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The Story of Flynn

Updated: Feb 27

Just recently, I was talking to someone who told me, "Before I read your book, I had no idea just how serious diabetes is!" And I thought, the funny thing is, before I wrote the book, I hadn't realized how many of the patients I cared for had health issues as a result of poorly managed diabetes. For those who haven't already read it, here's a portion of one of those stories...

Flynn was a young man in his early forties when I came to know him, living in a modest apartment with a striped, gray cat named Whiskey. Flynn, who was no stranger to diabetes had a thin frame, ruffled brown hair, and a soft voice. Years before, just after graduating with a college degree, he was about to begin a teaching position at the University of California Santa Barbara when his health took a turn. It was then that his whole life went in a different direction. He never started his career as a teacher, and by the time I met him, he had an artificial eye and a prosthetic leg. Fortunately, though, after being on dialysis for years, he also had a successful kidney transplant. If a patient with kidney failure is eligible for a kidney transplant, it's always a smart idea to ask for a pancreas to go with it. It's kinda a two-fer. But for Flynn, there was no new pancreas, so his blood sugars were still all over the place. I once found Flynn on the floor with a blood sugar of around seven hundred; he was in diabetic ketoacidosis. Immediately, I called the paramedics. Flynn remained conscious as they him carried off on the stretcher, and since elevated blood sugars cause an insatiable thirst, he called to me as they carried him out the door, "I could really go for a diet root beer right about now!" Flynn was admitted to the critical care unit. I visited him the next day and brought him a six-pack of diet root beer.

My referral from Flynn had come from his podiatrist. The goal was to try and save the other leg starting by treating the wounds on his remaining foot. On one visit, I saw him hours after he had decided to pull out all of his toenails. Although the sight of Flynn's missing toenails made me cringe, it didn't bother him at all. He did, however, appear a bit embarrassed when he heard me call the podiatrist and say, "You aren't going to believe this!"

Flynn's apartment was small, and although he did try to keep it clean and tidy, it was seriously nasty. Flynn knew that I always had an incredibly busy schedule, so he often packed me a sack lunch. Although I was genuinely appreciative, I never ate the lunches. I was supposed to be taking care of him, and he was trying to take care of me too.

Flynn had a passion for sports — all sports. One day, I called Flynn and said, "Hey there sports fan, want to go to a baseball game?" Without hesitation, he replied, "Heck yeah! Who's playing?" I told him, "My kids."

When we arrived, I helped him into his wheelchair, and when we got to the field where the kids were playing ball, Flynn's smile extended all the way to the outfield. He wore a baseball cap over that ruffled brown hair and sported a cool pair of shades. He had left his prosthesis at home, so there was no hiding that his leg was missing below the knee. A bunch of kids gathered around him, filled with curiosity and a thousand questions. But Flynn didn't mind; he was loving the attention.


To read Flynn's story in its entirety, check out: Off the Chart A Nurse's Journey of Heart and Humor. In the book, there are sixteen stories of some of the most unforgettable patients that I had the opportunity to care for; of those, nearly 40% were diabetics who did not monitor blood sugars or manage their disease.

Pick up your copy at https://amzn.to/3RHn0nm

Published by Jennifer Tipton / This post may contain affiliate links.





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