Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Brought to you by the Letter Y.

Today's adventure is brought to you by the Letter Y and the Number 34.

That's 34 mg/dl.

Normally Alarm Clock One goes off at 6:45 am. After which I promptly hit the "snooze" button no less that three times. Fret not, for Alarm Clock Two (also known as Bad Alarm due to it's shrill cry) is set for 7 am, so that one blasts out in between all the snoozes. Once 7:30-ish rolls around, I give in. And then I turn on the lamp, grab my kit from the bedside table, and test my bloodsugar. It's routine, right down to the sticking my finger in my mouth to get rid of the blood from my fingertip ... yes, that's kind of gross but I can't be the only one who does this ... and then rolling over to Chris and grumbling, "I don't want to go to work."

A comforting arms pats me on the back and I reluctantly get out of bed and stumble grouchily towards the bathroom.

But this morning was a small bit different.

The alarms went off. A number of times. I'm sure of it because part of me remembers systematically shutting them all off and collapsing back onto my pillow. My pillow is marked with sweat at this point, but I didn't realize that. I wake up at 8:08 am with Abby's face smushed against the side of mine, meowing insistently and licking my face.

Not a good sign. This cat knows when something is up, or more importantly, when my bloodsugar is down.

So I reach over for the kit, but instead of switching on the lamp and testing from my side of the bed, I wander over to the dresser and stand there to test. In the dark. With clumsy fingers. And I'm crying but I'm not exactly sure why.

Fumble with the meter, get that strip in there. I prick about four fingers before getting one to bleed. The countdown reveals a bloodsugar of 34 mg/dl.

I'm very surprised. So I tell Chris.

"I'm 34." Calm voice. Sort of ethereal. I run my finger along the top of the dresser and notice I haven't dusted in a few days.

Chris wakes instantly from a sound sleep and looks at me disbelievingly. "You're 34? Sit down." He walks quickly to the kitchen and I can hear the fridge opening and the click of the juice bottle cap as he spins it off. I know he told me to sit down but the cat is on the bed and I don't want to disturb her.

He comes back with a glass of juice and hold it in my hands with me as he guides my wrists toward my mouth. "Drink it, baby." So I take my eight. And sit back down on the bed.

Abby is all over me, walking around my head, purring in my face, licking my forearm. Chris lies beside me and tries to keep talking to me as I wait for the juice to work. Time now is 8:38 am. I am already late for work.

The tears come fast and I'm starting to feel better but not quickly enough. "I need to call into work," I sniffle and wipe the tears from my face. "I need to talk to my boss and tell him I'm late. I'm late today..." Start crying again.

"Why don't you wait a few minutes, Kerri. Just wait until you come up a little before you call."

Time now: 8:47 am.

I can feel the low backing into a corner as the juice hits. Test again, 108 mg/dl. On the way up. Relief courses through me and I start to cry again. But I feel like I've been beat up. Arms weak, legs shaking, shoulders aching from holding in my tears. Because he knows my bloodsugar is back up to a safe range, Chris lets me lay against the pillow and he wraps the blanket around me.

The quandary is this: Do I call in and say that I'm late? That I hit traffic? I have to be honest here - I'm late all the time. Work starts at 8:30 and I consider myself early if I'm there by 8:40. Sometimes it's a flat tire. Sometimes it's the weather and the blasted traffic on 95. Sometimes I just hit "Snooze" too many times. But this time I wasn't going to be there until after 9:30. And I felt strange calling in saying I'd had a low bloodsugar. My boss, though very professional, is not very approachable and I don't feel comfortable filling him in on any diabetes issues. I don't want him thinking I am using it as an excuse for my always tardy self. And I never want anyone to think, "Well maybe we shouldn't involve Kerri on this project because what if she gets low while presenting or something?"

So I lied. And I called in sick.

And now I feel a little crummy about it.

21 Comments:

At January 10, 2006 2:16 PM, Blogger SUPERMOM said...

