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Posts from the ‘Traveling’ Category

A Jacket, Just in Case

BEEP BEEP BEEP

2 am

Low alarm. Where am I?

Hotel.

Hotel room in Kansas City.

Damp. Damp with sweat. My long sleeve shirt stuck to the inside of my elbows, ironed by panic.

BEEP BEEP BEEP

Kansas City. That’s where I am. Why am I beeping?

51 mg/dL. That red circle with the down arrow attached to it.

Asking to be calibrated.

Meter check. 32 mg/dL.

BEEP BEEP BEEP

No fucking way am I in the 30s. I start to come around a little bit, taking the six tabs left in my glucose tab jar and chewing them all at once, unhinging my jaw like a snake.

Prick finger again. Test strip.

31 mg/dL

Think fast. Unsure if I have enough tabs to correct this low blood sugar. Even if I do, unsure if they will hit fast enough.  Felt swimmy in the brain.  Can’t pass out in this room. No one will know for hours.

Quick decisions made. Pull on sneakers. Grab cell phone and room key.

Walk to the hotel room door. Open it.

Wait, if I pass out, I want to have a jacket on.

(WHY?)

Put my jacket over my pajamas. Sprint to hotel elevator, reasoning the adrenaline will help boost my number? Sweating like I’ve run a marathon instead of just down the damn hall.

Downstairs. Took 30 seconds. Felt like 3 hours.

BEEP BEEP BEEP

Walked to the hotel sundries shop near the check in desk. I saw juice and snacks when I checked in. Grab an orange juice. Drank it in one long pull while standing at the cooler. Grab another orange juice.

My face felt confused, like my mouth had slide down into my neck. Also completely lucid, despite plummeting blood sugar and migrating facial features.

Hotel concierge.

“Hi, how can I help you?”

I look drunk. Or lost. Or both.

Low, though.

Not sure what I said. I know I said diabetes and low blood sugar and I’m sorry fifteen times. I told him my full name, maybe more than once.  That I was embarrassed but was afraid I would pass out in my room so I thought I’d be safer in the lobby. “I put my jacket on just in case I passed out!” Laughed too loudly at my own not-a-joke.

He calmly sat me down on a couch in the lobby and unwrapped candies from the hotel’s leftover trick-or-treat stash, leaving them open-faced but still on the wrapper, lined up on the hotel bench like breadcrumbs to bring me back to myself.

BEEP BEEP BEEP

“Are you feeling better?”

I wasn’t sure. My hands were shaking a whole lot. But I could feel the hypo fog starting to lift and I knew it was going to be okay in a few minutes. His coworkers came over and lingered casually but carefully, standing over the lady in her pajamas with her jacket on, trick-or-treating a few days too late in the lobby.

Eventually, it was fine.  Embarrassing and humbling but fine.  I was grateful that someone was willing to sit with a stranger while her blood sugar tumbled, then climbed.

The hotel employee’s name is written on a post it note in my jacket pocket. With his manager’s email. And the contact information for their corporate office.

The gift basket I am sending this guy is going to be epic.

Creature of Travel Habits.

In going through receipts to submit for work travel last week, I realized I had one or two for the exact same order:  iced coffee and a banana.

Maybe more than one or two.

I’m sensing a theme.

Turns out this traveler with diabetes defaults on the regular to the same snack.

Which is fine because repeat snacks have predictable effects (one super yellow banana seems to hit me as the 10 carbs, which means that it’s a unit of insulin to cover it, and the coffee doesn’t seem to require any insulin these days) and I like predictable travel snacks because my blood sugar response to the stress of airplane travel can be decidedly unpredictable so bananas are awesome and AND HEY WAIT OMG I CAN WIN A BANANA COSTUME?!!!!!

Do you find yourself eating the same sorts of things in order to attempt to predict blood sugar response?  Also, do you like dancing bananas?  I DO.

Blood Sugar Turbulence.

“The captain has the seatbelt sign on.  Please stay in your seats until the seatbelt sign is turned off.  This is for your safety.”

The flight attendants were also in their seats, having suspended drink service.

Turbulence sucks, but it passes quickly … usually.  Unfortunately, on this flight it seemed like it was going to be a 20 – 30 minute wigglefest for the plane.  And also unfortunately, we were at 38,000 feet and my blood sugars appeared to be making the same climb.

