For me, Friday, May 21 was the dumbest day of my life. It’s up there with the most exhausting, the longest — even the worst — but above all, it was just dumb.
It started at 3:30 a.m., when I got up to catch a 6:30 flight out of town. We (four of my coworkers and me) were ready to present to a prospective client at 1:00 p.m. at their office near Raleigh, NC. To get there, we’d planned to fly into Atlanta and catch a connecting flight to Raleigh. We were all set: we’d practiced the presentation twice the day before, we had 9 copies of our presentation in 3 different formats on 2 different computers — and a flash drive — I even had a brand-new pair of Businesswoman pants.
But of course, this is an air travel story, so things start to get absurd pretty quickly. It’s usually a short 50-minute flight from Jacksonville, FL to Atlanta, GA, and we took off on time. Once we’d arrived in the general Atlanta area, though, we learned that air traffic at the airport was backed up, and that we’d have to enter into a holding pattern for a few minutes. A few minutes turned into 30, at which point the pilot informed us that we were running out of gas, and would have to fly to Birmingham, Alabama to refuel. Everyone on board groaned and bitched and started to freak out a little bit, but we finally landed in Birmingham, refueled, and flew back to Atlanta — where we again entered a holding pattern. By the time we landed, what should have been an hour-long flight had taken four hours — almost as long as it takes to drive from Jacksonville to Atlanta.
As happy as we were to finally be off of that plane, we knew there was no way we were making our presentation. So, we rescheduled it, and tried to find a way to get back home. The “Sorry We Ruined Your Travel Plans” customer service line at the airport was a long one, so we all stood around while one of my coworkers called the airline’s 800 number for a flight home. They told us that the next flight they could get us on departed at 5:30 p.m., and for some reason, instead of promptly grabbing a rental car and driving South, we dragged ourselves to the airport T.G.I. Friday’s for an early beer and some lunch, and began what would become an 11-hour wait to board. My blood sugar was holding steady, even though my sensor readings were a bit off, and I SWAG bolused for lunch and choked down some pseudo-food.
Lunch was followed by a Starbucks excursion, which was followed by 4 hours of sitting in one of the most uncomfortable chairs in the Southeastern United States. I noticed that I had to go to the bathroom quite frequently, and that my sensor readings were trending up — even a few hours after eating. At first I figured that I must have been way off with my bolus. Or that the stress of the day had my body doing weird things. Then I thought maybe the barista hadn’t used sugar-free syrup in my Skinny Vanilla Latte. Finally, on trip number 5 or 6 to the bathroom, I smelled it: the telltale, unmistakeably potent aroma of band-aids. Insulin.
I checked the tubing, and found a big ol’ crack right at the spot where the tube connects to the reservoir. Perfect storm, right? I’m stranded in an airport, hours and hundreds of miles from home, I’ve just stuffed myself with chicken fingers, beer and coffee (gross), and — since this is a day trip — I’m without luggage. Suddenly, I remembered: early that morning, as I sleepwalked around the house and collected my belongings, I’d grabbed a vial of insulin, a syringe, a spare infusion set and reservoir, even an alcohol swab and my trusty Quick-serter.
Holy crap, was I proud of myself. Sure, I still had 8 hours remaining until I’d be home, my blood sugar was over 300, I was wearing uncomfortable pants and I’d wasted an entire workday, but I felt like a woman in charge of my diabetic destiny. Disaster had been officially averted. I managed to set up my new infusion set in our little corner of Gate A2, and, as discreetly as possible, hooked myself up to a fresh new reservoir full of Humalog.
I could go on to describe the rage bolus I took that resulted in a low, which I overtreated with Swedish Fish from the airport gift shop, the delicious Sam Adams I drank with dinner, which made me so full (on top of all those Swedish Fish) that I felt like puking, the fact that our flight was delayed an extra 3 and half hours, and the poor lady I walked in on in the airport bathroom, but I won’t.
It was one of the stupidest days of my life — a complete waste of time, money, sanity reserves and sleep — but for one small moment, I felt like the most well prepared diabetic on earth. The airlines may not have their shit together, but when it counts, I do.