Low Interrupted

At first, I was thinking that I would toss out this post, or save it for later, in order to respond to the news from the Diabetes Research Institute. I know that a post like this, full of words on a screen, risks getting lost in the mix. But maybe it won’t.

If you read my last post, you know that A-Flizzle surprised me with a birthday trip to Jacksonville to tour the Budweiser brewery, hang out with Jacquie and the gang, get a massage, and go to one of my favorite restaurants in the whole wide world called 13 Gypsies. And my blood sugar spiked sky high. So now you’re caught up. As Paul Harvey would say, this is “the rest of the story.”

I’ve been sitting on this post for a few weeks now. It’s been a really hard thing for me to share. It’s the post I’ve been waiting to write for, like, 23 days.

My blood sugar was sky high, but I couldn’t very well call in diabetic and cancel a quality birthday celebration. Nor did I want to. I bolused for the high, but having been unplugged from my pump for as long as I was, there was really no telling how much insulin it would take to turn things around and get my BG’s back to normal. I knew I would need to feather the insulin over time in small doses so that I didn’t get a big ball of insulin hitting me all at once. It sounded like a good idea, at least. Until it just wasn’t working. Not even a little bit. Not even at all.

So, I did what any abnormal person with a nonfunctioning pancreas would do in the situation: I rage bolused the $h!t out of that high to show it who was boss. And I did too.

Later that night, after we had gone out to a rooftop bar and then to one of our favorite hangouts in 5 Points, Birdie’s, A-Flizzle and I trekked back to our hotel to call it a night. We settled in, I stretched out on the bed, propped my head up on a stack of pillows, and started watching one of the greatest movies of all time that just happened to be on TV that night: Con Air. What? You know you love it!

A-Flizzle was sound asleep, and I was laying there in bed messing around with my iPad and watching Cyrus the Virus battle The Man of Nomadic Eyebrows from the Land of Forgotten Forehead (aka, Nicholas Cage) for a shot at freedom via a crash landing on the Las Vegas strip (don’t blame me, I didn’t write it) when it hit me. Hard. And I remember every single part of it.

In an instant, I had absolutely no clue where I was. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing, even though I was doing nothing. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t concentrate. I couldn’t help overanalyzing every next thought that was popping into my head, and I had no control of what was popping into my head next.

I sat up and threw my legs over the side of the bed. My bare feet hit the cold wooden floor. I sat there, in a complete panic, trying to figure out what was going on. I knew what was going on. I just couldn’t quite figure out what was going on. But everything was so serious. I couldn’t figure out what was happening, what was next, what I should do.

I stood up. I walked over to my BG kit, and sat it on the table. I walked off. I started pacing around the room, stomping hard, trying to figure out what in the world was going on. I could see A-Flizzle in the middle of the king size bed, sound asleep. I tried to yell for her, but I couldn’t. No sound would come out. I started hitting my diabetes tattoo, indicating, trying to make noise and get her attention. Anybody’s attention. But it wasn’t loud enough.

And that’s when it hit me: I was low. Really, really low. And I was standing in the room with the one person that I trust more than anyone, and I could not for the life of me (literally) figure out how to get her attention. What would be so simple any other time, to simply yell or reach out and shake her awake, I could not figure out how to tell my body to do. I just knew that this was really, really serious, and I had to figure out something through my garbled thoughts.

I paced around the king sized bed like a tiger walking a perimeter, establishing his territory. Back and forth, from one side to the other, for I don’t even know how long. All the while I’m trying to figure out how to wake her up. I was fading. The panic was wearing me out. I was starting to think about what A-Flizzle would do without me, and how much it would crush her to lose me when she was right there, so close. What would happen to my Hopper (dog), Squirt (cat), and Bindi (A-Flizzle’s dog) back home without me. How their little hearts would break when I didn’t come home from a weekend away. How my Hopper would continue to look for me at the door long after Amanda got home, just waiting on me to get there to give him a doggie hug.

