Another Kleenex moment in the trenches
Flipping through his blood-sugar logbook was like using one of those cartoon flipbooks where the horse runs across the top of the page. The slow changes, logged a day at a time, became a gallop when time was accelerated by the turning of the pages. It was fascinating. And horrifying. Sickening, actually, as the full impact of what I was seeing dawned on me: I was watching his death in slow motion.
In the summer of 2011 his morning fasting sugars were running in the 120s. By early 2012 they were generally over 200. By the fall of last year 300s where the rule. Now, in the 400s.
His doctor told him to take his medication. So he did. Every day.
His doctor told him to test his blood sugar. So he did. Every day.
But no one ever took the time to tell him what the numbers meant. When to worry. When to call. Apparently, no one ever looked at the numbers he carefully logged every day and took with him to every doctor’s visit, either. That made me mad.
More than mad. Angry. Furious. Enraged.
Here was a guy who did everything he was told to do, but was let down by the system he placed his trust in. Next to his logbook on my desk was the little cash register receipt-like printout from our urinalysis machine. There was protein in his urine. LOTS of protein. His kidneys were failing. It fell to me to tell him. It fell to me to teach him for the first time the vocabulary of numbers. To explain to him the truths revealed when you listen to what the numbers say. To explain to him why meeting me was too little, too late. To explain to him why we were giving him a nephrology referral.
I wish someone had sent him to our clinic three years ago. Hell, two years ago. Or even six month ago! Then maybe I could have made a difference. But it was too late. He’s another casualty in the war we call Diabetes. A solider who was given a gun, then sent into combat with no training. No ammunition. Now he’s become another diabetes complication statistic. But to me, he isn’t just a statistic. Not just another number. He is a man. A scared man, with a kind face, and sad eyes.
This is diabetes in the Real World.
And on days like this I don’t know whether to cry or to scream.