South of the Border (and So Was My Glucose)

While watching one of the cable news channels the other day, I saw what appeared to be a familiar site. Was it? Could it be? Yes! Laredo, Texas! Although it’s amazing that I recognized it, since my memory of that place focuses more on an episode of hypoglycemia than on the landscape.


At the time, my friend Nancy was living in San Antonio and I was visiting with my then-four-year-old granddaughter. Nancy’s children were four and seven at the time. For some reason, we got the bright idea that we should take two four-year-olds and a seven-year-old to Mexico. Not too far into Mexico, mind you: Just across the Rio Grande river. We’d stay in Laredo and walk across the bridge to shop in Nuevo Laredo.

Fearful of thieves, we took just enough cash for emergencies and one credit card each to use for purchases.

Did you know the markets in Mexico don’t take credit cards? Not, at least, the ones we hit. Neither did the stores in Laredo. Thank goodness the hotel we were spending the night in did.

At any rate, we gathered up the children and walked over to Mexico, where we moseyed around the markets, gathering up what we could with our limited resources. I recall six liters of vanilla (vanilla is cheap in Mexico), a whip for Joe, and a major scene when my granddaughter had a meltdown while I was buying a doll for her.

Have you ever seen a young child who is overly tired just totally lose it? That’s what my Cali did, going limp and breaking into inconsolable sobs.

It appeared that it was time to sit down, rest, and have a bite to eat. With a four-year-old on my hip and three liters of vanilla in my hand, we set off to find a restaurant.

The children didn’t want to eat Mexican food and, when my food arrived and I tasted it, neither did I. Unfortunately, I’d already taken insulin. I choked down enough to hold me (I thought), and we worked our way back across the river to the hotel and our room…where we realized my blood glucose wasn’t quite up to snuff.

Now came the dilemma: Who stayed with the children—the adult in full control of her faculties, or the adult with the brainpower of a slug? And who went in search of food? (See previous choices.)

I believe the reasoning was that if I went in search of food, I could eat something immediately. Sounded good to me. After all, I was starving! And a peanut butter and jelly sandwich sounded really good.

The bar/restaurant downstairs did not have PB&J sandwiches. I stood at the bar, about where the soda nozzles were and in reach of containers of orange slices, maraschino cherries, pineapple slices, and other drink accompaniments, insisting that only a (nonexistent) PB&J sandwich would do.

As I was making a scene, the hotel manager came over. Luckily, he was taking an emergency medical technician class, realized what was happening, and almost literally poured some sugar down my throat.

At least it got my brain cells to function enough to order up some grilled cheese for the children. On the way back to the room, I stopped at the vending machines and shoved money in until I ran out of cash.

All I recall about what I finally had that passed for dinner that night was that the children were so hungry, they even ate the crusts of their sandwiches. Therefore, my meal did not include grilled cheese. It was probably something like Cheetos and Reese’s Cups.

Why didn’t I get something for myself while I was at the bar/restaurant? Well, there was the thing about them not having PB&J sandwiches, but I think that it was also the basic instinct that you take care of the children first. I think it kicks in even if it would be best for the children if you took care of yourself first. Brains are funny sometimes—even when you don’t have much of one.

Come the morning, Nancy and I counted our cash. I don’t recall how much we had between us, but it was less than $10. And we laughed about having so little money despite our combined family incomes.

Then we packed up our clothing, vanilla, dolls, and whip, gathered up the young’uns, and piled into Nancy’s van to go in search of a restaurant that took credit cards so we could feed the children. And ourselves, of course. And, most especially, me.

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  • Lee

    Sorry for the experience which occurred for you but — — It seems to me that anyone who has diabetes and travels any distance without a snack for themselves and their children is not thinking straight – regardless!

  • wkmmarfa

    Its seems to me someone that is insulin dependent that one would have the where with all to have glucose tabs handy. Guess not.

  • Jenna

    I just don’t get it. Living in San Antonio, with a huge Mexican-American population, you all would have had some exposure to Mexican food. It doesn’t make sense to me to go to Mexico and expect to find food common in the U.S.!Also doesn’t make sense to be insulin dependent, have children dependent on you, and not have adequate provisions. None of you were prepared for a trip to another country. Don’t blame Mexico!

  • Jawnh

    I don’t think the 3 posters above really read or understood the blog. Either that or they have never been low. When you are low, your brain thinks slowly and/or not rationally.

    I have had a similar situation where I was in a business meeting and my BG was dropping. I sat there waiting for the meeting to end as I dropped lower and lower (and was sweating profusely). Finally someone looked at me and asked if I was ok. That was my “out” to go find something to raise my BG again…….all the while I had a tube of glucose tabs in my pocket. But my befuddled brain could not remember that. Instead I was thinking about the big container of glucose tabs sitting on my office desk.

    I can relate Jan.

  • Mary Bly

    We have traveled at least once a year by plane and I have snacks I take plus keep my insulin in a wide mouth thermos which I keep in the freezer at home. Keep it in my lap or as close as possible to me. use scense it can
    not be kept over head or on floor for long airplane rides. have been using and insulin
    pump since 2002 and up date them every 3 yrs.
    Have the continous glucose monitoring system
    really nice. taked dedication to use it.