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I Wish Things Could Have Been Different Between Us

Posted by AAIP News on 10/24/2014
By Arne Vainio, M.D.
News From Indian Country

I had just finally been able to go to sleep when my pager went off. I knew the phone number all too well and was soon heading in for a delivery at 4:00 AM. Things didn’t go exactly like they were supposed to and after several hours I consulted the OB doctor and we ended up going for a C-section. By the time I left the hospital, I was over 2 hours late for clinic. I had called ahead and most of my morning patients were rescheduled.

Except for Richard. He told the nurse he would wait and when I finally went in to see him, he had been waiting for almost 3 hours. I walked in to the room and started to apologize when he stood up and walked out the door. “You wanted me to come in and you make me wait all morning? I’m never coming back here again!”

I sent him a letter apologizing for making him wait, but he never answered back. I actually really liked him and I know he liked me. He always made it a point to tell me traditional ways of doing things and let me know what he was doing during any particular season. His diabetes was poorly controlled and he was convinced if he ate natural foods it wouldn’t affect his blood sugar. He collected and cooked his own maple syrup and he drank it right from the jar in his refrigerator. He never actually checked his blood sugars and his hemoglobin A1c was always over 12. Normal is less than 6.5 and anything over 10 is out of control. The highest we can measure in the clinic is 14.0 and he had broken that barrier several times. He had had a triple bypass about 10 years prior and six months of his medicines usually lasted him over a year. Part of his left foot had been amputated due to diabetic ulcers that wouldn’t heal. At the visit before this one he told me he had blood in his stool and I set him up for a colonoscopy. Even though he agreed to go, he didn’t show up on the day it was scheduled.