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August 29, 2015
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Of Keys and Candles

Between the High Holy Days, my upcoming JDRF walk, and online friends who are mourning recent losses, the deceased have been on my mind lately.


More specifically, those who have been lost to diabetes -- whether as a patient or as a victim of someone Driving While Low -- as well as those with diabetes who have died, but not from diabetes.


When a PWD, particularly a young person, dies from diabetes, many in our community light blue candles -- usually the "World Diabetes Day" kind you buy from the International Diabetes Federation. This is our "O for Outrage" that someone so young has been taken from us. Those who are older get no such special treatment; we either expect that diabetes will overcome them at some point in time or another, or we expect that their diabetes will be little other than a side-note on their death certificate. Nor do those nondiabetic "casualties of hypoglycemia" get much more than a flurry of "Hey, PWDs, don't forget to test before you drive"s -- though they still leave grieving widows, parents, siblings, and children in their wake.


The amateur radio community has a special name for members who have passed on. They are called "Silent Keys", based on one of the oldest, most basic tools for sending a message in Morse Code. When an operator dies, his particular keying cadence -- as distinctive as the human voice -- dies with him; he falls silent.


I started thinking about the ways we might similarly honor those who have passed from, with, or because of, diabetes. "Silent Pumps" eliminates all of those who do not need exogenous insulin, or who -- for whatever reason -- do not use an insulin pump. "Silent Meters" ignores those who, like my mother, were never told to test -- or who don't test. While "DFD" -- "Dead From Diabetes" -- fits our penchant for TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms), it seems a bit blunt. And "Angel Wings" -- code for "memorial team" on our JDRF Walks -- could be confused with those who have passed on from other causes as well.


It seems to me that if we are to be Outraged by young people found Dead In Bed and called to action by victims of Driving While Low, we should consider all who have died Because Of Diabetes -- whether young or old, whether directly or indirectly, whether by premature kidney failure or a hypoglycemic driver -- as meriting the lighting of a Blue Candle.


Then it occurred to me that perhaps we might honor those who passed Because Of Diabetes as "Blue Candles".

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Megan Holmes
Megan Holmes Megan was diagnosed in 2009 with Type I. As an RN, she was familiar with the medical side of her diagnosis; learning to be a good patient on the other hand, was and continues to be the challenge of her day to day life.   (Read More)
Michelle Kowalski
Michelle Kowalski Michelle Kowalski, a writer, editor and photography hobbiest living in Phoenix, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in February 2005. In January 2008, as part of her quest to start on an insulin pump, Michelle learned that she actually has type 1 diabetes.   (Read More)
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