how hard we work every day simply to not die. I want you to know how hard we try, how much we want to live. But please, please also remember that even though we are broken in a way, we are not broken as people. We are strong. Determined. Empowered. And so very alive.

Melissa’s story “To Remember Him” was published by The GNU. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.