Scene: About 11 o’clock at night. Showcase Cinemas in MA.
There aren’t too many people in the movie theater. It’s not too hot or too cold. Comfortable seats. Handsome boyfriend as my date. Feeling a little tired but content.
The movie courses on. Guy with a mask, Natalie Portman cuts off all her hair, I’m barely interested … little bit of a headache.
Not one crying out for Excedrin, but nagging enough to make me rest my head against Chris’s shoulder as we watch the movie. Sleepy. I close my eyes. About 15 minutes pass.
Still have that headache.
Unzipper the black case and set up my testing kit. Using the backlighting on my pump like a miner, I prick my finger and align the blood with the strip by the faint blue Minimed light.
No symptoms until that moment of realization that my bloodsugar and my age are in perfect synch. Did seeing the number trigger a physiological response? Why didn’t I feel anything sooner? A bead of sweat joins my hummingbird heartbeat as I realize how I don’t have much more than adrenaline keeping me coherent. The crackers in my purse aren’t going to work nearly fast enough.
I wish I had grabbed his arm and asked for help. A bloodsugar of 27 mg/dl, he should know.
Instead, I tossed my kit into my purse and stood up abruptly. Leaning in to Chris, “I’m low. I’m going to get juice. I’m fine.”
Thinking I’m in control, he squeezed my hand and said, “Okay, baby. I’ll be here.”
Scene: I walked as confidently as I could down the dark hallway, spilling out into the fluorescently lit atrium. The snack counter was just a few feet away. “You’re fine. You’re fine. Don’t worry. Just get there.” Motivational Speaker whispered softly into my ear.
The 16 year old girl turned her head to me, the Showcase Cinemas logo on her black visor momentarily distracting.
“I’m a diabetic. I’m having a very low bloodsugar reaction. I need juice immediately.” My fist hit the counter, a five dollar bill clutched in my hand.
“We’re closed? The machines are locked up?” Young Girl looked nervous.
“I need juice now. Right now. Please hurry.” I looked nervous, too. That numbness was settling into my mouth. Warm waves of exhaustion coupled with panic rolled over me.
Her hands fumbled with the keyring as she leaned over to unlock the juice machine. My mouth formed the words “Thank you.”
“I’m sorry, we’re closed.” Manager Woman came over, snapped her gum at me. Her hand came down on Young Girl’s wrist, stopping her from opening the juice machine.
“I’m diabetic. I am having a low bloodsugar reaction. I need juice right now.”
“We closed at 11. There is a convenience store across the street.”
“I am diabetic. I need juice. Now. Please just open the machine. I need you to help me.”
Precious seconds pass.
Her hand took the keys from Young Girl. “I’m sorry. We’re closed.”
Silently apologizing to my mother in my head, “Diabetic. I need sugar right now. Open the fucking machine and get me some juice. NOW.” My voice crescendos to an angry peak.
A dirty look crossed Manager Woman’s face as she throws the keys to Young Girl. “What size?”
She grabbed the largest cup from the stack. My mouth is completely numb, hands trembling. Young Girl fills the cup as fast as she can, opening a straw for me and sliding it into the enormous cup.
“A large. That will be $4.05.” Manager Woman extends her hand for my money.
I’m already halfway through the basin of red juice. I hand her the money. She takes it and hands me my change while she relocks the juice machine.
Scene: Back in the theater. Mumbling about 27 … huge thing of juice … Why didn’t you tell me? … I’m sorry … I’m glad you’re okay … 27 … Did you feel it at all? … I feel it now … Keep drinking …
Scene: In the car. Explained what happened. Chris is furious on my behalf. I am, too. Angry at Manager Woman. Angry at myself for leaving my juice in the car. Angry at my body for betraying me.
What is causing these? I’ve read that blood pressure medication can make people experience hypoglycemic episodes. I’ve also read that it can cause dulled symptoms. What do I choose?
Should I be writing a letter to Showcase Cinemas, advising them that their staff needs considerable training as to dealing with medical emergencies?
Will my appointment as Joslin in two weeks help me figure out what is going on?
Can I get a CGMS? Can I afford it?
Can I afford not to?