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Houston, We Have a Problem
Do you have a favourite movie? That would probably be the one that you watch many times & keep in safe keeping for those “just right” moments of recreation.
My husband, Greg has 3 beloved movies: “ The Hunt For Red October”, “Blackhawk Down “ & “Apollo 13”. The covers on the DVDs show the wear of many viewings of each movie for sure. My movie tastes are pretty eclectic & most are not ones that the fellas in our home enjoy & that’s okay. Greg loves it when I share time with him watching one of his 3 favorite films. The most appealing, I find is “Apollo 13.” You know that I am a happy ending enthusiast & that film delivers big time. Even after watching it over the years probably a dozen times, I still find tears rolling down my face (happy ones) when the crew of the flight return home to their loved ones. Greg has loved introducing each of our sons to Apollo 13 over the years as well. I love watching the boys & their dad light up as they share time together in this or any activity. That’s the sentimental heart that I was given.
There is a line in “Apollo 13” that describes an incident that occurred one evening during the Christmas holidays. Yes, it is, “Houston, we have a problem.” You know that feeling too I am sure. It is the time when you have planned ahead & all looks good only to realize later that a “system” has failed unexpectedly. This is just one of those realities it seems for everyone from time to time. For folks who have diabetes or another 365 health challenge, that sure is true.
It was an absolute joy sharing 2 weeks off with our sons & a good portion of that as well with my “mathlete”. Usual routine was cast aside realistically in favour of having adventures & fun together. The trouble is though as we all know, health challenges do not ever take a holiday. As cures are found for health challenges, it is a beautiful hope to envision all of us having a permanent “holiday” from the 365 struggle.
It is likely accurate to imagine that a great many folks with type 1 diabetes struggled with glucose control over the holidays. I found that the holidays are the perfect “storm” of: unusual sleeping patterns, different eating habits, increased stress, decrease in exercise & many other factors. This combination meant that I found my glucose meter telling me the story of the holidays in the form of numbers. Aha, so there were the 3’s (low sugars) in the night & then the 15’s during the day (high sugars) day after day for 2 weeks. When my blood sugars roller coaster from low to high & back down again & so forth that I feel unwell physically & emotionally. Still, though the thought of attempting to maintain a semblance of routine during the holidays was unappealing I decided this year.
Near the very end of our family holidays, as Tom Hanks said in the movie, “Houston, we have a problem” happened. When you wear an insulin pump, there are times when something can go wrong. My experience is that over 99% of the time, my pump & infusion sites are awesome & do their jobs. That is not to say that my A1C (you know that final exams feeling that we have every 3-6 months) is where I want it to be. That is a work in progress. My pump & infusion were working well until just before dinner time. How do I know that? Well, let me confess that I am a meter test-a-holic. Each person with diabetes has a number of glucose tests that they find comfortable to do each day. (not physically comfortable but rather the number that gives peace of mind). The number each day for me is between 10-12. I always test before meals, 2 hours after, before bed, every time before I drive, after exercise, when I feel “weird” (which could be signs of a low), 20 minutes after a low, 2 hours after an insulin correction & on & on. The number of tests is high I know yet it is “my number”…the peace of mind number that works for me. Again, other folks will have worked out their testing numbers along with their medical team. What works for me does not necessarily make sense for someone else & vice versa.
Before dinner, my glucose number was 7 which was okay for me at that time of the day. I cooked up a celebratory dinner for our family which was higher than usual in carbs. I bolused 5 units of insulin to account for the dinner. Two hours later, I checked to see where my glucose was at. Yikes, it was about 4 higher than I wanted it to be so I did a correction insulin adjustment & re-tested 2 hours later. Yikes, even after the correction, my sugars were shooting up. What is the “panic” number for me in terms of what is registering on my glucose meter…well generally around 17 or more. Well, 4 hours after dinner, my meter may as well have been screaming at me with the number of 20.1! That’s when a “cool-headed” battle buddy is appreciated even more than ever. My blood sugars started shooting up somewhere before 8pm & by 8:30pm, my “mathlete” husband was doing calculations to help me to try to bring the glucose number back down. The other thing that happened at about 8pm right after I tested was that I checked my infusion site. Something that I have not had happen over the past 4 years of “pumping” happened. My tubing had somehow become disconnected from my body yet the infusion was still “snug as a bug in a rug.” Aha, that now made sense. That meant that I had not received the 5 units I needed with my dinner as well as any “background”(basal) insulin. Greg figured out the total missed insulin & gave me the information to make my own decision on corrections. I was conservative in my corrections since I did not want to go into hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) while sleeping. Long story made longer…my battle buddy & I ended up staying up until 4am correcting the situation.
Here’s the neat part of the story. How do you turn a “Houston, we have a problem” situation into a happy ending for yourself. At 10pm, my husband said to me that he thought it would be the perfect night to watch, “Storm of the Century”. That movie is something like 4 or more hours long. It was a great idea because that way, Greg & I were not simply sitting up fretting about glucose control but rather enjoying a movie together & the corrections could take their time in settling in. By 4am, yay, my blood sugar was 7 & I was super happy albeit pretty wiped out. My husband is a “night hawk” so he found it easier to keep his eyes open into the wee hours of the morning. I am always grateful that my husband’s personality style is very different from mine. He is like Gene Krantz in the movie with a calm style & is a natural leader…the type of person that you want to follow & that you listen to instantly in a panic situation.
My hope for you is that you have a team of battle buddies with the rainbow of personality styles. When or if you find yourself in a “Houston, we have a problem” situation, my heart’s hope is that you have a “go to” person on your team that you can call upon too.