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Bullets.

The confusion is instant - the raw and palatable confusion where you know you're in trouble, but you haven't yet grasped just how much.  

"FAILED SENSOR" on the Dexcom screen, and instead of reaching for the jar of glucose tabs, I reach down past my waistband and pull the Dexcom sensor free from my right thigh.  It's stubborn; it wants to stay stuck and takes a firm pull to remove.  The sticky residue left behind by the adhesive tape is in that familiar oval shape, and it grabs my fingers.  I linger there for a minute, feeling the leftover glue securing to my thumb.  I wonder how long this sensor would have stayed stuck if it hadn't FAILED.

The hotel heat vent switches on, which must explain the sweat on my forehead and in the crook of my elbow.  My hands are trembling.  I have diabetes.  It's like a light bulb that goes off on my head, reminding me that I need to eat something.  Sweat collects in a damp veil on my forehead and I wipe at it absently with the sleeve of my shirt.  I slow-motion swat at the bottle of glucose tabs on the bedside table, counting out five ... six ... seven glucose tabs and holding them in my hand like magic beans.

My mouth isn't even mine.  It's just this thing, this portal to shove giant sugar tablets into.  I can't work up the saliva to chew, so the tab sits in my mouth until it starts to dissolve a little, and then my body remembers what to do with it.  "Chew the damn thing."  Tragedy of a low - no saliva.  Nothing to help mince these tabs down into something useful.

While chomping down on the fifth glucose tab, I test my blood sugar and see a 24 mg/dL on the  meter.  My first thought:  "What a screwed up number."  There isn't a second thought.  No room.  My focus is limited to chew, swallow, and stay awake.  I feel the waves of consciousness lapping, and I find myself chewing in rhythm with the ocean in my mind.

Adrenaline kicks in and I'm suddenly aware of everything: the whirring of the hotel heating unit, the sounds of New York City waking up outside the window, the bottle of water on the bedside table, and the fact that my bangs are plastered messily to the side of my face, anchored by sweat and panic.

The second thought finally kicks in.  "You're fine.  You'll be fine.  Seven glucose tabs ... you'll be over 100 soon and get on with things."  It's an internal pep talk, running on a loop in my brain.

I shouldn't have had the wine the night before.  I am angry at the sensor for dying after only four days.  I wish I had set an alarm for 3 am to double-check my blood sugar.  So many things.  But mostly, I'm relieved, relieved, relieved because I felt the whoosh of this bullet as it went by.

Comments

Okay...when I retire I will be your CGM on trips!! I can't read these types of posts without breaking out in a sweat myself. Cure please!!
Mom

Geez, Kerri! What is with you and hotel rooms and lows? I'm so glad you're OK! I've had a few Dexcom sensors fail on me while out of town, and it's a scary thing.

Your Mom just made me fall apart.

I hate this stuff. WE NEED A CURE!!

Sorry, Mom. But I'm fine now! And I was fine then. Just a little sweaty. ;)

Holly - I wish I could blame hotel rooms, but I think it was a lack of food the day before. Oh, and diabetes.

Oh, Kerri.... When I did my post on dealing with a high I did my best to make sure my mom didn't see it! Glad you're ok.

Oh, WOW. That has to be one of my worst fears--going low enough to have to treat with more than just the requisite 15g of carbs. And seeing a 24 on the meter screen after the sugar has already begun to kick in?? That, too.

I'm SO happy you're okay, though!

I'm with Mom! Have lows myself, so understand the feeling, but hate it even more for my daughter. I 2nd the motion for a cure...please...

*sigh* So many nights spent on the other end of this - hearing it from the source breaks my heart. I'm always in such a rush, while hubby is in slow motion - frustation on both ends ensues. Agree with the others.CURE SOON!

Glad you're OK.

Night lows scare the hell out of me. No matter how much I prepare, life always goes sideways when it actually happens.

Clifford Juice boxes are my current rescuer.

I Vote Team Mom!

So glad you dodged this bullet and really glad you share.
I have had to hear this story from the love of my life too many times and I almost break down each time.
I feel so helpless and worry so much that this horrible disease will rob us of our lives! I say our lives because I don't know how I would go On Without???
I can't imagine how you all must feel!
I pray for a cure every day!

My T1 son always goes low at the library, which is not exactly a place where a person's very active. He always has to bring his glucose tabs with. We joke that all that print has some weird effect on his blood sugar.

Oh wow, I’m glad you’re okay. I third your mom’s comment. Part of me hopes my daughter never leaves home because I don’t know how I’ll handle not “being her CGM”.

I just had my first 22 the other day. My previous record was a 34. This one was scary -- so sweaty, so hot, so low! Somewhat unrelated question for everyone: does anyone else strip to their skivvies when they're this low (and at home alone...)? I run nekked like a baby!

i agree with your mom.... this is a scary situation for any Dmom to imagine for their kid.... i'm happy that you're ok! i never want this for my son, but i know that, it will happen. it's just a matter of time :(

First: Lows suck. This post is a good reminder that gadgets are not a cure.