All I could think was, “This might be the one. That one low blood sugar that I don’t survive. The big one.” I was also thinking, “Dammit, I don’t want to go to the hospital on my friggin’ birthday!” I started punching the corner of the bed because I was so frustrated that I couldn’t get my body and brain to communicate and work properly. Then I thought of big ones, like the big earthquake in California that everybody always talks of but hasn’t happened yet. The hurricane that will come and sink Florida. The importance of having an emergency plan, a parachute. A parachute? A PARACHUTE! For when I fall!

No Brain

I managed to figure out that if I passed out from the low, it was my pump that would continue to give me insulin and keep me low. I snatched it from my PJ pants pocket, and unhooked it, not bothering to suspend it, and threw it on the bed. I went over to my bag, and found the glowing bright red rectangle that contained glucagon, and held it tight in my left hand. I knew that if I passed out, A-Flizzle would likely hear me hit the floor, and hopefully see the glucagon in my hand and know what to do. If she didn’t, at least my pump was off, so hopefully I would survive long enough for my blood sugar to come back up naturally before…well, before I died.

As I was digging in my bag for that, I uncovered a Level gel. I ripped off the top with my teeth and managed to get most of the gel in my mouth through the lack of motor skills and shaking that I didn’t realize was happening. Once I got the Level gel in me, and gave it time to work, I was finally able to figure out how to reach over and wake A-Flizzle up to help me. By then I was back on the edge of the bed, drenched in sweat, shaking, still holding the glucagon case in my left hand, and completely physically and emotionally exhausted. Half asleep, her training that I taught her in case I ever go low kicked in, and she was able to retrieve two more Level gels and help me get them down before I had to lay down, else pass out from exhaustion. Still, I wasn’t up to a normal and safe BG level yet.

A-Flizzle set a timer on her phone to wake us up every 15 minutes for me to test my BG again. After an hour of that, I was still only at 70. Not too low, but certainly not high enough to go to sleep after such a bad low. I took one more Level gel, and then I was out for the rest of the night. I woke up the next morning at 96. Normal. And completely hungLOWver, worn out, physically and emotionally exhausted from the night before.

I’m thankful that I taught A-Flizzle what to do when I go low. I’m thankful that we have a plan and always know where things are to treat a low, even if half asleep. It’s so important to have something available to treat a low blood sugar, and know where it is even in your subconscious. That is what may save you in the event that you have to build your own parachute. I know it did me. It’s been extremely hard for me to admit to myself, but I know that I wouldn’t be here right now had I not had those gels, known where they were, and the fact that they were easy for me to get into when it was literally life or death for me.

Tomorrow, the DRI is set to share some big news about steps toward an eventual cure for diabetes. I really hope it is everything that we hope it will be. I’d be lying though if I didn’t admit I’m skeptical. Don’t confuse that with negativity. I’m positive that there will be a cure someday, and I’ll be the first one to celebrate tomorrow if there is something to celebrate. I’ve just heard that a cure was coming since my mother was told that there would be one when I was diagnosed at age two, 32 years ago. A cure for diabetes is exactly what every one of us with diabetes, and every parent of a child with diabetes, wants in this world. Nobody should have to see their life flash before their eyes on their birthday because of a low blood sugar like I had to. However, hoping and praying and wishing doesn’t get us closer to that day.

I’ve learned to keep myself grounded in reality. Maybe that’s a defense mechanism so that I’m not constantly let down, but experience says to be patient, diligent, and steadfast today so that we can make it to tomorrow. The absolute best thing we can do is take care of ourselves today, support each other in the diabetes community, both online and offline, and not let our fellow person with diabetes stumble. You can do this, and so can I. Then, when that cure does arrive, whether it’s tomorrow or twenty years from now, we’ll be ready.

Keep Calm And BG On


  1. oh my friend, my heart hurts for you and a-flizzle. how scary that must have been for you both!

    thank you for sharing that story, and for sharing your heart. i agree 100%. the best thing we can do it take care of ourselves and each other.

  2. Goodness! I am so glad you had someone like A-flizzle with you. I had to swallow the lump in my throat while reading your post, both from knowing that feeling all too well, especially the calling for help but not being able to say anything, and from all the “what-ifs” that all of us live with on a daily basis. Keep keepin’ on, Martin! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Martin, my friend. I’m so glad you are alright. But holy crap, what a scare.

