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Patient Care

If You Don’t Give Him Insulin He’s Going to Die

The title of this post was a statement made to me in a crowded airline terminal.  It was said by a bystander, sitting across the way from a family having a bad day.  The dispatcher called me on the phone about 10 minutes before this all began and asked me if we carry insulin on the rescue trucks.

“No, why do you ask?”

A woman was calling stating her son was insulin dependent, had been delayed many hours and he didn’t have his insulin. “Put me on it,” was my reply and out the door I went, hoping that all they needed was maybe a syringe or perhaps some lancets to check his sugar.

Holding his baby brother, this teenager is feeling fine, telling me how they had lunch not long ago but it didn’t taste good because he didn’t take his insulin.

His glucometer, insulin and supplies were all in the giant carry on they tried to get on the plane.  When it didn’t fit in the little case near the jetway it was checked through and placed under the plane.  When the flight was cancelled due to weather at their destination (nasty storms on the east coast) the bag sat in the belly of the airplane while his sugar slowly crept higher and higher, no insulin to unlock it.

As I explained my lack of insulin and a number of options for obtaining some, the police officer left to get an airline agent to retrieve the bag from under the plane.  This is no easy task, especially since they were looking for a “black rolly carry on”  I grabbed my glucometer and tossed it to the boy after he passed baby brother back to mom.

“Show me how you check your sugar,” I told him and he clearly had never been instructed on how to do so.  A quick inservice on location selection, lancette use and strips and he’s a pro.  Probably had to be a quick learner when baby brother came along.

“If you don’t give him insulin he’s going to die” is suddenly said over me shoulder in a tone and volume to ensure most of the 250 people waiting in the 150 chair waiting area heard her.

“He’ll go into a coma and you’ll be liable.  Just give him the medicine already.”

“Thank you for your concern for your fellow traveler, we’ll be making sure he has a healthy plan before we leave.”

“Do you even know what diabetes is?”

The boy smiled and tried not to laugh, understanding my role in the healthcare system, while the clearly inebriated woman sipping the iced coffee behind me just wanted to stir the pot.

As the glucometer came back with the ever concerning reading of “HI” meaning over 600, the officer emerged with a number of black carry ons to choose from.  The proper bag is found and I send the boy off to do his usual mid day dosing in the privacy of the rest room.  He has lost his glucometer so my extra has to fill in.

“I can’t believe you refused to help him,” she chimes in.  I grabbed one of my cards and handed it to her telling her that if she is as concerned she can feel free to lodge a formal complaint with the airport, Fire Department, County and State.

Just then mom chimes in, “I want one of those cards too please. If she’s gonna get all bent out of shape by you helping us out I want to make sure all those people know what you really did for us today.”


We’ll see who’s letters actually arrive.  Now, if I can only learn what diabetes actually is…

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