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The relentless ringing ceased as I picked up the receiver. "Hello?"

"Morning, Helen," the familiar and welcome voice of my Aunt Mary—a soul more dear to me than my own mother—responded. "Happy weekend!"

"Thanks. Same to you." I hoped my voice didnít give away my current anguish and that she couldnít hear Mikeís vulgar utterances in the background. What else could I say? I didnít want to be rude to my aunt by cutting her call short. "Whatís up?"

"Are you all right? You sound upset."

"Iím okay." I lied, twirling the phone cord around my index finger while keeping my eyes fixed on the bedroom doorway. My inner self begged me to hang up. Dear God, what do I do?

"You donít sound okay. Whatís wrong?" Her compassionate tone ripped right through my stoic façade.

"Itís Mike Ö" I sniffled, cleared my throat and went on. "Heís into another insulin reaction this morning—threw one of his racing trophies at me just now. It hit the mirror on my dresser and shattered it to bits." I stifled a sob.

"Are you hurt? Do you need help? I can come over . . ." Her concern for my safety was clear.

"No, no, thanks anyway. It just frightened me . . ." I held out my hand, fingers spread, to check its steadiness. It quivered a bit. "It happened so suddenly, and I was not fully awake. But I am now." I gripped the corner of the dining room wall to steady myself and scanned each footótop, sides and bottomófor signs of blood. "I donít see any cuts on my feet."

"Happy to hear that," she said.

"I need to tend to him right away—get some sugar into him and clean up the broken mirror pieces before things get worse."

"Of course you do. I understand. Call me later, another time."

"Thanks, I will." My precious Aunt Mary—my first piano teacher, gifted composer, talented artist, poet, writer and, a hypoglycemic. Naturally she understood about low blood glucose and its effect on the brain. "Sorry you happened upon all this."

"Never be sorry for a problem you didnít cause. Bye-bye now."

"Bye." The tears rolled as I hung up the phone. Was I crying in response to the heartfelt empathy from my aunt? Or for myself? Or for the damage to my dresser? Or simply out of frustration over the on-going insulin reactions? Something had to give, but I couldnít take time to figure out what right now.

I hurried through the dining room into the kitchen, poured a small glass of orange juice, stirred in a heap of sugar and continued on to the bedroom.

Mike was semiconscious—soundless, head slumped onto his chest—but not yet into convulsions. The usual struggle of coercing him to swallow the syrupy-mix while mopping up what he spit out ensued. In a few short minutes he showed signs of waking.

While he continued that, I removed the shiny silver shards of mirror scattered across the dresser top and onto the floor. O God, help me tolerate this incident; this undeserved destruction of the accomplishment of my youth. I know I cannot undo it. Please help me accept it with forgiveness in my heart.

Twenty minutes later, the cleanup was done and Mike was awake but subdued, struggling to get his thoughts in order. He sat upright in bed, raking his finger tips over his scalp, again and again, as he always did following a reaction.

We dressed in silence, and I returned to the kitchen to fix a late breakfast.

"Thanks, honey." Mike glanced at me from the small eat-in counter, then back to his plate of scrambled eggs, crisp bacon, toasted homemade bread and hot coffee.

"Thanks for what?" I set my plate next to his and climbed up onto the stool beside him.

"For fixing breakfast. Itís good." He took another bite. "And for bringing me out of another reaction. Thatís what happened, isnít it?"

"Yes. Thatís what happened." Unorganized thoughts fought for clarity within my own brain. "We have to do something to stop them," I began. "Iím worn out. Dead tired. Havenít had a full nightís sleep in months."

"I canít help it, honey. I donít feel them coming on . . ."

"Well, of course you donĎt. Youíre asleep! But if youíd check your blood-sugar before you take your insulin, maybe you could prevent them."

Iíd not witnessed one testing since we got back from California. I knew that the urinalysis process was mundane and time-consuming—peeing into a small container, sucking that into a dropper, counting drops of urine and then water into a glass test tube, adding a Clinitest Tablet, gently shaking the test tube to cause the contents to mix, waiting for the foamy mixture to change from blue to orange or somewhere in between, then matching that to the color chart on the bottleís label within fifteen seconds. Next, record the date, time and results, then meticulously clean the test tube without contacting its caustic contents before putting everything away until the next time.

"I do test!" His voice boomed.

"You donít!" I bellowed back, outraged by his arrogant lie. "I counted the tablets. None have been used since we came home." The words shot out of my mouth like an overpowered canon ball. Explosive. Swift. Capable of serious damage with their dead-on aim.

Too late to retract, my body stiffened. I sat, motionless as a rock, my heart pounding in anticipation of a violent retribution. Oh my God, what have I done?

"Youíre right," he said calmly, then buried his face in his hands, rubbing his forehead as if forcing the truth of my unkind words into his consciousness. "Itís just such a hassle Ö"

"I know, honey. But weíve got to do something. Is there a way I can help you with it?"

"Nah."

"We need a doctor. Both of us." I put my hand on his left shoulder—his smashed and painful left shoulder—and lightly caressed it. "I have an idea," I went on, "in three months Iíll qualify for medical insurance at work. It will cover you, too. So how about Iíll find a doctor, an internist, and weíll both get checked out as soon as the insurance is in effect?"

"What about before then?" He brushed my hand off of his shoulder.

I forced a smile. "Weíll make it somehow. We need to pay more attention to your food and insulin intake, especially now that Christmas is nearly here. You know how everyone gives us cookies."

"Okay. Iíll try."

His response was less than enthusiastic, and I knew that this plan would rest mostly upon me, adding more work to my already heavy load. Christmas came and left without celebration for us—our budget didnít allow for gift-giving, special foods or even a one dollar Douglas fir tree at the Chubby & Tubby store.

The insulin reactions continued, fewer than before but often enough to keep me short on sleep. New responsibilities at work brought a slight raise in pay along with added pressure.

When the icy winter melted into a fresh new spring, I enrolled in the companyís health insurance plan, at their expense, selecting the option for "employee and spouse" coverage. I located an internist at the Northgate Hospital who would accept the plan and made appointments for the week following the effective date of insurance. Thank you, God.

The appointment day came quickly. We rode the elevator to the fourth floor of the hospital, situated above the Northgate Theater, and found the doctorís office. I stepped to the front counter to check in, my heart throbbing with anxiety.


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