Holy @#$! Amazing Stories, Vol. 2: Capt. Kirk

Meet Kirk Slusher, aka “Capt. Kirk,” who’s been writing to me REGULARLY for at least 6 months in response to my posts (xxxooo!) Slowly he’s been telling me his D-story, which he’s agreed to let me highlight here.

48 years with Type 1 and going strong! No complications, and the most admirable can-do attitude you’ll ever find. Kirk is VP of Sales and Marketing for a medical equipment company, a father, and an all-around active and athletic guy. Here are some excerpts from his notes (excuse the varied formatting; I couldn’t get it to change):

“I guess my young age when diagnosed had an impact on my attitude. Diabetes has been such a part of me for so long I just am not pissed about it; not sure I ever was. What happens to me is I get very very tired of living the life, there are times I just want to wake up at night and not have to do a status check of the body. I tell people we Type 1s invented 24/7 way before it became a buzz word.

When I was diagnosed
insulin was $2.80 per bottle and was U-40 only, boy have we come a long way! We
also had to boil the syringe before ever shot, I was taking 3 per day back
then. All of my food was weighed and was for 13 years.


“There are religions
that believe in reincarnation; some of them tell us we decide before we are born
what our lives will be. This is based on what our soul needs to learn in order
to move forward. Maybe in a past life I was a fat glutton and I need to learn
self respect and self control. Maybe I am diabetic because I chose to
experience the life required. This view tends to sober one’s thoughts when you
consider the possibility of your own involvement in the process. Many years ago
I read a book called ”The Nature of Personal Reality” by Jane Roberts. It
basically taught me that I form my own reality by the way I live and the way I
believe. As an example I have always known that complications can happen with
diabetes but I have always known they will not happen to me; I believe it beyond
anything. Attitude Attitude Attitude…

“I am very pragmatic when it comes to treating diabetes; either you do
what you have to or you die before you have to. It doesn’t have to be
overly complicated or difficult (it can be challenging though…)

remember the diabetologist I first saw as a child, he looked at my mom
and said “Mrs. Slusher either you promise to do what I tell you or you can
leave right now!” Problem is Doctors are too concerned with hurting peoples
self esteem etc. My mother took me to meet a lady who had just had both
legs amputated when I was 6, it made an impression (today the police would
get her for abuse). Probably the one statement which made the biggest impact
on me was when old Doc Warvel said “Mrs Slusher your son has a little
diabetes, it is something a little exercise, a little diet and a little
insulin will take care of” Is the glass half empty or half full?

I am currently considering something
I have never done, an extended backpacking trip alone. I almost kicked in 1978
while hiking 880 blood sugar when they flew me out of the mountains, of course I
wasn’t yet doing blood testing it was the only time I have been hospitalized for
DKA. It has taken me some time to get comfortable again with the backcountry.

“Well, Amy, it seems you are rapidly
becoming acquainted with the medical drones. Always remember to put them in
their place, after all it is your life and health. My current endo sits back
and asks me what I need and I tell him (after all I had been injecting myself 7
years before he was born). If you can continue your aggressive education
process you will be very successful and healthy. Just don’t forget to slow down
and smell the roses during the whole process. Today my son and me leave for a
4 day backpacking trek in New Mexico hot springs, mountain swimming and hiking
I’ll also smell the flowers while we are at it.

“I am sending the
included picture it was in July of 2004; I was backpacking for 9 days at
altitudes up to 13,000 ft. We hiked 50 miles. This is after 46 years of D.
Life can be normal with diabetes — tell all your friends!

And finally, his most recent note to me:


I recently re-read your post about
your worst fears. I have learned one lesson with my D over all these decades.
Attitude makes the difference. My view has always been “Yes I am diabetic and
bad things can happen, BUT I WILL NOT LET THEM HAPPEN TO ME!!!!” I am firmly
convinced that my attitude has made the difference. Make sure you have the
right attitude and live long and healthy.

