TRAVERSE CITY — Idalyn Haitt, known to her friends as “Ike,” makes a mean stir fry.
Her friend, Faye Brown, 77, swears by her rice and vegetables. Haitt, 78, insists it’s nothing special. A pan, a little olive oil and a few flicks of low-sodium soy sauce. The rice — sometimes brown, sometimes white — cooks in the microwave for 13 minutes.
“It’s a ‘dump’ recipe,” Haitt says. “I just dump whatever vegetables I have in the refrigerator in there.”
Haitt is no dietitian and no expert. She’s Brown’s friend. The women sit on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but companionably close at Brown’s kitchen table, their hands wrapped around teacups. They have plenty in common, politics aside. They met in Grand Rapids. Their husbands were both X-ray technicians. Both families moved to Traverse City. They also now share a medical diagnosis — type 2 diabetes. Brown just got the verdict from her doctor; Haitt has lived with it for decades.
“You have to think like a diabetic,” Haitt tells Brown. “It’s a 24/7 job. You have to think about everything that goes into your mouth. A lot of it is trial and error but the biggest thing is facing up to it.”
Dealing with it, and translating the medical diagnosis into lasting lifestyle changes is the hardest part of the news so far, Brown said. She admires Haitt’s “focus,” she said, but she still wants her ice cream.
“It’s daunting,” Brown said. “I’m in denial. It’s so much to take in, I don’t know where to begin.”
Brown isn’t alone, said Laura McCain, Munson Medical Center’s Diabetes Education chef and dietitian. McCain works with people everyday who are adjusting to the news that they’re diabetic.
It’s tricky psychology, she said. No one signed up for “Cooking for Diabetes” classes until McCain changed the name to “The Art of Cooking Vegetables.”