After twenty years of living with diabetes, it’s not often that I experience new “firsts” related to the disease. I’ve long since suffered my first pump frazzle, screwed-up infusion set, incapacitating low, head-exploding high. I even had my first glucagon adventure just a few months ago.
But life with diabetes is always full of surprises, right? And last week, as I was enjoying some seaside Key West scenery, I got several hundred of them: a swarm of fast-moving insects erupting from my meter case.
My husband, brother-in-law, BFF and I were all on rented beach cruisers, tooling around the seaport area and gawking at the size of the cruise ship that was docked there. What a perfect time, I thought, to take a break, whip out my meter and do a quick post-breakfast check.
As soon as I unzipped the case, I shrieked. There were more bugs in there than used test strips, and that’s saying a lot. The bugs were gathered in one of the case’s pockets, throughout my purse, and now all over my hand. And of course, when my friends and family watch me start to check my blood sugar — and then scream — their first thought isn’t that I’m under attack by tiny six-legged beasts. Instead, they ask me how high my blood sugar is.
I proceeded to perform the universal “There’s a Bug on Me” dance while my husband carried my case to the nearest trash receptacle. I watched him swipe at the case and knock it against the can’s lid until he declared it clean. Meanwhile, my friend was helping me dig through my purse to discover what had attracted the bugs in the first place. We examined my glucose tablet canisters, makeup bag and purse pockets before we came to a conclusion that’s possibly even grosser than the bug discovery itself: they were after the meter case, and all the extra blood swipes that had accumulated on the lining over the years. I am disgusting, and these insects were sent by the diabetes Gods to remind me of that fact.
I can’t say for sure, but I think the culprits were Caribbean crazy ants, so named for the spastic reactions they elicit in people like me. And now, in addition to lancets, alcohol swabs, extra test strips and glucose tabs, I’m considering including a tiny can of Raid in my diabetes kit.