Blog Entries With Tag: glucagon

Posted: Dec 19, 2011
I belong to a few forums - actually I belong to ALOT - that deal with children with diabetes.  I try to help out parents with their own kids - and give them abit of insight as to what perhaps their child is going through with dealing with diabetes. 

A group of parents in Ottawa in a Facebook group were recently talking about the fact that the school system there does not treat their diabetic children when they are perhaps having to use a glucagon kit for when their child is having a low blood sugar (hypo).  They do not understand why the kit cannot be administered like an Epi-pen.  Having worked in the school system - we are always trained how to use an Epi-pen - but never in my years in school - was a glucagon kit every brought up in any of the refresher courses we took yearly.  In the 12 years I worked in a school - I only came across one diabetic child - in Grade 1 - and sadly - never got to work with them (I was in the Daycare portion of the school system).

I told my Mum about this concern of parents - and she admitted that they only kept the glucagon kit at home - it was never left with the school nurse (in my days - in the 60's - 70's we actually had a full time nurse).  She'd always pack a roll of Lifesavers or jelly beans to be used when I was low.  I actually had one friend tell me many years later, that she was jealous that I could keep snacks at my desk.   How funny is that?  A non-diabetic being jealous of a classmate having sweets to eat!

One thing my Mum told me is that she was working in a high school and was called down to the office to help out with a teenager that was having a hypo.  The Principal figured with my being diabetic, my Mum would know what to do.  Mum went and got bags of sugar from the cafeteria (the only sweet stuff she could find) and managed to get it into the girls mouth.  Apparently this did the job, but as we all know, sometimes when we are having a hypo, we are like a bank safe, where we refuse to open up to stuff that will make us better. 

She was saying, giving the same scenario today. She wouldn't have done that.  She maybe would have advised the staff what to do, but not actually done the deed of administering.  Remember, we had no blood meters in those days, so who knows if that girl was maybe hyper?  There are so many scenarios that can go thru' a persons head - basically - " Could I do more harm then good? ".  It's kind of sad when you think about it - that some people would hesitate to help - but I don't blame my Mum in thinking this way.  I mean, what happens if she had killed the girl when she thought she was doing the right thing.

I know that in my mind - and let's pretend I don't have diabetes -  with no tools around to figure like we do today what the blood sugar is, I would have probably given the sugar, called up the parent(s), and gone from there.  Having a high blood sugar even for a short time I would be hoping that it wouldn't do any serious harm.  Is that the right attitude to take you think?

I will always remember one snowy day, when I was perhaps 8 or 9 years old, trudging home in what I thought was the longest trek home from school in my layers of clothing (think of the scene from The Christmas Story - and you'll understand).  I was sweating like bullets in all the layers of clothing, and remember flopping down in a fluffy white snow bank, just wishing I could go to sleep.  I don't recall having any friends with me at the time walking home.  I was pretty much a loaner.  So I just kept on truding along, in a daze.  All I really remember of that day is ending up at my home, sitting on the backdoor step, probably in tears, and that's it.  Either my Mum came home from work at that time.  I'm not sure, but I lived through probably what Mum's today would consider a very bad hypo, but we human beings have this amazing ability to fight for our lives. 

One thing I asked my Mum today - did the schools I attended know I was diabetic?  Her answer was - only in the primary school system - but never at high school.  I think today's generation of children with diabetes - probably that is something that the school would want to know.  If I had a bad hypo during gym, would anyone have known what to
do with me?  Would my friends know?

I say friends, because on the w/e - I was out with a friend I've known since Grade 3.  She was saying that if I went low - she knew what to do - she could give me some insulin.  After over 40 years of knowing each other, it sort of shocked me abit (and no - we hadn't started drinking yet).   I told her that I had my Dex-4 with me, and if I did go low (badly) - I could Suspend my insulin pump from delivering insulin.  I'm hoping I never have to be in the situation where I need someone's help - as I'm sure you are all thinking too!  

Again, as I've written in the past.  Diabetes for me was in the foreground.  I didn't think of it much (not like I do today - with all the info that is available - the D-OC (diabetic online community).  It didn't affect how I grew up as I got older.  I actually sometimes think it made me a better person having diabetes and being able to understand others that have health issues.  Maybe all we diabetic kids should go into the medical field (do you think we'd get a group discount? <lol>).

