Diabetes Blog Week: Heroes

Let’s end our week on a high note and blog about our “Diabetes Hero”. It can be anyone you’d like to recognize or admire, someone you know personally or not, someone with diabetes or maybe a Type 3. It might be a fabulous endo or CDE. It could be a d-celebrity or role-model. It could be another DOC member. It’s up to you – who is your Diabetes Hero??

I have so many people I admire in Diabetes Land. Banting and Best, who discovered insulin. The people who developed the technology for at-home blood glucose meters. My parents. Phil Southerland. The founders and fellow members of ACT1 Diabetes. My first CDE. Wilford Brimley, but only the cat version.

But far too little credit has been given to the people who opened the gates to Diabetes Land: my aunt and a dude named Clean.

No, not this guy. Although take out the bushy white eyebrows and he could be Clean’s long-lost second cousin.

My diabetes manifested itself rather atypically. The details are another saga entirely, but suffice to say we didn’t know things were wrong until some pretty wacky complications appeared. At this point, multiple doctors had closed my chart, declared, “Well, I don’t know what’s going on! I’m referring you to Dr. Specialist.” You’re totally f$@&ed up! I can’t handle dealing with you, so here, let me pass you like a football instead of actually being a competent physician and treating you like a real human being who is not making stuff up. Don’t hit the field goal posts on the way out!

So when my mom related our struggles to her sister (while I was no doubt sitting in my bedroom, sulking and reading fanfic), she had an idea. We were currently waiting five long months in order to see a specialist at So-and-So Big Shot Medical Center. My aunt Sis had a buddy, Clean, who worked at Another Big Shot Medical Center. Maybe he could find a physician with availability?

Now, a word about Clean: he is one of those freaks of nature, impossible human beings that make you scratch your head when you look at them and wonder, “How do you even exist?” He has an MD, a PHD, and had recently gotten his MBA just for the hell of it. He studied abroad for three months in Chile when he was sixteen and still visited his host family every year or two. He stays friends with everyone and still managed to have enough free time to write 2 books. Why he is nicknamed “Clean” is shrouded in mystery. (My aunt is nicknamed “Sis” because….well, I’ve never been able to detect a deeper reason other than that she is my mom’s sister, and that’s what we all call her.)

Anyways, Sis talked to Clean, Clean talked to his connections at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and within days we were scheduled to see one Dr. Schwarz, specialist in Adolescent Medicine. And it was there that someone finally, finally had the sense to take a urine sample from me, immediately whisk me to the ER, and give me an answer, a diagnosis, and a new path to walk down.

I don’t know what would have happened if they hadn’t stepped in. Maybe my diagnosis would have only been a few more months down the road. But maybe I would have just had more confused doctors who couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Maybe it would have taken blindness for them to get the picture. Maybe I would have gone into DKA and died. Regardless, they changed my life for the better, even if seventeen-year-old me, hooked up to insulin and saline drips in the CHOP emergency room, would have never acknowledged it at the time.

For that, those guys are my heroes.

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