Just Call Me a Super Hero

How’s that for an attention grabbing title?

I feel like a super hero after the night we had. Chad was set up on his pump yesterday! YAY. We went with the Tandem T:slim. It seemed to be operator friendly. He isn’t a techy guy and it’s the one he felt most comfortable with. It’s amazing that he can dose whenever. He doesn’t have to dread the shot. he doesn’t have to “catch it up later”, because he dreads the shot. WE LOVE THAT PART!

However, it was a bit of a rough night. I told him I would get up several times to check his blood sugar, since it was the first night on the pump. He was 125 at bedtime and more than 3 hours after dinner, which is an amazing blood sugar for him. For the first time ever, he didn’t eat a snack or anything. That trust and confidence was so hard! When I woke up at midnight, his blood sugar was 50. I gave him about 40 carbs of chocolate milk. I woke up at 3 to check and his blood sugar was 70. Another 40 carbs! When he woke up at 5, took forever in the bathroom,  was stumbling a bit, I got up and checked him. 36!!!!

I told him it was okay to go into work late. Usually he doesn’t. He gets back on the saddle and makes it into work on time, but I wanted to make sure he was okay first. I quickly googled “How long does Lantus stay in the system?” He was taking it twice a day, half a day’s dose at 8am and the other half at 8pm. His trainer set his pump up so his basal (this is the background insulin that runs continuously all day) didn’t start until after 8pm last night, but we are pretty sure he still had the Lantus from yesterday morning in his system as well, since it can last 18-26 hours! He conferred with his trainer this morning and she agreed that it was likely. Just to be safe she walked him through lowering the basal rate just a bit. (from 2.0 per hour to 1.8 per hour)

As far as the first day on the pump, he is loving it. He really likes not having to take shots. He loves that he can input his blood sugar and carbs and it will figure out his insulin dose. This is a new thing for us and we are fumbling around a bit, but in a week it should be second nature. He has done one infusion set. He will be doing a cartridge change and infusion change tomorrow morning with the trainer.

He has been approved for a CGM (continuous glucose monitor). This will be his next step.

I am hopeful that today will be a better day. He did end up going to work and got there just a little late. He is an excellent family provider and he hates missing time from work. Sometimes diabetes comes first!

ETA: I guess I should explain the super hero comment. I feel like a super hero after saving his life three times last night. :p I’m tired, it makes ME feel better.

Where Are We Going?

When I look back, it’s hard to believe that 17 years ago, I knew absolutely nothing about diabetes. Well, I guess I can’t say NOTHING. I knew my husband had it. I knew he had to test his blood sugar and take shots. I didn’t know about carbs, high blood sugars, low blood sugars. I was about to get a crash course though.

Less than a year into our marriage, my husband, stepdaughter, and I went camping with my parents. My parents have never camped in the local parks. Oh, no, as children we hiked miles to our camping locations. As adults, it was a little gentler, we just drove hours to our destination. (By the way, I miss those days!)

On this particular trip, I don’t remember how long we had been there or how long we were staying. I do remember waking up at some point in the night and knowing that something wasn’t right. I checked my husband. He was breathing, but he wasn’t particularly responsive. Fortunately I knew enough to know that not responding was not okay. I grabbed his blood glucose monitor. I had seen him use it hundreds of times. I looked at that thing, I pushed buttons, I looked at it again.

I had no clue what I was doing.

I ran to my parents’ camp site and knocked on their trailer door. “Something is wrong with Chad!” They woke up right away and came to our site. They tried to figure out this blood sugar tester thingamabob and we. were. CLUELESS. It was a bad time to realize that we had no idea how to operate this thing. I am not sure that I should even get points for knowing we NEEDED to use it.

My dad said the hospital was some 40+ miles away. Somehow we were able to get my husband into the truck. My mom stayed behind with my step daughter. My dad was hurtling down this windy, curvy road as fast as he could maneuver the corners. It was dark and it was a little concerning and I don’t think my anxiety could handle a trip like that today. I remember wondering what it was going to be like at the hospital. What would they do? Would he be okay? I didn’t have any experience in this department and I hadn’t prepared myself very well. It was his disease. I was just married to him. I never gave any thought to his diabetes.

Somewhere between the camp site and the hospital, my husband came out of his low blood glucose stupor. (I can’t remember if we had tried to give him anything. My mom probably remembers) What a surprise it must have been for him! He looked around and said “Where are we going?”

I told him we were headed to the hospital, because he hadn’t been responsive. Then he asked where his daughter was. I figured if he was aware enough to worry about the care of his daughter, he was probably okay, so I gave my dad the all clear to head back to camp.