Second: Your mom is awesome. I love that her's is the first comment. We can all feel the love.

Yes, sometimes you can actually sense the bullets that miss you whizzing by. Scary!

Okay, I won't lie, this scared the daylights out of me!!! And until your mom retires, I volunteer my jobless self to be your Travel CGM!!

OH my. I was fighting back tears at the end.. then I see the first comment is from your mom.. that did it.
Geez. Good thing I have my Kleenex's. (#goodthingIhavemyorangejuice?)

Tears in my eyes as well. Hotel room lows are really scary! I'm glad that you had the tabs, they were in reach, and made it through. Thank you for sharing this!

I have to get better about that. With a doozy of a low, sometimes even walking across the room to dig them out of my briefcase is too much.

At the end of a multi-city trip, I'd run out of tabs and not realized it with a middle of the night in the 20's. Had the wherewithal to eat the sugar packets from the coffee set up.

Then had to manage getting change from the front desk, soda from the vending machine, locking myself out of the room, all in my pajamas.

Man, this is the reason I will risk being too high when traveling. Being "on the road" is too far removed from the normal routine what with different food, drink, activity, even if they're slight variations. Even then there seem to be no guarantees. A cure, yes, but the artificial pancreas at least will be a step in the right direction.

I have had type 1 for almost 19 years. I am successful. I am a registered nurse, CDE...Nothing can stop me--but dear lord does my diabetes try on a daily basis! It's a constant battle. I absolutely HATE middle of the night lows. We should be allowed to have our wine and enjoy it too.

Keep up the good blogging. Tell Abby hello! (I know her from CBM :)

OMG Kerri!!! I'm so so so glad you're ok!! Jacob is only 5 and I hope alcohol wont be part of his teenage years!! Scares the sh&?% out of me!!!

Cure please!!

Wow, these situations are so scary, but something we unfortunately all understand. I had a 25 (my lowest ever) when I was first diagnosed 11 years ago. Then this year over Thanksgiving I woke up bathed in sweat at 33 and had to sit in the bathroom eating glucose tablets until I stopped sweating and could breathe normally again.

Glad you're ok... I hate 'middle of the night' lows, too. I LOVE sleep, and don't like it to be interrupted!!

I love the fact that the first post was your Mama-bears

Reading this brings in the tears and the fear, but I am also grateful that you have the art and courage of words to share because it helps me to understand what is happening for my little boy (turned 4 last week) when he hits the low low lows. Doing what we can to help find that cure and meantime, living alongside and shouting out a lot! Glad you dodged the bullet. Fed up that so many bullets get shot at so many lovely people. Xx

as someone who practically lives in hotel rooms from time to time, I can so relate… body armor and bulletproof vests are a great thing…

Completely helpless. That is what a low like that feels like. I am so thankful for my Dexcom for keeping me safe. There are so many lows that are caught in the 60s and 50s with the Dex at night that I didn't ever have a symptom for. I very likely would have woken up in the 20s and 30s.

Thanks for sharing, Kerri. I've had this happen, and it SUCKS, esp when you are traveling and everything is even less familiar and confusing. I think my lowest reading has been a 24, except for one time when I was so low that I wasn't even coherent enough to be able to test or eat something. That time, I can't believe I didn't die. Scariest low I've had in 32 yrs. Thanks again for sharing

i just read this post and nicole at dlife's back-to-back and i found myself holding by breath until i got to the end of both of them. thank you for sharing your experiences, because it gives me a glimpse into what similar situations must feel like for my daughter.

This brought all kinds of emotions and half memories - something like the flashes from bad dreams. It shows us why the solution isnt in technologies like artificial pancreases, smartphone meters, or bedside monitors. They are merely tools. They can help us, sure. The only answer to avoid hotel and any other locale where a low can happen (everywhere!) is finding the ever elusive beast - the Cure.

My heart was soaring, sitting outside the youth symphony rehearsal as my harp playing daughter (T1D) played the theme to "Jupiter." Then, I read about your "Bullet" and read your mom's response...my heart crashed. Thank God you caught the "Bullet" and lived to share. Your perspective means so much to my daughter and to so many. I hope you win the lottery and retire soon Mom.

Hi Kerri,
Stupid Dexcom! I personally can only use glucose tabs rarely, because even without the panic of where-the-hell-am-i-whatsgoingon-OK-think-i-could-use-some-sugar-middle-of-the-night phenomenon, I can barely chew them and get them down.

Have you tried glucose shots? They are definitely a bit pricey for what they are, but for traveling and REAL emergencies, I think they are so worth it. I've put them through security at the airport and they make it through! I forgot about one last time we traveled, was surprised when I got it back, and I've tested it again and was successful. Since it is less than 3oz and I put it with my other liquids/gels, I don't think the TSA minds.

The shots work just as quick as glucose tabs and don't require any counting! I also think I feel better quicker, but that could just be the hatred of the chalk-tabs.

My only other suggestion about the glucose shots is to open the container before you go to sleep, if you think you might need it. It is a b*tch to get open in a hurry and does require some coordination.

