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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Savings: Friend in Health Crisis--Police on Scene

Have your ever known a skinflint who ruins his or her health to cut costs? Is this someone who takes care of things, goes to the doctor, yet eats the wrong things? Is this person sound economically and savvy about money matters? 

Today, just now, I had to call the police to do a welfare check on a friend who has diabetes and was talking crazy, saying things I know are not true. I asked him to turn on his TV to Channel 13, so I could hear the weather, something we do every day of the week at 5 pm. He insisted it was only 4 pm. Having set the clock for 5:00 to get up from an hour nap, I was a bit groggy myself and almost believed him.

My computer said 5:02; so did the cell phone, as did the bedroom clock and the stove clock in the kitchen. Okay, the kitchen and bedroom clock had 5-ish because I never get them reset perfectly. Now, he was starting to worry me because he was slurring his words. .

When I yelled in my meanest voice to turn the TV on 13, he turned it up, kept it loud for a minute, returned, and said, "See, it is 4 o'clock." By yelling his name, he finally heard me, turned the TV down, and said, "It is 4 here."  Well, since we live in the same time zone, that made no sense.

Besides, if he turned the TV on 13, there should have been news of some sort. I kept demanding he turn the TV to 13. Finally, in a petulant voice he said, "I want it on 4 and it's staying there." That is not like him. See, he did not have it on 13. The number 4 was the channel he had it on or turned it to when I asked for 13.

Several times, I threatened to call neighbors and to call police. He became frantic and was begging me, "No, NO, don't do that." It breaks my heart to call the police. But, he does not listen or comprehend.

Okay, his neighbor that I called frantically, called me. The police, fire department, and paramedics were at his home across the street from them. The husband ran over to see what was the problem. He told me that my friend had an IV inserted and was talking.  I asked him to ask police to have my friend call me.

So, my friend called me while he had the IV in and while the paramedics were there and asked me in all sincerity, "Why didn't you just tell me to go squirt jelly down my throat." When I told him I did, told him to eat or drink, he said, "You did? I don't even remember that." He was truly puzzled.

I asked to talk to the EMT who said they put in an IV as a quick fix, but he had to eat because his blood sugar could plummet at any moment. The EMT said when they arrived, he was slurring his words. But, now he could talk correctly.

The way my friend explained it--he had gone from work to get a haircut and was exhausted and wanted to get off his feet and rest. So, he said he must have dozed off.  I think passed out was more like it.

NOW, I am a nervous wreck. Yet, I am more determined than ever to never be diagnosed with diabetes. No one calls me like clockwork like I do him.

Back to his saving money--he will not spend money to fix his low blood sugar level if it means stopping to grab a $1 fix. He says he can make it to where food is waiting. He also tells me testing his blood sugar levels only twice a day is all he has to do. Everyone else I have ever known with diabetes checks blood sugar levels four times each day. He has attained his secure financial position  by being cautious with money.

About the jelly down his throat--another diabetic friend told me there were sugar wafers and toothpaste-like sugar gel for diabetics in need of a quick fix. The gel can be squirted in the mouth of a person losing consciousness and the person won't choke on it like on a sugar wafer or sugary drink. I laughed when he refused to buy the gel and told him to squirt jelly in his mouth. He has lots of the strawberry jelly in squirt jars that I won't eat and gave to him.

He keeps crackers at work and at home. I think that after this he will keep peanut butter crackers in his car!

Okay, I just talked to him after he ate his dinner. He remembers nothing of the 18 minutes we talked. He laughs at the things he told me. A lie--that he checked all the clocks in the house and all said 4 o'clock. He has one clock--in his bedroom. He never got out of his recliner and told me he was walking around the house. He laughed at his petulant voice I mimicked for him. He agreed that from now on he would put crackers in his lunch just in case he does not make it home on time.

Sometimes, when he is at my house, he just "turns off." I can tell by the look on his face and his response that he needs something fast. He resists me every time! I have to get very stern and mother-like for him to eat. Cajoling will not work!

I doubt I ever mentioned this but last year, I called him from 4 pm Friday until 3 am Sunday morning, getting nothing but a busy signal. Finally, I called the police. He missed work on Saturday. The last he remembered was sitting down after work on Friday.

I don't have high blood pressure, but my pulse is pounding in my head. Yes, this is exbf in crisis.

So, help me here
Do you have diabetic friends/relatives who refuse to care for themselves and saving money is the goal? Do they become argumentative, say silly or outrageous things, and then never remember the episode?


  1. How scarey for you. I have a diabetic MiL who eats mostly white carbs and drinks coke all day but we don't see them much and anything i used to say was not lisened to so I stopped saying it. She has other people to worry about her...but they don't as they all eat the same types of stuff. It's not for saving money though, it's just the way they eat.

