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The Lows in Spain Stay Mainly on ... Me?

As I mentioned yesterday, the trip to Spain was lovely, but fraught with lows.  I'm not sure what caused what, but between the six hour time change, the excessively late nights and the corresponding late mornings, and spending hours walking around the city of Barcelona - my glucose levels spent a lot of time in the trenches.

Chris and I brought three big jars of glucose tabs (in grape, raspberry, and tropical flavors, of course) and four packages of Mentos candy with us for the trip, assuming this would be enough.  But I couldn't have anticipated the lows that followed us from landmark to landmark.  Aside from the initial high after the plane took off (Oh Kerri, you don't like to fly?  Hmm ... you've never mentioned that before!) and a spike after my mid-week insulin pump set change, my blood sugars were low the majority of the time we were traveling.  Nothing earth-shattering, but more a constant trend of 60 - 80 mg/dl, which sounds good in theory but when it's the result of constantly popping glucose tabs, that's a bit much.

Especially in the airport.

Leaving from JFK to head to Barcelona was fine. Our flight left NYC on time and things went smoothly, schedule-wise.  But coming home?  Completely different story.  

According to our itinerary, we had an hour and fifteen minutes between our flights from Barcelona and from London, so we thought we'd have enough time.  But when the plane left Barcelona 30 minutes late, we knew it was going to be a scramble to make our connection.  In Heathrow.  Which has to be the most confusing, unstructured airport I have ever visited in my life, more like a mall with airplanes thrown in as a bonus, instead of being a well-organized airport first.

Our plane landed in London and we had about 40 minutes to make our connection.  We stood in line to go through security again, and the Dexcom started to wail.  I dug it out of my bag and saw a blood sugar of 102 mg/dl and two double arrows pointing straight down.  (You can guess what that means.)

"Oh darn it gee wilikers, I'm going low," I said to Chris.  (Note:  This is the edited, non-Yosemite Sam version of our exchange.)

"You have glucose tabs?"

"Yup.  Chomping now."

We went through security - down to 23 minutes to catch our flight.  Raced to the board where the flights gates were being announced and searched for our flight.

"Shit, we're all the way across the airport.  We've got to book.  Keep eating, okay?"

So we start moving fast.  The Dexcom is continuing to vibrate, and I'm eating glucose tabs while dragging my suitcase behind me, my purse bouncing off my hip as we run. 

"You okay?"  Chris calls back to me as we're running while on the moving sidewalk.

"Sort of.  Are we close?"  Glucose tab dust covers my hands, leaving imprints on the railing of the sidewalk.

"Sort of." 

Time is tight.  So we start to move as quickly as we can.  We run until we get to the American Airlines gate and Chris goes to the counter to check us in.  I take my meter out of my bag with shaking hands and test, only realizing then that I've been crying.

30 mg/dl.

Oh that's lovely.

And then the panic hits with intensity.

"I'm 30.  I need something fast."  My mouth is dry and the idea of trying to consume glucose tabs with vigor makes myThank goodness for American Airlines kindness. throat close at the thought.

"Juice.  There's a machine.  Sit here, baby.  Sit and eat the tabs and I'll get juice.  You'll be fine ..."  He moves quickly to sit me in a chair, puts the bottle of glucose tabs in my hand, and runs to the Minute Maid vending machine.

Which only takes British pounds.  Not American dollars.  Or Spanish Euro.

"Gosh."  Chris said.  (See above comment re: edited version.)

I'm not sure what happened next.  My brain was in a complete fog and I'm sure I looked frightful to the unknowing outsider, surrounded by suitcases and crying and eating odd little dusty discs and looking as though I was jilted at the airport.  I know Chris ran to the check in desk and explained "medical emergency" and "needs juice from the machine" to the man in the American Airlines uniform.  I know that this stranger gave Chris all the money he had in his pocket as quickly as he could, without asking questions.  I know Chris said "thank you" as he ran back to the machine and I sat on the chair, still trying to choke down glucose tabs.  I know that a bottle of orange juice was in my hands seconds later, and I know that the plane was boarding and we were treating a really miserable low in the airport.

Twelve minutes. 

"Test, baby."

51 mg/dl. 

"You're coming up.  See?  That's already higher."

Still in a fog, but beyond pressed for time, we gathered our bags and started down the gate towards the door of the plane.  We were among the very last people to board.  I wasn't as much of a mess but I was wiped out, my whole body trying to recover. 

"Thank you," Chris said to the American Airlines employee who gave us the money for juice.  "Here, please take the money back."

The guy was behind us in line and smiled gently.  "No, it's fine.  Please.  I'm glad you're okay.  Don't worry."

I took the coins from Chris and pressed them into the employee's hand.

"Thanks very much.  But you might need this change.  You know.  For another diabetic who really needs a helping hand."

He took it.  We boarded.  And headed home.


