Three Frightening Words

Written by Dobie Maxwell

I have lived a frightening life. 

Frightening is the best word I could come up with, but it only barely nosed out “horrific” and “excruciating”. 

There’s “off the charts” too, but that’s three words so I won’t go there.

In a nutshell (and apparently I would be the nut) I survived pneumonia when I was three years old, when multiple doctors said it was against major odds.

That’s what I heard later anyway, as I wasn’t listening to what doctors said then.

I had to take the word of others later, but I don’t think they were making it up. 

Then as I grew up I had any number of childhood injuries that weren’t fun ranging from a broken arm, broken nose and falling off a mini bike on to paved asphalt. 

I was wearing only shorts at the time and ended up as a giant walking scab.

(Sorry for the detailed visual, but as I mentioned my life has not been a picnic.) 

The one word that described those events as a whole is… “OUCH!”

As an adult, I survived not one but two near fatal violent car wrecks that once again prompted a group of doctors to say it was against all odds that I survived. 

This time I heard them all, and looking back I had to agree with their assessment. 

But I have to say in all candor and honesty that nothing – and I mean NOTHING – frightened me to my very core as much as three words I heard in June of 2011:

“You have diabetes.”


“I have…WHAT?”

“Mr. Maxwell, your blood sugar is 500.”

Pregnant pause to let the ignorance set in for full effect. 

“Is that GOOD?”

“No, it is NOT good.”

Ignorance part two – the sequel:

“Are you sure it’s ME?”


Without getting into the details of my own story, I think everyone that ever hears those three frightening words immediately boards an emotional roller coaster.

After the initial shock wears off (which takes a while) the first emotion is fear. 

All I could picture in my mind’s eye were needles.

LOTS of them.

Big, long, pointy, painful needles – getting jabbed in me every hour of every day.

That was my ultimate worst nightmare, and now it was coming true. 

Lucky me.

Snakes I can tolerate, along with spiders, mice and most other creepy things.

Needles are the devil.

My next thought was “Is this a death sentence?”

I was in my 40s when I was diagnosed, and diabetes was something that happens to someone else.

All I knew was that I had an aunt who had it when I was a kid, and she tried to give me some of her diet cola which I immediately spit out after my first sip. 


Diabetes literally left a bad taste in my mouth at an early age, and I was finished. 

Or so I thought. 

Now, like it or not – and who would? – it was back for another visit. 

This time it was going to stay a while, so I had better get ready for a relationship.

Not long after the shock and fear wore off, next came anger. 

It’s almost like we question the universe for passing down this cruel punishment to us, and we feel we didn’t deserve it.

“Why ME?” We ask.

“Why NOT?” The universe answers. 

“Deal with it.”

And deal with it we do.

Humans can be incredibly resilient creatures, and we find ways to survive.

Even though I didn’t enjoy it, I found a way to survive the needle nightmare.

I also exercised like a maniac and watched every morsel of food I took in. 

It was only a couple of months and my 500 blood sugar was a distant memory and I assumed I was back to “normal” – whatever indeed that may be. 

The time since has been a continuous roller coaster ride, and I have gone back and forth from a picture of health to a bundle of nerves. 

Nobody should have to face this frightening experience alone, and I for one could not be more grateful to have found a sense of community and support with all of my coworkers on the Just My Type podcast, Diastrong and The Diabetes App.

Here’s to you finding your own inner peace and courage to keep going on your own journey!

Life can be frightening for sure, and we can all use a little help and support.

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