    I am thankful that you shared this, because the world needs to see just how fast and furious these things can happen. And because the world needs to see just how hard of a fight it can be for us to come through them. Even if physically unscathed, it rattles us to the roots of our teeth.

  4. This is an incredible post, Martin. I am SO glad you are okay, and that you’re still here to encourage the rest of us to take care of one another. Big, big hugs to you and your girl.

  5. Thank you for sharing this story. I’m so very happy that you are here to tell it. You did a wonderful job of bringing us into that moment with you… such a well written and important post.

    Be well,

  6. Wow. Just wow. I’ve gotten into the really bad habit of going to bed & leaving my kit on my desk. My nightstand is small & it annoys me when it’s crowded. I think it’s time I stopped being annoyed & started being safe. I would have to set off a bomb in my upstairs bedroom for my brother to hear me from his downstairs one. Plus frankly, he sleeps like the dead.

    I’m so glad you are okay, Martin. Tell A-Flizzle that she is my hero. You are too. 🙂

  7. I’m glad you are ok and so happy A-Flizzle was there a a you were able to wake her up to help. 🙂

  8. Nice write-up.

    Take it from a pro — treat any correction situation as a crisis. Implement your crisis management plan, even if you have to wake up the house. I set alarms every two hours, and I tell the missus about it. I know from too many experiences like this that once the threshold is crossed, it’s too late. I’m not able to recover by myself, not without much injury to myself and household items. I especially like to take out lamps.

  9. I am so very glad you are OK. Thank you for capturing it all. I hope that when my G grows up, she has an A-Flizzle there to help her. I am so very, very glad you are OK.

  10. This scares the shit out of me. Thing is, the way you went about managing your high is exactly what I would have done and as a result I would have been in the same position. Great diabetics think alike?
    The way you described it all… yes, me too. exactly. motor skills, speaking skills and reasoning skills. What a mind f*ck.
    what’s more? the things you thought about as your body was slowly dying. You were thinking about…. dying! I love our partners and how much care they invest into us. This A-Flizzle is a keeper.
    I’m glad this story has a happy ending and I really hope you were able to bounce back after that awful hanglowver.

  11. Thank you for this terrifying post!
    I’m so glad you’re ok. How’s A-Flizzle feeling?

    From the first whiff, the DRI thing seems like…not that great a whiff. I don’t know that Diabetes Dad, but assume the DRI thing is something meaningful if he was willing to stake basically his reputation on it. Or does he do this every few years? I got sucked in.

  12. Great post! And so well-written that I can imagine how you felt and the thoughts through your head. It’s so odd to me that in a scary LOW low, my head can’t figure out the simple things. Yet, I can so clearly think- oh man, what if this is THE low? How do house payments work if the owner passes away? But, get juice, test – those are the hardest things in the world at that moment.
    Glad you pulled through this one!

  13. I cried as I read this, feeling your sense of panic (and knowing if you were able to tell us this incident, you had indeed survived). Thank you for sharing. xo

  14. Martin –
    I am so glad you’re OK & I’m sorry you had to go through such a horribleness of low and the fear of thinking it might be THE LOW!
    And thank you for sharing what happened in your amazing post – We appreciate tremendously!!

  15. Thanks for posting this, Martin! I didn’t have the energy to even read about the DRI news today (I’m equally skeptical), but a friend shared this post on Facebook and I’m so glad that I read this instead. I know the feelings you described all too well. Hopefully you will inspire many to keep fast-acting carbs in an easy to access place.

  16. I am crying because your words took me there. I could see it all happening and I swear, I never thought people went through the same stuff I do. I mean, the knowing what you should do but not knowing how to do it? And thinking about this could be it but not knowing what to do to stop it? I do this often when I get crazy low.
    What a tricky bastard Diabetes is to not only drag us close to death but to also turn our brains into jello so we can’t figure our way out.
    Dude, I cannot tell you how thankful I am you are okay.

  17. holy shit bro. i’m so glad this post won best of 2013, otherwise i would have missed it. thank you for sharing all of these details. as hard as it was to read (and write, not to mention EXPERIENCE), it is so valuable to me as a mom of a kid with d to read. thank you thank you.

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