Today we’re going to share our most memorable diabetes day. You can take this anywhere…. your or your loved one’s diagnosis, a bad low, a bad high, a big success, any day that you’d like to share.
I was diagnosed with type 1 at age 21, and I always felt like a very responsible and alert patient. I was old enough to where I paid attention to my body. I knew the immediate and dire consequences of lows, as well as the long term effects and possible DKA issues with highs. Even when I was diagnosed, it was early enough to where I didn’t have to be hospitalized, and I’d never had any diabetes issue that had caused me to call 911 or go to the hospital.
So it seems fitting that my most memorable diabetes day occurred when I was 34 years old, single, living alone (well, alone from other humans – my dog Xena, the Warrior Schnauzer was a constant companion) and had a low so bad that I honestly think I could have died. And no one would have known.
I was having a busy work day, and was working from home. Typical day, really, and even though I sit at a desk all day doing project management stuff, my brain was in high speed mode and I’m sure that assisted in burning off some sugar. Lunch time rolled around (well, kind of a late lunch since it was close to 1:30pm), I got up from my desk & walked across the house to the kitchen, turned on the oven, and put in a frozen chicken pot pie. No judging! I love a good chicken pot pie on a cool spring day. Set the timer to go off when it was done. At that time, I was bolusing for meals about 30 minutes ahead of eating, and did not have a CGM. Took my insulin when the pot pie was within 25 minutes of being done, and settled back at my desk to wrap up some emails.
A cooked Marie Callender’s chicken pot pie, out of the box. Mine did NOT look like this, and was burnt to all tarnation once I recovered from the low enough to rescue it from the oven. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Got caught up in work – was instant messaging with several people about some questions they had. Didn’t have a clue or recognition that my sugar was tanking. I remember sending one co-worker an instant message response, then with no warning, everything went black.
I think I heard the beeping of the oven timer going off, but it sounded so far away and unreal. I opened my eyes to see Xena looking at me, very concerned. Why she was looking at me at eye level and sideways when I should be sitting up at my desk, I wasn’t sure. Oh, my head was on the floor, along with the rest of my body. Hmmm. I tried to lift my head up to make the room orient correctly, and I couldn’t. Every limb felt like it weighed 800 lbs, and I was weak beyond belief. I don’t know how I summoned the strength, but I eventually started crawling out of the room because I knew I couldn’t stand up. On the way out of the room, my arms gave way and I clocked my chin on the floor, and busted it pretty good. That would be an interesting injury to explain.
I made it to the kitchen, pulled myself up enough to open the fridge and grab some juice and start drinking from the carton. Juice was dripping everywhere, I smelled my burning chicken pot pie, the oven was still BEEEEEEPING relentlessly, but I didn’t care. I don’t know how much I drank, but I collapsed on the floor and absorbed it for a while. Fifteen-wait-fifteen was not happening that day.
When my sugar had come up enough for me to actually stand up, I took care of everything – removed the charred pot pie, turned off the oven, cleaned up the kitchen floor, and checked my sugar on my meter. It read 37. A couple minutes later I tested again and it read 55, so I was definitely on the upswing. I can only imagine how low it got for me to pass out, because I HAD passed out and gone unconscious. For about THREE HOURS. I knew it was 3 hours because the time stamp on the last instant message I sent my co-worker was at 2:15pm and now it was close to 5:30pm.
Looking back, I assume that while I was unconscious, my liver clued in and squirted out some last little stockpile of sugar that it could create that allowed me to become coherent enough to pull myself awake, maneuver through the house and get to the kitchen for juice. What if that hadn’t happened? What if I’d had seizures? What if?? Being single at the time, I could have easily died that day. That still freaks me out.
I hope that if you read this and you are single, or you are ever in a situation where you are alone for any span of time, please take some precautions and protect yourself against lows. Be even more alert and cognizant of what your body is doing. Get a CGM if you can afford it. Be well, and live long!!!