Monday, October 18, 2010

In honor of Halloween: Diabetes, the story of a serial killer

I had a crazy dream last night, which by some might be construed as a nightmare, but by others, quite comical.

I was at home, in the kitchen actually, and I saw a grungy looking man sitting in a chair across from me. The man stared at me, looked at me funny, and then pulled out a knife from his pocket.

And then he threw the knife at me.

I suddenly realized that I was sitting across from a knife-wielding killer, who was pretty slow on the take and not very good at throwing because he missed. And he wasn’t so far away from me.

So I looked for a knife as well and threw one back at him. But I missed. So we simply sat there, quite lazy for two people trying to kill each other, and just threw knives at one another.

The killer eventually got up off of his chair and headed toward me. I realized that I could take out my trusty insulin pen (which by the way, I haven’t used a pen in over five years) and I started dialing up and injecting insulin into the killer’s arm.

But I could only dial up 10 units at a time. So I kept dialing up and injecting, dialing up and injecting, dialing up and injecting.

Until the killer fell into an insulin coma lying still on a reclining chair near the kitchen. He didn’t die though.

I woke up. It was 5 am. And like a well-educated diabetic with over 35 years of experience, knowing that a dream like this meant there may be blood sugar trouble lurking, the first thing I did was check my sugar. 175. I bolused a correction and fell back to sleep.

Alright, so yeah, some of you may be laughing. Some may think I’m weird. Some may be wondering why I would share this with all of you.

This comical nightmare, I believe, is actually a metaphor for the life of a diabetic. My subconscious knows that insulin protects me from harm. That insulin saves me. It keeps me alive. It protects me from the slow, silent knife-wielding killer that is high blood sugars.

The silent killer is slow but persistent just as the streams of high blood sugar are that flow through a diabetic’s body. Pounding away at our bodies, causing immediate and long-term consequences like blindness, kidney failure, heart problems, and so on.

And the only way to protect ourselves – is through insulin.

Perhaps related to my having the insulin dream last night, I read in the October 2010 edition of Diabetes Forecast yesterday that The New York Historical Society is capturing the story of the discovery of insulin in an exhibition that began on October 5, 2010 and will continue through to January 31, 2011.

A diabetic’s fight for life, the struggle with the silent killer, has changed dramatically with the discovery of insulin in 1921. I’m simplifying, but before the discovery of insulin, doctors did not know how to treat diabetes. Patients were often placed on starvation diets with the hope that they would live a few years longer.

I urge us all to be thankful for the discovery of insulin, to put those injections and finger pricks into perspective. Diabetics today, with the proper care, can live long, fulfilling, and beautiful lives.

I believe that my dream is telling me to wake up, check my sugar, and be thankful that I can bolus a correction for a 175 sugar. And to take the time to learn about the past, and put into perspective how far we’ve come. Thank you, insulin.

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