My Job is Crazy for Diabetics: A Story

It’s just after dinner time and I am half-way through my twelve hour shift.  For the last twenty minutes or so I’ve been feeling low, but I’m with a patient so the whole shoving food in my face gets put on hold.  Finally finish up with my first patient and proceed with the shoving food in my face bit before I say I’m available for the next call.


Oh well.  It is that kind of night when they don’t even wait for you to clear yourself on the radio before giving you your next call.  Basically my pager is their way of telling me, “We know you’re out there not doing anything so, we thought we’d send you this one in the meantime…”

Dispatch: 56 we have an out-of-town secure van going from [this hospital] to [this facility] up in Denver.  Juvenile female requesting female driver and…you’re it.

Wonderful.  At this point my blood sugar is determined to stay in the cellar, despite all the carbs and sugar-sweet goodness I throw at it.  My brain is going fuzzy, I’m shaking, sweating, the whole nine-yards.  Finally feeling somewhat alert, I arrive at the hospital to pick up my patient.  When I check my BG it is stubbornly refusing to creep above 75, so I sit another ten minutes in the van outside the ER to give the 60+ carbs I’ve eaten a chance to do their thing.

Meter: 78

Okay, we’re good.  I still feel like hell, but my patient is waiting and I’m counting on about fifteen minutes before I’m actually driving.  When I walked in, I knew I looked sick.  How could I not?  I felt pale, shaky, I was sweating and still struggling with the whole ‘following conversations’ thing.  So when the ER nurse looks at me and apologizes for some paperwork that needs to come through before I can leave, I just nod and assure her that I can wait…while at the same time trying not to go completely vacant-stare, fetal-position low on her.  It’s the little things.

About twenty minutes later we’re finally ready to when I check my BG one last time.

Meter: 94

YES! Still feel a little low, but that usually happens after a struggle that long.  Off I go to Denver with a bolstered BG.

This was an unusual situation which resulted from me changing an important basal pattern without realizing the consequences.  It was fixed the next day, but it’s still a situation I have to potentially deal with every time I go on shift.

My job impacts people directly and because of my diabetes I have an additional responsibility to my patients and my coworkers to handle my diabetes and avoid becoming a patient myself.  Still trying to fine-tune that…


4 responses to “My Job is Crazy for Diabetics: A Story

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I have diabetes too, and was planning to go into to nursing for the majority of my college career. I decided it wasn’t for be because of a fear of what you just shared. Your ability to do that work is phenomenal. I sincerely slow-applaud you and others who follow down an intense care-for-others path. It takes a lot of courage. I love the picture too. 🙂

    • Heather,
      Thank you so much for your encouragement! I know for every person that decision is a difficult one to make “What do I want to do?” but for us it’s even harder! After so many options I looked at were ex-nayed because of the diabetes, I just went for the one that wasn’t obvious. Maybe I thought eventually somebody would say something and I would have find something else, but that never happened and now I’m a few weeks away from being responsible for patients in life-threatening situations. It is definitely a responsibility I don’t carry lightly. Being an EMT on the streets is physically challenging for a normal person, we just have to be that much more diligent 🙂

  2. Wow, that’s a tough one. It’s like, during the airplane safety speech, they say to put on your oxygen mask before assisting others. But if I were on a plane with my child or my grandmother and those masks dropped, you bet I’d make sure they were taken care of before worrying about myself.

    In this case, I’m glad you were able to take care of both of you. It must be an awkward position to be in.

    • It is a difficult line to walk, between removing myself from a potentially dangerous situation for me and my patient — and not wanting to be “that” person who can’t be relied upon, which is a big deal doing what I do. I’m definitely not being stupid about it, refusing to acknowledge that there is an issue, but I’m still trying to find that drop-dead point, so to speak, that I consider myself compromised and unable to work.

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