From the moment I left the meeting, I knew that my blood sugar was low. I walked outside and tested it. Wow, it was low!
I used to keep Tootsie Roll® Pops for reactions but changed to honey packets that are also an excellent solution for quick reaction recovery. Each honey packet has 17 grams of carbohydrate. Believe it or not, you actually can find them at a reasonable price online at camping and outdoor companies.
I should have gone back into the meeting room and sat down for a few minutes while my blood sugar recovered. Instead, I ate one packet of honey and then walked towards the subway stop at 16th and Union Square West. I walked right by the stop. When I was halfway through the outdoor green market, I realized what I had done.
As I backtracked through the farmers’ market, I noticed that it was a gray day. It looked as though it had stopped raining right before I left the meeting. While looking at the wet ground and lost in my thoughts and fog (cognitive impairment), I miraculously found the subway station and walked to the platform entrance.
On the way down the steps that led to the entry of the subway platform, I saw a man on his cell phone. I thought to myself, what a fool. If he is not careful, he might fall. LOL
When I reached the entrance to the platform, I took out my wallet and started looking for my Metrocard. It wasn’t there, so I checked my bag and pockets—and nothing. I watched the people enter and leave the station as someone yelled at me, “Don’t stand there!” I didn’t care for her tone of voice, but I moved to the side and watched the train I needed to be on leave the station.
It was so frustrating to look at the subway train leave. “Calm down!” I screamed in my head. “We will make the train! You know you are not going to find it. Buy yourself a new one.” I went to the Metrocard machine. I opened my wallet, and my ATM card was right in front. I swipe my ATM card, got my Metrocard and swiped the card at the turnstile to get onto the platform.
No more than 1 minute later, the train came. I boarded the N train and got a good seat. As we jetted towards Times Square, I checked my blood sugar again, and it was much better. Yeah, and I found my old Metrocard while sitting on the train too. I changed at Time Square to the downtown two express train. Next stop Penn Station!
I just made the 9:41 train to Long Beach. As I sat down on the LIRR and tested again, my blood sugar was now 70 mg/dl. I had a snack bag with me with Goldfish® in it and ate several handfuls. I took out my pen and paper and started to write this blog. By the time I got home, I had finished the blog.
Just a couple of pieces of advice! If your blood sugar is below 70 mg/dl, consider resting while your blood sugar returns to normal. I could have saved myself a lot of troubles if I had rested. Since no one is perfect, don’t beat yourself up over it.
It takes time to make a habit of stopping to rest when one’s blood sugar is below 70 mg/dl. I say habit because when our mind is not clear, any person with diabetes will find it hard to almost impossible to think rationally when their blood sugar is low.
I was lucky I didn’t fall or hurt myself in any way. It is important to test the moment your mind says, “My sugar is low.” I could have checked sooner before leaving the meeting, but I didn’t.
I did test when I got outside after the meeting and immediately took something with fast-acting glucose in it. Taking fast-acting glucose helped me to regain some perspective and plug back into reality. If I hadn’t eaten that honey packet, I wouldn’t have realized that I needed to buy a new Metrocard and respond so quickly to the situation. Remember we are not perfect, but it is what you choose to do when managing diabetes that prevents these occurrences, like checking your blood sugar often and being patient when incidences of low blood sugar happen.
One last piece of advice—and probably the most important! Take good care of yourself. Everything can wait until your blood sugars return to normal. I just would have had to take the next train out of Penn Station if I didn’t make the 9:41.
One positive outcome that resulted from this experience is that it got me to write and share my knowledge with you in the hope that others will make better choices when they face similar issues.
Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE, is a diabetes-focused psychotherapist. His private practice, located in New York City and is also available via Skype. LeBow, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1977, treats the many diverse cognitive, behavioral, and emotional needs of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
All the advice included in this blog is therapeutic in nature and should not be considered medical advice. Before making any changes to your diabetes maintenance program, please consult with your primary physician or endocrinologist.