UPDATE 1/2/2018: New photo added (amid text) of Tom at age 53.
My younger brother, Tom, had suffered with type 2 diabetes for a long time. He’d kept it a secret from everyone until late 2015 when he could no longer ignore and neglect it. Well, just this November 19, Sunday at 11:00 pm, diabetes finally took his life.
Courtesy of the CDC
Cardiac arrest explained
His death came as a result of cardiac arrest, a.k.a. sudden cardiac death. One of the problems he developed due to the diabetes was heart failure with tachycardia (rapid heartbeat). Tachycardia is a great risk factor for cardiac arrest, where the heart’s electrical system goes bad, the heart starts quivering instead of beating, the brain is quickly devoid of blood, and the person feels faint, blacks out, falls down and stops breathing. Essentially dead. Unless someone can work a miracle by doing chest compressions and CPR. But the real remedy is to quickly apply defibrillators to the person’s chest to electrically stun the heart back into beating and pumping blood. Only about 10% of people who have cardiac arrest survive without defibrillation within about four minutes from blacking out. About 30% of them survive after defibrillation is done promptly. So cardiac arrest is seriously deadly unless one is very lucky.
When saving someone’s life is not merciful
In Tom’s case, bringing him back to that terribly sick and suffering body would have been a dreadful disservice to him. But the paramedics tried and tried for about half an hour. They got no response. Cardiac arrest was a merciful death for someone so sick for so long. He started getting medical treatment very late in the disease, got the usual tests and prescriptions and their side effects, and some natural and herbal remedies he was trying, but he just couldn’t seem to get a handle on the situation and his body kept on getting worse. He had short bouts of improvement where he was getting better, then severe setbacks which took over in the end. He got the best results by far when eating nothing but vegetables, mostly raw, along with some supplements. He had not yet been told to take insulin shots.
His having high blood sugar for so long had wreaked havoc on everything. He even lost most of his teeth, which diabetics are prone to. He had serious edema and ascites—where the abdomen fills with “water” (protein fluid) and just keeps on getting bigger. He was likely headed for amputations due to tissue death in the extremities (starting with toes usually), was having vision problems (many diabetics go blind or partially so). Then there was the nerve pain, terrible shooting pains from nerve damage due to the disease. He had a chronic cough partly due to the ace inhibitor he was taking to “protect his kidneys” and often was out of breath. Couldn’t wear shoes other than too-big flip flops due to chronic edema (swelling). The list could go on (infections and such). I mean, wow, he really suffered in the final stages, full-time for two plus years.
See here for a basic explanation of diabetes: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/tc/type-2-diabetes-topic-overview#1
When all hope is lost
Tom’s doctor had urged him to get to a cardiologist, but he’d refused. I don’t know how much good that would have done; it seems medical treatment is so often sadly disappointing, only leading to more and more and deeper and deeper, every “remedy” causing further problems. Some people are fortunate to have a reasonable quality of life after intensive medical treatments, like pacemakers to control the heart beat, which may have done Tom some good. But in his condition, he couldn’t even work up the desire to try, and he couldn’t be forced. It was so hard for him to get around at all; he hadn’t gone upstairs (or even one step up) at the house for many months.
Tom at 53 – from driver’s license
Of course I and my brother would have helped him and taken him anywhere, been there for him, but he had given up hope. He could have had a procedure called “paracentesis” where they drain the ascitic fluid from the abdomen, and had even gotten his doctor’s approval; but then was warned by one who does the procedure that diabetics are not well advised to do it because of their high risk of infection (peritonitis). So he was discouraged from that, and just went on suffering with a hugely bloated abdomen. And without dealing with the underlying cause (the heart failure), paracentesis would have been only a temporary solution. So, what hope was there?
My poor dear brother “Tommy.” (I use quotes because he didn’t like “Tommy,” preferred Tom or Thomas, but I use “Tommy” affectionately, remembering him as an adorable toddler.)
A message from the other side
Tom’s gone from this world and I’m not sure where he is now. I’d asked him the next day (Monday) out loud, to send me a signal if he was now happy, in a good place, safe, protected, that loved ones can be together again in some all-new and beautiful existence. The following morning as I was awake lying in bed I heard a 3-beat “wooden wind chime” noise from the living room. It startled me because I have nothing set up anywhere to use that tone, and anyways, there was no alert tone set up anywhere in the house (I don’t even do that).
The noise obviously came from my cell phone, so I went through it and listened to all the message alerts and there it was, number 6 in the list, titled “message 3.” I believe the tone had sounded at 7:32am. All that is significant for the number 3, since Tom knew I had a superstitious “thing” about the number 3 as being good, my “lucky number,” all that. Now, I’d never used that tone in my cell phone (or anywhere else) for anything. And there was no reason for that sound (or any other) to have come from the phone. No reason at all…other than my brother’s spirit answering my question from the previous day with a “YES” in a way I would “get it.”
People can believe that or not, think I’m nutty (true enough), or whatever they want to think or say. But I know what happened. And I’m trusting that my brother’s spirit is indeed in a wonderful new existence free of all pain, suffering and death, only experiencing bliss and great adventures throughout the universe and maybe even beyond. Free to travel as the wind and be wherever he wants to be, with only loved ones for company whenever those spirits desire company.
Had I forced Tom to be vegan, and thereby caused his death?
Tom wasn’t vegan or even vegetarian, in case anyone reading is thinking, “Aha, veganism is deadly just like we say!” Or other such nonsense. Tom had a lifelong struggle with food addiction and obesity, and was into Atkins and “paleo” type dieting which he’d believed the hype about from a young age. I often tried to convince him to be vegan or at least mostly so. He tried once in awhile but could not give up the meat, eggs, dairy, along with all the rich treat foods like desserts and such. An eating addiction is a terrible thing. Chronic overeating, especially of animal fats is the cause of type 2 diabetes: https://www.riseofthevegan.com/blog/diabetes-reversal-with-plant-based-diet, aside from the obesity it causes. Tom’s addictive nature was something I wished he could’ve overcome. But he couldn’t. And he suffered badly for it. I truly believe he suffered far more than enough to atone for his wrongs in life.
I miss him so; even miss bickering with him, his sarcasm and sharp mind. He had a great compassionate side which was sparingly revealed. I love him always and only wish we could have done more together, communicated better, etc., etc. But we did our best, considering our family history (which I won’t go into).
If you have someone you love and they’re suffering with overeating and obesity, do beware of this disease, diabetes. I once had the overeating and obesity problem too. Big appetites, obesity and diabetes run in our family. Thankfully, veganism has pretty much solved that problem for me. The body can only take so much abuse from too much fatty or rich, taxing food over years and years. The pancreas can only do so much producing of insulin and secreting it into the bloodstream, regulating the body’s blood sugar level. Once the pancreas is shot…or the insulin it produces is stopped by fat from getting the sugar into the cells, so the sugar remains and builds up in the blood…it is a hell of a thing to deal with.
Food addiction took our little brother away from us at only 55 years of age. Try not to let anything like that happen to you.
Below are some images of Tom from when he was young, in loving tribute…
Tommy at 3 all dressed up
Tommy at 1 yr. and me in goofy Hawaiian dance show garb
Tommy at about 3 with Santa
Tom and best buddy Mark at about 4 yrs old
Tom (age 5), me and our aunt on Easter Sunday 1967
Tom at 12 after he’d lost a bunch of weight and feeling great