Two Shots Too Many

I went back and forth on whether to share the following anecdote. It’s pretty embarrassing, but it happened. So, in the spirit of sharing all the delights of living with diabetes, here it goes.

Last Thursday night began innocently enough. A friend was visiting from out of town, and several of us had plans to meet up at a brewery down the street, then move on to one of our regular neighborhood haunts for further merrymaking.

All was going according to plan until we arrived at said regular haunt. I think I was drinking a Yuengling (or two or three), screwing around with a couple of friends and dancing like an idiot to whatever songs we’d requested. Put simply, I was having a blast — and thoroughly enjoying one of my few Thursday nights that isn’t followed by an early Friday morning.

My favorite bartender was there too, in a non-professional capacity. I was ecstatic to see her, and when she asked me if I felt like doing a shot, I saw no reason not to respond with an enthusiastic “Yes!” She asked me if I liked whiskey, and I told her I did, imagining that she’d shake up some scrumptious mix of whiskey and cranberry juice or something else to take the edge off.

I was wrong: a few minutes later, she presented me with a shot glass overflowing with straight-up Jim Beam. I braced myself, and threw the stuff back like a champ — not counting the pronounced gagging noise and very attractive facial expression I made immediately following.

I was feeling pretty damn good, and my awesome night continued for another hour or so, at which point my husband and I headed home. Once there, I made a beeline for the refrigerator and the tub of leftover mashed potatoes that I’d been thinking about all night. I popped the taters in the microwave, checked my blood sugar and CGM, and bolused accordingly.

After I’d killed those potatoes, I wandered back into the bedroom to lay down — and that’s where it all started to go to hell. About 20 minutes later I bolted upright, sure of one thing: I was going to throw up. Fortunately, our bathroom is just a few steps from the bed. Not so fortunately, I lost my balance as soon as I entered the bathroom, falling backwards into the bathtub and knocking my head on the soap dish. I struggled to climb out, but I was stuck like a flipped tortoise on the side of the road — and I still had to throw up.

So, yeah. I puked, fully clothed, into the bathtub. Even worse, I threw up all the food I’d just bolused for. After wriggling my way out of the tub — and cleaning up after myself — I checked my blood sugar: 58. My CGM showed that I was dropping, I still felt pretty pukey, and I knew there was no way I’d be able to consume enough juice and gummy frogs to compensate for all the extra insulin in my system. I started to panic and called for my husband, who’d been eating cereal on the couch this whole time, blissfully unaware of the ridiculous scene unfolding in the master bathroom.

I thought back to Lorraine’s wonderful post (and accompanying first-person video perspective) about using glucagon to pull her son Caleb out of a nausea-induced low, and I knew what I needed to do. Granted, the circumstances surrounding Lorraine and Caleb’s use of glucagon and my current situation couldn’t be more different: he’s an innocent seven-year-old trying to eat breakfast with Santa, and I’m a thoroughly soused 32-year-old tossing my potatoes like a frat boy during rush week. In a bathtub.

In all my twenty years of living with diabetes, I had never even gone near that ever-present red plastic box. To me, using glucagon meant failure — that I’d let my diabetes get so out of control that another person had to take care of me. I associated glucagon with unconsciousness, seizures, ambulances, and complete helplessness. But at 2:00 last Friday morning, it seemed like the best option I had.

My husband pulled out the contents of the kit, mixed it all up, and handed the syringe to me. I sank the needle into my thigh, injected the solution, and waited.

Thank God for glucagon. Not so much for whiskey.

We checked my blood sugar about 15 minutes later, and it was clear that the glucagon was doing its thing: I was in the mid-90s. And from there, my blood sugar continued to climb, peaking at about 230. I drank a few glasses of water and dozed off, while my very patient and understanding husband sat awake next to me, just to make sure my CGM showed that I was holding steady.

