Sunday, December 14, 2014

How I fought off bears to defeat my first hypoglycemic episode

...or something to that effect, at least.

Being diagnosed with T1D this summer, after 24 years of pretty much completely healthy living was the most bizarre experience of my life. Which I will probably go into in more depth later. Suffice to say, at this point in my life, what I can most completely compare it to was a betrayal of a relationship. It felt like my body had cheated on me, and now, somehow, for some reason, we had decided to stay together and were attempting to move on and heal our partnership, despite some major trust issues on my part.

The simplest pattern of being in charge of when and where I eat, what exercise I do and when, had definitely been slowly eroded away from me in the months before my diagnosis as I slid into the heartburned, nutrient-depleted state of DKA. But for it to now be officially, glaringly, irrefutable--YOU NOW CARRY THIS ZIPLOC BAG OF SUPPLIES. YOU NEED TO EAT WHEN CERTAIN NUMBERS TELL YOU SO. Your schedule is no longer flexible, no longer yours (this is how it felt at first). This was the hardest part for me.

One thing that I was lucky about though, is that I felt very little fear (beyond my first few nights out of the hospital). While I definitely researched diabetes a lot, and spoke to my doctors at length, I mostly avoided forums in order to avoid having my judgement and perception of diabetes clouded, at least at first. Recently I have found a few more blogs to follow, and I have seen blogs from other T1Ders, diagnosed from a very young age, who grow up with fear of hypoglycemia, who fear living alone, who fear exercising too hard, who fear being away from civilization, etc, etc. For a very good reason, I might add. For me, entering at this age, with no T1D friends to speak of, I was (am) flying blind on a lot--including a lot of fears.

I am an active person. I practice yoga, I go hiking and backpacking with my boyfriend, I love to walk to destinations whenever possible, and I genuinely enjoy swimming, exercise classes, going to the gym--just being active in general. Obviously these passions had faded from my life during my DKA, but post-diagnosis I felt WONDERFUL. I sought immediately to begin to repair my relationship with my body and get back into some of the activities we used to enjoy together. My boyfriend was elated to have a girlfriend again, and not a comatose skeleton zombie by his side, so we decided to celebrate by going on a short road trip/weekend backpacking trip up north. I had been out of the hospital a sweet 10 days, but we cleared things with my endo and we were ready to go!! Plus an additional 12 lbs of juice, snacks, and diabetes supplies, we were ready to go!!

At this point, please keep in mind that I had been undiagnosed for 3-4 months prior to the hospital. Post-hospital, my team was easing me into insulin injections, not worrying about them too much since I was scheduled to get my pump in a week or two. Put simply, I was flying high. I regularly saw sugars of 200+, even waking up at 300 a few times. In the hospital, they gave us all this information about how to identify and treat hypoglycemia, and my boyfriend and I would look at each other like what???? We felt like maybe I would be the only diabetic in the history of the world who would never experience hypoglycemia. There were days where I would never see below 150, no matter what I did. Hypoglycemia? I was the frickin poster child for HYPERglycemia.

So, we head out on this trip with exactly that attitude. Things are totally fine during the day, we set up camp, eat dinner, hang our bear bag (we're in the backcountry, so). After a brief, furious debate hinging entirely upon my fear of death by bear rage (and from whence was born the name of my blog), we put all my diabetes supplies up in our bear bag. All the food. All the diabetes supplies. Only my glucometer stays out. We go to sleep.

An hour later, we wake up. Well, I wake up. I'm feeling funny. Cold, sweaty, and MAN IS MY BOYFRIEND ANNOYING WHY IS HE JUST SLEEPING THROUGH THIS I'M GETTING MORE AND MORE SCARED. Gingerly, I prick my finger and test. The beeping wakes the bf (a running theme in our relationship nowadays) and he checks in, everything ok? No, I say, not really, because I'm at 55 and I'm not supposed to be below 70 and I think I need that emergency granola bar RIGHT NOW. My first hypoglycemia was here, right now, and all my supplies were tied up in an elaborate setup designed to foil a 600+ lb wild animal who might be roaming beside our tent right that second.

We bust out of the tent, bf talking me through the procedure as we run over to the trees to take down the bags (a two man job), panic running through his voice. I snap, growl, and yell at him (apparently I'M the wild bear in this scenario), but we get it down. I eat about 6 granola bars while he keeps watch for bears (I presume). I don't die. We go back to sleep with my blood sugar spiking to a comfortable 285. I never said it was a job WELL done, but hey, I'm here to tell about it.

When I told my parents about it later, my mom just sighed and reminded me about the time I "decided" to start walking for the first time in the middle of a family camping trip, when they had no shoes for me, so I ruined all of my socks.

So, you know, I guess I've always been kind of difficult about things that way.

Here is a picture of the lake that was almost my last: 

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