Power Outage & Paramedics
This is the second of a two-part post, the first you may have noticed earlier in the week about Dennys and Diabetes at 1a.m. We now move into the second half of the adventure...
As you might have guessed, winding up in a Denny’s parking lot in the middle of the night usually signals what can only be assumed to be an interesting time. Especially when there are needles, flashes of skin, “magic drugs” and a sniffing dog involved. But that wasn’t the most eventful part of the night. What truly sparked the “adventure” came in the hours after that late-night Denny’s parking lot scene, where I’d gone to help a fellow Adult Type 1 who was without insulin syringes and battling a cranky insulin pump and High blood sugars.
You might remember this detail from Part I: that prior to leaving my house just after midnight, my pre-driving blood test rang in at 57. Well, crap. That’s not going to work, I thought. So, I crammed a handful of orange glucose tabs into my mouth and went all vacuum-like on an apple juice box hiding in the pantry. Waiting about 10 minutes, I retested and determined all was fine for driving. To be safe, I grabbed a mixed handful of Starburst squares from the counter and also a PB cracker pack and went on my way.
The Riley Dog was with me on this late-night adventure, and we made it safely to the northside of Indianapolis in about 25 minutes (without speeding!). It was just about 1 a.m., I handed off the D-supplies, we chatted for awhile, and I made my way home. After pin-balling between a few area Starbucks and realizing that none were open at this late hour, I decided to head home and just brew myself a cup of tea before settling into my deadline work that was going to keep me up for another hour or so.
Getting home, it was just about 2:30a.m. I put water in the microwave, and went to wash my hands for a blood test. Just as I turned off the water and went to grab the boiling water from the microwave, the lights went out. A few flashes over the course of a minute, and it was obvious that the power wasn’t coming back on at that exact moment. I retrieved a flashlight to finish the blood test. My One Touch meter showed me at 215, and I was confident that this was a real test as I’d engulfed not only some Starburst, glucose tabs, and apple juice a couple hours earlier, but also a pack of peanut butter crackers worth 24g of carbs. I grabbed a couple pieces of cheese, just to be safe.
My sleeping wife appeared from the stairway, and she said the inactive bedroom fans woke her up. She called the power company and notified them of the outage. Deciding to wait it out, we sat down in the den for about an hour and chatted before finally deciding to turn in without any power.
A last minute blood test an hour later showed me in the 180s, and I was confident that was high enough for bed. We went upstairs and layed down, only to have the lights, clocks, and fans flash on within minutes. We set our alarms and turned off the lights before settling in for sleep.
About 5:30 a.m. (or I can assume it was about that time), a crazy dream captured my attention. I don’t recall the details of it, but just remember that it was somehow not usual and someone was trying to put honey into my mouth. Only later did I learn this wasn’t actually a dream, but a part of reality: my Diabetic Lights went out while sleeping. Apparently, the 215 and 180 weren’t safe levels to be at. Thanks, Starburst. I see how it is.
My eyes opened about 6 a.m. to strangers in my bedroom. Staring up at the ceiling and feeling something connected to the veins on my right mid-arm, the reality of what was happening became painfully clear.
Me: “You’ve got to be kidding…”
Bald Paramedic Hovering Above Me, Telling The Others Nearby: “He’s coming out of it.”
Another Man: “Michael. Do you know where you are?”
Me: “Wherever I am, I am refusing transportation.”
Once it became clear that I was lying on my own bed, with a ceiling fan above, I glanced around and saw about five paramedics standing nearby. My wife was in the doorway. Apparently, the honey she’d tried to get into my mouth wasn’t doing its thing and my swinging arms weren’t going to make glucagons a viable option this time (per our agreed-upon method of handling hypos). So, she summoned the Paramedics. This was the fourth - we think - that they've been to the house.
Apparently, this time it took longer for me to come out. I tried to fight, which is what spurred Suzi to call 911 but also meant a couple paramedics got to work out and hold me down. There was screaming, or rather some weird child-like whiny moan, I'm told.
Me: “How Low did I go?”
Mr. Bald: “32.” According to my own meter.
Another mentioned that their Paramedic Meter had flashed a “LO” reading, too.
There was something sticky on my face. My tongue helped me discover that this was remnants of honey. I tried to wipe some of it off, but to no avail. Looking around more closely, I realized that there were some familiar faces of paramedics who’d visited the Hoskins Household in the past.
“It’s been awhile… How are you?” I asked. “How’ve things been?”
The small chat went on for a moment or two, as if longtime friends were just seeing each other for the first time in a while. I also asked if they knew why the power had gone out a few hours earlier, and one mentioned that it was because a driver had crashed into a utility pole at some point in the night and knocked out the power to the entire area. Power had gone out at the station a mile or so up the road.
My inquiry was just another sign that I was, indeed, out of it.
After a few moments of sitting on the bed and drinking a juice box, another test put me at 104. A few minutes later I was at 151. The main paramedic man phoned someone, apparently a supervisor, about my reluctance to take up the offer of an Ambulance Ride. He reassured Supervisor On The Phone that I appeared to be with it, and that my wife knew what to do, and he got the OK. I signed the form saying as much. They packed up and left the house, making their way to the two fire engines and ambulance that were sitting in front of my home with flashing lights.
The neighbors were loving this, I’m sure.
As we walked downstairs, we let loose the Riley Dog who was sleeping soundly in her cage while the Paramedics did their work. She was excited that all was OK. I proceeded to let the Diabetes Online Community know what had happened, tweeting that the paramedics were just leaving the house.
Instantly and throughout the morning, fellow DOCers responded with concern. As did my parents, who responded with concern upon seeing my early morning Tweet about the experience. I reassured all that everything was OK.
This didn’t impact my day, which was a crazy busy one on deadline. Suzi notified her boss, as she was supposed to open that morning and this delayed her a bit. But it never came up at work for me; no reason for it to be mentioned. I did think about working from home, but decided that I needed to be at the office and drove in about 8:30a. Of course, a morning interstate accident complicated the commute and put me into a traffic jam for more than an hour. Coffee helped incredibly that day, and the lack of sleep caught up within a day or so.
Thinking back, I must assume that my recent Pump Reunion played a part in this. After being disconnected and on MDI for five months, I’d just reconnected to my insulin pump a week earlier and was likely still getting used to that change. Plus, the candy earlier in the night probably didn’t help keep my levels high enough despite what I thought were some foundational “complex carbs.” This wasn’t a trend as far as basals being off, so I had to assume it was the combination of the above happenings.
So, that was the Wednesday Ride – Dennys, Power Outage, Paramedics, a renewed desire to see Hover Cars as we’ve been promised by the Back to the Future movies. Certainly, one for the books. But really, it was just another Day in the Life of a Diabetic.