Respect the power of insulin
But he was my wife’s sister’s husband’s father. Maybe that makes him my brother-in-law’s father (I’m not good with naming extended family relations), I’m not really sure. But it doesn’t matter.
My wife got a phone call Tuesday night with the news that he had just passed away. Though he was feeling a bit under-the-weather, this wasn’t at all expected. As is often the case, the details were vague at first.
This guy had the stature of a lumberjack. He was a big man, but he was also a strong man. The type of guy that would build a house with his bare hands in six days, and on the seventh day he’d rest – probably with a fine cigar and a bottle of Jack Daniels. He was the kind of guy that, on the surface, didn’t try to keep himself healthy, yet managed to remain indestructible. That was my impression from our few meetings, anyway.
Wednesday at work, I read an email from my wife with some more information:
“I spoke to my sister. They don’t know why [his] dad died, but he hadn’t been feeling well on the weekend. His mom thinks it is because he recently went on insulin and she thinks he took a dose and then didn’t eat.”
That third sentence resonated in my mind over and over.
“[H]e recently went on insulin and she thinks he took a dose and then didn’t eat.”
Ugh, what a way to go. What happened? Did his “recent” start on insulin mean that doctors didn’t know the proper dose for him? Did he – or someone else – inject an improper dose? Did he just “forget” to eat? Was he trained improperly? Was he trained at all? How confusing must he have felt, when his first exposure to hypoglycemia was so severe that it ended up being his last?
But that tiny vial, less liquid than a quarter of a shot of whiskey, did him in.
After years of diabetes, I tend to look at that vial of insulin somewhat nonchalantly. It doesn’t scare me.
This story is a stark reminder of how powerful it really is, and how careful we need to be when we use it.
Acknowledge the power of insulin. Understand it. Handle it with care. Life depends on it.
* * *
By the time you read this post, I’ll have likely learned a little more information, including (hopefully) the man’s name. But first impressions are lasting ones, and I felt it was important to tell the story as I felt at the time, as incomplete it may be.
I am not writing this post in search of condolences; like I said, I hardly knew the man. But there is a common bond between him and all of us, and that strikes a chord deep within myself. My heart breaks for his wife – she has a heart of gold and is a mother and nurturer in every sense of the word – and for his two sons who learned so much and were so close to their father..