Diseases you can’t see


The cosmos stands accused.

It’s one thing if someone uses a wheelchair or a blind man’s cane, or has cerebral palsy.  Other diseases can be just as serious, but unseen.

R.N. was a grade school classmate of mine.  His family had a house on the lake, an octagonal “cabin” built wholly of redwood.  Three or four times, they invited me to spend the weekend with them at the lake.

Every day, Mr. N. — otherwise a perfectly normal, personable man — around 4:00 p.m., would find some small thing about which to get irritated.  And complain.  And accept no explanation, mitigation or correction of the situation.  And then find something else.  And something else.  And become increasingly angry, agitated and animated.  The escalation would continue until every family member had found somewhere to hide, cowering in fear.  Then his voice would be the only sound in the house.  He would abruptly fall silent, go and take a nap; the household gradually come back to life; and by the time he woke, it was time for supper.

To the best of my knowledge, the family never discussed this pattern or sought out any explanation.

Years later, I learned that this was probably a matter of hypoglycemia or diabetic shock:  at mid-afternoon, a couple hours before supper, his blood sugar dropped, and these scenes followed.  The patient with adequate awareness and self-awareness will develop the ability to perceive the onset of this emotional instability, and take steps accordingly; notably, eating a snack to bring one’s blood sugar levels back up.

In “Defund police?,” I noted:

I have Type 2 diabetes myself. When my blood sugar drops, I get nervous and jittery. Not all people do. Some get “irritable,” which is actually a misleading term. “Hostile” or “violent” would be closer the mark. The most severe domestic disturbances I’ve ever witnessed involved men who were in this state.

The disturbances I refer to there are those involving Mr. N.  The same post tells of two other incidents, involving a different man, that resulted in law suits against police.  I myself worked for several years for lawyer who had this same condition, and was often ill-tempered for hours at a time.

To me, the cosmos stands accused.

Of all the causes of evil, heartbreak and suffering in the world, how can it be that this would rise merely from someone’s physiology?

How can the universe be a just place, if this is so?

I can puzzle this, and fret about it, and never find an answer; or, I can accept it as What Is.

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