The gifts we give (second in a series of 3 gift blogs)

The Gifts We Give

There are two women in a hospital room. Both are diabetic, both are very ill. One has suffered for years; she is blind from retinopathy, she has kidney failure and she will start dialysis in a few days, her feet are swelled beyond recognition. She is in bad shape.

The other is 2/3rds the age of her roommate (perhaps 24) and she is also very ill. She is not facing major complications. But just the same her life is hanging in the balance. Her issue is that she has refused to take her insulin. Not just for a day or so, but for over a month. Her blood sugar has soared to over 900, and she has just come out of her comatose state. Even now in a regular hospital room her family is gathered hoping for a miracle that will give her another chance.

Over the next few weeks both will improve. The dialysis works, and the older patient starts to come around. The IV insulin also works. The younger woman comes around, her well known father and the possibility for press attention depart the room and slowly she comes around.

As the younger woman starts to come around her personality comes out. She is angry about small things. She often throws cosmetics if she cannot apply them properly, she demands and sometimes gets personal attention from the hospital staff. She is upset because of her sheets (they are too rough), the blankets (smell funny), even the lighting spectrum is troublesome (it is too harsh) so the lights are being changed.

After a week or so the two patients for some reason start to talk. The ladies came to know each other. It is clear the younger woman is so upset. She is angry over her situation. She hates injections, diet, limiting some food, she hates who she is. The other lady also hates her circumstances. She hates the disease that robbed her of much of the life she so adored.

The older lady tells the other of her desire to be a teacher, and how diabetes interfered. The younger lady tells of how she wishes to die. How she has no friends who understand diabetes. She tells of her disgust for being diagnosed.

Overtime the two improve and sure enough the younger lady is ready for dismissal. As the time nears she starts crying. The older lady asks why the tears. Her younger roommate responds that these few weeks have been good. She has a friend, and an older adult who understands how awful she feels. She is crying because in the world outside her room all the demons exist, but in this place she is ‘understood’.
The day comes and the discharge proceeds. The younger lady is introduced to diet soda, she hates it. She is told she must eat, she will not. Finally, she is reminded to take insulin, every day, at least three times per day. She says it hurts and she will not employ any of these tactics.

The patients share telephone numbers. They talk of visiting each other, of keeping in touch of sharing the joy of their lives. The older lady tells her to call anytime she wants to stop taking insulin. She lets her know that she loves her and values her as a whole person. Not a patient, or for who her father is.

The pair split up as she leaves the younger woman tells her roommate that no one had ever loved her as much as her roommate. She thanked her for the understanding and love showed her in this hospital room.

Neither patient contact each other after the hospital stay. Time progresses and within ten years the older lady dies. At her funeral is a small planter given from the father of the younger lady. It is not lavish and it says simply thank you. Perhaps it is not surprising that a few years later, the younger lady also passes. Her lifestyle and recklessness are important factors

What is remembered by both families was that brief period when the more mature diabetic shared her experiences, and for a few days made the younger lady come to terms with her disease. Those few days when calm replaced the rage she experienced almost daily. What is remembered is that the young ladies father stopped by and thanked for her roommate for her kindness. He thanked her for sharing her wisdom at a difficult time. He thanked her for her gift.

Yes the gift was short lived, but it beyond all else gave the younger lady a chance. Her demons were too great the load too heavy to reverse the trend. Still for a minute in time she cast her burden away. This is the gift we can give. It can be important or small; meaningful or not. This is the gift we owe each other, to share the burden, to help when called upon. This is the gift inside of each of us, the gift to lift each other’s spirit.

This is the gift we give when we visit TuDiabetes. Our gift is to share the burden and to help one another; this is why we are here. Share your gifts we may never know how important or meaningful they are for each other, even if only for a brief time.



Join the discussion next week when the topic gifts is posted for widespread comment. What are the gifts you have given, or received. What are the gifts you wish you had received or given. Look for the discussion topic gifts next week

Sometimes we forget the power of simply saying to someone who is struggling with one or another of the challenges life throws at us, "I understand"