That was like reading an epic chase sequence in a summer blockbuster movie.

It scares me to think how this story would play out for someone without a CGM. How long would you have gone without noticing something until it was too late? This is exactly why these devices are so important to followers of Wilford and the shenanigans that we have to go through to meet their unrealistic requirements in the hopes of being safe and healthy are ridiculous.

another great story about the kindness of strangers and the awesomeness of your husband!

i hate the lows while traveling. i'm stressed out enough as it is; i don't need a low to add to it!

I am just happy it ended okay.

That was scary and I am just reading the account! I am so sorry you had to deal with that crap.

You had me in tears darling. I know panic lows. All too well. No CGMS. But my body seems to have one of its own. I thankfully wake up when I am low, sometimes to awful numbers but I Always wake up.

So frustrating. I am so glad Chris was there for you. You did what you had to do, as did he, as did the employee.

Thank God.

Scary story... I've had to beg money from strangers before...it's never fun. I'm glad Chris was there to help you...think if you were traveling by yourself!


Omg! I am sorry you had to endure such terrible lows. Yikes! I'm glad Chris was able to find a nice guy to help you all out. It's amazing how there is always someone there to help you out.

The kindness of strangers is such a blessing. I'm glad someone was willing to help.
And thank goodness Chris was there!

oh the suck.

G and I had the pleasure of such an experience a few years back. Not fun.

Wow Kerri - I'm having a little bit of a weep here - between laughing at the "cut version" - and what you were going thru' (I have never experienced what you have - and to read about it - scares the S#@! out of me). Thank God for the AA angel - I would have done the same thing!!!
I always find for some reason - when I'm away from home - on holidays - I have lows. Is it because I'm relaxed (not in your case here of course) - or the activity I'm doing (more then what I do here sitting on my ass at the keyboard) - but all I know is I have to lower my basal rate - and even that is a shot in the dark - but so far - touch wood - I can tell when I'm reaching a low without a CGMS - and can rectify it pretty quickly. Don't forget I've got a few years extra of dealing with our FuN disease that we live with - tho' I'm still learning new tricks from you youngsters!
Welcome back home tho' - and hope you enjoyed your adventures in Spain!!!

So glad you got through that okay and that Chris was there to help you through it. Jada had a low of 30 yesterday and she was completely panicked. So hard to see her go through that.

That made me cry...

That Chris is OK.

Keep him around.

That story brought a few tears to my eye. Your husband is awesome to know what to do without hesitation, and the AA gate attendant may have just single-handedly turned around some of the anamosity I have toward airline staff. But really, I think most all of us have been in a similar situation at some time, and there is an odd positive side to having this disease when you get to see how kind humans can be. Glad you're OK. Thank you for sharing.

Count me among the cry-ers after reading that. Just when you think people are jerks most of the time, it's nice to hear that kind of kindness.

I read that entire post on the edge of my seat. I didn't even realize until I finally let my body relax at the end.

Yikes. So scary, but glad everything worked out alright.

Kerri, I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes too. I'm the mom of a 5 year old who has type 1, and all I can think about his him being in the same situation someday, and I won't be there to help him. I hope he finds a great spouse and is as proactive with his diabetes care as you are. I love your blog, and hope that my son is as happy, healthy, and well-adjusted as you are when he is an adult.

Once again I am reminded of why I like having this blog in my reader. You always entertain and enlighten me. I felt as though I was racing through the airport right along with you and Chris. Glad the overall trip was great.

I read this in my reader and was feeling quite silly for my eyes to be full of tears. When I clicked over and found out I wasn't the only one, it was really nice. I really appreciate your blogging and am glad you made it through the ordeal okay.

Oh sure, make the whole D-OC weepy, why don't you!! Seriously though, there is nothing worse than being scary low and needing to get some where quick and not having the supplies you need. Thank goodness Chris was there to look out for you. I think spouses of diabetics are very special people!!

Yep I'm crying. I always see my daughter (who is now 9) in these situations when she becomes an adult. I can only hope for a "Chris" for her.

Really glad your ok!

Wow, there are obviously two great writers in your family! After reading that account of your low I felt like I was having a low myself. I bet a lot of people can relate to that story and know that they are not alone. Thanks

Golly gee wilikers, that sucks kiwis! I've learned how vexing airports are to my BG. I try to set temp basals before I get there if I remember, which sometimes works out OK, and sometimes doesn't. Traveling, as much fun as it is (uh, minus the airport and flying part...), is invariably a recipe for BG havoc though. At least people were kind, and you made it to your plane.

PS I much enjoyed the unedited version that played in my head as I read this. Even imaginary vicarious cursing is amazingly cathartic!

That has to be one of the most suspensful stories I have ever read. Thank God Chris was there to save you.

