Thursday, 6 March 2014

If I'd been born back then, it would've been a very short visit!

This morning was one of those (fortunately rare) occasions when I forgot to take my shot — the long-acting, "basal" insulin dose that I take twice a day, 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., in addition to mealtime doses. Forgetting my meds was something that didn't tend to happen when I was hooked up to an insulin pump 24/7, but, for reasons I explain in this post, I am currently "unplugged." Anyway, it was around 11 a.m. when I realized the oversight — mainly because I was feeling GROSS, in that hyperglycemic kinda way. I took my 3-hours-late injection and found myself musing (as any T1 diabetic must do at some point), What if I'd been diagnosed before Dr. Fred discovered insulin?

The answer is pretty short and blunt: all other things being equal, I'd have carked it at the tender age of 22, leaving behind a wrinkle-free but otherwise ghoulish, emaciated corpse. This realization, when it first came to me, years ago, was pretty unnerving; these days, it's really just one of those "things that make you go hmmmm." Something to contemplate alongside this beer-centric history of Kitsilano (left and below), which Freddie and I discovered yesterday while taking shelter from the rain (despite my earlier homage, winter weather is wearing out its welcome!).

(By the bye, I 'd suggest clicking/enlarging these photos for a better view of the text.)

1910: The year my maternal grandmother was born, in Newfoundland, Conrad and Henry Reifel were busy brewing Bohemian Beer in a Kitsilano neighbourhood that now features, among other things, a pet supply store, a dog walk, several caf├ęs, and condos galore. Type 1 diabetics? They rarely made it to drinking age.

1922: A banner year in Modernist literature (including works by personal faves, Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf), AND .... Dr. Fred discovers insulin!! Yay! Diabetics can now survive long enough to develop beer bellies! And the Reifel brothers, having survived BC's experiment with temperance, can go back to brewing something other than ginger ale and Bohemian Light ...

... not to mention keeping BC's Depression-era economy going with a bit o' bootlegging to Prohibition-era Amerika.

Diabetes in the Depression? Yeah, that would've sucked. Even without the economic woes ... no test strips, no personal glucometers, no fast insulins or teeny-tiny needles. Lots of nasty complications.

Better than the alternative, however.
I guess nothing much happened in Vancouver brewing between the 1940s and the 1990s.

I believe that not a whole heck of a lot happened in diabetes treatments either. OK, yes, glucometers were big; fast insulins were big. And yet ... despite all the new-fangled and oft-useful gadgetry that has been developed in the time since my 1987 diagnosis, something tells me Dr. Fred would be dismayed to learn that there still, nigh on a century later, isn't an effing cure (I have no idea if he was in the habit of swearing, so I've toned down my own inclination).

Alas, Dr. Fred ... insulin and other diabetes paraphernalia have become like beer: why would an enterprising businessperson forsake the opportunity to peddle such commodities?

Non sequitur: from ale to coffee ... it's a bit puzzling to me that Walking With Freddie's most popular post so far is this one. Go figure.

Yep, yep ... we'll get back to history lessons. Just need a little dose of Freddie before we do that!

The opposite wall of this covered "carriageway" (under a condo development / reconstruction of the old brewery tower) features a more general history of Kitsilano (aka Nofo!).

But those Reifels still feature.

Here we learn that not only were they brewmeisters; one of the sons was also responsible for notable buildings on Theatre Row (featured in this recent post) — including the Commodore Ballroom, whose dance floor was made bouncy with TIRES and HORSEHAIR. Man, I wish I'd known that when I was dancing to Doug and the Slugs etc.

They paved paradise ...
Eventually, the Reifels' brewery was bought out by Molson's, still operating (odiferously!) next to the Burrard Bridge ...

And the year I was born, a Reifel grandson did something very groovy ...

Until two days ago, I knew the name "Reifel" only in connection with the bird sanctuary — a really lovely place, though not somewhere I would attempt to take Freddie any time soon, given his instincts!

Now the history is a bit broader.

So: I like certain beers, and I like all birds. Thanks to Dr. Fred, I've been able to enjoy an excellent variety of both — and to dance many times at the Commodore Ballroom. By the time Heather B joins History, I hope it will be as a "former diabetic," but, if not, c'est la vie.


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