I had twenty minutes before my talk, so the double-down arrow didn’t unnerve me too much. The TypeOneNation event in Connecticut had tables full of coffee, tea, juice, and other snacky things. I grabbed a bottle of orange juice and downed it.
“We’ll mic you up and introduce you in a few minutes, ok?” the organizer asked. I nodded, trying to pretend my brain wasn’t trying to remember my own name.
Usually, I try and run my blood sugars a little higher before I have to give any kind of presentation, keeping my numbers around 140-ish. This strategy works, most of the time. In the last ten years as a speaker, I have never gone low on stage.
Until that day in Connecticut, where I was tanking hard.
CGM alarms blaring, I had five minutes before I was supposed to be on stage. I popped a handful of orange cream glucose tabs and chomped them up. Low symptoms were in full effect, making my tongue clumsy in my mouth, the words hitting my teeth and getting chipped on their exit.
Thankful for a good friend in the audience, I tagged Karen for help.
“Karen … I’m dropping like mad. Can you keep an eyeball on my CGM while I’m doing my talk?”
Friends will sit in the front row when you give a talk. Good friends will sit in the front row with your CGM shouting into their face.
Glucose tab jar in hand (brushing glucose tab dust off my shoulder), I took to the front of the room and tried to explain my awkwardness. “I’ve never been low during a presentation before. It’s always been a concern of mine, but it’s currently happening. Sorry about the glucose tabs in my hand. And the CGM alarms going off from my phone. And sorry if it takes me a minute or two to get my bearings while I start up here.”
If you want to feel instantly understood and empathized with, have a low in front of a room full of JDRF families. Several moms in the audience held up snacks and gestured towards them, with “if you need it!” eyebrows.
It took me a good few minutes to climb back into functional range, but once I was back, I was able to talk without jumbling up my words. After the talk, several people mentioned how “real” it was to watch the keynote speaker have a hypo right in front of them. I was grateful for their understanding.
And I was able to check off “hypo on stage” from my bucket list. Next up, perfecting this hot dance move: