My wife is a Type 1 diabetic and at times her blood glucose (or, BG) has unexpectedly crashed and she is suddenly unable to respond or act rationally. Twice, it happened while I was away on a business trip (we live alone; I try to minimize my business trips). At several other times I’ve been there with her, either at home or while vacationing, on a plane or in the car. The more it happens, her docs tell me, the more ‘hypoglycemic unaware’ she becomes — she is less able to recognize the onset symptoms (drowsiness, sweaty skin). I worry that her BG might crash when I’m not there, and if she’s otherwise alone with noone around.
If I can recognize the signs soon enough, a packet or two of glucose gel is enough to get her BG to rise, but she has to be conscious enough to swallow, else she’ll choke and gag. And if her BG has gone really low and she is totally out of it, then I administer a shot of glucagon which releases glucose stores in her liver, IIRC. We used to work in the same office and I had to do it in the office once. When she came to, I brought her home, which thankfully isn’t far. I’ve administered a glucagon shot maybe 8-10x in the 16 years we’ve been married.
It’s scary. The first times it happened her BG got so low that her muscles were convulsing. She collapsed in convulsions in front of me and I did not know what was happening. Her eyes are open, but she cannot respond. Her breathing is automatedly labored, like her body has gone into some kind of survival mode. 9-1-1 and the paramedics treated her. I cried when it first happened because I didn’t know what was going on. Early on, the paramedics were here a handful of times. Once it was in the middle of the night, I was sound asleep and was woken up by her body’s random flopping in the bed. To wake from a deep sleep and see her helpless like that, and to realize she’d been crashing right beside me for some time before it got to that point, I can feel totally helpless.
These low BG episodes, especially when the crash is so severe, cannot be good for her brain which needs glucose to function, can it?
On top of that, she has had two organ transplant operations over the years — kidney and pancreas 20 years ago, then a second kidney 10 years ago ;this time from a relative), so she will be on immunosuppressants all her life. In winter cold weather she has caught infections. Between the BG crashes and suppressed immune system we’ve been to the E.R. more times than I can count. We have insurance but it still gets expensive. She goes almost monthly for either a lab draw or doc visit (to her primary care doc, or nephrologist, or transplant team or other specialists).
It can be pretty scary. I need to be always near to her. We now have it controlled pretty well, but it took a while. Smart phone apps, automated insulin pumps, and continuous glucose monitors do wonders these days. Compared to others’ challenges mine clearly pale in comparison. A friend of mine lost his wife to ALS, for example, and that was utter hell.