“Son, you’re not doing very well” were the first words I heard when regaining consciousness. I was looking up into the bright lights, not quite sure of where I was or how I got there. After a barrage of questions from different orbiting bodies in what must have been an emergency room, I saw his kind face. There he was, upside down in my view as he said “you need to have a doctor here while you’re in school.” He went on to explain that he wasn’t taking on any more patients, but he would agree to take me on if I would follow his instructions to the letter. With my mind still foggy and a pounding headache, I would agree with anyone who offered to help me feel better. What a stroke of luck, or more likely, divine intervention that chance meeting happened to be. I’m quite sure I didn’t make the best of first impressions on this kindly older gentleman who would become my first guide on this long road. Actually, as I like to say, I was off the road and into the weeds!
The doctor began sharing his plans to get me where I needed to be, discussing the situation with me and my parents, who seemed to suddenly appear in the room from a hundred miles away. It was like a scene out of Star Trek and Scotty had just beamed them downstate! My girlfriend, who you all know well now as my wife, Penny, was there too. She also orbited into my life and has always been there for me! Everyone seemed to like my new doctor and I knew I was in good hands. I was where I needed to be.
As the weeks and months went by, we came to learn a lot about each other, my new Doc and I. As I adopted my newly learned disciplines into my daily routine, things became less about formal instructions, and more about life. He mentioned in one such meeting that he had a son that was on TV. I thought that was pretty cool, but I had never heard of him at that point, so I wasn’t real impressed. As a college sophomore in a dorm, there weren’t many opportunities to sit down and watch prime time television. Today, everyone would have a 40” flat screen as a minimum survival instrument. It wouldn’t be until later, when a new show started, that I saw his son for the first time. Shortly after that I would tell everyone, “hey did you see MASH last night?” “Well McLean Stevenson’s dad is my doctor!” “No, he really is….really….just ask Penny!” And so he was. He was a great doctor and a gentle soul that lead with a firm hand, but was never judgmental. He knew this was a difficult disease to handle and sometimes things go wrong even when you do everything by the book. In fact, there really is no owner’s manual since everyone is a unique model.
I remember going to see him, along with Penny, before graduation and knowing I would miss him and his gentle encouragement. He started me on the right path of taking charge of a condition that would be all too happy to be in charge of me if I let it. Thank you, Dr. Stevenson, for hovering over me that day and offering to airlift me out of the mess I was in. The war against diabetes had a brave new soldier thanks to the heroics of chopper pilots like you.