Yesterday I found out that a friend and colleague had passed away. Joel Connable was 39 with Type 1 Diabetes. Apparently his insulin pump malfunctioned and he slipped into a coma and died. It is unbelievably sad and scary. I am so torn up about this.
Joel and I were not extremely close but had worked together for the better part of the last six years or so. When I found out he had Diabetes and an insulin pump, we were fast friends. We shared a palpable connection. Living, successfully, with a disease that is out to get you.
I saw Joel two months ago with his dog Lola. She was trained to help him recognize low blood sugar symptoms about 20 minutes before they presented. The idea was fascinating to me. I usually don’t need help, but sometimes those lows just sneak up on you.
I cried this morning before the sun even came up, reading about his passing. He was a young man and seemingly healthy. How could this happen, I thought? Is this going to happen to me? Ugh.
I mourn for him and for his family. It is a tragedy. In the age of such amazing, intuitive technology, things like this should not happen. I say that, and I too have had pumps malfunction. On more than one occasion. In fact, I’m taking a break from my pump right now, for just the same reason. I have been managing my diabetes with injections of two types of insulin, because I do not have faith in the pump I have currently. It’s super old school I know, but it is what is. I have to wait until January when my new insurance kicks in, to begin the process of getting a new one.
I have been able to recognize it when the pump malfunctions though, and have spent subsequent hours getting my blood sugar back to normal.
I don’t think I can explain to you what it means to count every thing that goes into your mouth. Count every number that comes out of the glucometer. Count and divide every dose of insulin I take. My entire day is calculating consumption. Its harder for my body to break down the food. My metabolism and immune system are challenged. It’s not exactly fun and games.
I know that people without Diabetes think about what they consume. “Is this good for me?” “How many calories is this?” That’s chump change for what happens in my life and the life of every other person with Diabetes I know. It is at times, insurmountable. That’s why when I see people like Joel, who loved life, who traveled, who set their own course, it is especially excruciating to know that the disease got the better of him.
It is with great fear and trepidation that I write this post. I know that I am not alone. As one of my mother’s dear friends said this morning, “This is why everyone who loves you worries.” Heartbreaking. It is extremely difficult to manage it all. The careful juggling act of food, exercise, sleep, medicine, care. I work at this every day. I do the best I can, most of the time.
I worry that the disease will get me. I have been extremely fortunate to have the resources to seek out the best doctors. I can afford healthful food. I can afford to see a trainer twice a week to ensure that my body is healthy. I worry that my daughter will find me one morning, unresponsive. Has it ever happened? No, but that is my greatest fear. Will she know what to do? Who will help her? It debilitates me with fear.
For now I mourn the loss of a good guy I felt a deep connection to due to our non-functioning pancreas’. I work at finding better, smarter ways to manage my own health and the health of my daughter. I cannot let this happen to me, to my daughter, parents, brothers, friends. I will not.
I will not.
Goodbye friend. It was a honor to know you. Your absence is felt by thousands of friends, family and colleagues your energy touched throughout the years.