Slipping Out

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The man is trembling, sitting on the bed in the spare motel room down by the highway. Sometimes, these rooms are filled with the patient’s worldly belongings, but this room seems to only have the bed, a dresser, a chair and the TV. The man is in his late fifties, a portly man with white hair and liver spots on his hands. The Spanish woman in the room with him is of an indeterminate age. She wears a pink tank top and grey yoga pants with flip flops, even though it is cold and blustery out. She is the one who called. When I say she is of indeterminate age, I mean she could be anywhere from 30-50. It appears she is missing a fair number of teeth and her arms lack the tone of a younger woman. While he talks to us, she walks behind him and mimics a man shooting heroin. He says he is a diabetic and hasn’t eaten or taken his insulin for a couple days. He says he got robbed last night and has no money. He is going to have some funds transferred up to him tomorrow. We check his sugar and it is 485. The normal range is 80-120. 485 is in the danger zone. If he doesn’t take insulin soon, he could develop diabetic ketoacidosis and go into a coma. He wants to refuse, but we keep trying to persuade him to go. “No, no, I’m fine,” he says.  “I’ll get some insulin tomorrow. I’m fine, really.”

He doesn’t look fine. “Listen, I say. “Look around this room. Do you want to die in this room? You have a couple hours and then your mind is going to get really fuzzy. You may fall asleep. In your sleep you’ll lapse into a coma and we’ll be here in the morning except you’ll be long gone, only your body will be here. If the nice lady here is with you, she may notice you are awfully cold, and we wouldn’t her to have to go through that would we?”

“You gotta go honey. I’ll pay for your insulin,” the woman says.  “We have to take care of you.”

His eyes blink and he looks from side to sid