When engaging in conversations, my mouth would become dry sometimes, so much so that I wondered if the person I was talking to could hear the clicking sounds I made as my tongue (starved for moisture) would smack against my teeth. I began keeping a bottle of water handy, and berry teas became my only harmless addiction. Not knowing better at that time, I smoked and drank. Maybe those indulgences were a factor in the miscarriage? The planning of The Mary Tyler Moore show was happily stressful, and I'm sure that added to my distraction, as well.
But in thinking about this inability to notice the symptoms of diabetes, I've come up with a couple of insights. The first possible answer is a paradox. You might assume that a trained dancer--me--would be tuned in to her body during a performance and during everyday life. But a crucial requirement to be a dancer is an ability to ignore the never-far-away physical pain that accompanies both the long-term training and moments of performance. Ah, yes, the performance, during which the face, at all times, must reflect nothing but the expression of the character one is portraying. The toes may be bleeding, calf muscles screaming, but never, ever acknowledge it! We dancers, make no mistake, are like football players. We play with pain. So, I think admitting to fatigue or discomfort goes against what was, by that time, my nature.
The other truth? I drank consistently every evening at six o'clock for many years. Could that have dulled my senses? You bet! Grant and I were feeling carefree, high-spirited, and dulled at the same time.
So diabetes arrived as a surprise--denied before diagnosis and marginalized after.
Excerpted from "Growing Up Again: Life, Loves and Oh Yeah, Diabetes" by Mary Tyler Moore with Kalia Doner (St. Martin's Press). Copyright © 2009 by Mary Tyler Moore. Reprinted with permission.