Respect the power of insulin

Insulin-in-the-distanceI’ve only met him three times. You could call us casual acquaintances, but we had no emotional investment in one another. As hard as I try, can’t even remember his name.

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?

blue-candle-diabetes1I really didn’t know he had diabetes. But apparently he did, and I suppose that makes this a Blue Candle event.

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.. 

Posted on February 21, 2013, in Blue Candle, Diabetes and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. That is such a powerful lesson that doesnt hurt to revisit from time to time. I’ve learned some hard lessons – respect insulin and your diabetes. It can smack you down if you aren’t paying attention. Diabetes is so demanding, of our time and resources, that we can so often take shortcuts – but to what end? Diabetes can behave in ways we don’t expect, and insulin is a powerful part of that equation.


  2. You’re right though… the power of insulin is gigantic.
    One measly drop…


  3. Reblogged this on Smells Like Band-Aids and commented:
    What a powerful reminder. Thanks Scott


  4. Sheesh. I’ve never looked at a vial of insulin in that way.

    I remember a post by Alison & Tim where she took her total daily dose of insulin and put it into a teaspoon, and it was tiny. Crazy to think about how potent that stuff is.


  5. To think that I have trouble getting my sugars down with 5+ units of insulin. Makes me wonder what medical staff really tell their patients when handing out this stuff…


  6. Reblogged this on JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes and commented:
    This really makes you think..


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