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The Day Darwin Almost Died

Last week, Maksim and I were emerging from the barber shop and climbing into the truck when my cell phone buzzed.  It was Darwin.  An odd call to get--he couldn't even have been at work yet.  Maybe he'd forgotten something.

When I answered, I got a moment of silence.  Then Darwin said in a slow, dull voice, "I don't know where I am."

The moment I heard this, I knew what was wrong.  Darwin was going into insulin shock.  His normal habit was to take his insulin shot, then drive 45 minutes to work, get a breakfast sandwich at McDonald's, and eat at his desk.  This horrible habit has scared me more than once, but he maintained he never felt like eating in the morning.  Today it caught up with him.  An awful feeling grabbed me.

"Is there any food in the car?" I asked quickly.  "Any candy in the glove compartment?"

"No," he said dully.

Shit.  There was supposed to be.

"I want you to pull over right now."  I was trying not to panic, and Maksim could see something was horribly wrong.  "Can you pull over?"

Silence on the other end.

"Are you pulling over?" I said.

"I'm on the highway," he said.

This was unusual.  Darwin doesn't take the highway to work.  "Which highway?"

"I don't know."

I was trying to think how to locate him.  He used to have the Find My iPhone app, but using it meant all of us being signed into the same iCloud account, and Darwin didn't like that, so he deactivated it.

"I've pulled over," he finally reported.

"What do you see when you look out the window?" I asked.

"I'm in a driveway."  His voice was growing fainter and more slurred, with longer pauses between answers.

"What street?"

"I don't know."

"Don't hang up," I said.  "I'm going to call 911 and make a three-way call."

I put him on hold and dialed 911.  By now, Maksim was having a full-blown panic attack in the truck's passenger seat, but I couldn't do anything to help him just then.  The 911 dispatcher came on the line and I explained quickly what was going on.  "I'm going to try to bring Darwin into the conversation," I said.  "Don't hang up."

But when I tried to bring Darwin into the call, it disconnected Darwin's phone.  Apparently you can't do a three-way call with 911.

"He's on his way to Lake Orion," I said, "but I can't get more than that out of him."

The dispatcher asked for Darwin's phone number and a description of his car, which I gave.  By now I had driven home and was at my computer, trying desperately to figure out what to do.  Every minute counted.  I had gone completely cold at this point--no emotion, nothing but calculation.  How the hell did I find him?

The dispatcher put me on hold, but this disconnected us.

I tried to call Jerry Narsh, the police chief at Lake Orion, but realized I didn't have his number, so I called the Lake Orion village hall, told them I was Darwin's husband, and that I needed to talk to Jerry because it was an emergency.  Jerry, I reasoned, might have an idea how to find Darwin.  The clerk who answered the phone was horrified at the situation and said she'd page Jerry to call me.

I called Darwin's phone again and got voice mail.  Some panic reached through the cold, and I tried again.  Voice mail.  I tried a third time, begging him to answer.  He picked up.

"Can you find the map app on your phone?" I asked.

"I can't find my phone," he said.

He was probably talking on it through the car controls.  Shit.  "What do you see when you look out the window?"


Maybe he could get out of the car and knock on a door.  "What else do you see?"

"A mailbox."

Oh!  "Is there a house number?"

"Yes.  It's big."  He read it off.

"What street?"

By a miracle, he gave the street.  (I later learned he had seen it on the car's GPS, which I hadn't known was active, or I could have gotten the information from him a lot sooner.)

Right at that moment, the 911 dispatcher called me back.  I hung up on Darwin and answered.  Before the dispatcher could say anything, I said, "I have an address," and read it to him.

The dispatcher started to ask me a couple of other questions, but I interrupted.  "Is an ambulance on the way?"

One was.

I entered the address into my computer.  It was in Clarkston, 35 minutes away.  No way I'd make it before the ambulance arrived, and I had no way to know where the EMTs would take him.

Here, I was operating on the assumption that Darwin survived long enough for the EMTs to arrive.  Now that help was on the way, the cold evaporated and the post-crisis reaction crashed over me.  I sat at my desk and shook.  All the stuff that could have gone even more wrong came at me.  What if he had gotten into an accident?  What if he hadn't managed to call me?  What if--?  It was horrible.

Jerry called.  I gave him the short version of the story, including that EMTs were on the way.  Jerry was relieved.  "If you need help, let me or DPW know.  We'll take care of it," he said.

After a while, I got myself under control and tried Darwin's phone again.

"Deputy Mack," said a strange man's voice.

Which meant someone was indeed there.  I started shaking again, this time with relief.  I knew that someone had to be there, but I didn't KNOW it until someone else answered the phone.

I told the deputy who I was.  Mack explained the EMTs had given Darwin some glucose and he had revived considerably.  They were taking him to the hospital, though the deputy didn't know which one.  I could come up for the car or they could tow it to the police station.  I said I'd come up for it soon, if they could move out of the driveway.

Since I didn't know where Darwin was going, I had to wait some more.

Quite some time later, Darwin called again.  He was much more alert.  They had taken him to the hospital a few miles away from our house.  I drove over and found him in ER.  He was sweaty and hungry but otherwise okay.

It was the best and worst moment of my life.

He stayed in ER for a couple more hours while they tested his blood sugar some more.  Various people called to scold him.  I scolded him.  And hugged him.  And yelled at him.  And hugged him again.

Now Darwin has Find My iPhone active at all times, whether he likes it or not.  He isn't allowed to leave for work without eating first.  All our vehicles are stocked with candy and crackers.

And it had better never happen again.



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 22nd, 2016 03:52 pm (UTC)
So very very glad this turned into a Learning Experience for Darwin, and nothing worse. :-(
Aug. 22nd, 2016 08:14 pm (UTC)
You and me both!
Aug. 22nd, 2016 03:58 pm (UTC)
I refer to one of the guys I dated as my pet diabetic. This kind of thing is why -- ignoring dietary requirements and self-care.

Very glad Darwin is okay.
Aug. 22nd, 2016 08:14 pm (UTC)
Me, too. He won't ignore it anymore!
Aug. 22nd, 2016 05:05 pm (UTC)



Aug. 22nd, 2016 08:15 pm (UTC)
Ohh yes.
Aug. 25th, 2016 06:35 pm (UTC)
Glad to hear he's going to be all right. And, while sorry to hear about your diagnosis, it's better to know and treat it, than have an episode of our own like Darwin's in ignorance. I'm sure you'll both be one another's support systems, and keep each other on track.
Aug. 28th, 2016 07:58 pm (UTC)
Sorry for being late with this (was out of town for a few days) but I am really really glad nothing worse happened. I hope both you and Darwin will take care of each other, diabetes sucks. My dad had a similar episode at one point and it drives home the lesson that even if you try to eat well and manage it bad things can still happen.

Wish you both all the best! And I hope Maksim was not too traumatized by the experience, in the end.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
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