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An Alarming Talk.

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:

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. You know I was more than happy to keep an eye on your numbers while you presented.

    Of course, then you phone locked so the graph was gone, and I had a moment of panic too. Do I interrupt your talk to have you come unlock your phone? I guess I should have. Instead I decided that as long as you were still standing, you were probably okay. #badfriend #blamePete #meowmeowmeow

    01/27/17; 4:09 pm
    • Karen! I have a feeling the #badfriend hashtag doesn’t apply to you here, lassie! 😉

      01/27/17; 6:01 pm
  2. Kerri, youwere presenting to a room full of people who most certainly understood what was going on. I’m sorry you had that experience, but you were at least among friends.
    That’s something to be thankful for. Of course, next time you’re the keynote speaker, you’ll have to incorporate those dance moves in your presentation.

    01/27/17; 9:25 pm
  3. Nick Argento #

    Kerri- glad it worked out! That has happened to me at the end of talks on occasion. My Dexcom lets me know it is coming, so usually I can manage becauase I usually have a coke handy, but, well stuff happens…Usually I can signal someone to get a coke for me if I don’t have one, but it seems disruptive. It is strange how even when you are with people who get it (as only a T1D or their family would, or HCP’s), it is still sometimes hard to admit that, well, I am up here to talk educate inspire, but stuff sometimes happens to me, too. Like right now.

    I have the same problem if I get low during an office visit. I try not to focus on it unless I have to. Why the reluctance- the person with me is usually another T1D, and after we establish that the alarm was indeed mine and not theirs, it should be so easy. But then the visit becomes about me, not about them. AAAArgh! But juice up and move on. You have to keep moving….

    we all have to keep moving….. until type none arrives..

    01/27/17; 11:21 pm
  4. Kathleen #

    You did an awesome job, the low made it even better!

    01/28/17; 8:16 am
  5. The worst feeling is having that panicked moment in a room full of people who don’t even know you have diabetes. Glad you were in safe hands!

    01/30/17; 9:50 am
  6. Emily Scott #

    Oh, oh, oh. What an torturous situation. You can hardly reason and you have to figure it all out fast! Without losing conscience right there!..The famous Dr. Richard Bernstein, a longtime diabetic and dr. with good plans for seriously ill diabetics to follow and save their lives writes about some diabetics who are so nervous about speaking publicly that their bgs soar high. He says for these diabetics to take an extra, and small amt. of insulin before speaking. Completely different case than yours. I know that our egos are involved with out of range, emotional bgs. Very personal. When my bg is too high and I have not done things wrong with insulin, diet, rest, exercise,etc., I know it is a strong emotion such as jealousy or fear and when problem is resolved my bg corrects by itself.

    03/2/17; 4:24 pm

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