Glucagon Emergency KitNB:  I haven't had a Glucagon Kit since I left home.  Perhaps if I had hypo-unawareness I would - is that a bad thing not to keep a kit on hand do you think?


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Posted: Dec 22, 2010

Last week I got back from a few weeks of holidays with my family - it's a little tradition that we do every December - usually just myself and hubby - but this year we brought along my ILS - since they were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.  All went well, we weren't sure at first since my FIL has dementia, but he's been on an experimental drug since the summer time and he had no problems at all while on the NCL Sun with us.  He knew that once he reached the whirl pool at the back of the ship (engine props churning away, to turn around LOL).  He's got as great an attitude to his condition as I do to my having diabetes - so we make a great pair.

My biggest worry with the latest changes from TSA back in October was how would it be going through each of our countries security check points.  I'd read various blogs / news reports - all from the USA mind you - that left me scratchng my head as to whether or not I'd be experiencing the same thing as my friends south of the border.

The good news is - I found no difference in previous travel with wearing an insulin pump, or carrying all my various medical bits and bobs.  The only thing that changed for myself this time was the fact that Animas now has made it very clear that our insulin pumps should NOT go through either the x-ray machine (I used to put my loaner pump through that with my carry on luggage - this time I held it in my hand through the metal detector / pat down) OR to go through the full body scanner (which I had done earlier this year at Miami International Airport).  These devices can cause malfunctions in the insulin cartridge mechanism, which could lead to insulin over delivery.  Something I do not want to have happen.  Luckily, Animas Canada sent me a few wallet sized cards before I left which I never had to show, even when I told CATSCA and TSA agents that my pump(s) could not go through some of their devices for security.  They took my word for it.

Yes, as usual I set off the metal detector - for some reason Animas is known for this - perhaps due to the clip on the pump which is metal (I have experimented in past with removing clip, placing pump in back pocket, metal detector still goes off)?  Maybe I'm just a highly metallic person, from wearing too much fancy glitter eyeshadow  in the past?  Who knows - but I set the metal detector off.

The TSA agent wasn't aware the harm that could be done to the insulin pump - I was abit shocked by that as the Canadian side when I'd left were fully aware.  I think it depends on what training the agents have had, though you'd think at the major airports that I go through, they would be more up to date.  Maybe we insulin pumpers are a rarity?  All I know is that at least I educated the TSA agent on the damage that could be done to the pump, and I had what I consider a routine pat down like I've had in the past.  None of the more invasive methods that I've read about with genitals being touched/swabbed.

I keep on wondering if people who approach what CATSCA or TSA are doing to us as an invasion of their privacy - and that they have no right to do this - then perhaps their attitude makes them get more aggressive with what is being done to them.  I have absolutely no problem with what is done everytime I fly.  I always get pulled over, it's no sweat and with my latest trip, it was all done within 5 minutes and handled very professionally in my humble opinion.

I had asked the CATSA agent at the Pierre Trudeau International Airport in Montreal about the full body scanner and you get "picked" for that at random (e.g. every 10th person).  I found that abit odd as I thought it would be based on what the agent felt should be done.  I just hope as usual, that with the increased security, especially around the holiday periiod, that they maybe not only use these machines prudently, but also go based on visual inspection of the person.  If warning signals go off, pull them over!  Better to be safe then sorry is my feeling.

Safe flying everyone over the holidays!

NB:  If you don't have the time to check out the CATSA link above - please note - that Canadians who are diabetic are permitted juice and gel on their carry on luggage.  This is something that American travellers are not permitted to bring onboard flights.  I searched TSA and could come up with nothing except Americans are allowed "glucagon emergency kit".  I also tried to see what the British Airport Security had to say about diabetics with insulin pumps, and medications - and found nothing.  It seems that airlines leaving from UK to American destinations have to refer to the TSA guidelines. 

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Posted: Mar 26, 2009

I heard from my god daughter Catherine tonight who lives in Ottawa, Ontario.  She has an 8 year old son called Aaron, who was diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago.  I love hearing how he's doing, like last summer he went to Camp Banting.  The same camp my parents sent me to when I was a child back in the 70's.  Even now, he's counting down the days until summer arrives and he gets to go there again!  I'm so happy that he loves it as much as I did. It was a way to escape from the city and be with other kids just like myself (I loved the Tuck Shop - but apparently they don't have it anymore).  Along with the cool camp counselors, doing things I'd generally not do back home, I felt like a "normal" kid, not someone who had to inject/test urine to stay alive.  It was also freedom for my parents who of course I think needed a break from me!  I know it wasn't cheap - but still my Dad somehow managed to afford it and last year we helped Catherine abit with the cost.

