-- Last Updated: Oct-25-13 7:00 AM EST --
For those who don't know me, I am an insulin dependent diabetic. It's not always easy or even possible to get the insulin, exercise, food combo just right to keep the blood sugar in the zone. High blood sugar is bad long term but usually not so bad here and now. Low blood sugar can be a problem right now. Mostly I can deal with it myself. It rarely slows me down. But …
Columbus Day weekend, Canoeing the Saco River between Conway NH and Brownfield ME. 30 miles, 3 days, 2 nights, down river easy paddling, what could be better?
Saturday we put on in Conway and paddled down to Swans Falls where we carried around the dam. With the dead water above the dam and the portage I'd have expected to go low sometime so I kept snacking. No problems.
Sunday we had a nice easy current all day. No portages. Easy livin'.
Sunday afternoon we passed Walker Bridge and camped at a pretty beach. As I set up my tent, I spied a small dead tree broken off but leaning against a larger live tree. With my brand new saw I cut it into three pieces. I hauled the first two pieces down to the beach where my friends were starting our campfire. The last thing I remember was going back for the third piece…
They tell me I staggered back past the fire and did a face plant on the beach.
They tell me that I was semi coherent, slurring my words and totally uncooperative. They tell me I refused juice, mocking Jack when he tried to be stern with me. Somebody found my first aid kit and the glucose tabs and cake frosting I had in there. They put a glucose tab in my mouth. I spit it out. Carp got frustrated, shoved a frosting tube between my lips and squeezed it out. I closed my eyes and stopped responding.
Carp called 911. They decided to load me into a canoe and paddle me down to Walkers Rips where the Ambulance would meet us.
I was having a really weird dream. As I drifted towards the surface people kept getting in my face and trying to get me to go somewhere. After a while I realized someone was holding my hand. Then I started to recognize faces. Then I realized I was lying on the beach, Kieko was holding my hand, Kaichi was looking as worried as only an 8 year old could. My head was on Molly's lap. If I wasn't so embarassed I'd have liked to have stayed that way a while longer. It felt pretty safe.
They were all worried. I told them I'd be fine. We decided that we had better paddle down and meet the EMT's anyway and let them check me out.
It had gotten dark while I was away. Walter walked me back to my tent and let me lean on him while I changed out of my sweaty clothes. I grabbed a bag of trail mix and had a few hand fulls. Carp, Hal and I got in the biggest canoe we had and paddled the mile down. I had a hand full of trail mix between strokes. The ambulance got there as we did. The EMT's were great. My sugar was good and my BP was a little high. I signed the paper and they went home.
We paddled back up against the current. My arms got tired paddling from the middle of that big wide boat. It was great to see our fire burning on the beach. When Kaichi realized I was in the boat he got so excited that he ran right into the river! I fixed some supper and drank some beer. That fire sure was nice.
So yep, I dodged a bullet that night. My friends, some new that weekend, some I've known a while, they had my back. Bigtime they had my back.
What could be better?
What I did wrong?
I should have tested my sugar a few times after we started setting up camp. A little more snacking would have prevented all of this.
I did not tell everyone that this could happen or that I had stuff in my first aid kit for it.
Carp and Hal already knew and I was lucky that they were right there.
What I did right?
Having the tubes of frosting. I'm pretty sure that Carp squirting those in my mouth was what brought me back.
What everybody else did right?
First off they fed me. When in doubt with an out of control diabetic, feed them. You won't make them worse and most likely you will make them better.
Second they called 911 when I stopped responding. If you can reach them, EMT's can do an awful lot to bring back someone with low blood sugar. They can also figure it out if it's something else. If you can not reach 911 you might try testing the victims blood sugar if you find their meter. Anything over 70 is good from a first aid perspective and would indicate there is something else going on..
Third they made me feel safe. Coming back up is pretty surreal. Even when I'm back I can still be shaky. Folks took care of me. It was actually one of the more pleasant recoveries I've had.
Pictures of the weekend are here.
