A Long Night

It's 10 p.m. The teenager has been home for an hour from band practice. She has showered and is thinking about going to bed. She checks her blood sugar in order to calibrate the Dexcom.


The parents watch warily from the couch while the teenager gets another test strip and rechecks her bg.


The teenager is distraught.

"Mom...can you help me do a site change so it goes faster? APPARENTLY I'M 485."

The mother rises wearily from the sofa, her plans for quiet time with her book followed by a good night's sleep dashed. She fetches a large glass of water for the daughter, in hopes of keeping ketones at bay.

"Yup. Drink this first. What happened do you think?"


The teenager is grumpy, irrational and teary. Probably because of the blood sugar of 485. She gathers herself for a moment.

"I don't know... I was fine at dinner - 130 something. I don't remember Dexi alarming at band but it must have. It alarmed again a little while ago. But not that high. It's been iffy all day- it's like 10 days old - but I didn't know it was that far off and now I'm really high and I don't know WHY!"

The mother and teenager go off to the teenager's room to change the site. The chain of events leading up to the current situation is reviewed.

"I bolused dinner - I'm sure..." opens the pump's memory and double-checks "yup- and it wasn't a lot of carbs and you used the measuring cup. And then I just went UP! And I didn't eat anything at band- I just drank my water and I never had anything when I got home and now I'm SO HIGH FOR NO REASON."

When the site is removed the cannula is gunky, clearly clogged up. The mother thinks out loud.

"I don't think, in 13 years of pumping, you've had a pump site conk out that quickly. Usually they take a gradual turn for the worse, but this one seems to have suddenly and completely stopped working. That's the only logical explanation to go from 130 to almost 500 in 4 hours."

The teenager curls up on her bed, nursing her second pint of water. She is clearly miserable. She complains of a headache.

"... not just in one spot but like...my whole head...it just hurts...it's awful."

The mother initiates calming conversation … a friend's new puppy, a funny story someone posted on Facebook. Eventually, it's been 30 minutes since a correction dose of insulin was given. The teenager rechecks and is now just barely over 400. She gets up to brush her teeth and finish preparing for bed. The Dexcom alarms... FALLING! and hope increases that the correction dose will work.

The teenager goes to bed. The mother gets to read her book, but for much longer than she'd intended, staying up until 12:30 a.m., when the blood sugar has dropped to 230-something.

The mother is awakened at 2 a.m. by the Dexcom alarm (which is now, incidentally, spot-on again) and gives the teenager some juice for a bg of 76.

The father gets up at 3:45 to give more juice for a bg of 68.

The family gets up in the morning. The teenager has a bg of 77. They are all tired. They are all grateful for the discovery of insulin. But moreso now for the discovery of caffeine. .


  1. LOL, I got to 400 the other day. I was out and about and tested and reached for me,,, ahh yeah my pump I forget to put on 2 hours ago. Ahh,, Sheryl we need to go home. Shoot or something like that.

  2. This sounds very familiar. Very grateful for coffee indeed. Hope these nights are far and few in between.


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