Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"5 to Drive"

 Third person

Think of a memory you have – and write to recreate it. But, inside of going into it as yourself, go into the story as a narrator. Describe your memory using the third person as if you were a character in the story instead of the one telling it. As you write, use as many sensory images (sights, sounds, textures, etc) as you can. Don’t use “I” or “me” unless you include dialogue in your memory.

OK, so I have a memory from about 18 years ago.  The event should have been a real wake-up call for me. 

The day was Saturday.  The roads were very crowded.  The warm days of summer bring a lot of tourists to Peterborough.  It is a tourist destination.  With the Peterborough Lift Lock attracting tourists from everywhere.  It is the largest hydraulic lift lock in the world, built in 1896. It is quite amazing!  The Little Lake Music Festival draws a huge crowd every Saturday evening.

Kim was having company that night for dinner.  There would be a BBQ, and the kids could all go for a swim.  From the backyard, they would be able to hear the music from the Festival, and later, after dark the kids would be able to see the fireworks display.  It was going to be a good day.

With errands to run, Kim and her 4 year old daughter Cassie jumped into the car.  They would do some banking, and pick up the groceries for that night's BBQ.  A pitstop at the Wine Shoppe before heading home was also on the list.

Kim pulled the car out onto the main road, which  was busy as usual.  She made her way to the bank.  There was a lineup at the bank machine, and after waiting several minutes it was her turn.  Cassie grabbed an envelope, and pretended she was a grown up doing her banking, chatting away to her bear that came with her wherever she went.  Once done, they climbed back into the car, intent on getting to the grocery store, and getting that job done.

Driving down the road, Kim began to feel a little funny.  She thought perhaps she was just a bit hungry as it was nearing lunch time.  "Well I'll just grab some fries for us at the Meals-to- go section and we can munch as we shop" she thought to herself, as she continued to drive to the grocery store. 

As Kim's blood sugar continued to drop, her driving became more erratic.  Slipping into the next lane, back into her own lane.  A cab was following her and was starting to get a little ticked.  He pulled around to pass her, and again she began to drift into his lane.  He wasn't sure exactly what was going on, but he thought perhaps she was drunk.  And to have a child in the car!  WOW! What kind of person would drive drunk with a child in the car! 

He quickly got on his radio and called his dispatcher.  He let him know that he was in front of a drunk driver and was going to attempt to make this person stop.  The dispatcher proceeded to call the police, who advised him to tell his driver not to approach the person in the vehicle but to wait for their arrival.  They were on their way. 

The cab driver pulled in front of Kim and started to slow his car down.  This of course caused her to slow as well.  The police were on the way, you could hear the siren screaming out.  Traffic continued to flow past, but now people were trying to pull over to the right for the police. 

Kim's car was now blocked into the right hand lane, with everyone else pulled over for the police.  By this time, however, she was barely conscious.  The cabby was standing at her window, which was open, and he noticed she was sweaty, and not making much sense. 

The police officer arrived and parked beside Kim, essentially blocking her in.  He got out of his car and made his way to the window.  He noticed the little girl sitting in the back, looking rather scared.  He tried to ask Kim her name, and if she had been drinking.  He didn't smell any booze, but that didn't necessarily mean anything.  He asked the little girl what her mommy's name was, but looking him right in the eye she said "My mommy told me not to talk to strangers, and you're a stranger". 

He noticed Kim's purse on the seat next to her.  Opening the door, and reaching across, he grabbed the purse.  He grabbed the wallet out of it and noticed a large amount of money in it.  He got out her license and ID and noticed a little card tucked in there.  "TYPE 1 DIABETIC" was written on it.  He asked the little girl if her mommy was Diabetic and she nodded her head, still not talking.  The officer proceeded to call for an ambulance.   He asked Cassie if she knew her phone number.  He told her that her mommy was sick and he needed to talk to a grown up at her house to help her.  She finally coughed up the info, and the policeman contacted Kim's husband.  He made arrangements to wait at the car with Cassie until he could get there, but the ambulance was on its way. 

