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Diabetes Story: Collapse

    This is a story about juvenile diabetes. Thereís nothing funny about diabetes or having it, but I think that some of you might find humor in the circumstances surrounding my first experiences suffering from the disease that genetically I should have gotten as a kid, but didnít get until after I turned forty.
    Itís Thursday afternoon and everythingís fine. I am an integrated circuit designer and Iím in Stockholm, Sweden doing some consulting work for a semiconductor start-up (that means small) company. Iím really thirsty, though, and canít down enough of the free juice drinks available in the company refrigerator. Iím also a bit tired, but thatís par for the course. Hours are long when youíre trying to get a chip (integrated circuit) out the door.
    By Friday afternoon the VP of Engineering tells me to go home because I look terribly pale. Yes, I feel awfully tired and so yes, heís probably right. Iíll go home and lie down for a while; I can make up the lost time tomorrow, on Saturday. Iíve got a short walk up the street to the condo in which Iíve been living. It belongs to one of the founders of the company who happens to be in the United States at the moment and is letting me live in his place for a month.
    I sleep in on Saturday and make the walk down the hill in time for lunch. There's a Burger King near the office and I'm trying to stick mostly to familiar food while I'm here. I get a Whopper meal "for here" and devour it quickly even though I'm feeling a bit nauseous. I get to the office and it's deserted, a good environment for getting work done.
    It's not long before I need to lie down. There's a special room for employees to rest. On my first day here, almost one month ago, our admin gave me a tour of the facility. When she showed me the "nap" room (in quotes because I'm the only one who calls it that) she explained that a Swedish law requires all companies with more than thirty employees to have a room where someone can go in case they need to lie down. I laughed. I've worked for plenty of start-up companies and taking a nap during the work day doesn't ring a bell regarding the typical work ethic. Now I'm using the nap room. Let me rephrase that: NOW I'M USING THE NAP ROOM!
    This is futile. I need to go home.
    For the rest of Saturday and all day on Sunday I lie in bed, getting up only to go to the bathroom and to eat/drink. During the past month my food intake has been steadily increasing (my weight is constant) and now I'm up to about ten thousand calories per day including four quarts (liters, actually) of orange juice. Still, I have no energy. It's getting worse.
    Monday morning arrives and it's obviously time to go to the hospital. There's no land line and the cell phone that the company gave to me is out of charge. The charger doesn't work. There's a Seven Eleven less than two blocks away that has a payphone. I have to get there and call the company. Two blocks is not very far (they're short blocks) but still I'm not sure I can make it. I've never before felt fatigue like this. Just moving at all requires a major effort.
    I need help, so that's exactly what I write on the piece of paper that lists the names of people at the office along with their phone numbers. I circle the name of our admin and write at the top of the page using an orange highlighter pen, "My name is Mike Ehrlich. I need HELP!" I've been here for almost a month and I've met only one person who didn't speak English, a pretzel vendor. If I collapse on the way to Seven Eleven, someone will see the note and call an ambulance; I'll try to collapse with the note facing up.
    I make it to Seven Eleven and get in touch with one of my coworkers. He arranges for a cab to pick me up and take me to the hospital; he meets me there. I'm a foreigner so he vouches for my ability to pay for the services.
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Disclaimer: While the events described above are representative of true to life events experienced by the author, details of the story may be fuzzy due to the fact that it happened more than five years ago. I respectfully defer to any objection made by a witness of events described in the narrative.
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