DISCLAIMER: Let me say right off the bat that I KNOW I messed up in the story I’m about to relate to you. I’ve been dealing with this disease for over 40 years, day in-day out. It gets old. It gets tiresome. It gets almost impossible sometimes. So yep, most of us T1D’s will at least once in our lifetime (usually many more!) fall off the proverbial wagon of good diabetes management. Therefore, I really don’t need you to scold or lecture me about what a big no-no it was, okay? Thanks for your understanding.
I wanted to title this post Oops, I Did It Again but all I know is that’s the title of a Brittany Spears song and I couldn’t tell you any of the other words in it to save my life, so I thought better of it. *heh*
But yeah, I really did it last night. *sigh* I have beat myself up about it, but my constant support, my sweet Tommy, has told me to knock it off. It wasn’t the end of the world (although I thought it was gonna be a couple times) and he understood why I would or could make a mistake like that.
*sigh* What would I do without him?
So I guess you wanna know what I did, huh? Well, here’s the thing… there was A LOT going on yesterday. First, I had opened a new bottle of insulin and changed sites with my port the night before. I even woke up recovering from a slept-through low blood sugar. Second, I published a very private, deeply personal page yesterday about our marriage. It was a lot more emotional to actually do it even though I’ve been planning to for some time now. You can find it in that link in the menu bar up there under The Dark Secret. I just didn’t realize what a toll that was going to take on me emotionally. I was all over the map once I flung that out into cyberspace, ya know? Maybe that doesn’t make much sense to you if you’re not a writer-type, a person who can most thoroughly convey their feelings in written words rather than spoken. When you write about something that personal, the emotions will manifest physically in some way. For a non-diabetic, it would perhaps be much easier to manage, but for me, it was devastating.
The final “thing” going on yesterday was that I’d been planning to make supper. Stop laughing! I just don’t cook that often anymore. Especially with Tommy out in our shop so much more now, usually Casey will order a pizza or if there are other guys out there, they’ll all go in and place a big Papa John’s order. (they know our address by heart, I think!) So I’ll just fix myself something small when I get hungry. But I had been wanting to try this orange chicken crock pot recipe and yesterday was the day. It wasn’t a big deal to fix at all. Super-easy and I’ll probably make it again some time, but since I had all the other going on, for whatever reason, it seemed to add to my stress level I guess. I was also in the process of making some food for Casey’s 23rd birthday cookout today! (I will deal with how having my baby hit that number in another post maybe) Whatever the reason, I believe all that stuff combined to make last evening’s episode feel so big and bad.
I was feeling a little tired after getting the chicken on finally and starting to prep for the other food. I had been emailing back and forth with the therapist I mentioned in the story that I’d published earlier that day and also with some close friends who I’d sent the page to for their opinions. So I was running back and forth, cook a bit, chop some onions, check email, send a response, text Tommy to let him know what was going in my conversation with the therapist, etc., etc…
I decided that I’d bolus enough insulin to cover the Payday candy bar I got for free at the store earlier that day. (oh, yeah…I’d also gone grocery shopping that afternoon…another factor in this thing) I didn’t check my blood sugar first though. I know, I KNOW!! Bad, bad Geannie. But I have been running a little high for the past several weeks, my mouth had felt very dry most of the day (a sign of high blood sugar) so I figured it was probably in a good range at the time. I was thinking, “It’s probably around 120 or so…” So, I sent the bolus for six units. I HAD been, for the past several weeks, needing a little extra insulin to cover anything very high carb, so I added a little more than I figured it would take. I also knew I’d be eating supper soon, it was all good. Or so I thought.
I went to put something back in the fridge as I was chewing my first bite of Payday and I noticed this flash. I looked behind the fridge door, and around the kitchen to see if one of the guys had snuck in and tried to freak me with a flashlight, but nothing and no one was there. Then I felt that split-second wave of weakness. Remember, I don’t usually recognize when I get low anymore. I should have known better. Really, I admit it. I should have. But sometimes we get busy and forget to be as vigilant as we should.
I took another big bite of the candy bar and grabbed my “checker”. That’s what we all call my glucometer. A quick check showed I was 42. Way too low to have six more units getting ready to hit their peak action. It had been about 8-10 minutes since I’d given those six units, so I knew I was about to crash. I grabbed a can of Coke out of the fridge and began slamming it as I dialed Tommy and just said, “Can you come in here a minute?”
Thankfully, he didn’t do like he sometimes does, saying “Yeah, I’ll be right there,” and then stopping to do ten other things before he finally does. I’m not sure I could have called him back. I could feel the low coming and it felt like a doozy. Not sweating and shaking, which are fairly common symptoms of a hypo. I felt this weird warm/burning sensation sort of start in my chest and send waves out to my legs and toward my head. It was bizarre, but it felt totally like dying.
When Tommy walked in, all I could say for a few minutes was, “I screwed up. I made a mistake!” and “I’m sorry!” over and over.
Bless his heart, Tommy seemed really calm. He told me to slow down, take a breath and then started asking what I’d eaten and how long ago I’d given the bolus as I drained the first can of Coke (39 carbs) and grabbed another from the fridge. He started figuring a little while he took my hand and checked my sugar again. It was 34. After an entire Coke and the 27 carbs from the candy bar…that was bad. He told me to get in the truck as he walked out to the shop to tell our son, a friend and Tommy’s dad really quick what was going on. We met Taylor, Casey’s wife, turning in our drive and he told her quickly what happened and off we went. I had grabbed a third Coke before I got in the truck and was still working on the second one. After we’d gone about 5 miles, he had me test again. It was 56. Thank God!! It was rising, but just a tiny bit. So he pulled off the road at the Harley Davidson dealership and we waited to see what was going to happen.
