The Fruit Cup Incident

I was shooting video at the Athens Mercy Health Center, a free faith-based clinic, in March to get some B-roll for class project. After chatting with some of the volunteers—local doctors, nurses and students—and sitting in on their nightly prayer before things got busy, I was ready to get some footage of patients.

One of the coordinators helped me find a few patient volunteers who were willing to let me capture footage of their medical exams. One woman, who I’ll call Mary, was nice enough to let me intrude on an exam that she needed to have in order for the clinic to give her a free prescription drug.

While in the exam room, the nurse in training, a local student at Athens Tech, pricked Mary’s finger to get blood drawn to test her blood sugar levels. Mary has diabetes. The blood sugar reading was very high. The student asked Mary if she had eaten anything recently that would have triggered the reading. Mary didn’t remember eating recently. The student nurse pricked another finger for another reading. Still high.

I was getting uncomfortable and feeling like I was intruding. I wouldn’t use any of the sound for the finished product in my video, but I still felt like I had no place listening in to the patient’s confusion about her blood-sugar reading. A few minutes earlier, I needed to leave another exam room because a patient meeting with a dermatologist was trying to talk around some sort of skin rash she was had on her derriere. But I hung around with Mary a little longer out of curiosity, concern and a need to get good enough footage to leave the clinic so I could get dinner. Unlike Mary, I felt like my blood sugar was dipping.

The nurse was considering asking for help and maybe even getting an insulin shot when Mary finally remembered that she had a snack before she got there. It was a fruit cup—she curled her hand into a little ring to show how small the cup would have been. All of the sugar from the juices had apparently shot up the levels of Mary’s blood sugar. The crisis was averted, I guess.

I don’t want to draw too much out of the experience because I don’t know much about diabetes or whether an apple would have been any better for Mary’s blood sugar than the fruit cup. But the little incident reminded me of having fruit cocktails as a kid—that soft, sugary fruit from a can. Until Mary brought it up, I forgot that I used to consider those snacks healthy.

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