Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I hate wearing my medical alert bracelet. I have been know to refer to it as the Mr. T bracelet. Mine is simple. It is a thin white gold bracelet, with a small id tag, and my name, type 1 diabetes, and my parent's phone number engraved on it. Nonetheless, I still do not like wearing it.

I have only taken this off once since I got it. My mom bought it for me, for my first birthday after I was diagnosed. Most people wouldn't be happy to get something like that for their birthday, but I love getting new diabetes things. I get excited when new pump supplies are in, when I get a new diabetes book, or even when I get a new glucometer. I know, I am a dork.

Never did I believe in the power of the medical alert bracelet, that is, until this past Sunday. I had been traveling for work, I went to the Nebraska JDRF chapter's gala, (by the way, we raised $618,000 in one night, for diabetes research!) and I was finally coming home. My first flight was fine. I ended up in Denver with just enough time to board my connecting flight and head back to Oklahoma. The plane finally took off and I was in the middle seat between two men I had never met in my life. Did I mention, I was traveling alone?

I checked my blood glucose 97. No active insulin in my body.

Perfect, I thought.

After we had been in the air for maybe twenty minutes, I noticed my blood glucose was feeling a little low. Rather than checking again, I just pulled a juice box from my carry-on and drank the entire thing. I went back to reading my book, Needles: A Memoir of Growing Up with Diabetes, if you haven't read this book by Andie Dominick, you should, it is totally worth the read.

I started to feel really hot, and then my knees started to sweat. I knew this was getting bad. The bad lows cause my knees to sweat.

It hadn't been 15 minutes since I had drank my juice, so I figured it was just taking longer to kick in, I didn't want to over do it because I hated to have to run to the restroom on the plane every ten minutes on this two hour flight. Then I started to get extremely dizzy.

I weighed my options, it was either going to be passing out in the middle seat between two guys I don't know, or making it to the back of the plane for assistance from the flight attendant.

I decided to make my way down the aisle.

"Excuse me," I tell the person sitting to my right. He acts annoyed as he has to stand to let me into the aisle.

Holding my pump in my hand and steadying myself with the other, I begin to make my way down the aisle. I begin to panic. I am getting worse by the second. My vision is blurry and I can feel the hot tears of embarrassment sting the back of my eyes.

I make it to the back of the plane. No one is paying attention to me. I lean against the cool wall as the flight attendant turns around to face me.

"Do you need in the bathroom?" she asks.

I shake my head no.

"You can't be back here, return to your seat please," she tells me.

I shake my head no again. This time is it even harder to do.

"Are you okay? Do you need something?" Now she is acting annoyed.

I open my mouth to say juice, but it comes out jumbled. By this time tears are streaming down my face and I feel as if I am going to go down any second. I can't even form words to tell this woman what is wrong with me.

I finally realize, I am wearing my medical alert bracelet. I point to the bracelet.

It occurs to her what is wrong with me.

"Juice?" she asks, looking worried.

I nod my head yes.

She places the orange juice into my shaky hand as I drink as if I have never drank anything before. Within seconds I can feel myself climbing back to normal. The flight attendant immediately tries to usher me to my seat, explaining that she is not allowed to let anyone stand in the back. Worried, I explain to her that I am too hot to go back to my seat.

She tells me she will turn the air on for me, immediately a million sarcastic remarks come to mind, like I didn't already do that. She fills a cup full of ice for me to have and then helps me back to my seat. She explains to the gentlemen I am sitting between about my insulin reaction and checks my air vent, which was already on high, until you experience a low like that, people do not realize how hot you really are. You feel like you are on fire.

The flight attendant redeems herself by checking on me every ten minutes until landing. I am eternally grateful. I cannot imagine where I may have been otherwise. Still embarrassed from the scene I caused, I go back to my book, pretending this ordeal never happened.

Thank you mom for my medical alert bracelet. I now value the use of it and I don't think I will ever complain about it again. If you do not currently have one, I would suggest everyone get one. They are more valuable than you think.


Ottoette said...

I keep telling myself I don't need one since I am Type 2. Your post is making me re-consider.
I am very glad it all worked out and you had a non-verbal way to express your needs to the stew.

Minnesota Nice said...

What a great post. Glad you're ok.

art-sweet said...

SCARY! I'm so glad you're okay. And I am a slacker about wearing my necklace... thanks for the reminder.

Scott K. Johnson said...

Wow - what a scary story! Glad that you got the help you needed and were Ok through it all.

I have a medical ID bracelet that I wear every day, BUT - the red had been worn off the symbol and you can't hardly read the engraving on it.

Time to start looking at if I need to do something about that...!

Chrissie in Belgium said...

Nice to have that bracelet AND that nice flight attendant! She sounded so wonderful.

BetterCell said...

I am sorry that you had that horrible experience. I am glad that things worked out for you, so that you did not pass out and were able to get back to "consciousness". I wear a Medic-Alert around my neck......For anyone on Insulin, it is really important to have something like this available.

bethany said...

i just recently got a bracelet and it's absolutely beautiful you should check out the site ... renee the lady who makes the bracelets is a wonderful lady and she did a great job on my bracelet.

i'll post a pic of mine on my site sometime soon.

i'm glad you're ok <3

bloggershoes said...

Great to know you are ok. I am a doctor and I can tell you it is very important to have that information especially when we receive unconcious people. It helps if they have a bracelet and we can treat them for hypoglycaemia. I also have a diabetes site for more information and to discuss diabetes see Diabetes forum. We would love if you could add it to your list of links!
Take care!

Roshan said...

I used to wear a medical bracelet when I was a kid, but I'm not much of a fan of wearing jewelry. Then I found these. I use the silver band around the underside of my watch, and it works great!

Lea said...

I stumbled across your blog today, and I am so happy I did. My 8 year old son Noah was diagnosed with T1 almost 3 years ago, and has been pumping since November. I have never wuite understood what having low blood sugar felt like, and now as I sit here in tears, I get it. I never could have imagined how scary it must be to feel low. I thank you for taking the time to share your personal experiences, and I can't wait to read more of your blog.
Take care,
Lea from NH

Nikki said...

Thanks for all of the comments guys! I really appreciate the kind words.

Anonymous said...

i'm a newly diagnosed T1 (10 months ago) and i can gladly say ive never been in that situation and im gutted that you had to go through it yourself. i wear an army dog-tag with TYPE 1 DIABETIC engraved on it, and i never take it off. i knew it was a good idea to have one but after reading your blog it's really only just hit me as to how important it is to have something like that!!

i really hope you dont go through that again and we find a cure soon

Brensdad said...

I once wandered around a grocery store pharmacy for an undetermined amount of time with a perfectly good tube of glucose tabs in my hand. A pharmacy! And no one came to help me. I foggily remember that and then driving home to have my wife test my BG and see it in the 40s. Nice.

Jason said...

Hi Nikki, This post was great. Our son was diagnosed a year and a half ago. Its so hard to explain to others not surrounded by it. I had a similar situation with a gentleman on a flight. He didn't have any of his supplies with him. Ever since then I carry even if my son is not with us. Check out if you haven't already. I think your stories and sharing would be great there. Tell them Kody's dad sent you :). Thanks again for sharing.