Well, I waited. Tommy got out for about two minutes to look at an old vehicle they had on display among several parked in the lot. *sigh* Don’t judge him too harshly.
And don’t judge us too harshly either. No, we didn’t have any glucagon. (I know all you diabetics are wondering about that right now) All the T1D’s here will know what that is, but for the undiabetical, here’s a link: what is glucagon? We have had so many glucagon kits over the years and not needed them, and so they expired and when they can cost anywhere from $50 to well over $100 depending on what kind of coverage we had at the time, and you can barely afford all your costly diabetes supplies and medications in the first place? Keeping a glucagon kit around just seems really ridiculous. So we don’t always keep one on hand. And yes, the cost can seem a ridiculous reason NOT to keep one when something like this happens, but therein lies the rub.
So anyway, we didn’t have the glucagon. I’m pretty sure we could have driven to my cousin’s house, not far away, and she’d have had one somewhere even though her two adult children with diabetes are no longer living at home. They have great insurance and can afford to keep them on hand… but who knows if they were at home? I didn’t suggest it and knew that if the worst case scenario came to pass, we could be at the hospital, even if in the parking lot, and gotten treatment fairly fast as well. It was not the best idea, no, but it was in our minds a last-ditch effort were it to get to the point I couldn’t eat or drink on my own.
We ended up going back to the house once my sugar got into the 70’s. We hoped maybe that was the worst of it, but it wasn’t by far.
Tommy got me settled in the house and went back out to tell the guys in the shop that he was going to hang in the house with me. We decided it would be best to test every half-hour to keep an eye on things. I was SO bloated from all that stinkin’ cola, I could barely get a couple mouthfuls of peanut-butter down. This is the biggest fault in our trying to manage without the glucagon…I would have to eat a TON to manage the low and even though I love to eat, after cramming all that food and drink in, I was miserable! I knew, though, if I didn’t get it down, that I was in danger of passing out and would need to be at the hospital to keep me from just dying.
The next test we did was 167. Thank God!! And now we wanted to be careful that it didn’t go skyrocketing, but decided we should wait til it got over 200 to even think about treating with insulin. By the time 20 minutes had passed, I got this wave of… I don’t even know what it was, it just didn’t feel good. I reached for my checker and Tommy stopped me. He said to wait. *sigh*
So I did… for about 3 minutes or so but then I knew something wasn’t right. I tested again and got 40. That is maddening speed for a drop that big. 127 points in 20 minutes? No wonder I felt bad! Tommy grabbed a fourth Coke from the fridge, popped the can and stuck a straw in it for me. He then ran out to get Casey. The other guys had left by this time so Case was the only one out there and Tommy thought he would need help getting me into the truck.
I don’t recall Casey ever tending to me a whole lot during a low. I really didn’t have lows quite this severe back when the boys were at home. I could still recognize them and feel them coming on. But he sat down by me and held the can of Coke, telling me to drink and it would be okay. By this time, I was pretty panicked. We had turned the TV on and the people on there were not making a bit of sense anymore. Their words were random and the sentences were complete nonsense. I knew it was getting really bad. I got that awful sense of being pulled out of my own body and that scared me senseless. I’ve only done that one other time, when these really bad lows started late last year. I tell about one of them in this post.
I began to wonder how much of what I was seeing and hearing was even real. I have had enough experience with hallucinations during lows by now, that I tend to question everything around me. I can remember most all of what happened, though. But I thought for sure I was in the hospital, but hallucinating that I was at home. I think I questioned Casey being there just because he had never had to take care of me like that before. I asked him to tell me something only we would know. I said, “Tell me your secret.” I know. I really was losing it. He sort of chuckled and asked what secret I was talking about. I insisted and his dad said, “When you were still at home.” So Case said, “Uh, I was sneaking out?” That was so ridiculous, but true, and it made me feel like I could trust what I was seeing then, but he’s still teasing me about my special ways.
At some point, Taylor came back down and stuck around while the guys went out to pick up tools and lock up the shop. She forced me to eat more peanut butter and crackers. I seriously wouldn’t have eaten ANYthing without being forced at that point. I had by this time consumed 4 12 ounce cans of Coke! I don’t even LIKE Coke that much!! I was miserable from it, too!
After all was said and done, and we feared that my sugar would rebound sky-high, it only got up to 320 by midnight. I was impatient to get it down (which is probably part of why I gave such a huge bolus to begin with) but I didn’t slam insulin… it was down to 235 by about 4 am and finally down to 170 by 7 am.
I want to assure those who either are able to easily control their diabetes or don’t know a lot about the disease…I realize I really screwed up. Hopefully, those who know what it’s like to live with this will understand how easy it can be to get distracted by life, or in the habit of “padding” boluses after needing to for several weeks and how it seems easier to just do that instead of calling the endo. I guess I have just never had an endo who was good about making adjustments on the phone, so it’s not my first reaction. After you live with this disease for so long, things DO become a bit automatic and that can be bad sometimes. That’s what happened with me this time. I’d gotten used to my sugars being on the high side, so I automatically “adjusted” by going over the dose calculated by my pump.
I’m doing great considering how severely this episode was…thankfully, I didn’t rebound too much and so didn’t have a long battle on the other side trying to get my sugar back down. I’m so grateful that I have a family that will tolerate me, care for me and tend to me without condemning when I make a mistake. God has surely blessed me far more than I deserve!
I hope that by sharing my slip-ups that others can see either that we’re human too, us diabetics, or that other T1D’s are not alone in making these kinds of screw-ups. Let it be an encouragement to try harder, to be more diligent in controling this disease!
I know my resolve has been strengthened by it…I hope yours has been too!