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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Rest of That Week

About 2 weeks ago, I promised to recap the rest of the week after the April 27th tornadoes that came through our area.  So what has happened since then that has prevented me from doing so?  I've been locked away in a lab doing some high voltage tests on flight instruments, unable to keep up with the social media world.  (I'VE MISSED YOU GUYS!!!)  But I do want to give you guys a small recap, because diabetes was in the mix during all that mess. Then I can get back to regular diabetes shenanigans.

The morning after the storms was like camping.  We broke out the Coleman stove and our camping kitchenware and made fried eggs and oatmeal.  We were also able to make coffee using boiled water and our French press (I knew that thing would come in handy one day).  After breakfast, we attempted to begin the cleanup process.  Trey began cleaning up the yard, and I proceeded to cleanup . . . the house?!  As strange as it sounds, it made me feel better during all the chaos to keep a clean house. 

Soon after we cleaned up, we got a call that a relative of ours had an extra generator they could lend us.  So we hopped in the car with barely enough gas to get us there and back.  We attempted to get gas while we were out, but most places were either without power or had lines over 2 miles long.  You'd waste more gas sitting in line than what you would get.  While we were out, I got in touch with most of our friends to make sure they were OK, but cell phone connection was spotty at best. 

Back at home, we hooked up the generator and plugged in all our necessary appliances:  refrigerator, freezer, coffee pot, the essentials.  We also plugged in the radio, which was our main source of communication to the outside world.  Callers would tell the DJs where there was gas, generators, food, etc. 

And when we weren't outside cleaning up debris, we were inside listening to the radio and getting by on our own entertainment.  Trey would play one of his non-online games on his laptop, and I would lose myself in the book Helter Skelter.  I've always wanted to read this book, and this week provided the perfect opportunity.  It's been such a long time since I read a book for fun, and with nothing else to do all day, I would camp out on the couch and read until there wasn't anymore light.  I would even go outside and read on the patio to get the last few minutes of daylight that I could.  I finished the book on the last day before we got power back. 

We eventually settled into a routine each day where we would get up, turn on the generator, make some breakfast, clean up our yard or help out our neighbors with their yard, fix some lunch, hang out listening to the radio while reading or playing, make dinner, and go to bed with the sun around 8 PM.  Showers became something I looked forward to and feared at the same time with temperatures around, oh, freezing.  As some restaurants became open (on generators), we would spend most of our meals out just to escape the house for awhile.  This lead to the decline in my diabetes control. 

The first part of the week, my numbers were awesome.  We were spending most of our time pretty active in cleaning up the branches and tree limbs in our yard.  But towards the end of the week when were just hanging out and going out to eat, my numbers started creeping up.  Also, I was missing one thing pretty vital to my diabetes management--routine!  I was so out of sorts without exercising and carb counting.  I bumped up my basal rates towards the end of the week to account for the creeping, and they've stayed there ever since.  I'm hoping that they can start to come back down now that I can keep a steady routine. 

Six days later we got power back, and 13 days later we got cable/internet.  The debris is (mostly) gone and life has gotten back to (somewhat) normal.  And I've learned several things that I need to be better prepared for another natural disaster:  a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, back-up to my back-up D supplies (thankfully, I just did a pharmacy refill right before the storms), and always ALWAYS have a good book on hand. 

As the cleanup here still goes on and we see the saddening effects of other storms in Joplin and other areas, I hope we all take a moment to be better prepared and remember those who lost their lives.  We were EXTREMELY lucky during all this to only have lost a tree and some meat in the freezer.  Some people lost everything!  I still get a little choked up on my ride home where the horizon of pine trees has been lost to what looks like toothpicks with no branches.  Thanks to everyone who sent me texts and emails asking if we were OK.  Above everything else, I'm so glad to have the love of the DOC! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How NOT to Correct a Low

I know I promised you guys a post about the rest of the week following the tornado (and I promise I'm working on it), but I decided to split up the seriousness with a how-not-to guide to correcting a middle-of-the-night low blood sugar, which was inspired from events last night.  

