I was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes when I was 11 years old. There are a ton of stories around that little fact that I will share along the way, but for today, I jump to my adult years when I wore an insulin pump to help me control my diabetes. Every few days I would reload the pump with insulin and I could dispense various amounts of insulin as needed.
On this particular day, I was accompanying my 85 seventh graders on a field trip to Gettysburg. About a 2 hour trip from school. We left school bright and early, arrived at our destination, and we were guided through our day of activities. The highlight of the day for the kids were the choices they had for lunch. Across the street from where we spent our day was a strip of about 5 fast food chains. The students could pick any of those places to have their lunch and meet us back on the bus at a given time. The adults headed in various directions, making sure that at least one adult was in each restaurant. I got stuck with the place that seemed to offer the greasiest chicken, the most buttery biscuits, the overly salty french fries . . . you get the idea. I did the best I could with my food choices and trusted my handy dandy insulin pump to keep my blood sugars level.
As the afternoon wore on, I wasn’t feeling so great. I assumed it was the lunch I had and after doing a blood sugar test, I saw that it was quite elevated. I pushed in some more insulin and figured that in a short while I would be feeling better. Eventually we were getting ready to board the bus for home and I was feeling worse than I had been earlier, repeated the steps I had earlier thinking how grateful I was for this insulin pump as it would have been much more challenging to take care of myself without it. My blood sugar was even higher than it had been earlier. And I mean, it was HIGH! I managed to get the kids on the bus, do the head count, and get everyone settled before I really started having issues. I realized I had emptied my insulin pump at this point and I had no way of getting any medication till we got home . . . .a 2 hour plus journey in late afternoon traffic, not to mention the time it took to get the kids off the bus, into the appropriate cars to get them home, and then drive myself home. It would be several hours before I could get insulin into my system and I was already suffering with a super high blood sugar.
There are all kinds of effects high blood sugars can have on diabetics. This particular day, my body was really rebelling. I was running the aisle of that coach bus like I was training for a marathon, trying to get to the bathroom before I made a real mess in the aisle and then stumbling my way back to the front of the bus to get to my seat. With each trip back and forth I was panicking more and more. If a diabetic goes too long without the necessary insulin, a coma could ensue and I was a pretty sick person at this point. How was I going to get that insulin I desperately needed?
As I slouched in my seat, watching corn field after corn field fly by the bus window, I just kept whispering to myself, “God, please help me. God, please help me.” It was getting harder and harder to keep my eyes open, but up ahead I noticed the slight glow of orange and as we got closer and closer to that glow, I noticed it was the lights to a couple buildings. As I strained to keep my eyes open enough to see what the buildings were, I noticed a nail salon, a Chinese food place, and a few other little shops. And then there it was, sitting in the middle of all those smaller shops, the mack daddy of all stores . . . .a great big super drug store!! I asked our bus driver to pull into the parking lot, and I ran into the store, straight to the back where the pharmacy was located.
Cell phones were just beginning to become an item at this particular time so I did not have mine with me and even if I did, I know my doctor’s phone number wasn’t saved in it at that time. I wasn’t wearing a medic alert bracelet. All I had to show for myself were my glazed over eyes, my slurry speech, and an empty insulin pump. I walked right up to the pharmacist and told her I was a diabetic with an empty insulin pump and a blood sugar level that was about to send me into a coma and “PLEASE can I get some insulin.”
Without any further questions, she went right to the refrigerator, pulled out an insulin vial and a syringe and let me do whatever it was I needed to do. I am quite sure the legal ramifications of that gesture are through the roof, however, she literally saved my life that day. I got the insulin I needed and got back on the bus. By the time we arrived back at school, I was at least well enough to function, get the kids on their way safely, and drive myself home without further incident.
The lesson I learned that day? Well, quite a few, but the one I want to share here . . .we are provided with everything we need at the time we need it. In the heat of moments that we all have been, or one day will be, we are handed exactly what we need. And we are always in the place we are meant to be. I struggle to remember this lesson some days, because things don’t always turn out as we want them or expect them, but when I take the time to really reflect on the happenings at the time, I have always been given exactly what I need, when I need it.