Community-Events like the recent #DXStockholm could be so cool and hip and happy, if there wasn’t one thing… this f**king diabetes which can easily spoil all community happiness. When a participant of a community event passes out with a hypo, it’s not about future and choices, but simply about G-L-U-C-O-S-E – F-A-S-T.
(Since it was a paneuropean blogger event, I translated today’s blogpost into English so that the non-German bloggers will be able to read it, too.)
I don’t want to be misunderstood. I really appreciate the super weekend I was invited to by Abbott together with a bunch of other diabetes bloggers from all over Europe. “Diabetes Exchange” (DX) is truly important. It’s important for us bloggers to exchange amongst us, and it’s important for companies to exchange with us (their customers and multipliers) about what what kind of stuff we are desperately waiting for.
Make kitty ears wobble with brainwaves
This year’s motto was “our future, our choices” accordingly. And so we had the chance to listen to the Belgian futurist who explained about the exponential changes to come about with megatrends like digitalization or the internet of things. The Swedish bodyhacker Hannes Sjoblad took us on a digital safari, helping us learn how to isolate DNA from spittle with distilled water, soap and ethanol as do-it-yourself-biologists. Or how to make kitty ears wobble with our brainwaves. The future apparently holds many gadgets for us – some of them funny, some useful, others plainly frightening. And we constantly have to decide, which trend to follow and which to ignore – when managing our diabetes as well as in our everyday lives.
Exchange and discussion with other diabetics are great gains
With all these decisions, it really helps to exchange amongst a community of like-minded people. In our case, that is people who also have type 1 diabetes and who also blog about it. In our everyday lives, we have to decide “Wordpress or Blogspot?”, “Pump or pen?”, “Tube pump or pod?”, “Freestyle Libre or CGM?”, “MySugr or Sidiary?”, “Store data locally or in the cloud?”, “Share blogposts via Twitter or via Facebook?”, “Chocolate cream or applejuice for a hypo?”, “Add bolus or reduce basal?” And so on. You know all this. It is a great gain to discuss all these things with other diabetics who also like to keep up with the latest stuff. Especially when you are invited to such a wonderful weekend, spend two days in a fancy hotel and in cool restaurants, get a chance to take part in a guided city walk on one day and in a guided city run on the other day. With such a great agenda, so many exciting impulses, so many interesting people from allover Europe diabetes seems to be a pretty enjoyable disease.
Collapsed in front of the buffet with a severe hypo
But then there is this moment… no more hip happy community. At the DXStockholm it came on Sunday morning, when Lisa collapsed in front of the breakfast buffet with a severe hypoglycemia and took quite a while before she was stabilized again. You can read what happened and what Lisa felt about it on her blog. Except for a bitten tongue and sore muscles due to the hypo cramps, Lisa luckily is fine again. But her hypo was also pretty much of a shock for all the others who had been around her or joined the scene just immediately after her collapse. Many of us (including me) had never experienced a severe hypo – neither themselves nor with others. We saw Lisa who had crouched in front of the buffet. Someone had picked her up and put her into a somewhat upright position. It seemed as if she did not perceive anything that was happening around her. Some bloggers and Abbott employees were buzzing about and brought her some fruit smoothie in a juice carton. “Just drink this, we opened it already for you”, they said to her. Lisa didn’t understand, she was picking the juice carton as if it still needed to be opened. “It’s already open, please just drink, just suck from it!” About four people were simultaneously talking to her, in German and in English. We could feel everybody panicking. Let’s get a Coke! Why hadn’t anybody thought of a Coke sooner? The pump! We need to turn off the pump, stop insulin delivery for a while! Lisa has an Omnipod which can only be controlled with its handheld device. Does anybody know what Lisa’s bag looks like, where she keeps the handheld pump control? Please drink the Coke, Lisa, and please eat two more of these.
Diabetics’ jokes – black humor not everybody will understand
I don’t know how long all of this took. At last the situation was under control. Lisa had taken in a lot of glucose. Her pump was shut off for a while. Paramedics had given her glucose intravenously. But she was still confused and crouched in front of the buffet, accompanied by two people who held her and talked to her. Now I was getting a bit nervous. The buffet was still blocked, and I had already injected insulin for breakfast in my hotel room. Although it’s best for my glucose levels if I wait for 20 to 25 minutes after the injection before I start my breakfast, at some point I need to eat fast. I wasn’t the only one who was facing this problem. We tried to handle the situation with humor: “If we can’t get to the buffet, we’ll be the next ones to collapse. We might as well just lay down next to her!” Diabetic humor, gallow’s humor, only other diabetics will appreciate this kind of joke. Luckily for us, plans were changed quickly: Lisa stayed where she was and relaxed, all the others went downstairs into the regular restaurant for breakfast. No additional hypos, the rest of the event went about smoothly.
Yet, the incident had blurred everybody’s mood a bit. Everybody was pondering. Because moments like these brutally show us that type 1 diabetes is not about hip happy community in the very first place. Instead, it’s a f**king disease that can spoil our day in a second and – in the worst case – deliver us to the graveyard far in advance.