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.