I had just buckled the girls into their car seats and was ready to make the drive home from day camp, and as I turned the car on, I reflexively grabbed my Dexcom receiver to take a peek at my blood sugars before I started driving.
Shit. 68 mg/dL with an arrow straight down and a blood drop signaling a need for calibration.
“Hang on guys,” I said to my daughter and her friend, who were already singing camp songs in the backseat. “I need to wait a minute before we head out.” I pricked my finger quickly to check my blood sugar and, sure enough, saw the 63 mg/dL on my meter waving its arms at me. No worries – I always have a jar of Glucolift in my center console.
Except this time.
“Hey girls. Do you guys have anything left in your lunches?”
“Yeah, I have strawberries and a pouch left in my lunch. Do you want it, Mom?” Birdy offered.
“Yep.” I climbed out of the car and went back to the trunk to rummage around through her lunch bag. Pulling out the snacks, I gobbled them while standing at the back of my car, a mom on a mission to bring her blood sugar up before driving.
We sat in the parking lot for ten minutes or so, and I watched the CGM graph arrow relax and point sideways. A glucose meter check showed me at 78 mg/dL, so I felt I was on the rise. We started the ride home.
Except the CGM alarm went off 15 minutes later, only this time it showed double-down arrows and the BELOW 55 mg/dL message on the screen.
Certain parts of Rhode Island are relatively rural, and sometimes you have to drive for a while before you pass a gas station or a convenience store. I immediately started calculating when I’d pass the next place to stop. I also assessed my symptoms (none) and instinctively reached over to disconnect my insulin pump from my hip. I thought the two little kids in my car. I thought about where I could pull over. I worried about what was safer: driving for another minute or pulling over and not having any food in the car. And I hoped that worrying so intensely would make me feel stressed and hopefully jack my blood sugar up a little more.
But then, just ahead, I saw the familiar orange and brown sign of a Dunkin Donuts coffee shop.
“Yes.” I put on my blinker and pulled into the drive through lane of the coffee shop. “Girls, I need to stop here and get an orange juice, okay?”
“DOUGHNUTS!!!!!” they yelled in unison.
“Not this time, guys. I need to get some juice and wait a few more minutes before we can keep going.”
Minutes later, I was in the parking lot with an empty bottle of orange juice and two patient kids in the backseat of the car who were peppering me with questions about diabetes.
“Why did we have to stop?”
“Because I needed juice to treat a low blood sugar.”
“What’s a low blood sugar,” asked my daughter’s friend.
Birdy piped up. “It’s when you have diabetes and you have too much insulin or not enough food in your body and you need glucose tabs or juice or doughnuts but not today because these doughnuts have gluten in them.” (All in one breath.)
“Can we drive soon?”
“Okay, can we sing until we start driving?”
We sat in the parking lot while I waited for the orange juice to do its thing, keeping an eye on my CGM graph and an ear on the two little kids in the back of my car who were belting out songs they learned at camp and who trusted me to take good care of myself in order to take good care of them.
Only no doughnuts, because gluten.