How to Correctly Address a Low Blood Sugar:  

  • Respond to CGM alarm or low blood sugar symptoms.  
  • Test blood sugar.  
  • Eat 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates.  
  • Wait 15 minutes and test blood sugar again.  
  • If blood sugar is in-range, eat a protein-filled snack.  If not, repeat steps until blood sugar rises.     

How to NOT Correct a Low Blood Sugar:  

  • Remove itchy CGM site and resolve to put on a new one in the morning rather than stay up 2 hours to calibrate and more than likely be awoken all night to false readings.  
  • Wake up at midnight, drenched in sweat, heart pounding out of my chest, legs refusing to move.  
  • Stumble to bathroom to test blood sugar:  42 mg/dL. 
  • Decide that wiping sweat off of entire body is more important than getting to the kitchen for juice. 
  • Shuffle to the kitchen and turn on the light.  
  • Fill a glass full with mango juice and suck it down in 2 seconds.  
  • Decide that one glass isn't enough and suck down another. 
  • Eat about 3 handful of M&Ms. 
  • Eat 10 pepperoni slices (I have no idea on this one, but I was on low brain so . . . yeah).  
  • Drink a glass of milk.  
  • Finish off a bag of dried apricots of which there were about 20 (I think) left.  
  • Eat a few more M&Ms.
  • Walk back to the bathroom to wipe sweat off of hair.  
  • Fall back in bed to a slightly awoken spouse, "You OK?" he asked.  "Yeah, I just ate about half the kitchen.  I hope you didn't want any mango juice."  
  • Decide that the low was extremely over-corrected, but don't care and just want to go to sleep.  
  • Wake up to a fasting blood sugar of 316 mg/dL and curse at diabetes.  
And now you know.  =)  

Monday, May 9, 2011

Surving a Tornado: A Diabetic's Tale

There is so much to be recapped that happened last week.  I've thought for awhile how to try to write about it, and the only way is to give a recap of that day, April 27th.  For those that don't know what I'm talking about, a multiple tornado outbreak struck Alabama last week, killing hundreds and displacing thousands.  Our area was hit pretty hard, but we came out of it extremely lucky.  

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Got up that morning and it was already raining.  I let the dogs out to pee and let them eat in the garage.  I get ready for work, all the while the radio breaks in with tornado watches and thunderstorm warnings in our area.  The National Weather Service gave our area a tornado potential of 9 for today (out of 10).  I debated leaving for work until this line passed, but it ended just as I was packing my lunch.

Get to work and continue to watch the radar, which isn't hard with an office full of weather geeks.  Another line was coming through at 10 AM.  I watched its path intently, but it seemed to go north of us.  I called our neighbors to see if our dogs were still OK outside.  They said they couldn't see them, but they barely got any rain anyway.  They asked me if I wanted them to let them in before the next line was to hit at 12 PM.  I said they didn't have to, but it would be a decision I would later regret. 

At 11:30 AM, a tornado warning was issued for our area, and we got an announcement to make our way down to the basement.  I grab my things and head down to the very stinky basement with the rest of my colleagues.  We all crowd around smart phones as we try to watch the radar.  The rain outside was pounding.  We tried to keep ourselves entertained as much as we could with Angry Birds and conversation while the storm passed.  Then someone said something that would make my heart sink, "A tornado has been seen on the ground northwest of us."  My heart sank.  Even though we were safe, my mind immediately jumped to our house and our two dogs outside.  I texted Trey that I was going to leave as soon as it was safe to do so, my hands were shaking I was so worried. 

I was finally able to leave my office at 12:30 PM, but it took me over an hour to get home due to the debris that had already blocked the roads.  It was the longest hour of my life.  With each turn that I made, I saw more destruction.  Five foot diameter trees were uprooted.  Fences blown over.  Powerlines were sagging where the posts were snapped.  The whole time, I was just trying to maintain my sanity.  If that house had their fence torn apart, surely ours wouldn't have made it.  I kept thinking of all the trees in our backyard, and seeing several trees on tops (and through) people's homes.  I felt tears begin to fall down my face as I got closer to my street.  I had to drive in the middle of one street where the sides were beginning to flood.  One more road to go, but in my heart I had already prepared myself for the worst when I got home. 