Hope you have no more bullets, but if you do, the glucose shots have really saved me.

Happy safe travels!

So glad you're ok! I caught a bullet today. Nothing says Friday fun like waking up on the floor (at work) with an IV in your hand. If I could have formed a semi-cohesive sentence and didn't look like the losing end of a water balloon fight I so woulda flirted with those hot Renton firefighters.

OMG! I'm sitting her wiping away tears every few words just so I can see to type. I don't think I've ever disliked the number 24 more than I do right now & that is knowing that you of course are fine because you're blogging about it. And you're Mom's comment just hit me like a train.

When my Mommy visited last month, every time I tested I saw the little frowny face she makes when she's worried. And the night that I just couldn't get it to come up & stay up I know she slept on the air mattress outside my room. She doesn't know I know, but I heard her out there when my alarm went off so I could test in the middle of the night. She tried to pretend she was just going to the bathroom, but I knew better.

A cure would be really nice. :)

I love your mom!

Also, why do "low" sweats feel so much worse than "I live in Florida and just crossed the street" sweats?

Sometimes reading your blog is like coming across a really bad car accident on the highway, you don't want to look because you know something bad is happening but you just can't help yourself and then you start thinking oh god that could have been me or oh god that could have been someone I love. It snaps you back into reality and it makes you hurt all over. All the more reason the diabetes world needs to continue educating, advicating and supporting one another in the effort to find a cure. Because not only do nights like these effect just you but everyone who loves you. Thank you for being so honest and forth coming with the hardest moments of your life.

OH MAN. Traveling itself is a pain on blood sugars...dont beat yourself up over having some wine! I used to go low from drinking wine, now I stay high with no drop. Nothing YOU did...just that pain in the ass of changing your daily routine! ((HUGS)) Everytime Maddison or I have a bad low I think of you...and then remember each low post you blogged with such explanation of what it feels like both physically and mentally. I appreciate you letting the world know what it feels like!

I read and think that my son at points in his life will feel that exact way...gives me the PUSH to help find a cure!! Thanks and glad your ok!

Scarey post... Glad you caught this in time; darn Dexcom! Plus the Dex alarm needs to be louder even if it is working.... Do you eat Ex-carbs with each drink? Saw a post that said to do 30 grams per drink (yikes!). Wish us Moms could travel with you Type 1s everywhere you go in life; I don't like to think of our DD living alone even for one night! Take extra good care of yourself when alone.... Would you resist artificially raising your blood sugar before bed and reducing your basal slightly? Would a target of 150 help? I know it's higher than acceptable but for the few nights you are traveling alone, take extra care. Sometimes you do all you can and this still happens. P.S. You could have the hotel clerk alarm you at 2 or 3am. Extra precautions when alone always. This post hit close to home for a lot of Moms and Type 1s alike. God bless you, Kerri.

Scary. Thanks for sharing the story. This offers a small glimpse into what its like dealing with diabetes everyday.

I want a cure, and the artificial pancreas, but in the meantime how hard can it be for dexcom to have the receiver WAIL every time it gets ???, sensor error, sensor fails or disconnects?? Navigator alarms were a nuisance but lifesavers. I woke up with a start last night at 3am with a nagging feeling of something being wrong, went to check on gracie and her dex had a sensor error, and the line was all the way at the bottom of the screen. Must have beeped but we didn't hear anything. "Thankfully" crazy dex was off by about 80 points, but what if it hadn't been? This shouldn't be so difficult. Talk to dexcom Kerri, and stay safe!!!

holy crap, my friend. this is one of the best posts i have ever read, from anyone.

i am sorry this happened to you and SO GLAD you are ok! Nighttime lows really can feel like bullets whooshing by. that's a very accurate description.

i get emotional thinking about this. it makes me think of the three low seizures i had as a kid. the blue candles really get me too. it could have been me. but those bullets whooshed by.

Love you, friend.

Tears....lots of them....and shamefully grateful that you post these events so others will "get it"...and oh so very thankful that you did dodge that bullet (and I don't even know you).

Your post didn't hurt or scare me, as I and many other diabetics have had the sames struggle over and over again. I just want to thank you for putting it into words. You have a wonderful gift (not the diabetes!) I am glad you share all of the aspects of the disease. It gives everyone who reads your blog a better understanding of what it is like. Thanks!

I'm a D1 mom. I couldn't count the number of times the angels have saved my daughter from bullets just like this. I lift her up to God everyday & pray that she will take the best care of herself that she can & God will do the rest. She asked me to read this because she said you're a favorite blogger & this is exactly how it feels. We mothers just feel helpless. Bless you both.

This scares me so much! Glad you're okay.

That is truly A frightening, yet well told story, Glad you're okay, Kerri.

Fucking hell, this post upset me. But when I read your mother's comment?

BAWLING.

You wrote the crap out of this and I just totally GET IT and I don't even have diabetes.

I love you hard.

Definitely eating something with the alcohol beverage would have helped prevent the low BG. Walking around the city also helped lower your BG even more. Thank goodness for your CGM!

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