I’ve noticed, especially since my pregnancy last year, that I need to change my infusion set at the three day mark, or my absorption goes full crumb (climbing blood sugars, sticky highs).  I was traveling home from the TCOYD ONE conference in San Diego (awesome event –  more on that conference tomorrow) and my “it’s been three days – change your site!” alarm went off the day before.  I was on borrowed time, infusion-set wise.

I meant to change it at the airport but time was too tight.  And I had no intentions of changing it at my airplane seat, but my blood sugars were high, seemingly stuck there, and I needed to swap out that site ASAP.  Who know how long the air was going to be rough, and I could already see that my blood sugars were in garbage mode. So, tucked against the window and using my scarf as a barrier between me and my seatmates, I was able to quietly change out my site.

Covert site change on the plane. #insulincognito #latergram

A post shared by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

And yes, the beeps are usually loud an intrusive but the speaker for the X2 is on the backside of the pump – that series of little holes – so keeping my hand firmly over that part made for a subtle set change.  Shrugged my shoulder out of my shirt and popped the infusion set on the back of my arm and I was good to go without even a side-eyed glance from my seat mates.

Stealth set changes at 38,000 feet without going into the nasty little airplane bathroom? And blood sugars that started coming down within 20 minutes of the set change? Check and check. See ya, blood sugar turbulence.

Your moop or mine?

The first flight out was jumbly, with the plane riding into some kind of air pocket right after takeoff, eliciting audible screams from some of us.  (No, not from me.  Turns out that, if things get scary, I resort to frantically saying the F word under my breath whilst clutching the arm rest.)  Once the plane hit some smooth air, everyone breathed a little easier and tried to mellow out.

In the silence of folks calming down, I heard that low, moop sound that the Dexcom G5 app makes when it is ready to be calibrated, like the sonar ping from a submarine.  It’s subtle but unmistakable.

Moop.

My sensor was fine when I boarded the plane.  I pulled out my phone anyway, just to make sure my CGM wasn’t crying for attention.  Huh.  Not me.  Sliding the phone back into my purse, my peripheral vision caught the movements of the woman next to me, who had her phone in hand and I could see the little pigeon head I knew by heart.

“Type 1?”

She grinned.  “Yeah.”

“Me, too.  Since I was seven.”

“I was 13.”

“I thought it was my CGM that needed to be calibrated,” I said, gesturing towards my phone.  “But it was you this time.”


It’s the thread that runs through all of us, that instant and unfettered understanding of the thing that simmers on the back burner some days and threatens to burn the house down on others.  I know that feeling. So did the woman next to me.

Instantly, she became familiar. I didn’t know her name or where she lived or what kind of history she brought on board with her, but there was an instant connection of, “Yeah, me too. I know that thing you have. I also moop.  And beep. And check. And worry. And celebrate. And dose. And fight. And laugh. And keep perspective. And move on.”

“Don’t you all know each other?”

A few weeks ago, we were in Venice and I almost walked right into the canal because I saw a lady with an insulin pump on her waist and a CGM sensor on her arm, speaking Italian to the shopkeeper and casually wearing her pancreas on her hip.

The flurried rush of emotions – excitement, understanding, the urge to shout “one of us!” – flooded me.  I grabbed my husband’s arm and said, “Hey DID YOU SEE HER PUMP?!” and he was all, “No, where?” and I pointed my finger while trying to make it look like I was itching my nose.

And my daughter said, “Yeah mom, I saw her!  And her pump! Do you know her? Don’t you all know each other?”

(You know, I wish we did.)

And even though we don’t all know one another yet, we can contribute to the growth and collective power of our diabetes community by participating in Diabetes Blog Week.  Sign-up details are on Karen’s blog – this is the 8th year! – and topics will be provided throughout the week.  And if you’re not into running a blog, you’re welcome to guest post here on some of the topics, if you’d like.  (Email me!  kerri (at) sixuntilme  (dot) com. )  Also, you can shape-shift the topics to fit into 140 characters on Twitter, or through Instagram, or other social sharing platforms.  Don’t let the “blog” in blog week keep you from sharing your story.  All voices are welcomed!

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