Kerri don't feel crummy about it. But do come up with a way to handle it if it happens again. When I worked I was a lot like you in the morning. I finally realized I am not a mornign person and will therefore never get a morning job again. But that is me. While I was working full-time I was always late like that. Many different reasons were to blame but nonetheless late. Then I got pregnant for Carylanne. Now I was late because of morning sickness. I didn't want to blame it on being pregnant but the truth was that some mornings I was too sick to move but after I felt better I was ok for the day. Well I called in sick to. Then I realized I couldn't use all my sick days up for something that wasn't going to last for the whole day. I talked to my boss after that. He preferred that I come in late rather than not at all. So if I had a bad morning it didn't interupt the whole day. Not that your situation is the same or that your boss would be as understanding. But I can relate to you having this dilemma. This was more of an emergency situation than your just not wanting to get out of bed. Maybe Chris could call for you next time. Explain that you didn't wake up because of the low and once you were treated and able to get your BG back up you would be in. Going low at night is not your fault, you could not have prevented it and you shouldn't feel like it is using your diabetes as an excuse. Its not like you just partied all night and couldn't get up or something irresponsible like that. If you had another disease and had to miss work or were late would the boss be as unapproachable? Do people with kids miss work because their kids are sick. I am sure that at work there are people who are late with much lamer reasons than going to a 34. You are protected by the ADA right so they can't fire you for being honest. You were not medially capable of doing anything differently than you did this morning. They can't hold it against you.

 
At January 10, 2006 2:23 PM, Blogger Tekakwitha said...

34. Yuck. Sorry Kerri.

Don't feel bad about taking a sick day. (shhh, don't tell, but I've taken a sick day for WAY less of a reason than that.)

If you don't often have major morning lows like this, then I wouldn't fret too much.

I recommend curling up on the couch and watching some bad daytime tv. :)

tek

 
At January 10, 2006 2:23 PM, Anonymous Kevin said...

Starting days like that suck. As if waking up isn't hard enough! I too have two alarms set (6:30 and 7), and I too clean up after ALL finger pricks in the ol' pie hole.

As for the openness with your boss, I'm not sure what I'd recommend. Of course I'd like to think that all jobs and bosses are open, understanding, and somewhat compassionate, but that's not quite the case, is it? I've been lucky to not have jobs with strict start times and bosses that are pretty understanding. My recommendation is to find a place like that to work! Again, not always a possibility, I realize.

And what's with the 9 min interval on snooze buttons? Is this universal, or just me?

 
At January 10, 2006 2:36 PM, Blogger Red (Aus) said...

Of course you feel crummy, because you're you. Basically honest people always feel crummy when they do something that they feel is even slightly dishonest.

I personally don't think you were dishonest though.
But I feel like I've been beat up. Arms weak, legs shaking, shoulders aching from holding in my tears.
You were sick. You weren't feeling well, and that is a universally accepted use of the word sick. I too can understand your reluctance to explain what happened to your boss. It is bad to be treated differently for any reason, but if she is professional, and a good boss, then will she treat you differently? I know that some bosses will, so it's up to you to decide whether your boss is worth the effort to approach and explain.

Now that you're feeling somewhat better think about what you really want to do. Maybe think of some different alternatives of how to handle things with your boss, then cull them until you come up with the one way you feel comfortable with and of course hope will give you the results you want. Put things into perspective. How long have you worked there, and how many days have you taken off sick. How many of those were d related. How many days do your co workers take off? etc. Look at the big picture, not just this one bad morning.

 
At January 10, 2006 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had troubles like this as well. probably lotsa people have. was diagnosed at age 30 so I got a BIG shock when I realized that lows would bring moodinness & confusion along w trademark dizziness.
I hate that. still, I find it comforting to hear that I'm not the only one who has to "juggle" along with the other "tennis balls" of their life.
it's tough, changing my basals right now and I actually had a 38 this morning after breakfast. It messed with me a bit too. sometimes more than others. at times it tends to really throw off my game a bit. I don't get to be as steady or as well, as sure of myself when I know that i can "zone out" almost anytime.

on the other hand, you have to be the judge of yr work ethics/behaviors on a REGULAR basis (read: on the whole, Not just ONE instance)
AND please bear in mind that there are folks out there with great working pancreases that call in once in awhile and are NOT sick when they do.
maybe they had a bad day,
maybe they were hungover,
maybe they needed to catch up on some sort of pressing personal business. who knows? but I know from experience, even before diabetes, that it happens. and this part is particularly important...the world doesn't usually end bc of it.

So, do you feel bad bc you called in sick?
Or bc you actually FELT sick and wish you didn't have to?

you also wrote "And I never want anyone to think, "Well maybe we shouldn't involve Kerri on this project because what if she gets low while presenting or something?"

this rings some familiar bells. I have to do daily presentations. not long, not too strenuous, but daily. 60 people looking at me.
Lows?
yikes. that thought can be stressful.
don't know yr work situation. maybe you are correct to hide why you were out and maybe not. since i don't work w you, I have to look to you for that answer.
but i do know that those kinda worries are common in my life now. have a hunch that this is a lot of what you are feeling when you express "crummy feeling"

 
At January 10, 2006 2:49 PM, Blogger Shannon said...

