Death and Diabetes

It is often hard for me to remember that diabetes can take young lives.

When I think about death and diabetes, my mind wants to think about a person who has lived with diabetes for a long time.  I want to think that they lived a full and satisfying life, fighting diabetes blow for blow along the way.  Like a boxer who is not quite great enough to avoid getting hit, but always finds a way to retaliate, punch for punch.  As if he’s saying “Oh?  You hit me?  Here, take this punch with you on your way out.”

But time catches up with everyone, and they can’t deal with getting hit so hard and so often.  So after years and years of battling, they eventually retire, gracefully or otherwise.  They can look back and say they gave it a good fight, and had many great times along with their not-so-great times.

Through twitter, I caught a post that Lindsey Guerin wrote called “In Remembrance of Those Lost”.

Lindsey is a fabulous writer, and I felt all of her gifts coming through in the moving piece about five young lives recently lost to diabetes.  A baby whose doctor didn’t catch the DKA symptoms and sent her home, a nine-year old who took her own life because of diabetes, a young women in Australia who went into DKA while her parents were away on vacation, and two others that I don’t know much about.

The eldest of this most recent group was 27 years old.

If there is a downside to all of the connection and communication that the internet gives us, it is that we hear about these events much more than we used to.

We hear about so many of us doing diabetes and living life, raising families, working, exercising, doing all of the things that everyone else does.  But we are also more aware of diabetes ability to sneak up on us and snuff us out when our guard is down.

Type 1 diabetes is a wretched, horrible, life-threatening, life-taking disease. The hole in my heart today proves that we need a cure. This is not about my fear that those deaths could be me. This is not about the fact that diabetes is tearing through my body as I type this.

This is about the five lives that type 1 diabetes took this week. It’s about the thousands of others that we haven’t even heard about. It’s about the nine-year old who didn’t feel she could continue with this disease. It’s about the parents of the 18 month old baby who unexpectedly lost their child to this cyclone. It’s about the young men and women who didn’t wake up.

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8 Comments on "Death and Diabetes"

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Scott, whenever I hear of deaths from Type 1 diabetes, it just takes my breathe away. I feel like I’ve bee sucker-punched. I live day to day, trying to stay positive about Riley’s diabetes. He has a good A1C, he’s happy, he’s “healthy”. And, stories like this remind me that it could all end tomorrow. I know that applies to everybody in some way or another. But, the fact that my 8 year old could go to sleep tonight and because of his disease not wake up in the morning makes me nauseous. And, it makes me angry. And, it… Read more »
this subject shattered me. i have seen it a few places. its because i push the life is very possible with d. i look for and seek the crazy the fun the wtf moments. the i cant believe this happened again stuff. i acknowledge things can will and do happen. but more in a what was the real reason type of way. this set me back 5 steps. im hurt about the 9 yr saddened by it. the baby was wrong.all of them were tragic. im confused. have i been wrong to push the its just life and we… Read more »
Minnesota Nice

IMy family tree shows many lives lost to type 1 db. And now that I’m on dialysis I’m acutely aware of my lifespan being limited. But I’m also aware of what I have left. And, that’s a lot life still within me.

I usually feel like an attention whore when I bring up the unforgiving nature of Type 1 in mixed company (“It could kill me tonight in my sleep, if it wanted to.”) but more and more I’m questioning my reticence on this particular aspect of the disease. It’s for real, as evidenced by the lost lives you mention above. I think it’s only natural to shy away from the topic but that does a huge disservice not only to people currently grappling with Type 1, but to the people we loved and lost. The story of the 9 year old… Read more »
Auntly H

So sad and so scary. I am often conscious of the fact that every day I decide to do what it takes to stay alive. The reminders that I can’t control that, even with respect to filling in for my damaged pancreas, are tough to take.

Ginger makes a good point, too. I tend to want to downplay the worst case scenarios to avoid pity/fear, but maybe people need to be more aware of them to make a cure something worth finding.