My first thought the next morning was “Nice one, dumbass,” but I felt quite a bit of relief, too. Not just because I’d escaped relatively unscathed from what could have been a very bad situation, but because I’d finally put my glucagon kit to use, and it hadn’t been the end of the world. My second thought the next morning was, “I hope the DOC doesn’t disown me if I post about this.”

I’m not proud of the position I put myself in, but I did learn a few things that night — about glucagon, about how awesome my husband is, about the laws of physics.

Most important, I learned to never, ever, ever, ever drink a shot glass full of Jim Beam. Ever. Again.


Image via Intropin/Wikimedia

39 comments on “Two Shots Too Many

  1. Kaitake says:

    I’m glad you’re ok but woooo is that funny to read! The image of you stuck like a “flipped tortoise”!

    Did you get any bad side effects from the glucagon? It always makes me sick for about 12 hours after injection ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  2. nachoblog311 says:

    I am so glad you shared this. It shows that just because we have diabetes we aren’t focusing on it 24-7 – we are normal people who lead normal lives (and in my book, a drunk Thursday is normal!). It also shows that it’s ok to ask for help. And also? That we truly are a community because Lorraine and Caleb were able to help you out. I shared Lorraine’s post with my boyfriend so we now know that Glucagon is NOT the enemy. So glad everything worked out!

  3. Tina Kicklighter says:

    Poor baby! Sorry you had to go through that…but it made for a great (and entertaining) post.

  4. Martin Wood says:

    Maybe I’m dumb, maybe I’m selfish, or maybe I’m just in denial, but I have yet to purchase a glucagon kit. In my memorable time with diabetes I can’t recall ever having to use it, though as a kiddo there might have been times that it was used on me and I was unaware. In any case, don’t you dare beat yourself up over using it. I’d be much more inclined to vote you out of the DOC if you DIDN’T use it. Besides, I need you around so that there is someone else from north FL to help me poke fun at this silly situation called diabetes we find ourselves in.

  5. Kimberly says:

    Oh I have been there TOO MANY times…very, very funny in a not so funny way if that makes sense! Glad it all worked out!!

  6. Lisa says:

    oh my goodness, I’m glad you’re alright. I’ve often wondered if I would have the mental fortitude to handle a real emergent situation like this. I hope I can be as cool and collected as you were!

  7. Renata says:

    Hey…don’t worry about showing it to us. How in the hell are we going to learn? My daughter is getting to that age and I have been thinking about talking to her about the glucagon and how it can be used sparingly in an emergency. That it doesn’t always mean you are on deaths door. Now I have a story to share!

    Sorry it’s at your expence but…thank you!

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I’m glad you posted about this, because it actually makes me less anxious about the glucagon kit, too. I definitely associate it with helplessness, but that’s clearly not always the case.

    Also, one CDE once told me about drinking, “Glucagon won’t work.” When I said I’d read it simply won’t work as well she was like, “NO, it won’t work AT ALL.” I kind of doubted her, but that’s always been in the back of my mind whenever I drink. Now I know it DOES work! So yay. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I think that a lot of CDEs and Doctors tend to focus on the worst-case-scenario aspects of alcohol and diabetes. I guess I can see the logic behind thinking that glucagon wouldn’t work, but that’s quite an extreme position to take.

  9. Sysy Morales says:

    I’ve never used a glucagon (and very irresponsible me has one that expired in 2007…) but, this post made me feel like I’m not the only one this has happened to (Oh it has sister, it has!) so I think I’ll get me one of those ASAP and learn to use it and then just know it’s there if needed. Thanks for posting and don’t worry, I still respect you! lol thanks for making us laugh ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Emily Batts says:

    “heโ€™s an innocent seven-year-old trying to eat breakfast with Santa, and Iโ€™m a thoroughly soused 32-year-old tossing my potatoes like a frat boy during rush week. In a bathtub.”

    Ha! Thank you for sharing this story! And no, the DOC certainly doesn’t judge. Could happen to any of us!

  11. Jasmine says:

    Amazing how a terrifying situation can be turned into a hilarious blog post with some stellar writing and wit.

    Seriously, I am so grateful that you posted this, and that Lorraine was so thorough with her recent post.

    Perhaps this is TMI, but I felt a bit nauseous a few nights ago and threw up maybe a quarter of my dinner immediately after eating. While I was running to the bathroom, unsure of how much would be left in my stomach, my mind went immediately to Lorraine’s post and I started making a backup plan featuring my glucagon kit. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that and my stomach behaved itself.

    But seriously, no disowning or disapproval here. We NEED stories like this. I’m making my husband read it too, in case I have too many tequila-tinis one night.

  12. So glad you’re OK, and also that you shared this. As a one-time frat boy faced with similiar rush week (or any week) scenarios like this, I’d venture to say this actually rang a familiar tune in my head… aside from the stumbling into a bathtub and potato-specifics, that is. And coming to my mind were examples of not only whiskey but also anything else you might think of in the alchol lineup. But yes, these things sometimes do happen in a Life With Diabetes and it’s important to know how to handle them if, in case, they do. And to have some awesome support there! I commend you for displaying the courage to write about them publicly. and with such an awesome sense of humor!

  13. Lindsay says:

    I am so sorry you had to go through that. That is one thing that freaks me out the most, being sick to my stomach and having low blood sugar. I’ve had to have the paramedics come one time in college when I couldn’t keep anything down and my blood sugar was plummeting…it’s so scary. Thanks for sharing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Harry says:

    I’d be lying if I said I’ve never been there. I’ve still never used the red box (or the white one that preceded it), but I think you should take it easy on Mr. Beam. You may need him someday. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Kathy says:

    Too funny (:-) You just prompted me to check my kit–um, looks like it expired in 2001 (eek!). Maybe I ought to replace it…?! It seems like the BIG RED BOX is intimidation enough. May as well be stamped “FAIL” too.

    I wish we could inject orange juice or something less high octane than glucagon, even when we’re low but just can’t handle eating/drinking.

  16. Kim says:

    I think I love you.

    (P.S. Glad you’re okay!)

  17. colleen says:

    Glad you’re okay ๐Ÿ™‚
    And yeah, we all have days/nights where we make mistakes.
    At least you had fun until you landed in the tub.

  18. Lorraine says:

    This is a completely incredible story, Jacquie. What are you guilty of other than enjoying life? Absolutely nothing.

    I too thought using glucagon would mean I had failed or done something wrong. Then we used it and I knew we did everything right. Thank goodness for that little red kit! It’s really not so scary after all.

    I’m so glad you chose to share this. There are probably 20 people who have read it for each person who has commented that nodded knowingly because they have been in a similar situation. Your story brings them comfort and knowledge.

    The only questions I have is where is the reenactment? Wouldn’t that be hoot!

  19. Lorraine says:

    And PS – that picture is awesome! Love it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Mo Bishop says:

    Oh Jacquie – This posting is so wrong, yet so right on so many levels. I’m sure we all can relate to everything that happens here on some level, either personal experienced or 3rd party. You did the right thing for sharing. We can all learn from each others experiences, both good and bad. The images you present are textbook for how we use comedy to deal with D, yet your point of the seriousness is very well understood.

    Thank you for sharing this with us, even though it may be embarrassing.

  21. I’ve never used my glucagon either but I am glad I read your post! I never would have thought to use it in this circumstance. The more you know…. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Auntly H says:

    If anyone in the DOC tries to disown you, send them my way. I am so glad you’re ok and I’m so glad to learn some things to try if ever in a similar situation. To date, my glucagon remains unused and I hope to keep it that way, but one never knows…

    btw, I’m going to be in Boca Wed – Thurs for work. Are you near there? Any interest in boring my coworker with bigD chatter at dinner Wed. night? ๐Ÿ™‚ (sorry for ridiculously short notice)

  23. Tim Brown says:

    I enjoyed this post enormously and am glad to hear that I’m not the only diabetic who dances like a loon, drinks too much from time to time and then has to deal with the inevitable consequences.

