Thursday, April 11, 2013

Do you have any glucagon?

So today I had a nasty stubborn low.  It sucked (pardon my inarticulate language).

I was in a hospital seeing a patient for practice. I am a second year so we are rarely in the hospital and had no home base.  I had my white coat as full as I could imagine with keys, phone, paper, pen, reflex hammer sugar etc, but I had no bag with me because I did not have a secure place to leave it.

I finished talking to the one person I was supposed to see and went out to look at his chart and Dex alerted me to a possible low... I have had this sensor in for a couple weeks so I wasn't sure how to trust it since it has been skipping a little, but I was nowhere near my glucometer so I went with it.  I had one small airhead (7-8 carbs) which will often bring me up from a low sufficiently.  I kept reading the chart and about 5 min later the low symptoms kicked in.  Dex was not rebounding yet so I had another airhead, figuring that was sure to get my bg back up. 

My symptoms went away and I returned to my group where we all took turns presenting our patient encounters. Dex said I was still low so I ate another airhead just to be safe, sure that it was wrong because my symptoms were gone. 

Problem was, then I was out of sugar.  I didn't have my glucometer, I didn't feel low, but Dex kept saying I was low. I didn't have an easy way to step out of class and even if I had, my best plan was to walk half way across the hospital and down sugar packets at the cafeteria.

The feelings:
I felt guilty for not having enough carbs on me, not having cash (although I didn't see any vending machines), not having my glucometer.  I was skeptical that I was even low because of the age of the sensor and my lack of symptoms. I was embarassed at the thought of asking for help. I am sure my preceptors and classmates would be horrified that I didn't go to the caf for sugar or ask them for some, but also would have made such a big deal out of it, when it wasn't emergent, just urgent.
Frustration- I had already loaded my pockets ridiculously full with things including way more sugar than I would usually need, is it possible to be truly prepared all the time?

My classmates and preceptors know I have diabetes. A classmate even asked if I had any glucagon to keep him awake.  I told him I wished, that I needed some and I flashed my dex at him.  He looked panicked, but told him I had eaten and was waiting (all true).
But then I didn't go back up. How long do I wait for it to rise and when it doesn't what do I do? What point would I have had to reach before asking for help?

I did get back to my car and my blood sugar was 57. Not as low as dex said (42), but definitely low. Usually I am symptomatic and have a ridiculous glucagon response and usually 23g of sugar would be way plenty to get me back up to 200, but not today. Needless to say I binged on more airheads and half a bagel, so now I am likely to hit 300. (I also waited to drive)

I wish I could say that from now on, I will be better prepared.  I will probably be better prepared most of the time.  I will stash more in my pockets and try to keep a bag closer with the back up stuff I usually carry.  Unfortunately, though, I am sure this will happen again. It is impossible to have all the things you need all the time especially when you are on the go. I just hope for availability of sugar packets and my glucagon response. I also hope that I continue to be lucky with good people around me.