What a diabetes emergency is like…

It happens so quick, all is well one minute and the next Frankie is passed out on the floor, incoherent, arms flapping, a glassy look in his half closed eyes. Severe hypoglycemia-severe low blood glucose level.

Scary as hell, but we try to stay calm. We have to stay calm. We have done this before—I turn Frankie on his side, Dad and Rachel run for glucagon, a frosting tube and juice. We all are praying. My niece is here—God knows what she is thinking—besides ‘Holy Crap!’ We start with frosting—between his cheek and gums—rub it in—get the lining of his mouth to absorb it quick. We do not care about the meter—we know what low glucose looks like—this is it—we do not need a number. We remember to suspend his base insulin coming from his pump. We watch, wait, pray.

Minutes pass like hours.

Frankie starts to come back. He looks at me like he doesn’t know me—and for a few seconds he doesn’t. Then come the tears, and through them, a forced to drink juice box-dribbling down his chin along with the tears.  We avoided the need for glucagon and 911. We all hate diabetes—we hate it with a vengeance right now- fighting to keep our son. 

Dad picks Frankie up, and carries him to the sofa, stays by Frankie’s side. Frankie is talking, making sense, but is still shaky.  Dad takes his number-68—it’s coming up-but we must stay on guard. Frankie reluctantly downs another juice box. I am in the kitchen—getting a protein snack—to follow up all those fast acting sugars. He needs protein to level out. I am thinking about our Certified Diabetes Educator, Michelle Dart. We know what to do-during and after—because of her. I am still praying and thanking God for Michelle & her classes.

Frankie levels out, we won this battle-but Frankie pays a price. He gets a massive headache for his troubles and the next 24-48 hours his body will be adjusting, and he will have to check his number more—and be extra vigilant. Frankie is scared to go to sleep-but Mom & Dad will get up three times in the night—because one check will not be enough after this.  He trusts us—to keep him safe and alive. We honor that trust.

Rachel’s eyes are huge and brimming with tears. “He’s okay, He’s okay.” We hug her and give assurance. As parents, we have to suck it in, hold it together—so the kids will believe. Mom and Dad will cry later when everyone is in bed.

This is what diabetes is. Frankie paying the price for having fun. Rachel feeling the fear that living with this disease brings. Diabetes payback for a great time at the apple farm, running around with friends- payback for being a kid. We know from experience that a lot of running around, sports, fun—Frankie will go low hours after the events. We prepare for this—and were on it yesterday. 15 minutes before passing out Frankie’s number was 135. Perfect, fantastic-but  diabetes can turn on a dime—even with vigilance.  It laughs at us, laughs at our positive attitude, the plans we make despite diabetes, and diabetes taunts us—”give up, give up! You can’t win against me!”

We made it through the night. My kids will get up and go to school. I will send the teacher an email about last night—so she can keep an extra eye on Frankie today. Mom and Dad will go to work. All of us will fake it today—smile like we haven’t a care in the world and pretend we didn’t come close to losing Frankie last night. What we won’t do is give up our fight against this damn disease. 

Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.
Sun Tzu 


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