NOTE: Dr. Charlotte Templin, a retired English professor and former department head at the University of Indianapolis, provided the “Foreword” for the new book titled Dialing in on DI-AL-Y-SIS authored by Indianapolis south side resident and retired journalist Bernie Gilmer. Dr. Templin’s contribution follows:
The reader of Dialing in on DI-AL-Y-SIS, Bernie Gilmer’s account of the journey through kidney disease to the threshold of dialysis and beyond that momentous point of embarkation, provides inspiration and entertainment as well as an abundance of valuable information on all things pertaining to kidneys. As such, the book will be very useful to the individual facing dialysis, patients’ families, and all those who want to know more about the kidney, that “large ugly mystery,” as Joseph Heller terms it in his comic novel Catch-22. Gilmer follows the familiar suggestion about what to do with lemons, and what he serves up is refreshing in spite of the seriousness of the subject.
Maintaining a sense of humor is one thing that gets our sometimes “discombobulated” (to use his word) retired journalist through the difficult challenges that seem to pop up with all-too-frequent regularity. He tells us that his book project was therapeutic, and it can be said that the healing he experienced is an offering to the reader.
The book is many things: what could be called an adventure story; a dissertation on the kidney and the process of dialysis; a meditation that proceeds through free association and brings in moments in American history, sports lore, and episodes in the history of medicine (with a scary account of early insulin injections). In short, there is much that relieves the somber account of that “ugly mystery,” the kidney.
Gilmer’s tale begins with his somewhat belated discovery that he has diabetes and proceeds with a useful account that gives an insider’s perspective on that frightening and uncomfortable moment. It carries on through dramatic episodes that might be the basis of a made-for-television movie, including urgent ambulance rides from doctor’s office to hospital, family conclaves about a family patriarch experiencing extreme sweating and chills, and other crises more interesting to read about than to experience.
Most important is the valuable information interspersed throughout: how the kidney does its work and how the dialyzer does its work, causes of kidney failure, everything you wanted to know about kidney transplants, as much as anyone could possibly want to know about frequent urination, and, importantly, diabetes and kidney disease in society today. The exhaustive list of early symptoms of diabetes would be useful in every doctor’s waiting room.
Finally, the book ends with a note of hope — for some patients, for future progress and for peace for everyone on this journey.
Charlotte Templin, Ph.D.
Professor Emerita, University of Indianapolis