28 September, 2023

My December Memory and a Big Life Lesson

by | 28 December, 2021 | 5 comments


By Michael C. Mack

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 50 years ago this month. Because of rather odd circumstances, I spent three weeks in the hospital . . . in December. (A charitable organization gave me a model ’57 Chevy to put together, I asked a nurse for a pair of scissors, and I accidentally plunged them into my hand. I ended up with a staph infection and in quarantine.)

While in the hospital, the nurses’ job was to teach me to give myself insulin injections. I just couldn’t do it at first.

I could inject an orange, a grapefruit, and even a nurse, but I couldn’t inject myself. So the nurses schemed how they would get me to do it.

First they tried to model how easy it is to give oneself a shot. One-by-one, each of the nurses came into my room and stuck a hypodermic needle in her arm, and then told me I could do it as well. I began to really enjoy this daily game. I asked them to send in my older sister and my sixth-grade math teacher.

Then they attempted reverse psychology: I was to give one of them—the young, wide-eyed, just-out-of-nursing-school neophyte—a shot of saline solution. The idea was that if I could give someone else a shot, I could give one to myself. Really? I was a preadolescent boy. It didn’t hurt me to put that needle in her arm, but I could tell by her expression that it hurt her. She didn’t think it was as funny as I did.

Then they pulled out the big guns: No dessert if I didn’t give myself my shot. But my 9-year-old roommate had just had surgery on both feet, so when everyone left, I took his dessert. I figured he’d never catch me.

After three weeks of trickery, deceit, and blackmail, they finally gave up on me and told my parents to take me home for Christmas. I thought I saw one of them slip my mom a $100 bill.

Eventually, I was able to give myself my own shot. In the meantime, I learned quite a bit from my experience. For instance, when you inject an orange with enough saline solution, it becomes a little water bomb, perfect for terrorizing your roommate and your older sister.

That last part isn’t exactly true; in fact, after 50 years I may have embellished several parts of this story. But I have learned many lessons from my life with diabetes.

One of them is how temporary my diabetes is. Granted, there is no cure yet for type 1 diabetes; it can be treated, and the treatment routines have advanced greatly over the last half century.

Perhaps someday I’ll be the recipient of some type of cure. Or maybe I won’t. Either way, my diabetes is temporary. Someday, it will be gone, and I’ll have a body that can metabolize blood glucose.

No more finger pricks and shots and pumps and counting carbohydrates. No more need for Hemoglobin A1Cs or endocrinologist visits.

I look forward to that day—for more reasons than I can count.

Diabetes is not the only thing that is temporary, of course.

To my friends Stan and Chuck, MS is temporary.

To my sister Kathy, rheumatoid arthritis is temporary.

To my friend Terra, loss and grief are temporary.

Loneliness is temporary. Depression is temporary. Chronic pain is temporary.

Cancer: temporary. Dementia: temporary.

God’s Word displays the bigger picture of life for us. It provides perspective. From beginning to end, it’s easy to see that all the bad circumstances of life are just temporary. The Bible describes life as a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

When Jesus told people not to worry about their lives but to seek the kingdom of God, he was telling them, and us, that the stuff of this life is only temporary.

When Jesus healed people of their diseases, he was telling them their sicknesses were only temporary. All these people eventually died of something, and yet all of it was temporary.

When Jesus’ close friend Lazarus was deathly ill, Jesus didn’t immediately run to his rescue. Why? Because Jesus knew his illness was temporary. Even Lazarus’s death, burial, and subsequent resurrection were temporary. He’d live to see it all again.

Jesus told the thief on the cross next to him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” In other words, this is just temporary.

My circumstances and yours are temporary, no matter how difficult they are or impossible they seem. Even if healing or reconciliation or freedom or stability never come in this lifetime, it is still all temporary.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

I thank God for temporary!


  1. Sandra Candler-Wafer

    What a blessing to read! My husband also has the temporary condition of diabetes, and although it has led to some other temporary conditions, as you so amazingly state ” it is still all temporary”. I’ve tried to encourage him as we work together to ensure he is taking the steps laid out for him… but what a blessing to be able to remind him and myself, that it is all just temporary and to keep our eye on the prize of our high calling. Thank you Michael for being God’s messenger!

  2. David Duncan

    Thanks, Mike. Good reminder and encouragement.

  3. Diane Mitchell

    Loved this!

  4. Dan Schantz

    Mike, one of your best! So honest, funny, encouraging! My granddaughter, who has type one, will enjoy it, too, I am sure. Thanks! Dan Schantz

  5. Michael C. Mack

    Thanks, all, for your very kind and uplifting comments. My hope as I wrote this was to encourage not only those with diabetes and their family and friends, but others who are dealing with temporary life circumstances. Fix your eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen!

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