Our worst diabetes day. Ever.

Our son Liam was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (t1d) almost 5 years ago. Through a combination of good luck and amazing technology, we have been incredibly fortunate and have avoided the things that we fear most. Most days, t1d is an annoying hassle, but there are days when it takes over our lives and scares the pants off of us.

This past weekend, we were in Boston for a music festival. We took a break from the music festival to climb at a local gym and go out to lunch. When we got back to the hotel, Liam started complaining about stomach pain. His blood sugar was starting to go up after a high carb, high fat lunch. He corrected but continued to complain about his stomach. A few minutes later, he was acting really goofy (not uncommon for our 12-year-old boy). He started to climb onto one of the hotel beds and fell on the floor. We thought he was just being silly until, on cue, all of our devices that receive Dexcom data alerted LOW! Steve picked him up off the floor. He was conscious but covered in sweat. I gave him a bottle of liquid glucose and a tube of glucose gel while Steve mixed the glucagon solution so we would have it ready if necessary. He tested at 30. He then devoured another 40 g of carbohydrate, and his blood sugar started to rise. Several hours later, his blood sugar soared into the 400s. He felt terrible and looked like he had been hit by a bus.

In hindsight, the low probably happened through a combination of an overly zealous correction for the rising post-lunch blood sugar and post-exercise effects (in addition to whatever growth spurt/hormonal factors are currently at play). The incredibly scary thing is how quickly it hit. What if he had been on the school bus at the time? The vulnerability that accompanies t1d is the thing I hate the most.

Lessons learned:

  1. Liam’s lows are not always going to have the grumpy, sluggish, spacey presentation.
  2. Adolescent blood sugars appear to be as labile as adolescent emotions.
  3. After 5 years, we have learned so much yet know so little about how to be a pancreas.

Written by Susan Ramsey