Another post I recently read is your
fear about taking the wrong insulin etc. I have done that and once stayed up
all night as I ate to avoid lows, this was of course before self testing. I
have always figured it out before it caused a problem it always kind of hits me
between the eyes a few hours later. You’ll do just fine. Remember if you are
going tooooo low your liver will dump and then you’ll go tooooo high.


Thanks, Kirk. We needed that.


10 Responses

  1. Jeanette
    Jeanette December 7, 2005 at 7:18 am | | Reply

    Rock on Dr. Kirk!!! It is so important for me to have positive examples to aspire to. Your’s is a great one. I know in my mind that I can continue to live well with type 1 as I have for 16 years. Thank you for sharing and thank you for doing what it takes everyday to be healthy!

  2. Sandra Miller
    Sandra Miller December 7, 2005 at 10:25 am | | Reply

    “Holy @#$! Amazing” is right!

    Wow. What an inspiration.

    Thank you, Amy, for highlighting this amazing individual.

  3. Ali
    Ali December 7, 2005 at 11:40 am | | Reply

    I don’t comment regularly on here but I do check in weekly to read your wonderful posts since being diagnosed as a Type 1 in November of last year. I had to comment on this though, because this was one of the most moving inspirational pieces of writing I’ve read in a long time. What an eloquent man with admirable views. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Keith
    Keith December 7, 2005 at 11:54 am | | Reply

    Amy, thanks for posting these excepts from Capt Kirk. I’ve been T1 37 years and am complication free. I try to be a voice of encouragement for those coming along behind and as a follower, Capt Kirk has definitely been an encourgement for me.

  5. Kevin
    Kevin December 7, 2005 at 12:36 pm | | Reply

    This is a great story, thank you for sharing it. I have been diabetic for 27 years now and have just recently started reading all the D-blogs out there. It has been amazing to find people discussing this part of my life that I have basically kept to myself all these years. Sometimes the situations and struggles and emotions that people write about in their blogs hit so close to home it’s kinda frightening and comforting at the same time. This story reminded me of a woman I just recently met who has been diabetic for 50 years — very inspirational indeed. Thanks again to Kirk, Amy, and all the other Diabetics out there sharing their diabetic lives.

  6. Andrea H.
    Andrea H. December 7, 2005 at 4:54 pm | | Reply

    I bet that for every one of us that comments, there are dozens more who are also inspired by stories like this. I hope that Kirk will continue to write and that you’ll continue to post his words of wisdom. Can you convince him to write about his recent backpacking adventure? I’m especially interested in how D people deal with hiking, something I love to do and now have to figure out how to somewhat differently, I suppose.

  7. Karen
    Karen December 7, 2005 at 7:22 pm | | Reply

    Hi Amy,

    Kirk has a great attitude and fortunate for him no complications, but at times he has no compassion for other diabetics that do not have his great attitude or that are complication free. I found his e-mails to you to be very well written and I am pleased that he has survived so long with this wonderful feeling about his disease, but here is the type of support he gives to others who do not follow his way of thinking.


  8. AmyT
    AmyT December 8, 2005 at 10:16 am | | Reply

    Hi Karen,
    Sorry — your complaint with Kirk was that he’s too upbeat? Was that it? I’m afraid you won’t get my sympathy on that one :)

  9. Christine
    Christine December 8, 2005 at 10:21 am | | Reply

    I have found this post to be very positive and I love reading the enthusiasm of the diabetics who are reading Kirk’s words. I have had type 1 diabetes for 28 years and I also find inspiration in those who have coped well with this disease and are examples of what we can do. I have seen Kirk on other forums (as noted by Karen above) and I think he enjoys the role of shining example more then he cares about actually helping or relating to others with diabetes. I find it particularly odd that in his emails above to Amy he states that she shared her fears with him when that is the exact thing that led him to the negative post he made on the board linked above by Karen.


  10. Christine
    Christine December 8, 2005 at 11:27 am | | Reply

    Note to Amy, please read the entire thread which Karen linked. She is hardly faulting him for being upbeat. Please look at his comments in the context in which they were made.


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