My only advice would be to feel your boss out the next time you're late when you're low and tell him the truth.

If he shows little sympathy and in not-so-many-words tells you to suck it up, then lie to him after that.

You're a good person and of course you'll feel crappy about lying, but you can also think of it as preserving your job against those who don't understand what you're going through with your diabetes and how it beats you up.

 
At January 10, 2006 2:58 PM, Anonymous Zazzy said...

As far as I'm concerned, you were sick. You were "just this side of a coma low" and that is sick. Diabetes sucks, lows suck - but they are part of reality. Sounds like a sick day to me. I'm sure you wouldn't abuse it.

Now, an effort to make you smile. I had a job once by which I have judged all future jobs - I used to call in sick when I couldn't decide what to wear in the morning. Now THAT, was probably abusing my sick time.

 
At January 10, 2006 3:58 PM, Blogger J said...

Kerri are you sure this was your morning and not mine ? I for one ALWAYS stick my finger into my mouth (gross.. I think not !) I am a 8:40 am early bird too :-) and I have said " wow there was strange traffic this AM" I have given way to say I am having a complicated morning due to my diabetes and my boss thank god has been understanding. Maybe you can meet with your boss and just explain there are times my mornings do not go well.. or use the words you know he will understand "corp talk" what ever it takes so if this does happen again you will not have to add to you stress of thinking of what to say. Hope your feeling better.

Oh and SNOOZE button and 2 alarms SO ME !

 
At January 10, 2006 5:36 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Kerri, I hope you're feeling much better. It's quite possible you were lower than 34 before you tested and the good ol'liver kicked in and gave you enough glucose to get you up.

I would not use diabetes or low blood sugar as the excuse for being late. I think you won't get the empathy you hope for...rather they may come to see diabetes as a liability if they associate it with each "tardy". I would simply tell the boss you're not feeling well and need another hour of rest and then you'll be in and you'll make up the time (if that's necessary).

When I was hired at my last job, I arrived on time or early each day. Years later I found I was going in progressively later and later each day. Ultimately I recognzies I no longer enjoyed the job and resigned in December. I'm taking a mental health 2 months off.

Maybe you needed a mental health day...how many of those are you entitled to per year? ;-)

 
At January 10, 2006 5:46 PM, Blogger Kelsey said...

Kerri, I always putt my finger in my mouth after a finger stick... I thought that's what we all did?! :) I must tell you again that I love how you write. You bring up the interesting tidbits about diabetes that become so routinue we almost forget about them. I appreciate the little reminders!

And don't worry about the sick day. As much as we hate to admit it, we are all "sick" with this disease and sometimes it's going to interrupt our lives, not often, but sometimes.

I hope you had a nice, cozy day at home!

 
At January 10, 2006 8:04 PM, Blogger Penny said...

Stick your bloodied finger in your mouth? Riley's bedspread just has little spots of blood all over it. I've often thought that if a crime ever occurs in the house the CSI would have a time trying to figure out the blood pattern. There are little dots of blood everywhere.

Secondly, I just hope that Riley has a special someone like you do who will be there to help him when diabetes decides to slap him in the face unexpectedly.

 
At January 10, 2006 10:27 PM, Blogger Nicole P said...

First of all, I hope you're feeling better by now. It's 10:12pm... I think you probably are.

Next, do you think not being a morning person has some relationship to the diabetes? I have never met a person with diabetes who doesn't hit the snooze bar *at least* three times. I am supposed to be to work by 9am. Most mornings, I am there by 9:10 am. Some mornings, I'm later. On a very rare occassion, I arrive right on time and on even rarer ones, I arrive a bit early.

Technically, you shouldn't feel crummy about calling in "sick." I would say that a bloodsugar reading that would have had some people convulsing qualifies as being "sick."

Re: talking about diabetes with the boss. I guess you'd have to play it by ear. I would disagree that *every* boss would consider diabetes a liability relating to each tardy day, BUT, some bosses will. I usually try to gauge what the boss' reaction might be if I do say something. I would assume that you have repeatedly proven your reliability, your ability to do your job (very well), your articulateness, etc. An effective manager would consider all of these things -- and the diabetes -- which might sometimes cause a tardy or sick day -- would just be a part of the package.