"Beep, beep, beep"  What was that noise?  Where was it coming from?  Kim opens her eyes and looks around.  White curtains pulled closed.  Something on her face.  Feels like she is suffocating.  An oxygen mask.  Suddenly Kim is fully conscious.  The beeping is from the IV that is attached to her hand infusing her with glucose.  "What the....? " she says outloud.
How did she get here?  Where was everyone?  A doctor? A nurse?  She struggles to sit up.  She is trying to remember what happened.  "We were going grocery shopping.  I felt hungry and wanted french fries", she thinks to herself.  But then what?

Had she killed someone?  Was Cassie alright?  Oh my God, where was a nurse?  She needed answers!!  With that the curtain opens and the nurse comes in.  "Oh you're back in the Land of the Living I see.  You've given some people quite a scare.  I'll go get them for you"

Suddenly her husband and daughter are there in the little cubicle.  His face tells a story as she looks at him.  He is both angry and glad at the same time.  Angry that she "let herself get low"  but glad that she is awake and going to be fine.  Cassie looks at her mommy and says "I told the policeman our phone number, he was a nice man mommy"

The tears start to stream down Kim's face.  The realization that she could have killed this sweet little girl, and others as well hits her.  She is embarrassed, and scared.  She knows that she was feeling hungry, but now understands that that feeling was the beginning of the low that would hit her.  Not all lows feel the same.  She tries to tell her husband this, but he is still of the mindset that Diabetics should never get low.  They can prevent it and she should have known better.  This is the speech she was dreading.  He just didn't get it.  She had tried to explain it to him.  How sometimes she didn't feel the lows.  How no matter what she did, it just didn't seem enough.  The numbers were never right. Sometimes it felt like a viscious circle.  Get low, eat, go high.  High, low, high. low, like a rollercoaster.  There were days she wanted off this ride! 

Once the nurses had decided that her blood sugars were back in range, and she had spoken with the doctor,  Kim promised to meet with her own Family Doctor later in the week to see about what could be done to help her manage her Diabetes better.

After leaving the hospital, Kim wrote a letter to the cabdriver, thanking him for saving lives that day.  And to the policeman for his kindness to her daughter,  and calling the ambulance. 

It was the policeman that told her about the "5 to Drive" rule, at the hospital that day. He said that his brother was a diabetic and that was what he did.  She promised that she would follow that rule too. 

It took many years for me to "follow" that rule.  Back then I was still invincible.  I still thought that I could tell by the way i felt, what my blood sugar was doing.  Testing was not something I did very often.  I have learned since that testing saves lives. These days though, I am very much in controld of this monster.  I will not drive without testing first.  I do my best to keep my numbers in range.  I still ride the rollercoaster, but it's not as scary as it was back then.

 I still laugh at my daughter when I remember her boldly telling the policeman that he was a "stranger" and she "couldn't talk to strangers". 

I hope that in telling this memory,  it serves to teach everyone that it is imperative to test before driving, and always keep some glucose in your vehicle.  Whether it be juice boxes, or Glucose Tabs, whatever, just make sure there  is always something there.  And if necessary, pull over and test if you start to feel funny.  The life you save could be your own.


  1. i realized after posting that a huge chunk of this story had disappeared. Not sure how that happened, but i have fixed it. And here i thought i had proofread it before hitting Publish!!

  2. Sheesh! Can't say I've ever had this experience. In fact, the opposite. After the birth of my second child I was so terrified of being hypo and losing consciousness when I was in charge of my babies that I was testing 10 or more times a day. Very obsessive/compulsive. I'm still a 'multiple tester', but usually no more than 10 a day!

  3. Kim, what an awful experience! I was only recently made aware that it's the law in England (and clearly in other countries too!) that a diabetic must be over 5mmol to drive. When I was on the DAFNE programme, before we were going home one day one of the diabetic women tested her bg to find it was 4.1 and my diabetes nurse wouldn't let her drive home until she was at least she made her sit there and eat a couple of biscuits until she was a bit higher.
    I think this post is SO important and every diabetic should read it, even if they can't drive. I've been caught numerous times in massive traffic jams on the motorway with my mum, when I've gone hypo and we had no hypo treatment in the car. It's so scary and you're definitely right - EVERYONE should have something sugary in their car at all times! Thank you for writing this Kim x