    I try to avoid the spirits when dancing like a loon and stick on the beer. I find that a pint of beer an hour pretty much balances a hour of loon-dancing. But more experimentation is, of course, required.

    Being Scottish whisky inevitably gets added to the mix at some point. It’s not been a problem so far – but I’m going to stash away the Glucogen tip somewhere in the recesses of my mind!

    Fabby post!

  24. Lisa says:

    Oh, Jacquie, I love reading your blog!!! You always have such funny (but totally real life) stories. I had my bachlorette party last September. With a mix of wine, beer and shots, I held steady the whole time we were out. As soon as we got home, I dropped to 60 and couldn’t get higher, no matter how much juice I drank. That was the worst, drinking cherry juicy juice on top of all that alcohol! I still haven’t gotten a glucagon kit. Your story is making me put it on my list for next endo visit.
    Thanks for sharing! Like Lorraine, you not guilty of anything except enjoying your life!!!

  25. Scully says:

    I can’t believe you were considering not blogging about this. Although I don’t drink myself this is a valuable lesson and experience to learn from.

  26. Karen says:

    Oh gosh, who among us hasn’t had a few more than we should, right? I’m so glad you posted about this, and I think you should be proud. You were smart enough to know what to do and avoided a situation that easily could have ended with a 911 call and a hospital visit. Good for you – and good for Lorraine for always sharing such great info with us!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Oh my WORD!!!!!! What a crazy fun and simultaneously scary story! Is your head Ok? I mean, we know it’s questionable (a requirement for the DOC), but I’m talking about where you hit it on the soap dish?

  28. I too have been trying to remember and deal with the whole “kit is for bad” thing. Loranne’s post was soooo helpful and I am so glad it worked for you. You posting gives all of us the confidence to try it when needed and I’m glad you shared your story…everyone over does it at some point and for a PWD the consequences can be pretty harsh…now there is one more solution that can make everything a little more rational in the end! You should feel good that you tried something very new to you at a time when you were probably pretty damn concerned! A+ and yes video of the gymnastics in the tub would have just made it pee in your pants funny! hahaha ((hugs)) to you!

  29. Mellena says:

    Very glad you posted about this. Living in WI this is something we all need to know how to handle. Thanks for taking one for the team and teaching us how to handle the Jim Beam.

  30. Erica says:

    Thank you for sharing this!! I am so sorry you had to go through this, but thank you. I know I make so many mistakes and end up feeling so awful about them. It is strangely comforting to know that maybe we all do. Thank you again for sharing.

  31. Paul says:

    It’s good that you can be so direct about what happened. I can totally relate to your feelings that gulcagon = failure. I’ve been so adamant about not opening the little red box that I’ve had to self rescue from BGs in the teens and 20s with enough OJ to make ME feel like I was going to puke. And I hate the rebound effects…nice to know that you peaked at 230…I would have imagined something really really awful like a rocket ride into the five hundreds as the little vial helps you avoid going comatose. Thanks for sharing!!

  32. k2 says:

    I HEART you!

  33. […] This post over on Jacquie Paul Wojcikโ€™s diablog is the best diafail ever.ย  I will never, ever leave home without glucagon again.ย  Ever.ย  Because you never know when a really good mojito (or a few really good mojitos) are waiting for you. […]

  34. Sara says:

    I missed this post the first time through, but oh my gosh I just laughed so hard I snorted! Good thing I live alone… wait, do you think that is why I live alone?

    On a serious note, it does make me consider purchasing a glucagon kit.

  35. shannon says:

    i missed this the first time, so thanks for the link. your title made me think of that U2/sinatra song, do you know it? i would link to it but i think youtube is mad at me for making you listen to atlantic starr and now it’s not loading for me.

    at any rate, thanks for telling this serious story in an entertaining way. i will refer my child here once she gets a bit older. ๐Ÿ™‚

Leave a Reply to Elizabeth Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s