In the shallows of the night

One naked star has waded through
The purple shallows of the night,
And faltering as falls the dew
It drips its misty light.

James Whitcomb Riley—The Beetle.

Forgive this piece of sheer indulgence: it is late, I am alone with my thoughts.

I often find myself living a semi-nocturnal life, I work in a number of distant cities and often rise early to miss the traffic or, like tonight, I am waiting to find out if I there will be a tomorrow.  This is somewhat melodramatic, but it reflects a basic truth: for the last score of years I have had juvenile onset diabetes, which means that my whole adult life has been punctuated (and punctured) by a round of injections (at least six per day) and finger-stick blood tests (somewhere around ten per day).

Over the last few years new technology has improved this greatly: I now have an insulin pump that delivers a constant flow of insulin 24/7 (a constant companion, it and I are hooked up together all the time and everywhere; well, perhaps except in the shower).

To borrow a phrase, “with great power comes great responsibility”, if the pump stops working the insulin will stop infusing into my system, my body will convert all of the nice carbohydrate that I have eaten (or which might be lurking in my liver) into charmless compounds called Ketones, which, in the longer term, will poison my kidneys, strangle my arteries and blind me.  In the shorter term, I may just never wake up.

So, three hours ago my blood glucose (measured using an incredibly clever machine that uses the photoreactive properties of a chemical to measure the amount of sugar in capillary blood) was 15.8 mmol/L (sorry to our US readers, I don’t know what that is in mg/dl), which means that I have to administer a corrective dose, wait an hour, change all the bits that stick into my body (teflon catheter, scarily large insertion needle, tubing, reservoir), test, wait an hour, test (and, if necessary) test again.

That’s why I am writing this.  It is three AM and I am waiting to know that I might wake again if I go to bed.

What to do? There is only me and Thee, Oh God, there is only time to pray and to try to revel in Your company.

qui habitat in abscondito Excelsi in umbraculo Domini commorabitur
dicens Domino spes mea et fortitudo mea Deus meus confidam in eum
quia ipse liberabit te de laqueo venantium de morte insidiarum
in scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi et sub alis eius sperabis
scutum et protectio veritas eius non timebis a timore nocturno
a sagitta volante per diem a peste in tenebris ambulante a morsu insanientis meridie
cadent a latere tuo mille et decem milia a dextris tuis ad te autem non adpropinquabit
verumtamen oculis tuis videbis et ultionem impiorum cernes
tu enim es Domine spes mea Excelsum posuisti habitaculum tuum
non accedet ad te malum et lepra non adpropinquabit tabernaculo tuo
quia angelis suis mandabit de te ut custodiant te in omnibus viis tuis
in manibus portabunt te ne forte offendat ad lapidem pes tuus
super aspidem et basiliscum calcabis conculcabis leonem et draconem
quoniam mihi adhesit et liberabo eum exaltabo eum quoniam cognovit nomen meum
invocabit me et exaudiam eum cum ipso ero in tribulatione eruam eum et glorificabo
longitudine dierum implebo illum et ostendam ei salutare meum

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2 Responses to In the shallows of the night

  1. mmvc says:

    Far from ‘sheer indulgence’, your moving, honest post is a salutary reminder for us all of the fragility and shortness of life and the need to live every day as if it were our last.

    Thank you, Raven and may the Lord keep you safe.


  2. toadspittle says:


    The idea of a star “Dripping” its light sounds nasty, drippyconsistently and perjorative, thinks Toad. Doesn’t like the tone of the poem at all.
    What does anyone else think?

    But he agrees with Mmvc about Raven.
    At age 70, after a life lived in a fashion far from calculated to encourage undue longevity, Toad, on waking, is always mildly surprised and pleased to realise he might be allowed to enjoy yet another day of happiness with his dogs.

    Either he was just born lucky or he has so far failed to catch the Deity’s malevolent eye, perhaps?


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