    You sound like a good friend to have around. Take care of yourself too.


  2. Barb,
    I care too much and see him too oftem to not say anything. But, I do understand the mil situation when everyone else eats that way.

    Thanks, I am trying to take care of myself. Hearing his incoherence makes me more determined!

    He does not listen in the middle of the episodes. I talked to Charlie and he dated a girl with an insulin pump whose blood sugar would drop so low that she talked gibberish, and he had to take matters in hand to get her back on track. Scarey is so true, especially when I am 75 miles away!

  3. Your best bet is to do a Google search for Diabetes Discussion Forums. I have some for Australia, but won't be any good for those living in the US, as there are different measuring systems and names which could cause confusion.

    Reading a discussion forum on the business of living with diabetes however, will help normalise it for you. You will read about those in your situation who have to stand back and help, and those with diabetes who don't necessarily go out of their way to get into trouble. It just happens sometimes.

    The not listening during an episode has to to with the brain signals diverting energy to bursts of adrenalin. Low blood sugar results in constipated brain signals, and what does mange to get through is communication to expel the hormone adrenalin.

    This adrenalin rush keeps bodily functions operational, but without the brain signal to tell you to eat, you often get stuck on pause. It's quite amazing how the body tries to preserve itself.

    How long has your friend had diabetes though? I found the first decade the hardest. It's all about having to learn to adjust. When you've lived "x" amount of years doing everything on autopilot, there's naturally an adjustment period as you learn to drive everything manually. Just when you get use to that however, more challenges arrive, LOL.

    The longer you've had diabetes the more you lose your hypo-sensitivity. Which means the more chances there are of not noticing your blood sugar dropping before it's too late. When I first developed diabetes, I could spot a hypo a mile away. Eighteen years later, after giving birth to my daughter, I started collapsing out of nowhere. Which was really scary when you're responsible for a newborn.

    Because I lost my hypo-sensitivity, I had to change the way I did things all over again. Which involved my husband having to change jobs so he didn't have to work at night. As that's when I was tending to forget I already had my night insulin, and doubled up! Resulting, of course, in ambulances being called.

    Human error is quite common the longer you've had diabetes, and ultimately how stressed your living environment is. If something new suddenly impacts your life, you have to change your management plan all over again. And often your first warning as to how stressed your conditions have become, is a call to the ambulance.

    What you experienced the other day, is quite normal for someone living with diabetes. I've personally had several near misses due to human error. Everyone gets a scare, me included, but then you manage to live another decade. It's funny how that works. ;)

    1. Chris,
      Thanks for all the information.He has been taking some pill, like glucophage for about six years and last year started on insulin. It has not been a decade. I think his stubborn, male attitude is eroding, so he may start paying more attention. He is amazed at the things he says, does, and the "lies" he tells me. I am not meaning to say he is deliberately lying.

      At first, he was all about "I can tell when I am having problems." No, I think yesterday made a great impression on him. He listened to me and agreed he should take something to eat in the car just in case he does not make it home when he usually does.

      I like the "constipated brain" idea. He should be here in a few minutes.

      People with diabetes have a higher incidence of Alzheimers. They also have a higher incidence of garden-variety dementia. THAT alone scares me. When the hypoglycemic episodes occur, the blood-brain barrier is broken.

      I am going to a new doctor and will ask for a "pass" to the diabetes clinic. The doctor has to recommend a person attend the clinic.I want this for me, mainly. But, will find information on how to deal with his problem.

      Since he has started taking insulin, I have greatly changed the way I cook for him. I consult him about what would be best that I cook for him/us that day, based on what I have. I am going to look for the online sites for people dealing with and helping diabetics.

      That would be scary having a child and having all this be so unpredictable. Thanks for the support and information.

    2. Chris,
      He has had diabetes since 1996. I asked him today.

  4. It was scary at the time. There was an incident where I nearly passed out, got to the jelly beans in time but within the next two days it happened again. My nerve sensors were a mess. I started to want to vomit as I ate the jelly beans. I had a small baby in my care so I called the ambulance. As I waited I almost passed out again, so called the neighbours to sit with me until the ambulance arrived. That's the nice version, LOL.

    Imagine what you experienced with your friend over the phone, only I had to fight the denial by myself. My brain spat the message out - jelly beans, but I ignored it because another message was being spat out - vomit, I walked to the pantry, stopped, paused, for I don't know how long. Somehow I ate the jelly beans, crawled to the phone and dialled the emergency hotline. All the while, "baby" was going through my head. It was that thought which made me call the neighbours.

