To all of us with diabetes, Frederick Banting is a scientific giant to whom we owe a great deal. As we all know Banting won the 1923 Nobel Prize for Medicine, alongside JJR Macleod, for the isolation of insulin.1
Sadly Banting was killed in a plane crash in 1941, after both the engines of the Lockheed L-14 Super Electra he was travelling on failed while flying over Newfoundland. Banting was later buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto.2
After his funeral his tomb was sealed with instructions for it never to be opened. Rumours that his instructions were enforced through an elaborate curse over the tomb spread widely but were not taken seriously by the diabetic community3 but they attracted the attention of Howard Carter, the internationally famous archaeologist.
Responsible for opening Tutankhamun’s tomb during Lord Carnarvon’s legendary archaeological dig, Carter had become fascinated with the tales of Banting’s tomb and the wild stories of the curse that surrounded it.4 Having evaded Tutankhamun’s curse, Carter scoffed at the idea that Banting’s tomb would present any serious danger and ignored the pleadings of the local diabetic community,5 who were steeped in the traditions of what became known as The Curse of Banting.6
Despite the community’s reservations, Carter travelled to the Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Soon after midnight and as lightening flickered around the darkened sky7, Carter approached the long-sealed doors of Banting’s tomb. Inscribed on the heavy stone entrance read the doom-filled legend:
“Do not disturb the tomb of Banting. Open these doors and you will bring down minor irritations on all diabetics wherever they may dwell”.
As the native porters fled terrified into the night, Carter stood firm, broke the door’s ancient seal8 and flung open the tomb’s heavy doors. There was a sudden rush of wind from the tomb and terrifying, ghost-like apparitions shot part Carter into the night.9
Carter vehemently denied that the tomb had been cursed and dismissed claims from diabetics around the world that he had unwittingly released Banting’s hideous scourge upon them.10 But rumours still persist that Carter did indeed unleash the curse and that, as a result of his rash actions, diabetics are subject to minor irritations every day.
Want to test your blood but your meter is upstairs and you’ve got to trudge all the way up to get it? That’s the Curse of Banting11 in action. Minor hypo but all the Fruit Pastilles in your bag are ancient and rock solid? Again, the Curse of Banting. Infusion set gets caught on a door handle? Guess what, it’s the Curse of Banting striking again.12
Little did Howard Carter know what he unleashed on the fateful, stormy night in that Toronto cemetery but the curse is something that continues to haunt the pancreatically challenged hordes13 to this very day and the curse might even touch you, dear reader, very soon.
- This is all true, by the way
- This is still true
- We’re starting to get on shaky ground here
- This didn’t happen, Carter died two years before Banting in 1939
- In the paragraph above it said they didn’t take it seriously
- This community didn’t exist in any event
- Really? A dark and stormy night? Please!
- The seal couldn’t be ancient as this supposedly happened at least two years before Banting actually died
- Much like that bit at the end of Raider’s of the Lost Ark; but without the Nazis
- He didn’t say this as he was dead
- This must be a proper curse – it’s in italics and everything
- Admittedly, some of these are really annoying
- Look! I spelt ‘hordes’ correctly for once
- You won’t
- Why would anyone not dare to sleep? None of this story makes any sense.