You better believe that we learned to use that monitor immediately!

Also, the next morning, we were talking to the camp host and told him what had happened. He said he was diabetic and he could have helped us. Why didn’t we think of that?

I know the answer to that. Back then we didn’t think about a lot of things. We would eventually learn though.

How Low Can He Go?

The right amount of carbs + the right amount of insulin = Diabetes Bliss

The right amount of carbs + too much insulin = Diabetes Hell aka a low blood sugar

My least favorite thing about diabetes is the low blood sugar.

This is my husband

IMG_0313

This is my husband with a low blood sugar

Chad blood sugar beachThe difference may be so subtle that many people wouldn’t even notice. I don’t like this picture. It is a reminder of the time that I was so focused on something else that I didn’t notice he was not “right”. Usually I can look at him and tell by his stance, the look on his face, the way he holds his hands, and the way he talks to me. On this day, I completely missed it, and he had to bring it to my attention. A few days later I was looking through the pictures I had taken and it was as clear as day.

According to WebMD, symptoms of a low blood sugar include:

I normally have a sixth sense when it comes to my husband and his blood sugars. I called him from work a few years ago and knew he had a low blood sugar. I was too far away to help in a reasonable amount of time, so I called the paramedics.

Low blood sugars can be caused by too much insulin, too little carbs, and exercise. It happens when the body does not have enough glucose in its blood stream.

I asked my husband what it is like to have a low blood sugar. He said that for him, low blood sugar leads to confusion, exhaustion, and feeling like it is extremely difficult to move. I looked at him and smiled. “That explains the time you kept telling us your feet were glued to the floor”. He said that is exactly what it feels like, as if he is slogging through mud and it takes all of his strength and effort to lift his feet one more time. I asked if he knows that he is having a low blood sugar. He said “Sometimes, but it’s like I am in an alternate world. I know that’s what it is, but I can’t figure out what to do to take care of it.” He also said that diabetes likes to trick the brain. His body feels off, but his brain keeps telling him he is okay.

My daughter says that the scariest time for her was a day we were at Goodwill. My husband was shopping with the kids elsewhere in the store. I hadn’t seen him for a while. My daughter came up and said “Something is wrong with daddy”. It was very crowded and I had a hard time finding him. When I did, he was staggering like a drunk. I found a chair and sat him down. We had been at Target prior to Goodwill and I just happened to buy an orange juice. I had taken a sip of it, then put it back in my purse. His blood sugar was so low that the bottle didn’t help much. I grabbed a bottle out of their cooler and gave that to him. We’ve had to do this a few times over the years, and I do it knowing that I could risk making an employee angry. I don’t care. 🙂 Sometimes, like that day, a low blood sugar comes on so quick that he doesn’t have time to react to it.

Night time is the worst, because it is generally 8 hours of untreated diabetes. If you are resting, you are not testing your blood sugar. Lucky for my husband, I don’t sleep. Okay, I’m kidding. I do wake up several times a night to check on him though. I don’t always check his blood sugar, but I make sure he is breathing and not sweating. When he is sleeping, I can predict a blood sugar by the way he breathes and if he is sweating. A low blood sugar sweat does not present itself in the same way as “this room is way too hot” sweat.

I wish that people who know he has diabetes understood better the signs and symptoms of a low blood sugar. Last week, I made a spur of the moment decision to visit him at work. I didn’t tell him I was coming, I showed up. When I walked in, he was glad to see me, then he said “I’m not doing well”. He sat down and tested his blood sugar. It was 32. (anything less than 70 is considered low, although he is much more functional at 67 than he is 32) Even while he was treating his low blood sugar, his co-workers were talking to him, asking him questions, and trying to push him out the door for lunch.

If my husband has calculated his carbs and his insulin amount, he can’t decide halfway through that he just isn’t hungry anymore and skip eating the rest of his meal. Since he has already dosed for the entire meal, he’s kind of stuck eating the entire meal. It’s pretty inconvenient.

A low blood sugar can be relatively easy to counteract, you just have to catch it. One of the challenges we face is his insurance company only wants to cover 3 test strips per day. One for breakfast, one for lunch, and one for dinner. Without insurance coverage, test strips are very expensive. He needs to test, at a minimum 4 times per day. (He needs to test before bedtime) If he feels off, he needs to test. If his blood sugar is low, he needs to treat it and retest in 15 minutes. It is very hard to get by on just 3 strips per day.

Have you ever seen someone with a low blood sugar? Do you know how to treat it? The general consensus is 15 grams of fast acting carbs and retest in 15 minutes. I’m official. I have glucose tablets in my purse at all times.