My Glucagon Security Blanket

As a little girl, I was scared at night that something evil might be under the bed. If I had to get up to go to the bathroom, I made sure to leap as far away from the bed as possible. As an adult, I’m still afraid that something will get me at night, but it’s no longer a monster: It’s the life-saving insulin that I take.

Anyone who injects insulin knows how it feels to worry at night. Are my sugars high enough to sleep safely, without going low and being rendered unconscious and helpless? Will I wake up if I go too low. so that I can inhale glucose? Many of my friends with diabetes say that they wake up when they go low, or they have a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) that alerts them and their family. But I don’t have a CGM, and I don’t always wake up.

I went too low to help myself once in my 18 years with type 1 diabetes, and it was a life-changer for me. Thankfully, my boyfriend at the time was wakened by my shaking and sweating and called 911, and the medics administered glucagon. When I woke up in the emergency room, I was sore from fighting the people who had helped me and from biting my own tongue, but thankful to be alive. I wanted to know how to avoid going through that ever again.  

After that episode, I got my own glucagon kit from my doctor, and I learned how to use it so that I could show my loved ones. It feels like my security blanket. Unfortunately, it’s a security blanket that has a tendency to expire when I’m not paying attention. Recently, because I had become complacent about never having used my glucagon kit, it expired and I forgot to request a new one at my doctor visit. During the time that it took to receive my new kit, I felt like I was sleeping on pins and needles. I worried each night as my head hit the pillow, and I felt guilty about not being on top of something as important as a life-saving medical supply.

Not having a glucagon kit really isn’t an option for those of us with insulin-dependent diabetes. Some people with diabetes say that they hate spending the money on a kit because they’ve never needed to use one, but I remind them that an ambulance trip and an emergency room stay cost far more than a glucagon kit. It’s truly better to be safe than sorry.

I’m picking up my new glucagon kit today, so we can all rest easier at my house. We’ll use the expired kit for training to help my teenager and husband remember what to do just in case of an emergency. I hope they never need to administer glucagon to me, but I’ll sleep much better knowing that they can.

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