Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lowest of the lows

Well, it finally happened. After 13 years with diabetes, and some very scary lows as of late, I finally went low enough that the paramedics had to be called. Thankfully, my wonderful husband did everything right and both Baby B. and I seem to be fine. But, this episode has really gotten to me more mentally than anything else. It started on Monday night after having dinner with some friends. I took a cab home and I think the combination of “morning” sickness and the jerky cab ride home made me throw up as soon as I got home. I still, unfortunately, had all the insulin that I took in my system, which all added up to a recipe for disaster.

The next thing I remember was waking up with an oxygen mask on and what I thought were aliens working on me. Of course, in a few more minutes, I realized that the aliens were paramedics and it hit me like a ton of bricks that I must have gone so low that my husband was forced to call 911. I remained in a bit of a daze for a few more minutes and was forced to be alone with the thoughts that I wasn’t yet able to verbalize. Of course I was terrified for the baby and wanted desperately to know if I had done any harm to my child. I was embarrassed that I let myself get to a point where neither I nor my husband could be in control of the situation. I wondered if my husband had called my parents, and hoped that he hadn’t because there was nothing they could do and I didn’t want to scare them until at least I knew what was happening. I was embarrassed that my apartment wasn’t as clean as I would have liked for outside company, even if it was aliens! I also wondered why the lampshade was knocked off of the lamp that was next to me (I found out later that the paramedics needed more light in order to get an IV into me).

After a few minutes, I was alert and with it enough to talk. Of course the first words that I remember saying were, "I'm pregnant." Several times I felt the need to tell the aliens that I was pregnant, just in case my husband had somehow forgotten to mention it to them, or in case they didn’t hear me the first few times. I wanted them to know that I really was a good mother-to-be even though I wondered if they thought otherwise since I had let myself get to this point.

Finally, even though it seemed far too soon, the aliens asked me to get up. Those first steps that I took were the most unsure steps that I ever remember taking. But with my husband’s support, I was able to get up and put one foot in front of the other. At this point I was beyond freezing. I’m not sure why, but I sometimes get cold after going low, and since I was extra low this time, I was also extra cold. I was trembling uncontrollably, and to make matters worse, my clothes were literally soaked through from sweat, which didn’t help. It was the unshakable freezing sensation that motivated me to get up and get changed into sweats. After I was changed, the aliens strongly recommended that I go to the hospital, which I did. I wanted desperately for someone with “Dr.” at the beginning of their name to tell me that everything was ok with the baby.

So off to the ER we went—ambulance and all. I made the paramedics take me down the freight elevator in our building because I was too embarrassed to go down the regular elevator. I remember wanting to put the sheet that was covering me over my head, but didn’t want to scare anyone who saw me into thinking that there was a corpse under the sheet (seriously, who has these thoughts?!). The aliens/paramedics, ER doctors and nurses were all fantastic. They all assured me that the baby would most likely be fine. My husband and I convinced the doctors to do an ultrasound, and they were able to find that magical heartbeat. After giving me some IV fluids, and a prescription for Zofran to help with my nausea, they let me go home about four hours after this whole mess started.

Luckily, I happened to have an appointment at my diabetes center the next morning with my diabetes educator. When I told her what happened, she got my endo to come in as well and the three of us had a pow-wow. They advised that I get a CGM, if for nothing else than the alarms that will go off when I’m headed low. They recommended that I start taking the Zofran so I will be able to keep food down and hopefully avoid a similar situation. They also lowered some of my basal rates after seeing the persistent lows that peppered my log sheets. I really felt like they weren’t just my medical team, but that they truly cared and never wanted me to never have to go through this again. My endo even called me this morning just to check in because he could tell that I was shaken by what happened.

I just feel run down by this whole thing. I feel like a burden. I feel helpless, even though there are a lot of tools that I now have in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again. I feel like I am losing the mental “what if” game that I know I shouldn’t be playing. I feel like I am unprepared to take care of another human being when I clearly can’t take care of myself. I feel overwhelmed by the guilt of putting my husband through this ordeal, which I know was much scarier for him than it was for me.

I think mostly, however, I just feel defeated, and that the severity of this disease has finally revealed itself after years of just being an inconvenience in my life. I know I’ll be able to move on and get over this, but right now, even though my blood sugars are fine, I am feeling pretty low.


  1. Oh Annie, don't be defeated. It happens to most of us. Last year, after almost 24 years of diabetes, I had about 6 bad reactions in the middle of the night. I think the lowest was 20mg/dl - when I was still conscious. The other times I lost consciousness, started seizing, my honey had to give me the glucagon... All that fun stuff. He knew enough to keep me alive - so we didn't go to the ER. But there is nothing worse than coming out of one of those lows. I felt so guilty every time. Plus, I'm not pregnant, so I am sure you had even more guilt. Anyway... bottom line, let it go - and just do what you can to prevent it from happening again. Hopefully things even out for you very soon.

  2. Annie- I'm so glad you and the baby are okay. Don't get down on yourself- you've managed well for 13 years as you said- it's bound to happen to everyone at some point. I can imagine how worried you were- but bounce back- we all know that you are going to be a great mom!

  3. Wow, Annie! I'm so sorry! I can only imagine how scary that must have been for you and your poor husband. But you just CAN'T blame yourself. You've may have had diabetes for 13 years . . but, remember, you've only been managing diabetes while pregnant for a few weeks! And the rules are different and they change, constantly.

    So in essence you've never done THIS before (and neither have I . . can you tell I've given myself this pep talk before?!?). We are winging it and doing the best we can with the fluctuating sugars, hormones, sickness, etc. So please don't feel bad. You are doing great and so is that baby! It sounds like you have a great husband and team around you all determined to help you keep that kiddo safe. Keep your chin up!

    And what is is with being FREEZING after a really bad low? I do the same thing. I start off drenched in sweat and HOT and then as I recover I start shivering and get the COLD sweats. It's so weird?!? :-)

  4. Wow! I am so sorry you had to experience all of that. You described in perfect words exactly what I think & feel when I experience a low that requires outside intervention (minus the pregnancy part that you have going on, congrats by the way!). Reading your post brough tears to my eyes to know that other people have the same fears/feelings/ideas running through their heads after a serious low blood sugar.

    I'm sure you already did, but I always make sure to hug & kiss my husband like crazy and repeat over and over again to him how thankful I am that he was there to help me. I cannot even imagine what it must be like for someone else to deal with that.

    You have a great team working with you, that's obvious. I wish you all the very best.