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Good Morning Doctor! - Chapter 16

A Grandmother's Relief

The little girl--she was only five--was motionless on the bed. When they had called me they asked that I hurry, for she was unconscious.

When I entered the room, the first thing I noticed was the acetone odor and the peculiar diabetic color of the urine in the vessel under the bed. The mother told me that the little girl hadn't been able to get enough water to drink and that she passed large quantities of urine; that she had gradually become weaker and had been unconscious for a short time before I arrived. I said there was no doubt that she was in a diabetic coma. (Afterwards I examined the urine and found it loaded with sugar; there was no question that it was diabetes.)

This was in the days before insulin and there was nothing I could do. Within a few hours the child died.

The grandmother arrived shortly and was told that I had diagnosed the case as diabetes.

"Diabetes?" She repeated the word wonderingly. "Diabetes." Again and again she said it as though the mere saying gave her some sort of satisfaction. Turning to me, her face serenely peaceful in spite of this new grief, she explained, "Doctor, you don't know what a load you have taken off my mind. Years ago, one of my babies about her age," she motioned to the still form on the bed, "was sick just like she was, and she died, too." A pause. "But I never knew what killed her. All these years I have wondered; I have thought maybe she could have lived if we'd have known what was the matter. Now I know. I won't worry any more. We couldn't have saved her anyway."

  Version: World Wide Web Edition Copyright 1995 by Richard Rathe
  Created: October 1, 1995   Modified: July 5, 1999

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