Sometimes Diabetes Just Provides Too Much Excitement

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My friends have their pet names for me, most often Jan E. Cakes or Granny Janny. Now, a friend who goes back to fifth grade has a new one for me: Calamity Jan. It fits, especially after an escapade last week.

Mechanical objects don’t like me. Not even mechanical objects with microchips. A little-known fact about me is that I was a music major in college (bassoon, if you’re curious). That is, until I discovered printing presses when I wrote for (and later became editor of) the college newspaper.

I fell in love with printing presses. The noise. The power. The smell of ink. The excitement of seeing a huge roll of blank newsprint going in one end and coming out the other side all printed and folded.

But printing presses are mechanical objects so, alas, being a printer was not for me. When I go into a print shop, all that happens is that ink miraculously attaches itself to me, resulting in clothing of many colors. Despite even that, I still became a reporter so I could hang out around printing presses – multicolored clothing be darned.

The moniker “Calamity Jan” came about after a day and night of disasters involving mechanical equipment, including – perhaps mainly – equipment that includes microchips.

First, my mobility scooter fizzled out. Oh, not totally. It took great pleasure in getting me to the door of the bathroom before digging its tires in and refusing to go any farther. To get the rest of the way so I could relieve my by now painful bladder, I’d have to put it in freewheel and push with my one remaining leg: The one with the really painful arthritic knee.

Then it would refuse to work at all to get me OUT of the bathroom.

As if that weren’t enough, about 3 AM that night, my pump let forth with the most horrendous sound. Beeps I was familiar with, but this was a witch’s screech of the most flesh-crawling sort.

It said I had no power. Then the screen went black.

I plugged it in to charge and kicked my way to the bathroom, and it had charged enough that I could see the screen by the time I got back.

It said I was out of insulin. (Make up your mind.)

If it dumped insulin, it wouldn’t have mattered, because that’s when I discovered the cannula had come out and the part of the infusion set you stick to your skin was soaking wet with stinky insulin.

Now, I had checked before heading off to bed, and I had 30% power and 70 units of insulin. Plenty ’nuff to last me through the night. I was going to call the company anyway, but then my pump ordered me to – and even gave me the number – so I did.

And went back to bed, after giving myself an injection of insulin to get me through the next couple of hours. I was thankful that I had a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) so at least I didn’t have to constantly stick my fingers to check my blood glucose level.

Then I woke up with the CGM sensor – a tiny, little thread-like object inserted into your body so it can measure your BG level – was lying on the bed beside me. As in, no longer measuring my BGs and transmitting them to my lovely, pink receiver.

This was going to take a while.

First, the scooter: It started doing that “nickel and dime” thing, so my Sweet Baboo and I determined it was time to get a new one. We can pick it up today. Yay!

When I called the pump company, I didn’t even have to ask: “We’ll send you a pump first thing in the morning,” the person there told me. Which meant it wouldn’t get here until sometime the day after that.

That was going to take a little work. I tried it myself, but with BGs in the 300’s, I figured I could use some help, so I called the doctor on call at my endocrinologist’s clinic, which is located in a university medical center.

The doctor on call that day was an endocrinology fellow, which means she was doing post-doc work in the endocrine specialty. Her immediate solution was to call in a prescription for long-acting insulin to my pharmacy. I disabused her of that idea, since I would only need one injection of a 24-hour insulin, which is expensive and would have made going back on the pump “interesting.”

We settled on an injection of Regular every four hours to cover my basal rate and my usual rapid-acting when I ate. That brought my BGs back down to more-normal levels.

As for the CGM, that was easy enough. I just pulled another sensor pack out of my drawer and inserted. Two hours later, it was giving me my numbers again. About eight hours later, it fell off (darned substandard adhesive!), so I got another sensor pack out, inserted it, waiting another two hours… Anyway, that one is still working.

My new pump arrived when promised, along with instructions on how to start it up. I did have one little snafu, but a call to customer service took care of that quickly. As expected.

Its good to almost be back to normal. Except for having my BGs spike into the 200’s after eating. I sent a note to my endocrinologist asking for a prescription for pramlintide (brand name Symlin), which helps cut down on glucose spikes.

The day after sending the note, I was going low instead of spiking.

One thing you can say about diabetes is that it’s never boring.

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