A Diabetes Anomaly for the Paramedics
You never look forward to an experience welcoming the paramedics to help deal with a diabetes emergency.
I'd gone over a decade since that was last needed.
But a paramedic-summoning Low blood sugar reaction at the start of September reset my tally clock, and now I'm working from 0 since the last time my diabetes required the paramedics.
It was a Friday morning.
I had planned the day well in advance, as it was one day following my wife's birthday. I would drive her to work, come home to do whatever work I needed before taking the dog to "camp" for the weekend, and then I'd go pick her up for a dinner reservation and drinks afterward.
That was the plan.
But I didn't sleep well overnight, and some blood sugar glucoastering messed up my normal sleep schedule. I ended up with only about 2 hours of sleep, and chose to instead stay awake and take care of some overdue work I hadn't finished earlier. With the coffee pot fully brewed, I plunked away at my keyboard and worked until the sun came up and the alarm clocks were ready to chirp again.
As you might imagine, I was tired.
And my blood sugars were all off because of this lack of sleep, combined with overnight coffee drinking. My overnight basal rates couldn't assess what was happening, so my blood sugar started dipping.
We got ready to leave, both of us in the car. But because I was still a bit low, she drove. The dog loved the unusual early morning CAR RIDE.
Knowing I was going low, I grabbed a banana and a small apple juice before we hit the road.
But given my routine variance and lack of sleep, I mistook my early Low symptoms for exhaustion and annoyance over needing more coffee. I found myself dozing off during the 30-minute drive, not eating the banana or drinking the juice nearby.
And despite my Tandem technology cutting off insulin because of the detected Low, it wasn't enough to counteract how low I was actually dropping.
I don't remember arriving at her office. I stayed in the passenger seat, with the dog in the backseat wondering what was happening.
Eventually, someone inside realized I was still sitting the parking lot and our SUV hadn't moved. My wife responded, but I was apparently too far gone to treat the Low ourselves.
We hadn't had to call them since we moved back to Michigan in 2015.
They did what paramedics do, strapped me into a gurney and setup an IV of glucose into my arm. My wife disconnected my insulin pump from my body entirely before they carted me into the ambulance.
Before too long, I slowly came out of it. And I remember looking out the pair of windows in the back of the ambulance, realizing there was a strange woman in front of me and another stranger with a male voice over my right shoulder. The words didn't register at first, but within moments I recognized them as words a medical emergency responder would use...
"F***," was my first word.
I asked what day it was, and when being told it was "Friday" the day of the planned birthday dinner reservation, I repeated the curse word. But a bit relieved when hearing it was still the morning hours.
I asked what city I was in, and when I heard it was the city where my wife works, I used the same curse word again.
They told me that our SUV was outsie, and I repeated the word and then suddenly became fully aware:
"THE DOG. WHERE'S THE DOG?"
The pair of paramedics seemed baffled, unsure how to respond.
"Uh... was there a dog? We didn't see a dog. Is there a dog outside?"
I suddenly feared that the dog had been left inside the vehicle on the hot morning.
How long was I out? They responded that it hadn't been that long, maybe about 20 minutes.
Fortunately, my wife and a coworker had taken care of the dog and he was sitting comfortable in a different vehicle with the windows open. Patient boy, he is.
A couple fingerstick meter showed I was quickly rising, and in that "more than safe" terrority of blood sugar levels.
I've narrowed down the issues behind this Severe Low, and have since discussed it with my endocrinologist. It was an anomaly, one that certainly was fueled by lack of sleep and caffeine combined with extra dawn phenom insulin before a typical morning drop.
Since then, I've also received the exciting invoice from the private ambulance company. Turns out, my insurance company does cover this and so I won't have to pay more than 20% of the total $270. So there's that, too.
These paramedic experiences used to happen more frequently when we lived in Indiana, before the days of getting a CGM.
My A1C has gone up slightly since February and this Low helped show me I needed to dial in my morning blood sugars and basal rates. That's a work in progress, as we enter the Fall months.
Here's to hoping that tbis diabetes anomaly doesn't repeat and I won't find myself greeting any paramedics again anytime soon.