She called me up to tell me about what had happened to her son Aaron last night.  His blood sugars had been abit low before dinner and she'd given him a few units less of Novorapid and he ate his meal just like any hungry kid does.  He seemed fine when he went to bed but then she woke up to what sounded like something heavy falling over in the kitchen (she said it sounded like the fridge).  Her first instinct ... " Aaron ! ".  She raced downstairs to find him convulsing on the floor,  various food items out on the kitchen counters with some on the floor.  Luckily, she had a Glucagon kit (something that's been discussed here with LadyD in the forums lately) and she injected him right away and then called up 911.  Paramedics, police, fireman all showed up at her door within minutes, as per 911 protocol, and poor Aaron who was slowly coming out of his low BG was of course quite confused.  The paramedics attempted to take his BG but in the end Catherine did it with her own meter as he was pretty scared with all these uniformed guys standing around him.  Luckily, his BG was going up - 4.3 mmol/l (77 mg/dl).  God knows what he was at when she'd first found him on the kitchen floor!

Off to the hospital they went, where they kept him until the morning.  Of course, for any of you who have had a bad hypo (I've only had 2 bad ones that I can recall) - it leaves you pretty drained.  Good thing, they both took it easy today and tomorrow he's off to school  of course .... counting down the days until Camp Banting .

He's going to be starting on an insulin pump soon - thanks to the program that is set up in the province of Ontario, Canada (there are a few provinces in Canada that have a similar set up - not where I live unfortunately ... yet).  The program covers the purchase of an insulin pump / supplies for those that qualify.  I'm hoping to see him next month, so I can show both him and his Mum how I figure out the amount of insulin for the amount of carbs I eat both manually and with my insulin pump.  I have a feeling that they weren't shown this by a Diabetic Educator.  They'll have to know this even more so when he goes on the pump - as it's a crucial part of staying balanced with your blood sugars and not going too low or too high.

Listening to my god daughter brought many memories back from being a child - when I would experience the occasional night time hypo - not fun at all - for myself or my parents.  Next time I talk to my Mum I'll have to ask if she ever witnessed me in that kind of state.  Ahhh, to be a child again!!!

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Posted: Dec 3, 2008

Today's online copy of Diabetes Health has a disturbing story written by a father of a teenage diabetic girl who had a very extreme low blood sugar.

While, I understand Dad's need to tell the story of Lauren's very extreme low, stories like this really concern me.  I know from personal experience they scare the bejesus out of people (parents, newly diagnosed and those who really need but are avoiding insulin). 

I too was diagnosed at age 12 ... my birthday present I've always referred to it.  I have never felt the denial, depression or rebellion that I hear or read about. 

I have also (after 32 years) never had the extreme low Lauren had.  I've never had the need for glucagon. I've never been unable to treat my own low blood sugar.

I consider myself fortunate because when I was diagnosed we did not have glucose meters and we treated with large doses of insulin twice a day, instead of the many small doses I now use and the 15 times a day I test my blood sugar (vital to my current success).

I want parents and newly diagnosed patients to know that not every type 1 or juvenile onset insulin-dependent diabetic WILL have a low that includes a seizure, passing out, combativeness, or memory loss.  It is more the exception than the rule. 

That does not mean that following some safety "procedures" isn't necessary.  It is.  I highly promote and embrace caution, high testing frequency and preparedness. I teach it; I write about it.

My initial diabetes education at Boston's Joslin Clinic in November, 1976 taught respect for lows.  It taught how to prepare prior to the event.  It taught how to treat (yes, including glucagon injections).  They taught us how to deal with middle of the night lows. 

I believe that this education upon diagnosis is the reason that I do not fear lows like so many of my peers (especially the newer diagnosed) do.  I hear far too many times the doctor's scaring them into keeping highs because they WILL have lows like Lauren's.

I am (an many of my board buddies are) an example of the fact that scary situations like Lauren's just do not happen to everyone.  So please, try not to keep this picture in your minds so much that you don't target a normal blood sugar.  The instances of high blood sugar causes permanent damage are much higher than those of lows.

I will reiterate, however, respect and prepare.

Doris Dickson

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