There I was - tanking like mad last night. It seemed that each glucose tab was sending my BG lower instead of the other direction. First 60, then 47 - then 39. I was starting to lose it, and when my wife took another reading and it was 27, she asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. I replied “call the meat wagon.” They arrived within minutes, hooked me up to an IV as we bumped on down the road. They wheeled me through the ER doors - crowded with the 10:00pm flu and sniffles crowd. So far there is nothing unusual about that. For an ex-soldier who traded in his uniform for an insulin pump, I’ve always considered a trip to the ER as a defeat on the diabetes battlefield - something akin to being captured by the enemy. I was now a POW about to be interrogated.
Name? What medicines are you taking? Are you allergic to anything? Who is your doctor? On and on they went as I struggled to stay conscious. The IV dextrose was taking effect - my BG in the ambulance was 37, and just 15 minutes later was 212 and climbing like a missile. My mouth was swelling and my temperature was dropping like the rivers of sweat that were pouring off me - so bad that the cash in my wallet was soaked. Before it started coming back up it went down to 92 - which is where I wish my BG would be.
Then something unusual happened. I became more and more aware of my surroundings, the treatment I was being given, the presence of my wife and how my caregivers were going about their job. But something was amiss - nothing like previous visits. The two nurses had concerned looks, encouraging words and most unusual of all they treated me like I was the only patient they had. One of them helped me out of my soaked clothes. Another one kept piling on the heated blankets like he was tucking in his only child for the night. The doctor arrived, and at first I mistook him for another nurse. He asked how I was feeling. He didn’t have his nose buried in a chart, barking orders distractedly as others sometimes do. He seemed equally concerned with my comfort as he was with resolving the medical issues that had brought me there. When he saw that my wife looked cold, he left for a moment and came back and covered her with a hot blanket of her own. Unlike most doctors, this fellow actually asked what I wanted - not told me what I was going to get. “Would you like to go home, or would you be more comfortable staying here tonight?” Gee - I never had that option before. For a brief instant I was tempted to stay, but his friendly face and encouragement helped me to believe that everything would turn out alright. And it did.
For the first time in the 15 years that I’ve had diabetes, my attitude changed completely. No longer was the ER the enemy camp - it was an island of peace in a very scary, turbulent ocean. I’d learned something that I’d already known, but had never really experienced before. The doctors, nurses, EMTs and administrators were on my side - their to do their level best to help me get well. And I did, and I am so, so thankful.