About two weeks ago, I had the lowest blood sugar reading I’ve ever had, in the middle of the night. It was scary of course, but my husband had it under control and we survived. I posted a photo of my meter showing the number on my twitter and expressing my thankfulness for being alive. I then received a tweet in reply to it from a guy named Tony who is an ambulance driver. Tony and I proceeded to get into a heated argument over several hours which got multiple others from the diabetic online community involved. It was nasty, it was ugly, it was awful.
It all stemmed from the fact that I said that one point lower was our “call the ambulance” number.
Tony felt the need to reply to my photo and tell me that my Call The Ambulance number is too low and gave me a number that he thought was a better option. Tony is not diabetic, he transports the bad situations to the hospital. And quite honestly, the number he gave me would mean I’d end up going in an ambulance to the hospital at least once a month. It was simply not realistic.
I thought long and hard about posting screen shots of the conversations on twitter and completely put Tony on blast for his ignorance, but I’d rather take the opportunity to use his naiveté to inform and teach.
So here it goes:
Dear Tony, overnight hypoglycemic events are not a choice. They aren’t fun. And it is never the goal to go “as low as you can go”. It was a freak set of events that caused a drop from 250 to 30 in an hour and a half while I slept. I could never have predicted it would happen so there wasn’t anything I could have done to prevent it.
Dear Tony, every diabetic is different. Some diabetics are completely incoherent at 50. Some are fine all the way to 20. Hypoglycemia is not a one size fit all event. I was still conscious and coherent through the entire event.
Dear Tony, my husband and I have a plan in place that works for us. While responding to this particular event, he had me drinking from two juice boxes while he was quickly grabbing bread and peanut butter from the kitchen. Simultaneously he was talking to me from there, gauging my consciousness. We also have a glucagon kit in the house that he has been trained to use. If I had gone unconscious or incoherent at any point, my husband knows to immediately inject glucagon and call 911.
Dear Tony, although you see the diabetic cases who require ambulance transport in either an emergency situation or the ones who do not properly care for themselves, this does not make you an expert in diabetic care. I’m sure your EMT class at the local community college covered diabetes for an hour or so. But this is a 24/7/365 condition. Please never assume you know more than a diabetic about their condition. Telling me I “need to manage better” is something you have absolutely no right to say. Also, telling me “I’ve seen people with no legs manage their diabetes better” is simply cruel.
I wish Tony only the best in his life and career. But ignorance, especially from someone in the medical field, is sad and frustrating. Could I trust Tony to save my life in an emergency situation? I’d certainly hope so, but who knows.
Thank you, Tony. Thank you for your tweets. It gave me an outpouring of love and support from numerous people in the DOC. It gave my husband and I a good reason to discuss our emergency plan again and make sure we both still liked it (we do). And it gave me a great informational blog post. So thank you.