When Diabetes Screams for Attention

Tonight I am in Phoenix.

No, that was last week.

Today I am in Minneapolis.

No, that was two months ago.

Tonight I am in Charleston. Well, kinda that but a few miles northeast. I am in South Carolina-my birth state.

I am here to care for my sister who just had back surgery. She is older than I am in real person years. She is younger than I am in Type 1 diabetes years

But she knows the drill.

Test your blood sugar.

Talk tough.

Take your insulin.

Eat lunch.

Say you’re fine.

Telephone your sister in the next room because you are….




Your BG is 36.

That wouldn’t be so bad except earlier today it was 45.

And yesterday it was 48.

And the day before 38.

And mixed in with those numbers were some 380’s.

The symptoms are bad and glucose tabs aren’t helping. Prune juice is good for old-lady bowels but not a quick solution for blood sugar levels.

Orange juice might work, but too many liquids can be counter-productive with lows. Says she who once projectile-vomited a second glass of juice over a friend.

So I grab my brother’s stash of honey and feed it to my sister teaspoon by teaspoon.

40 minutes later her BG recovers to an acceptable number in the 90’s. What would have happened if I hadn’t been there? Only D-parents and T1’s in “The Club” know the honey trick.

The visiting nurse came the next day and asked if we had called the doctor after the bad low. Huh? Why would we call the doctor?

Meanwhile the younger sister who uses a pump and a CGM goes crazy because the older sister won’t consider a pump. Won’t consider a CGM. Won’t even switch to Humalog from Regular.

Her way has worked for her. At least she thinks so. Quitting smoking and major surgery have exposed flaws in her care that need facing. At least I think so.

Meanwhile as I was slogging through my sister’s health stuff, my Type 1 screamed out for attention.

Look at me! Look at me!

My pump’s rechargeable battery failed with an overnight drop to 15% charge one night and 5% the next. Out of town and a holiday weekend to boot. Kudos to Tandem as a replacement pump was shipped from California and arrived in South Carolina within 24 hours.

My sister is headstrong and adverse to change. But she does fine in her world and will continue to do fine in her world. Ultimately she gets to make her own choices.

They are not my choices. But I have my diabetes and she has hers.

I am headstrong and have been known to be pushy and a PITA.

I was helpful for nine days.

Both my sister and I were glad to hug good-bye on Thursday and not try for day number ten….


The Story: Two weeks ago my sister had major lower back surgery. Despite the number of times that she told the neurosurgeon and his medical team that she has Type 1 diabetes, the hospital orders specified a Type 2 regimen and she was not given long-acting insulin. Holy sh*t! This is a teaching hospital in 2018. I had offered to come for the surgery but my brother wanted me there for the recovery and promised to keep her alive in the hospital…. Thanks to a nurse advocate, he did.

My sister and I have always handled our diabetes differently and we’re both relatively healthy after my 41 years and her 37 years. My 2013 interview with her continues to be one of my most-read blogposts.

I accept that my sister will not use a pump or Dexcom CGM, both of which would be covered by Medicare at no out-of-pocket cost. The one thing I will continue to argue for is a Freestyle Libre. It is physically and emotionally less invasive than other CGM systems and possibly something she could live with. Although I appreciate the safety from middle-of the night Dexcom alarms, my sister doesn’t want that. I think that she would quickly appreciate the ability with the Libre to frequently scan her arm to see BG readings, 8-hour trends, and directional arrows. Had the Libre not required a physician prescription I would have purchased it, stuck in a sensor, and made her use it.

So Sister, I’m not giving up. Check it out!

A Libre is covered by Medicare under part D prescription benefits.

Freestyle Libre.


8 thoughts on “When Diabetes Screams for Attention

  1. Laddie, I went into Caee Coral Hospital by ambulance. I had sepsis due to pneumonia and until I couldn’t breath I had no symtoms. In E/R my blood sugar dropped and they made me take off pump and CGM. I was admitted to ICU and was there for 3 days, then regular floor for 3 more days. My Mom lives in Florida, I live in NY. Doctors would notlet me put pump back on and treated my T1D in the same way as your sister. It was not until I asked when they were going to test/treat me for DKA that they assigned a Nirse Practitioner who prescribed Lantus. I truly believe they do this because it is easier to care for a person running high. Finally on Day 4 I had a more progressive doctor and she allowed me to put pump and CGM back on. It was a nightmare.

    • Sue, your story is terrifying and I live in fear of ever being hospitalized when I can’t care for myself. People with diabetes get blamed for so much and then get in a situation where medical professionals don’t give them appropriate care. Argh!

      • Luckily last year when hospitalized for colon cancer surgery I advised them that I would manage my diabetes myself. I think they were grateful.

      • I wonder how my sister would have done had she been on a pump and whether they would have let her keep it on during the surgery. She didn’t know that she should have smuggled in her own insulin and meter….

  2. HI Laddie,

    I just finished reading your most-recent offering. It is good to hear from you. Just coincidentally for the last 2 days I have been thinking about getting the Libre. Now I think you have pretty well cinched my decision to give it a try. Thanks so much for your thoughts.

    I am up for a new pump next month. It’s a good job that the replacement is in the offing as my Animus is about to die; the screen is now very dull. I have decided on the T-slim, not much to choose from.

    We are hoping again for the MN State Fair. It’s our third attempt as you know. This year is lucky and we will make it. We sold our motorhome and are therefore planning to fly/rent a car. I hope to spend my 75th at the Fair. Hopefully you will be in town to help me celebrate. I’d love that, Laddie.

    Love, Evie

    On Mon, Feb 26, 2018 at 6:28 AM, Test Guess and Go wrote:

    > Laddie posted: “Tonight I am in Phoenix. No, that was last week. Today I > am in Minneapolis. No, that was two months ago. Tonight I am in Charleston. > Well, kinda that but a few miles northeast. I am in South Carolina-my birth > state. I am here to care for my” >

    • Hi Evie–There is definitely not much to choose from in the way of insulin pumps. Hopefully you’ll be happier with Tandem this time around since I know that you quickly returned to Animas the last time you tried it. I will keep my fingers crossed that you make it to Minnesota for the 2018 State Fair. I’m sure that the third time will be the charm…. Missing you so much in Arizona. ❤️

  3. I refused a pump for 28 years despite my wife and doctor making constant suggestions. I spoke to a group of seven High School kids one afternoon and I was the only PWD in the room without a pump. Three weeks later I had a pump. Sometimes it is the little things that helps a person see the big picture.

    I do believe we all find ways to mange our diabetes that eventually work for us. Nothing wrong with that. However, I know I love my pump. So who knows somewhere along the way there may be a group of kids who will change your sisters mind.

  4. It’s so interesting how unique we all are, and I can imagine can be quite frustrating if it’s your sister we’re talking about!

    I wanted to share a very positive experience with neurosurgery recently. At my pre-op visit I explained that I would be wearing my pump and CGM, and with just a small bit of convincing (only that it would be safe with some of the equipment they use – I’m VERY stubborn), they were happy that it would be easier for them to manage my BG during surgery. They were actually excited about the CGM – none of them knew it existed…

    Then during recovery I was able to easily manage my pump and BG for the 24 hours, and they were completely hands-off, which I was so grateful for!

    P.S. I love the photo, and you could crop and use it for your regular photo here and elsewhere, as it shows your eyes more than the other one – nice!

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