Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Blood Sugars’ Category

Target Lows.

“Can you scan these so I can open them now?”

“Sure thing,” as she reached her arm over the conveyor belt to scan the package of Skittles in my sweaty palm.

BEEP.

I ripped open the package clumsily, my phone screaming out the Dexcom urgent low alarm tones.  Jammed a handful of Skittles into my mouth – way too many to be chewed at once – while simultaneously and awkwardly unloading the carriage.

“Do you have a Target red card that you’ll be using  today?”

” … mmmfff …”

My jaw was busy processing a dozen Skittles at a time.  I took a second to hang on (hopefully casually but most likely looking like a drowning man clutching the edge of a raft) and concentrated on chewing.  When I remembered, I would retrieve another item from the cart and place it on the moving track.

The lady behind me switched lanes, properly assuming I was a hot mess.

“Are you okay?”  The cashier was about 20 years old and probably accustomed to a flurry of weirdos coming through her cashier line.

I finally mashed the Skittles into something I could swallow.  “I’m fine.  Sorry – I have diabetes and my blood sugar is really low.  It happens here a lot.  Target makes me low.”  I was rambling and couldn’t stop.  “It always makes me low.”

She nodded slowly, putting my items into a bag as I loaded them onto the conveyor belt, one every fifteen seconds or so.

“I bet.”

She was kind.  I was probably drooling colorful drool.

“You can keep eating those,” she added.

So I shoved the rest of the package into my mouth, a hypoglycemic cow chewing on taste-the-rainbow cud.

BG 56 mg/dL. Eff off, Target. You always make me tank. (But I ❤ you anyway, you sassy store, you.) #diabetes

A post shared by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Emergency Plan.

Was just 106 mg/dL.  Tumbled fast to 40.

Took minutes.  Felt like seconds.

Dizzy.

Wait – get phone.

Put the baby in his crib.

He’s safe in there.

Already drank juice – plenty of it – now wait wait waaaaaaaait.

…. waaaaaaiting.

Wall edges seem wiggly, like if I poked them they’d shudder like Jell-O.

Baby is safely in the crib, giggling and playing with his feet.  I sit on his floor with my phone in my hand, ready to make a phone call to a neighbor if the waves of confusion start to erode my mental shore.

Briefly wonder what I’d say if I called.  “Hey, this is Kerri.  Can you come over?  I feel like I’m going to pass out.”  I’m sure I’d try to sound casual when casual is not how I feel.  I keep 911 dialed so if I need to just hit the call button, I’m ready.

Emergency plans.  I have them.

My tongue becomes less thick, less clumsy in my mouth.  I flex my fingers, which are attached to my still-shaking hands.  They feel responsive but like their wings are still clipped.

Juice starts to change the course of my blood sugar.  CGM alarms still blaring from my phone, less urgently now.  Walls seem less gelatinous.

Baby burps and then laughs at his own burp.  I laugh, too, the fog of hypoglycemia unwrapping itself from my brain.  I remember that it’s morning.  That it’s a week day.  That I’m due on a
conference call in 20 minutes.

CGM shows me a comforting arrow.

Emergency over.  Status quo returned.

Before I retrieve the baby from his crib, I grab a cloth and clean up the juice that leapt from the glass while my hands were birds.

 

 

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:

Rewind.

Put test strip into glucose meter.

Prick finger.

Apply blood.

(Yawn as the meter counts down because it’s six in the morning and what’s sleep?)

Look at screen.

Blink.

Pull strip out of the meter.

Toss it into the meter back with all the other dead strips.

Zip up meter bag.

Brush teeth.

As toothpaste foam starts to drool out of my face, promptly forget what the meter result actually was.

Toothbrush hanging out of my mouth, turn meter back on and scroll back through the memory.

See result.

There it is.

Finally register result in brain.

Repeat every single day.

That Low, Though.

The low blood sugar hadn’t rooted firmly enough in my brain yet, but I knew something was wrong.  My feet were heavy against the treadmill belt, and I kept rewinding the show I was watching because the dialog wasn’t making much sense to me.

BEEEEP!  BEEEEP!  BEEEEEEEP! hollered my phone (aka surrogate Dexcom receiver) from the cupholder of the treadmill.

57 mg/dL with the pigeon head facing south.

Dexcom G5. Looks like a cute little pigeon who wants a hotdog until you realize, "Fuck – I'm really low." #diabetes

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

“Oh hey,” I said, all casual, while my brain was throwing itself against the inside of my skull, shouting “That low, though!  Go get something to eaaaaaaaaat!”

Instead, I felt compelled to wait until the treadmill had reached an even number of minutes left (WHY?? This sort of compulsion happens regularly.) before I would head upstairs to grab a snack.

Upstairs, I walked through the living room into the kitchen, passing Chris, who asked, “You okay?” and I responded with a grunted, “Low.”

Reaching the fridge, I opened it up and grabbed the first thing I saw:  an already-opened juice box.  The straw was at the ready, making my fumbling fingers flex with relief.  Slightly dizzy and with the low blood sugar almost fully acknowledged by my mind, I drained what was left of the juice box.

Trouble is, the juice box had apparently been left in the desert to ferment and was then tucked back into the fridge.  The fizzy, nasty grape taste in my mouth woke my brain up completely, only urging me to throw up instead of deal with the hypo.  I ambled over to the sink and stood there, holding the edge of it, the breaking news ticker in my brain reading “DON’T PUKE DON’T PUKE.”

I didn’t puke.  

I chased the fermented juice box with some raisins.  I returned to my work out. I wondered briefly if I was somewhat drunk. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and it sure as hell won’t be the last.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers