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Posts tagged ‘low blood sugar’

Appetizer

Even the best laid plans can go awry when hypos creep in before the meal is served.

Glucose tabs … the most unappealing appetizer.

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.

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.”

Break Glass in Case of Emergency

The low alarm goes off and my arm snakes out from underneath the covers in slow motion, a serpent in search of snacks.

The jar of glucose tabs sits on my bedside table, most often collecting dust but on this night, it’s an essential item.  I flip open the lid and count out four tabs, piling them on the side of the bed and chomping down one of them while I lean on one arm.

Chomp, chomp, chomp.

Seems like I’m peckish instead of panicked.  But the room is spinning a little and my peripheral vision comes and goes while the low blood sugar laps at the edge of my ability to reason.  What time is it?  Are the kids still asleep?  Siah is a fat lump at the end of the bed, one eye open and staring at me while I cram another tab into my mouth.  I’m confused about the day and time but I know exactly how to put the glucose tabs into a precisely stacked pile and slowly work my way through them, hoping they work quickly.  My husband is asleep, unaware that anything out of the ordinary is happening.

Chomp, chomp, chomp at 3 am after the blaring of my Dexcom alarm, the jar of tabs literal lifesavers on the bedside table.

Useless Juice.

We don’t drink juice “for fun” in our house; it’s only for low blood sugars, considered almost as medicinal as the insulin hiding out in the butter compartment of our fridge.

So when I came home with these juice boxes unintentionally, I was pissed.

35% less sugar?  That’s exactly what I don’t want!

Useless juice.  I’m bringing it back and swapping it out for the fixes-a-40mg/dL-at-4am kind of juice.  The high octane juice.  Proper juice.

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