I was about to turn on my street where a line of cars were being stopped by a policeman.  Most cars were trying to go straight to get to the main road, I was trying to turn left to my house.  "Where you headed?" the policeman asked.  "I live down there, on the left."  "You can try, but it's blocked a ways up there."  I didn't care, I would run a mile if I had to.  I just wanted to get home.  I came over the hill before our driveway, and the powerline across the street had been snapped in two and was draped across the road.  I parked in our neighbor's driveway, and I saw Roscoe coming out of some bushes next to the house, barking at me.  Missy was not far behind him.  "Thank you, God!"  I ran across the flooded ditch in my dress pants and heels, turned the key, and ran to the garage.  I let my dogs in and fell on my knees and broke down.  I probably cried for a good 5 minutes, embracing my soaked, muddy dogs like they had just come back from the dead.  I attempted to dry them off with some towels, but we didn't have much time before the next line was about to come through. 

I gathered all 4 pets, my phone, and a flashlight, and crammed all of us in our bedroom closet.  Trey was still at work, but they had lost power.  He said he would attempt to come home after this next line came through.  I have to give big props to my friend Jessica for keeping me informed through the storm.  I was unable to locate a hand radio before we needed to take cover, so she texted me while I was in the closet and kept me informed of the storm's location.  I was able to peek out of the closet one time, and the rain was coming down so hard I couldn't see past our deck.  It was like being inside a car wash, and all you see is the water streaming down.  The power was already out, so I lied down in the closet with the little LED flashlight. 

At this point, I have to admit, I was scared.  The wind was howling outside, with faint sounds of cracking--I knew it was trees being snapped.  As I sat in the closet listening to the storm, I began to pray.  I had never been through a storm like this before, and I had already seen the destruction from the previous line.  I wasn't scared of dying, but I was afraid of how.  I prayed that if this was my time to go, that God would send an angel to take my body before I felt any pain.  I wanted my soul to be taken just before the tornado would hit our house.  Tears began rolling down my face.  I couldn't believe it, I was ready to die. 

The storm eventually passed, but I was still in the closet.  I was about to fall asleep, using Roscoe as a pillow, when I heard, "Holly!"  I jumped out of the closet and ran down the hall, Trey had made it home safe and sound.  With a few minutes of daylight left, we went outside to check on our neighbors.  Our across-the-street neighbors had a tree fall in their dining room, but they had already tarped over it.  Our next door neighbors also had a tree fall and graze their house.  We had a tree fall on our back fence. 

Now that the storms were over, we geared up for what was already predicted to be a long hiatus without power.  We got in my car to try to drive around our street so we could park it in our driveway.  As we turned the corner down our street, I broke down.  The devastation was overwhelming, and we didn't even know the extent of it yet. 

Next, I'll focus on the following week:  the cleanup, running on a generator, cold showers, rekindling my love of reading, hauling trees, and how my blood sugars played during all this. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

I'm Here!!!

Hey, guys!  I know it's been a long time since I posted, but we had some pretty bad tornadoes last week that knocked out our power for 6 days.  I'm still without internet at the house (currently slummin' it at a Starbuck's), but I wanted to let you all know that we're OK.  I will try to do an at-length post about the whole ordeal later when I can wrap my head around it. 

But I just wanted to check in for now and say that I'm alive and well, and still trying to get through the clean-up process. 

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DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, nurse, certified diabetes educator (CDE) or any medical professional of any kind. (But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express!) Therefore, please do not use any of my postings as medical fact. I am simply a blogger expressing my highs and lows (pun intended) with diabetes. For changes in your medication, exercise regiment, or diet please consult a qualified physician.

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My name is Holly and I live in north Alabama with my hubby, two cats, and a dog.