Sugary Ping-Pong Ball


Not me, my Mom.

I’m back from taking care of her for a week in southern Illinois.

I went down there because she had been having trouble with her blood sugar. She thought the meter was wonky. (That’s a technical term.) But I walked her through using it, and walked her through testing it with a control drop on a strip, and no, it was right. She was between 250 and 300 most of the time. I told her to tell the doctor. He gave her a song and dance, and changed her meds and told her to keep an eye on it.

She hit 500 or so near the beginning of the month, and called the doc, who sent her to the hospital. Sh…yeah, ya think? Here’s my Mom, turning into a Domino Dot, and the doctor is working on his putt until she hits the hard crack stage. Wonderful…we can make divinity fudge out of her plasma…but will her body actually use the stuff for anything except as frosting?

Well, after they give her enough insulin to jump-start a 400-lb Tongan’s metabolism, it came down. It took a while to stabilize her electrolytes, but eventually they let me take her home. Then the fun started. I had to teach her how to eat, then GET her to eat, then teach her not to shoot air into her body with the syringes…though I guess you only do that ONCE. But there was a snag.

Her blood sugar seemed to be behaving itself. It came down to the normal range, where mine very tamely sat, behaving itself for once, as if it had decided to give a good example…or was trying to curry favor with Mom, I couldn’t tell which. But then it started to dip. It came down to the bottom end of normal, and started hovering there. I thought it was because she ate like a dyspeptic sparrow, and getting her to eat something larger than a medium-sized postage stamp was difficult at best. I had the most luck getting her to eat pizza, which actually held her blood sugar firmly around 100-110. Along with some celery sticks, some baby carrots, and some coffee, she was happy, and ate a goodly slice or two. And kept the blood sugar up.

We had ONE bobble…one night, the night before I left, it dipped down to 64. I figured it was because she ate lightly at lunch, then wouldn’t eat a snack. She was lethargic and sleepy, and didn’t want to do anything. I got some Triscuits and a cup of yogurt into her, which made her feel better, but I had to go get food and feed her, which perked her right up. I left on schedule the next morning.

THEN…(cue creepy music)…trouble.

My sister took over…and the bottom fell out. Mom’s blood sugar kept dropping…dropping…dropping. My sister checked her dosages, and they were right on the nose. She was eating right, and not junk food, good balanced meals with not too much carb. (Not that we had a lot of guidance – the doc wouldn’t tell us what to feed her! I had to go by my own training materials, and some books I found at the only bookstore in town, which was crap. I didn’t even have a real Internet feed down there, just my phone!)

One morning, my sister couldn’t wake my Mom…and checked her blood sugar. It was 30. They had finally done what I had asked about while I was there – and was told by the doctor and the nurses “oh, don’t worry, you won’t need it!” – and had gotten a glucagon injector. But it broke when she tried to use it. So she called the EMTs and got them to take Mom in again.

They did tests. They got her back up again and conscious. They found out something interesting – she wasn’t clearing the insulin fast enough! So now she has a NEW dosage. And NEW instructions. And my sister hired someone to stay with her and watch her most of the day, and fix her meals for her.

The next step – move her closer to us so we can take better care of her.

What an adventure.