Thursday, June 16, 2005

Telling off the Paramedics.

Abby. My cat.

She has never missed a low bloodsugar. There have been times when I was so low that beads of sweat collected on my forehead, making my face clammy and my t shirt damp with panic. Usually my body wakes itself up in time, leaving me just enough energy to stumble out to the kitchen and pour a glass of juice. But sometimes I don’t wake myself up.

That’s where Abby has never failed me.

She will sit on the pillow above my head, wailing like a banshee. “Meow!” She paws fiercely at my head and nudges my face with hers. I usually come around as she is pressing her nose fervently into my ear. “Me-ow!” More insistently now. She won’t stop wailing until I am trudging through the living room towards the kitchen. Siah hasn’t figured out this trick yet. But I’m sure she will in time. Or maybe Abby is just in tune with the way my body starts to panic.

Sometimes I feel waves. The ones that gently undulate and lap at the shores of my consciousness. I focus what is left of my resolve on remaining awake, waiting for the juice to take effect. Those are the worst ones. The ones where I am afraid I am going to pass out.

I’ve never passed out. In almost two decades of diabetes, I have never been unconscious. Of course it may happen. It could happen to any of us. But I have come close.

There have been some tricky lows, though.

There was one that I had in January of 2003, while I was living with my ex-boyfriend. The alarm clock went off in the morning, but I didn’t stir. He got up to turn it off. Usually I lean right over and grab my kit off the nightstand so I can test my blood sugar, but that morning I wasn’t moving at all. He had dated me for six years and he knew the signs of a serious hypoglycemic episode, so he immediately woke up and tested me himself. My bloodsugar clocked in at 44 mg/dl. He went downstairs and grabbed a glass of juice.

“Kerri, get up. Drink this. You’re low.”

Nothing from me.

“Hey. Drink this.”

Most often, I sit up, obligingly grab the glass, consume the contents with graceless gulping, and fall back upon the pillow until the tides of my sugar rise enough for me to sit up and say, “How low was I?” This time, I took the glass from his hand, told him to leave me alone, and proceeded to pour the juice all over the bed.

I’m known for being slightly combative when low.

He got another glass of juice. And the phone.

“Kerri, you need to drink this. If you don’t drink it, I am going to call the paramedics. “

After being told, repeatedly, to go fuck himself, Roommate dialed 911. Three paramedics showed up, one slightly chubby. I am in bed, at a minimal level of functionality. I don’t remember what happened from here on in, but Roommate told me I was belligerent.

Roommate told them I rang in at 44 mg/dl. They grabbed the red and white tube of InstaGlucose from their med kit and advanced on me. In the throes of my low, I fought them off as best I could. They outnumbered me considerably; it took three paramedics to hold me down well enough for Roommate to administer the InstaGlucose in my fitful mouth. The paramedics let me loose. As the sugary substance absorbed into the inside of my cheeks, I turned to Roommate with a resounding “Fuck you!” I whirled to the most portly of the medics and growled, not unlike Linda Blair, “You too, Fatty!”

I came around very slowly. I don’t remember much of how I ended up downstairs, but I am told that I wandered down the staircase and stood at the front door, clutching my blanket around my shoulders and murmuring “I want my Daddy.” Because that’s not at all embarrassing.

Roommate told the medics that I would be fine in a few minutes, having just tested me and yielding a result of 68 mg/dl. “She’s on the upswing. She doesn’t need to go to the hospital.” To confirm my agreement, I had to sign a release form, stating that I refused to be brought to the hospital. I signed, half in a fog.

Fast forward to me in the shower, getting ready to go to work. The medics are gone. Roommate is sitting on the bathroom counter, monitoring me. I start to remember what happened. We talk about how everything is okay now, and how sometimes a low just sneaks up and destroys me.

I’m feeling much better. A little embarrassed that I was such trouble, but no harm, no foul, right? I smile sheepishly. Safe now. Abby was prowling about on the bathroom floor, making sure everything was okay now.

“Yes, Kerri. You did okay.”

And as the warm water washed away the traces of InstaGlucose from my arms and eased the tension in my muscles, I gasped in shock as I cried, “Oh my God! … I called them Fat Fucks, didn’t I?”

The laugh from the countertop confirmed.


At June 17, 2005 8:21 AM, Blogger Shannon said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At June 17, 2005 9:19 AM, Blogger Shannon said...

I went from tears to laughter. Your actions were amusing, but the reasons behind it were scary.

Animals are incredible. I hope Siah picks up on the lows when she grows up.

Thanks for the insight of a low.

At June 17, 2005 10:59 AM, Blogger Jay said...

I love reading other blogs about diabetes because I will read something that I totally connect with. At that moment, I don't feel so alone. Being low and waiting for the corrective measure to kick in, wondering (as you said) if you are going to pass out. Many many times I have felt this way, sometimes my wife will be there watching me, wondering what I am going through. Luckily, I have never had a bad low like the one you wrote about. Thanks for shareing.

At June 17, 2005 2:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember when you came into work that day...I was in shock you even came in after what you went through...but then I also remember you telling what you said to the paramedics and how I laughed so this day I can not drive by that firestation without laughing and saying that famous statement...Batman :-)

At June 17, 2005 2:59 PM, Anonymous IamBatman said...


At June 17, 2005 3:01 PM, Blogger IamBatman21 said...

I AM NOT ANONYMOUS....iambatman

At June 17, 2005 5:43 PM, Blogger Kerri. said...

Well done, Batman. You've figured out how to post using a name. I am very proud of you!

And Jay, this is the worst reaction I've ever had. I've had some that may have been contenders, but this one is the worst by far. I mean, I told the men who were fighting to save me to Fuck Off. That's not what nice diabetics do. :)

At July 05, 2005 4:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a not so funny, funny story. Geez that has happened to me numerous times and it's weird I get pretty combative as well. At least we aren't alone.

At July 25, 2005 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to admit that we all must get like that when we have lows. I've been through them more then anyone can imagine, I don't feel any symptoms at all, but I do fight like hell to stop anyone from giving me something to help me. How do you ever get that to go away?

At September 01, 2005 12:11 PM, Anonymous Nicole Purcell said...

I would agree -- belatedly -- with anonymous of 07/25 -- we all definitely get like that when we're low. My combativeness with several EMTs two years ago resulted in a cop reaching to take his handcuffs out... Handcuffs? Luckily, my 6'1" 200 lb boyfriend advanced -- telling the cop, "You're going to have to put those on me before you get anywhere near her with them..."

Even in my low state, I found that amusing and proceeded to laugh and repeat the word f-er over and over again...

Although I like reading about other people's lows because it makes me feel not as looney -- I know how wrenching they can be for a person. Especially given the fact that you don't ever remember the events properly and you can lose large portions of time during them... I hate that.

At March 15, 2007 1:29 AM, Blogger cass said...

well, i am pretty late in reading this. but, wow. i feel sheepish. i just was reading that story of an oregonian woman that became violent when low, and i was kind of...doubtful that lows had that effect on people. but they do don't they? it still hasnt ever happened to me. i DID however, eat my own head in a hypoglycemia induced hallucination once.


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