Paddler's Truck Rack
Dock & Launch Systems
|Table of Contents|
|Messages in this Topic|
As a retired medic|
Posted by: kayamedic on Oct-24-13 7:59 PM (EST)
It's an advisory tale, like the one |
Posted by: g2d on Oct-24-13 11:06 PM (EST)
I wrote about a guy whose class ring caught the edge of his OCA when he slipped during a boat rescue.
g2d , is that story true ???|
Posted by: pilotwingz on Oct-24-13 11:43 PM (EST)
..... attach a finger to the groin ???
Absolutely. The guy passed recently. |
Posted by: g2d on Oct-25-13 12:14 AM (EST)
He'd been a great community leader, and he developed the outdoor recreation program for a local urban university. He was known for sometimes taking chances on the river, but in the boat rescue (on the upper Gauley!) he really didn't do anything wrong except having that ring on his finger.
very glad all turned out well for you ..|
Posted by: pilotwingz on Oct-24-13 11:28 PM (EST)
..... I understand the things I've read and heard about being diabetic , but that's the limit of my connection .
Glad you are OK|
Posted by: OldBill on Oct-25-13 9:49 AM (EST)
As the father of a now 27 year old daughter who has been a Type Diabetic since she was 18 monthes old I know what happens. Belive me we had more than a few low sugars in those early years. Luckily she has been under excellent control for years but she still runs into those lows but is able to sense it right away. Didn't make it any easier for her mother or I when she went off to live by herself when she went to grad school 10 states away. She won't let it stop her from doing what she wants though. She ran a 1/2 marathon last year and is training for a full marathon this year.Has to wear a fanny back with a bunch of supplies though.
I'm glad you were ok|
Posted by: slushpaddler on Oct-25-13 9:42 AM (EST)
...and that you were with friends who understood the gravity of the situation.
Glad you are still with us|
Posted by: booztalkin on Oct-25-13 2:04 PM (EST)
I once worked with a diabetic. One day he didn't come to work. It was a day or two before he was found on the floor of his kitchen. Dead. Seemed he almost made it to the snack jar and must of blacked out, like you. Only he lived alone and had nobody to squirt frosting in his mouth.
Glad you are OK |
Posted by: seadart on Oct-25-13 3:55 PM (EST)
I think it's a good idea even for type 2 diabetics to hear about this. It can happen when you least expect it and good to have friends who know what is going on.
Posted by: FatElmo on Oct-25-13 7:58 PM (EST)
Of wrong, right and reproach.|
Posted by: spiritboat on Oct-26-13 9:53 PM (EST)
Don't have to be a diabetic: Things can go wrong for anybody at any time--No mortal, no matter how skilled, how "on top of things" is immune. We can count our mistakes, but the blessings are the only things worth counting.
Glad you are OK|
Posted by: eckilson on Oct-27-13 5:19 AM (EST)
You are always so good about testing, I never imagined anything happening on a trip. I'm glad you wrote this so we are all more prepared. This also reminds me that I really need to take a wilderness first aid class. My local club offers it at least once a year, but I've never done it. They would even pay for it, so other than taking the time, I have no excuse. I'm going to do it this year.
Happy ending to a frightening tale|
Posted by: ret603 on Oct-27-13 4:36 PM (EST)
Posted by: riverstrider on Oct-28-13 1:10 PM (EST)
Hmmmm...seems to me that this sort of thing happens on multi-day trip with Hal and Carp. Maybe dealing with their company burns more calories than what you are used to?
Posted by: TommyC1 on Oct-29-13 6:56 AM (EST)
I can not blame Hal and Carp for this one. The day was pretty easy.
Glad you're okay, Tommy!|
Posted by: steve_in_idaho on Oct-29-13 4:15 PM (EST)
Hey - thanks for posting the details. I am aware of quite a few diabetics in my workplace, but I have been clueless about how these things can happen and what to do about it. Good choice of paddling buddies, of course. I would not have been much help, I'm afraid.