Losing my diabetic friend to negligence

minute read
May 13, 2024
A man in a park, mourning the loss of his diabetic friend.
Note: Image for illustration only. It does not show the author of this story. Photo credit: John_Nature_Photos

Warning: The following story deals with the possible consequences of ignoring diabetes and not managing it properly. It does not have a positive outcome.

When I was in my 2nd year of med school, our professor had us practise taking blood samples. The aim of the activity was to learn about different types of blood sampling (such as venous blood sampling, arterial blood sampling, capillary blood sampling, etc.) The easiest of all was capillary blood sampling, and I volunteered for this.

My group’s objective was to check random blood sugar using the finger-prick method (you prick a finger with a needle and then test the drop of blood using a glucometer). I played the role of a phlebotomist (the sophisticated term for sampler), and one of my friends, Anand, played the role of a patient.

About to make my first prick, I was very nervous. Now, I know it’s not a big deal, but at the time, I was sweating. Finally, I pricked Anand’s finger, saw a small drop of blood, and took my sample. Unfortunately, following this small clinical task, Anand’s results came back with an abnormal result.

This wasn’t what we were expecting at all. Anand’s blood sugar reading was 143 mg/dl (a normal reading is under 100 mg/dl). I thought it was my fault, that I’d done something wrong.

But checking again, we got the same result. My professor advised Anand to see a doctor and get further tests.

Anand’s diagnosis

It turned out that Anand had maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY). This is a type of diabetes similar to type 2, but it occurs earlier in life and the symptoms develop gradually. This can lead to it often going undiagnosed until later in life when symptoms finally present, and at that point it can be confused with type 1 or type 2 diabetes – Like with type 2 diabetes, the body is producing insulin, but not enough to successfully manage blood sugar levels.

Anand’s doctor told him he shouldn’t take his diagnosis lightly. This was because Anand was a little overweight and a smoker, which can make these kinds of conditions worse. However, his condition at the time wasn’t bad enough to need anti-hyperglycemics (drugs that lower or maintain blood sugar levels), and the doctor simply advised him to start working out regularly and modify his diet.

Anand keenly followed this advice. And within 3 months of working out and eating healthy food, he’d lost 20 lbs.

Losing his way

Several years passed, and everything seemed to be going well. I was in my final year of med school and working as a clerk at a government hospital in New Delhi.

Then one day Anand called me and told me he was going to see a doctor in Lucknow. He’d developed an ulcer at the base of his right foot that wasn’t healing, and he’d lost his sense of pain.

A few days later, he called me again and told me that he’d had to have his foot amputated. Shocked, I asked him what had happened. He explained that he’d done everything to control his diabetes, but he couldn’t stop smoking. And then with all the stress he was facing, he started smoking even more and almost forgot about his condition. By the time he realised, it was too late.

However, he was recovering well from the surgery and responding well to treatment. And 2 months later he called me again, sounding positive, and told me he’d be back to work in a few weeks.

Losing my friend

A few weeks after that, I called Anand to catch up but he didn’t answer. A week later, he sent me a text message. It read: “I’ll call you tomorrow. I want to discuss a few things regarding my condition and treatment.”

He didn’t call me though. After another couple of weeks, I called him twice but again didn’t get any answer.

Then an hour later, I got a call back from his number. It wasn’t him however, it was his sister. She told me: “Hi Rohit, this is Anshika. I’m sorry, but Anand passed away this morning.”

Asking her what had happened, she told me she wasn’t sure but he’d started having trouble breathing. They’d moved him to the intensive care unit and put him on a ventilator, but he hadn’t responded well and had died. The doctor thought the cause of death was sepsis, which might have occurred after Anand’s amputation.

Final thoughts

Whatever my friend’s actual cause of death was, it started with negligence. Because he’d ignored his diabetes and not taken it seriously, he’d put himself at risk.

Diabetes is always serious, and you should never take it for granted. In the worst case, neglecting it could even lead to death.

So please, for the sake of yourself, your family and the people who care about you, if you have diabetes, take it seriously.

Graphic of a male profile picture.
Editor's note: The opinions and experiences reflected in stories from the diabetic community belong to the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of InDiabetes.

Looking for more stories like this?

No items found.

Want to keep up with the latest news, stories and recipes?

Sign up and get the latest updates straight to your inbox.
Thanks for signing up with us! We look forward to having you in our community!
Oops! Something went wrong, have you filled in all your details correctly?