    When the ambulance got there I was as white as a sheet and the neighbours were worried. The ambo's did all their tests and my sugars started to rise. My colour returned. Within the 20 minutes they were there, my husband turned up from work. At that point, one of the ambo's said in a curt way, "I don't know why you bothered to call us". One of my neighbours (an older lady) shot him a look and said, "she's a young mother alone in the house, with a baby, and about to pass out - what do you expect? If she hadn't called you before we arrived, we would have!"

    And this is the predicament you often find yourself in as a diabetes patient, LOL. Others (especially medical professionals) expect you to be able to control when medical intervention is required. If you'd eaten better, if you cared about your treatment more and they share it when you're in the process of asking for assistance. But that's just being human to me and no-one is to blame.

    As scary as my experience sounds however, it's taught me about the normal of living with diabetes. Most of the time I'm a coherent, determined, useful member of society; but there are times, those very normal times, human error, life, stress or whatever arrives and it changes. That's not "me" though and it's taken a lot of years to realise this.

    When someone with diabetes acts like a drunk or without ability to reason normally, it's not them either. It's what having a low blood sugar does. While there's so much you CAN do to look after yourself, it's inevitable you'll find yourself in some embarrassing situations. When you come back to reality, you will meet a lot of confused expressions. And to me, that's normal too. It's normal to act like a complete zombie when your blood sugar gets dangerously low, and it's normal for those who witness it to wonder what's going on with you.

    I've exceeded the character limit, so will write another post...

    1. That would really frighten me, having a baby and knowing I was losing my ability to function. i would say your ambo guys were less than sensitive to illness. At least you had supportive neighbors to talk back to them on your behalf.

  5. Avoiding hypos (low blood sugar) is the main aim though and where your friend is struggling to adapt. What you said in the first sentence, says a lot. I take it he has type 2 diabetes, and now suddenly he's taking insulin?

    Type 1 and 2 diabetes are worlds apart and it's important to know why. With type 2, your pancreas still secretes both insulin, and another hormone responsible for raising blood sugar. So the two hormones responsible for normalising blood sugars are still there, but not enough produced to keep blood sugars within healthy ranges. Taking the pill makes better use of what the pancreas is naturally producing.

    Type 1 on the other hand (what I have) is where the pancreas shuts down production of both insulin and the other hormone. So everything is done manually to normalise blood sugars (ie: injecting insulin or eating sugar to counteract insulin in a hypo situation).

    Your friend would have spent 6 years adjusting to living with a semi functioning pancreas (ie: semi-autopilot) and now he's suddenly having to manually inject insulin with no autopilot to fall back on. There's a massive range of human error possible there, as he comes to terms with the fact more has to be done manually.

    I don't know what his doctor's are recommending, but it wouldn't hurt to read about type 1 diabetes, even though he may not be type 1. His body is changing (requiring more insulin) and he needs to understand what manually replacing the functions of one's pancreas involves.

    A healthy functioning pancreas always has TWO hormones present to counteract one another. If you suddenly start injecting more insulin, you need to be aware that more food may now be required. Or at least, as you suggest, an emergency supply of food for those times you drop unexpectedly.

    I have a permanent lunch box in my car now. I only have two muesli bars and a small jar of jelly beans, but it's always in the car in case of emergencies when I'm out. In my handbag, I the same. I rarely need them, but they're there on the odd occasion I do. A bag of jelly beans is cheaper to buy than hypo gel. I also find recycling small medicine jars useful to put the jelly beans in. It's Easier to access when you're having a low.

    I can truly understand your friends confusion. He's gotten used to living with a semi-functioning pancreas and only eating so much. Now he's adding more insulin, but not realising food plays more importance. He'll get there. It's amazing what the survival instinct does to preserve the self. And you'll be amazed at how resilient you'll become too.

    There's a lot of information to absorb, so be patient with yourselves. And enjoy life in between. :)

  6. I have been hypoglycemic since I was about 12. I struggle every day, many times each day to stay stable. And, many, many times over the years I have been tested for diabetes. I have been thirsty all my life and go to the bathroom more than most people...still no diabetes. Now, the next time I go to the doctor could be a different story. I have diagnosed myself--reactive hypoglycemia. Now, to see what the doctor says! Crashing every hour on the hour or at least 1.5 hours apart is NOT normal.

    Thanks. Now, I have reading to do to figure this out.

  7. My mom was a Type 1 diabetic. It is just now starting to be acknowledged that chronic depression is a common and very dangerous complication of both types of diabetes. It is so dangerous because it causes people to go into denial and not comply with their health regimin or develop good coping habits.
    Please encourage your friend to get screened for depression - it is not a character flaw, it is a chemical effect that diabetes causes in the brain.


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