Last week, at BlogWorld, I had three blood sugars in the 40's over the course of five hours. My blood sugar just wouldn't come up, no matter how many glucose tabs I chomped. I treated the first low in my hotel room, dusting the desk with glucose powder as I shook the jar into my hand. Watching the Dexcom graph, I assumed I was on the upswing, but I never fully crested. I treated the second low in the shuttle on the way over to the convention center, during which time, my fellow panelist, Jenni from ChronicBabe, noticed what i was doing.
"Are you having a low blood sugar?" (Jenni is an excellent conference wife - she knows that glucose tabs mean a low blood sugar is on tap.)
"Yeah. I had one earlier this morning, but it hasn't kicked out yet. I feel like I've eaten half a jar of glucose tabs." I shook another orange tab into my hand and popped it into my mouth. She eyeballed me while I wiped the dust from my lips.
"Do you want to try one? I think they taste like crap, but I only eat them when I'm low, and everything's crap when I'm low." I handed her the jar.
"Oh. Oh, yum! This is like baby aspirin. But good baby aspirin? I love it."
"Dude, Chris likes them, too. He's had a few here and there, and he's always a fan. When I'm low, I just don't have enough saliva going on to make these things melt fast enough."
We finished the ride, but the low hung on, to the point where it was five hours after I had treated the first low in the hotel room, and I was still stuck under 70 mg/dl. When Jenni and I took a break from sessions to check out the sponsor exhibit hall, we grabbed a table at the back of the room to check email, etc.
And I could not function, not properly, anyway. The room was too loud. The table felt like it was extra high and that I needed to stretch myself in order to put my elbows on the table. My computer felt like 30lb weight on my shoulder, and my tongue felt swollen and glucose-sticky in my mouth.
I grabbed my meter from my purse and did a spot-check: 43 mg/dL. Third time's the charm. Almost crying with frustration and fatigue from being low for several hours straight, I threw the meter back into my bag. I put two glucose tabs in my mouth at once and took a pear out of my purse, setting it on the tablecloth near my laptop.
"I'm sorry," I said to Jenni, knowing I was at the edge. "I'm low again, and I'm at that 'I'm going to cry' stage. Sorry in advance, and I'm also really ing pissed off to still be low, so I'm sorry."
Her eyes softened and she gave me a small smile. "I'm going to sit here and not talk to you until you're fine. If you need anything, let me know. But I'm a little scared of you right now."
Her levity brought the world back into focus, and my shoulders relaxed.
"I know. I'm a lunatic right now." I pretended to flip the table over with my hands. "I'm ready to flip tables and eat glucose tabs and be all rage-filled."
"Eat your pear, babe. We'll go when you're ready."
I ate; we waited. And a special appreciation grew for my friend Jenni, and other people who deal with health stuff every day. They get that this is just part of the routine with diabetes. They understand, even though their health conditions aren't the same as mine. The common threads of chronic illness run through every moment of every day, and "understanding" isn't limited to those living with diabetes.
Everyone who is tuned in to their health "gets" it. We're all in this together, regardless of our health. We are all patients.
(Also, I need to start traveling with a new flavor of glucose tabs. I've had it with orange for at least a year.)