I held in my hand a ticking time bomb.
One of my worst fears was unfolding right before my eyes. But I was too late. The wheels were set in motion, I couldn’t reverse it, take it back, start over. I would have to let it play out and hope that I was wrong.
This had never happened before. At least not to this scale. My heart rate started to quicken and I began to prepare myself for the worst.
I held in my hand my insulin pump.
I had just finished an incredibly heavy italian meal including sangria, bread, appetizers, pasta, the entree, and dessert. I started the meal with a high blood sugar and counting the carbs in this meal, I knew it would be a lot. I had given the insulin. It was already in my body, there was no taking it back. I was uncomfortably stuffed, so full that the thought of eating more made me feel sick.
My CGM buzzed, but instead of telling me that I was high like I expected it to say, it was telling me that I was quickly dropping. I looked at the number, 190 and dropping fast. I pulled out my pump, there was an alarming amount of active insulin in my body, wayyy more insulin than I would need. I knew I was going to crash. It was only a matter of time.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
I pulled out a pack of fruit snacks, and although it physically pained me to eat more, I swallowed them down. I was determined to catch this low before it got bad. An hour later I was still dropping, but it seemed to be leveling off and I started to think that maybe the low wouldn’t be as bad as I thought. I was right around 70 and so I took another pack of fruit snacks.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
At 11 pm, it hit me. In the span of 10 minutes, that 70 turned into 42 and then that 42 turned into 28.
I was falling, crashing. I stumbled out of my room, downstairs and grabbed a small gatorade and another couple packs of fruit snacks. At this point the low had hit me full force, I couldn’t think straight, walk straight, or make much sense of anything around me. I’m moving out of my parents house in a week, but today I was glad that my dad was just a few doors down. I knew that I was in danger of passing out and just wanted someone to make sure I was okay. I knocked on the door. “My blood sugar is 28” I slurred, falling into bed. After confirming that I had already treated the low, my dad continued to ask me questions, making sure that I stayed conscious. The words felt heavy in my mouth, my sentences barely reflecting the thoughts in my head. I could hear myself slurring my speech. Eventually my sentences and speech became more coherent as I became more aware of my surroundings. I tested my blood sugar again, 67.
I knew the worst was over and I made my way back to my own room, drenched in sweat from the low. My stomach hurt from all the sugar I had just consumed on top of my heavy dinner. And while I was sure I would probably be facing a high blood sugar in a few hours, I was relieved that the worst was over.
The low has come and gone, but was has managed to stick with me is that feeling of both impending danger, but also of the unknown. I’ve never experienced such a helpless awareness. It was like being in a runaway cart rolling down a hill, knowing that you would crash at the bottom, and not being able to stop it. And yes, sugar could and did slow it down, but I didn’t know how much would be enough to stop the crash, but not send me soaring in the other direction.
My insulin pump is my lifeline, but that night it truly felt like a ticking time bomb.