As we were preparing to do the series, a surprise pregnancy gave the promise of a huge event. Since the show wasn't due to air for almost a year, it was accidentally, yet exquisitely, timed. So, Grant and I set about the fun of telling anyone who'd listen that we were embarking on a production of another sort. In about six weeks' time the promise was broken. This growing expression of us both ended in its beginning. And the loss took my heart with it as well. Later that day my physicians entered the hospital room with that look doctors get when there's bad news (as noted on television). It seems that during the necessary D&C procedure that followed the miscarriage, it was discovered that there might be a little problem with the amount of sugar present in my blood. The normal count is between 70 and 110. Mine was 750!
"Mrs. Tinker," my doctor intoned, "It looks like you may have"--cue the drumroll!--"juvenile diabetes." I thought, Juvenile? Diabetes?! What?!--I'm not that childish! And I am not that special!
I can't believe I thought the diagnosis made me special. But I did and I couldn't wait to share the exciting news with everyone. Ah, such thoughts revealed my stunning insecurity in slightly loopy ways. There I was, a multiple Emmy Award winner, dozens of times on the cover of TV Guide, a darling of the critics, and I needed a major disease to make me feel whole? Let's chalk it up to films that had a strong influence on me from way back when they were called movies: the wheelchairbound little girl who won Heidi's love and attention; Deborah Kerr, who waited to be reunited with Cary Grant after she lost the use of her legs in a terrible car crash; and, of course, Camille, whose imminent death ripped the hearts from so many. All of these, plus a few more, made me believe in the magical power of illness to elicit love. Seemed like a good thing to me!
"Did you have a lot of cake last night for dessert?" the doctor asked. (I thought this was a bit cheeky.)
No, I huffed.
"Do you know anything about diabetes?"
A little (the one question I lied about). I knew diabetes was one of the big ones on the major diseases chart. But my knowledge of it measured . . . zip! In fact, I vaguely thought it condemned one to a lifetime of eating chocolates while reclining on a chaise, resting, never to dance again. I have no idea why I thought this!
"Have you been feeling tired? What about urination--any more than usual? Are you always thirsty and dry in the mouth?" No, not really--and no.
I noticed that some of the medical professionals who had been called to my bedside seemed a bit confused; there was a lot of head-scratching going on. They were stunned that I had been walking around without feeling any symptoms of diabetes with such a high blood-glucose level. In retrospect, I had noticed a few oddities, but I had chalked them up to the pregnancy. I'd had a feeling of fatigue upon reaching the top of the stairs in our house. And instead of attempting an Astaire-like flourish at the summit, I'd been unable to do anything but grasp the top of the banister and breathe, simply breathe.