As an only child, I developed an attachment to my father that could best be described as that of a best friend. I lost him to diabetes and heart disease in 2009. He was barely 67 years old.
Losing a friend is difficult; losing a parent who is your best friend is devastating. And the pain is compounded when the loss comes quickly and without warning.
My dad was an energetic, spirited and generous individual. He appeared to be in good health—at least on the outside. But after his death we discovered he had been living with a silent killer.
Diabetes had led to heart disease. One day he complained of heartburn but refused to go to the doctor, and we believe he didn’t tell us the extent of his symptoms so as not to burden us. Despite living in a country with one of the best health care systems in the world, my parents were living without insurance and did not qualify for Medicaid, even though they were permanent residents.
In the middle of the night, while we were all asleep, he had a severe heart attack. Before we could react, he was gone. My world completely changed from that moment.
For many years, I lived with an overwhelming sense of guilt. What if I had been a more proactive caregiver? What if he had insurance? What if we had more awareness of the symptoms of heart disease, and an understanding of the increased risk he faced because of diabetes? What if...?
His death gave me a renewed motivation. While my work is in IT and not directly with patients, I know that what I’m doing can help make a difference for people. To me, working at Lilly is not just a means to an end. It is a passion to serve patients like my dad. I am thankful to have this opportunity.