We're all part vampire, I think -- you know, with the bloodsucking business.

 
At January 11, 2006 7:38 AM, Blogger Johnboy said...

Kerri, you put me right in the moment with that story. Man, what a guy you have there to love and care for you.

I am low-key about admitting that diabetes has any kind of impact on attendance or performance on the job. The truth is that it doesn't for me most of the time. I am worried about misperceptions that it is more of an issue that it is. People know that I have it, but I make it as invisible as possible.

I would have handled it exactly the same way you did, and would have also added that I would be checking email and voicemail remotely and working from home as I was able depending on how I felt.

An episode like you had, can really beat you up from the inside and make you feel sick. Unless you call in sick frequently, I wouldn't worry about taking such a day as an official "sick day."

 
At January 11, 2006 10:06 AM, Anonymous edwin said...

I had a 7 juice low this morning (not 7 sips) - right before teaching! and during... managed to keep it in the good range and now that class is over, I'm dealing w the fallout. (260 and rising when I last checked)
riding the rollercoaster. whooooooooeeeeee!!!
I gotta do something w my morning basals. I wish I came w an instruction book.
-edwin

 
At January 11, 2006 10:50 AM, Blogger Erica said...

Wahh! I typed a huge, thoughtful comment and it never appeared :-(

I'll be back...

 
At January 11, 2006 11:06 AM, Anonymous Cin said...

Hi Kerri. I just found your blog and want to say that I think it's great.
I have had those mornings before. My boss knows that I have diabetes. If I call in and say I'm gonna be late because of a low bg, she knows it's the truth and tells me to just take my time and get better first. They have experienced one of my lows and they don't want to again. LOL.
Don't feel bad for missing a day. You were sick. I do hope that you are feeling better today.

 
At January 11, 2006 11:08 AM, Blogger julia said...

Kerri - I saw this and thought of you. Maybe someone will give you one for your next birthday. ;)

http://www.clocky.net/

 
At January 11, 2006 1:40 PM, Blogger Laura said...

Yes, how we can relate! The lowest I have hit was 28 and I was by myself. Had to call an ambulance and the paramedics were surprised to see me still conscious. A reading of 34 on top of grogginess from just waking up...blah! And sticking my finger in my mouth after I test.....heck yea! It does, however, gross my daughter out which makes it all more worth it!

I hope you enjoyed your sick day. I know the guilty feeling of staying home sick when you think you shouldn't have. It only ruins the day. I have learned to sit back and soak it in.

I usually am at work by 8:40am everyday. Suppose to be here there at 8:00am. Ooops! My alarm goes off at 5:25 for hubby to wake up and then 6:45 for me. I snooze it until around 7:15am when I know I absolutely better get up. It's easier that way. Take care of youself!!!!!!!

 
At January 11, 2006 3:58 PM, Blogger mdmpls said...

Kerri -
I realize I am a bit late to offer my two cents, but aren't they called "sick" days for a reason?!?!? Don't feel bad about your Diabetes making you feel bad enough to not go into work! There have been days when I have been up all night fighting lows and the thought of having to be a normal person the next day is just simply too much!

Experiencing what you did is a perfectly good reason to take a sick day! And, by the way, I ALWAYS put my finger in my mouth after I stick. The nurse in my Endo's office laughed at me when I did it in front of her! Oh well!

Maridee

 
At January 11, 2006 10:30 PM, Blogger Violet said...

K,

So glad you're all right. Cheers for the Boy.

I'm with the folks who say you were "really sick." Um, yeah. "Lil bit," as Mr. Brooklyn might say in what he calls his "Guido" voice. (He's Italian, so that makes it okay, right?)

Had similar moment with work this past week. I have to travel overseas in a couple months for the job, which I've never done at all, much less since dx. I've decided to go a day early to ensure that I'll recover and have my pump adjusted in time for the conference I'm working at. But that means I have to travel without the rest of the group and stay an extra night. I had to decide whether to explain why or fabricate some other reason.

I did give the real reason, and though nothing has come of it I'm already sorry I did. My employers are decent people but hardly touchy-feely. I keep those diabetes cards pretty close to my chest. I've found I don't like the idea of the disease making me vulnerable in my career, which is feasible even though we would all agree it never should.

 
At September 16, 2006 6:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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