Last Friday I woke up to a particularly yucky fasting BG: 259. Ew. The night before I had been dropping steadily as bedtime approached and had downed two packets of GU in desperation to get to bed. Apparently I didn’t need them.
I dialed in 4 units. My normal ratio is 1 unit for every 50 mg/dL I need to come down, but since I tend to have stubborn highs in the morning, I kicked it up one unit. I put down my PDM and picked up my Blackberry, clicking in to the calendar section. I had an 8:45am presentation to a group of new hires at my company; training on one of our internal systems. It was dry material and it would be on me to make that hour as interesting as humanly possible – which was going to be a challenge given that it would be their first presentation of the morning and they may not be firing at all cylinders. I took a quick shower and realized my Dexcom sensor had been ripped clear out. Rats, what a waste I grumbled internally. I pressed a new one in to the side of my leg and started it up. My Dex would give me no readings for the next three hours while it calibrated during the “start-up period.”
I dressed for work and headed out – it was 8:00 already when I stopped for a coffee. In a righteous gesture, I eschewed the bagels at the bakery next door, despite their doughy scent wafting over to the coffee shop. Those will ruin your BG until lunch I reminded myself, don’t do it Lex. I gave myself a pat on the back for forgoing that landmine in favor or my egg whites at the office.
As I hopped in the car though, now 8:10, I realized that breakfast would have to wait until after my presentation. I arrived at work at 8:30, printed off some training materials and headed to the conference room, grande coffee in hand.
I cheerfully kicked off the slides, trying to lighten the mood by making jokes about how not-so-exciting the material was. I had given this presentation a dozen times before, but about 10 minutes in, I started stumbling over the words. I couldn’t organize my thoughts. CRAP. I am getting low. I reached for my Dexcom, in my back pocket. Grayed-out screen for the start-up period. No readings.
I looked out at the new hires, their eyes fixed on me. This is not good. I started to panic a little: I had no sugar with me and was literally in the middle of a presentation. If stopped now, I’d be the diabetic girl who almost went in to insulin shock and couldn’t finish her presentation. I’d be the sick kid that they couldn’t count on – who didn’t get asked back for training because of her diabetes. I glanced at the back of the room. JUICE!
The back of the training room was lined with coffee and snacks for the trainees. I paused on my current slide.
“Does anyone have any questions?” I asked as I casually strode to the back of the room. I picked up the apple juice and chugged. I walked back to the front of the room, still drinking the juice. It occurred to me that given that this was a training session and not Power Hour, the fact that I was draining the juice like my life, well, it DID, depend on it, might warrant an explanation. And after all, these trainees were a bunch of sales reps who were going to be selling diabetes drugs in a few short weeks. If they want case studies, shoot, here I am!
I looked at the class. “I have diabetes and my blood sugar is a little low right now, which is why I’m drinking this juice so fast. More on that next week when I come back for your patient perspective lecture.”
A few of the trainees nodded, some looked a little concerned. I turned my head back to the screen, took a big sip of juice, and pressed on. Crisis averted.
Afterwards, I cursed my lack of planning. I was mad at myself for not testing before the presentation, and mad for over-treating the high blood sugar. But I was the most mad for being so hard on myself. For my first thoughts during that low being “I wonder what they will think?” Maybe I could have planned better, but mistakes are bound to happen with anything you have to worry about 24-7. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about what I have to do to take care of myself. If I’m low, I have to get sugar to stay alive. I wear an insulin pump because it helps me control my blood sugars better than shots. I schedule the gym in my Blackberry because it’s a priority for my health. And I need to know that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, or what conclusions they draw, or what stereotypes they peg on me; its up to me to do what I need to do to live my best life. Even if it’s during a presentation, on a date, in the middle of boxing class or in a kayak. Diabetes happens: you manage and move on.