Monday’s Domino Rally

Don’t let them tell you that diabetes is easy to live with. Don’t let them tell you that it’s simply a shot you need to take, a pill you must swallow, an insulin pump[1] you gotta wear, and a few finger sticks a few times daily to check your sugars. As if that’s all.

Some days it seems as if that’s all. Those days are nice. We’re used to those days. And really, aren’t those days enough? Wouldn’t it be easy to do only those few things for the rest of your days? Burdensome, true, but we’re human. We adapt. We can deal.

Those of us living with diabetes know that diabetes is our permanent domino rally[2], and it’s always one or two dominoes near the center we don’t like the looks of. They’re out of line. They wobble. We’re not sure sometimes exactly which ones they are because while we’re building the rest of the rally we see some slight movement. Or we think we see it. It’s moving. Maybe we ignore it. Maybe we forget about it. Maybe it won’t tip and fall. Is it going to go? It’s going to suck if it does.

Because unlike a real domino rally, we never want our domino rally to start. We are reluctant builders of the rally. We didn’t choose to play; we’ve been forced to set up diabetes dominoes because of a pancreas backlash. These dominoes are forever.

Those wobbly dominoes worry you. If they fall, it’ll send a mass of color and design spilling, spiraling, click-clacking toward you. The question is, can you step in and stop it early enough, or will they all go down? When — if — they do, man it could be nasty, the whole thing gone, the day’s (or days of) self-management out of whack.

Monday I tried, unsuccessfully, to halt my own personal rally. Dominoes fell early on, and they kept going down all damned day.

The falling down went somewhat as follows:

Overnight Sunday we got about ten inches of snow. I spend 90 minutes snowblowing before work. I go to work. I realize once at work that I’ve forgotten my insulin pump. I have insulin[3] at work, but then discover I have no syringe. I track down a colleague with diabetes and he digs out a syringe (unused) from his desk. Thanks, Aaron! I overestimate my bolus; two hours later my blood glucose is low. I can’t check my glucose because my monitor is attached to my pump. My pump’s at home. My spare monitor is in my car. I correct with juice. I go to lunch. I have an “I’ve had a low blood glucose” mindset; this means I’m spaced out, not thinking clearly. I order lunch to go. At the register I find I have no debit card. I call off the order, but I’m a regular and they just give me the sandwich. Thank you. I’m preoccupied: the lost debit card. Where is it? Back in my office I call Kathryn. Is it at home? It’s not. I eat lunch, drink a juice, bolus, then walk half a mile to my car. Is my card there? It isn’t. I call the restaurant we had lunch at on Sunday. The card is there. Yay! I grab my blood glucose kit. I’ve failed to take into consideration for both of my boluses that I spent 90 minutes blowing snow, that I walked a mile and a half through snow to get from car to office then office to car and back. It’s only 2 PM. I drink a juice. I wait for the low to pass. I work some more. Go low again. Eat some carbs. Wait for low to pass. I walk to my car after work. I’m down to my last juice box. I’ve used up my stash of carbs throughout the day. No money for replacement carbs. I check my glucose. I’m OK. I make it home. At home, more carbs, then dinner. More snow to blow: another hour’s worth. Olympics on TV. Another low around 11 PM. At one in the morning I stabilize and go to bed. Two hours later up with an odd sensation. Low again. Alas.

Tuesday I was fine.

I don’t like living the domino rally when it’s set in motion.

  1. insulin pump:
  2. permanent domino rally:
  3. insulin:

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Eric Lagergren: Eric Lagergren was born in 1974 but didn’t give much thought to diabetes until March 2007, when he was diagnosed with Type 1. He now gives quite a bit of thought to the condition, and to help him better understand his life as a person with diabetes, he writes about it. Eric is the senior editor for the Testing Division at the University of Michigan’s English Language Institute in Ann Arbor. (Eric Lagergren is not a medical professional.)

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