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A Sobering Experience

“Do you mind ringing out this orange juice first?”  I asked the lady who was working the cash register.

“No problem,” and she went bip with the scanner against the bottle’s bar code while my Dexcom screamed BEEP BEEP BEEP! from my phone.

I opened the bottle and downed the majority of it in one, open-throated gulp.  My son, strapped into the front of the shopping cart, reached over to the conveyor belt as the groceries were unloaded, one by one, by his mother with the bird hands.

“Hang on, little guy.  Here, play with this,” I said, handing him a crinkly toy elephant that was peeking out of my purse.  I ran my sleeve against my forehead to catch the beads of sweat that threatened to run down my face.  My ankles felt weak and I know I stumbled a little when I went to unload the contents of my carriage onto the conveyor belt.

“Miss, do you have a Stop & Shop card?” the cashier asked, sizing me up.  She was my mother’s age.  She watched me fumble with my wallet in search of the card, and I dropped it instead of landing it into her hand.

“Hang on a second,” I said, carefully bending over and plucking the card from the floor.   My son yelled, “YEAH!!!” and then “HEY!” from the carriage.  My blood sugar was still dropping and the Dexcom kept hollering.  Clumsy hands and the fog of hypoglycemia made my every movement look ridiculously awkward.

And I knew, knew, knew that the cashier thought I was drunk.

I read Riva’s article about hypoglycemic episodes looking like drunk moments and shook my head in recognition of the concept, but honestly hadn’t ever been mistaken as drunk when low before.  In college, I had this credit-card sized placard in my wallet that said something like, “I have type 1 diabetes.  If I seem drunk, please allow me to check my blood sugar to make sure I am not experiencing low blood sugar.”  I never had to use it, and my college roommates and I giggled at it once in a while, probably because we were actually drunk.

But yesterday at the grocery store, I wished that card had been in my wallet.  I would have handed it to the cashier and pointed sheepishly at the orange juice.

Instead, in the fog of my low, I gracelessly unloaded and paid for my groceries while wrangling my one year old.  Running my debit card for the purchase, I said to the cashier, “I have diabetes.  My blood sugar is low,” but I’m not sure she believed me.  My brain wasn’t sweetened enough to really care.  I was more concerned with pushing through to the other side of this low.

After we paid, I moved the carriage over to a row of benches just inside the main door of the grocery store and we sat there.  I finished my orange juice.  A few minutes later, the arrow on my CGM graph started pointing in a more respectable direction.  I almost went back to the cashier to explain myself more lucidly but decided against it.  Maybe next time I see her, I’ll explain.  For now, it was time to go home.

“Mama?  Mamamamamamamama …” rambled my little man.

“Okay, sweet boy.  We’re good to go.  Let’s go.”

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Amy #

    Awe, friend. Sucks. Our view is me standing over the girls, daring anyone to say anything. What happens in a few years? I want that dumb placard, even if they laugh at it. I won’t be there to stare down the others.

    09/13/17; 12:13 pm
  2. Katy #

    Maybe SHE was drunk!

    09/13/17; 2:43 pm
    • Always a possibility.

      09/13/17; 3:13 pm
  3. Next time drink it and take the empty bottle to the cashier. I learned long ago managers are way more understanding than cashiers. If the manager is altered to you drinking it works out. If not who really arrests a mom with a baby and an empty juice bottle in her cart.

    09/15/17; 10:10 pm
    • Vicki #

      Haha, i’ve walked through cashier lines with half eaten bags of cookies before. 🙂

      09/16/17; 8:47 am
  4. Ria #

    Sometime I’ll have to tell the story of walking into a grocery store for some milk after work one afternoon
    ( I was in the process of changing to a different insulin) and my understanding was that it kicked in 1/2 hour after injecting
    Anyway, I knew I would be having lunch in a soon, so I injected Before I went into the store
    All I remember is looking for juice, telling someone ” I’m diabetic, I need to sit down” and ending up in the parking lot with my cart of milk and u paid groceries
    A clerk came out to help me asking” do you need help, lady ”
    They took me into the office and gave me orange juice
    I finally came around, started crying, and went home without the milk
    ( this is the short version of my story)

    09/18/17; 9:15 pm
    • Ria #


      09/18/17; 9:17 pm
  5. Kev andy #

    Never thought of the drunk effect before… Some of my encounters with diabetics makes more sense now ha ha.
    On guy went through it whilst still in the dental chair . Dentist didn’t know what to make of it, until he produced his card.
    Not many people know of that effect.
    Awesome share. Thanks.

    09/20/17; 5:20 am

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