You had me at gee willikers! I was just on a trip too and 2 days my insulin requirements were 50% less than normal, and one day I only did my Lantus and no Humalog, we were walking alot too.

O Kerri, I'm just so glad you're okay after all that! It's one thing to be low and have to stop, glucose tab it up and wait...but to have to rush through the airport?! Ug! Chris did great, the stranger did great, You did great! Diabetes, on the other hand...you have time out!!

Kerri, I am as lucky as you. I have a Chris also...

I have been married to him for 35 years. We grew up together learning how to deal with my Type 1.

One day recently I had a bad low at the YMCA, got out of the pool-BS 60, half naked trying to get out of my swim suit and go to the Coke machine-coke machine is locked up....BS 50.

Thought about getting in my car and DRIVE to get a coke. Now 40! OMG ???? (but my brain told me that if I walked out to the car that I would go even lower) smart brain for being so low.

I had difficulty walking from the locker room to the front door, unable to communicate with anyone. I could not say, "Can you please help me? I'm 30!

I sat down on the sofa in the lobby of the YMCA going lower and lower.

Then unexpected, the man that I have been married to for 35 years walked in, saw me and went into action.

God sent him to me that day, just as he did 35 years ago and I am very thankful.

We are both blessed.

1. So glad you're okay.
2. As much as I complain about American Airlines, they really do have some of the best gate attendants in the world.

Great excerpt. I was right there with you. You tell a wonderful story.

Hate those lows. Once on a flight from DC to Montana, my hubby and I had a layover in Chicago. and it was a crazy connection... the first flight had been late, the second flight was on the WAY OTHER SIDE of the airport, and we ran...like the dickens. I was so breathless, sugarlow sweaty, and ready to drop. :D

My husband knows before I do when my sugar is low, and for that I am sooo grateful and blessed. *I can hear the swearing in my head. :D And it makes me laugh.

Wow! That was a gut-wrenching story.
just yesterday I was telling people how travel seems to kick in those lows.
Glad you are ok and god bless your mate.

(besides the glucose tabs:) do you have a staple snack that you bring with you to work, travel, mtgs, etc. Like some kind of bar or wrap or casserole or whatever that is quick to consume & not much trouble. I'm going to be doing a physically demanding job for the next several months (no, not prison) and I feel I will need something like that

I am glad there were nice people to help you. I arrived back today from 3 weeks in Europe, and I was low all the time too! It was crazy. It must have been in the European air!

wow really bad low huh ? I think we all have had one of those moments where we cant recover quick enough . I mean I know i have . It is awfull and for me it is embarasing in a way . You get the most awfull looks .

So scary - those big lows.

Not sure how it works in Europe - we have been able to bring a "reasonable quantity" of juice with us for my son when flying in the U.S. We sometimes have to go through a special line at security. Takes a little longer because they have to check the bag by hand (we use the same cooler bag for the back-up insulin) but they have not given us any trouble.
Not sure if others have tried it or had success? For children, in particular, being able to bring even one juice box has helped me feel more comfortable.

Wow...amazing how reading that makes you feel the whole thing, amazing how we all feel the exact same things and can relate so totally...so much that we are there with you. Amazing that we all have a family so much bigger than we can even imagine, all over the world-connected in ways other people can't imagine at all. Thanks, Kerri. My dh always makes me bring a plethora of snack food in my purse on any flight we take-granola bars, candy, you name it. My purse weighs a ton. But it never fails that when I go low-there's nothing in my purse and I have 16 cents with me. Sigh.


Chris is great..glad you have him around..wow what a trip though !
Sad story with a good outcome...

Wow, this one brings back memories of our honeymoon with much the same drama around lows... we wound up in Charles De Gaulle airport unexpectedly on our way to London (delay, rerouting) in those bad days before I had a pump and I was low, low, low (and sleep-deprived). We were trying to figure out where we needed to go (not assisted by the unplanned language barrier) and finally understood that we needed to go to a different terminal by bus. I was in that "plodding and grumpy" stage and managed to step OUT INTO THE ROADWAY without checking for traffic. The hubby just about had a heart attack and made me sit on the curb until I was coherent and less grumpy again. Thankfully we weren't uber-pressed for time, but still scary. Something about airports - it makes the bottom fall out of your BG. Glad you're okay on the other end of your craziness, and thank heavens for kind airline employees cuz there are never enough of them.

Even when I travel without my 7 yr old diabetic son, I feel the need to carry around juice or glucose tablets, just in case someone else may need them... and I always keep my eyes peeled for someone in need. Thanks for the tear-jerker... and I'm glad you made it home safely. When emergencies arise, people step up!!

i love the comments made by you regarding the Heathrow Airport.I am just coming from there and had a terrible time.I dont know its due to the rush at th e airport and they see new incidents every day or is it the in built nature of British people

Wow - I bet you were just a puddle of tired on that flight!

I'm glad that everything worked out.

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