Saturday, 14 April 2012

My Worst Hypoglycemic Episode Ever

My Worst Hypoglycemic Episode Ever

As ridiculous as it sounds, I was very lucky to have a very serious diabetic related infection.  That is how I discovered I had type 1 diabetes.

In my first post, I detailed the way I found out about the diabetes.  Looking back, I was extremely lucky to have almost died from that infection.  Unfortunately, I also had a near death experience a few weeks before as well... 

If not for the infection my diagnosis would have been further delayed and I would have continued to think I was going crazy from lack of energy, mood swings and strange hypoglycemic experiences.  Some of those experiences can be absolutely crazy and totally unnerving...

Looking back on it now I can see a pattern of hypoglycemic episodes from before my diagnosis.  All of the sudden I would feel extremely irritated, nauseous, and anxious.  These would happen on almost a daily basis.  I should have known something was up but my doctor at the time said it was just an anxiety disorder.  Really, these were just minor in comparison to another experience, my worst hypoglycemic experience ever...

My wife and I were in Sorrento on the coast of Italy for a vacation.  We had a very light lunch that afternoon because we knew we were going to be having a large supper with our tour group.  The supper was great, there were about 5 courses, with only one small pasta dish (which was a nice change), everything else was seafood.  We had a few glasses of wine and finished the meal with a shot of Limoncello as is customary in this area of Italy. 

After this great meal we got into a cab to go back to the hotel.  The cabbie had to drop us off a few blocks away from the hotel because it was a pedestrian only zone.  I had to stop and go to the bathroom at a restaurant we had visited the night before.  That is the last thing I remember clearly.  My wife waited outside and after a few minutes she went in to see where I was.  I was nowhere to be found.  This restaurant had two exits.  I had got confused and left out the wrong exit.  After waiting and looking for me, my wife retreated back to the hotel thinking I would be there.

This part is totally hazy to me but I do remember sitting in a coffee shop ordering espresso after espresso wondering where my wife was.  I was also chatting with the guy behind the counter for quite a while but he didn't even speak English.  Then I remember trying to give him a massive tip for being so nice and listening to me all night.  He declined the tip thinking I was just a severely drunk tourist and called me a cab.  The cabbie refused to take me as he thought I was too drunk to get into his car.

The next hour or so is very hazy and I don't remember large parts of it.  All I remember is walking the streets trying to find my hotel.  Sorrento isn't exactly a huge place.  I was asking for directions but nobody would help me.  They just looked at me like I was a crazy person.  This was a very scary situation for me because I felt completely confused and out of control.  I was barely walking, just staggering as if I had just polished off a bottle of scotch. 

I thought someone had put something in my drink at some point.  I thought it was probably the guy at the coffee shop.  (Who would try to spike an espresso?  Have you seen how tiny those things are?)

Eventually I found another cafe and went to have a seat in there.  I ordered some water and sat down and just started chatting up some other tourists.  They wanted nothing to do with me as I was just babbling nonsense at this point.  So I left the cafe and fell over cracking my head on the street.  A big crowd gathered around.  Some friendly and worried people forced a cabbie to take me to the hotel.  Again, he took me as far as he could but then it was a pedestrian zone.  At this point I had probably disappeared for about 4 hours.  I started wandering the streets again I assume because I have no recollection of this. 

My wife found me about a block from our hotel standing in the middle of the street covered in sweat.  She had to help me walk back to the hotel because at this point I was unable to walk myself.  We got to our room and she made me drink lots of water as I was sweating so much, also she assumed I was drunk as nothing else would explain my behaviour.  She didn't know what to think at this point but she was just relieved I was safe. 

She was upset enough to take a video of me talking to her saying a bunch of nonsense "The British are coming, we have to get out of here quick", "Aren't you scared of Nazi's because we are Jewish?" (FYI, we are not Jewish).  "I had a good conversation with my Grandma" ( she passed away about 9 years prior ).  Amongst a bunch of other babbling that made no sense.  I was also saying that I was very angry because nobody would help me.  I just kept repeating "Nobody would help me" over and over. 

Then we fell asleep.  I woke up a couple hours later and my side of the bed was completely soaked.  I was sweating profusely and had a cold shower.  I just threw my PJs in the garbage.  We woke up the next morning and I was still feeling really shaky but we went up to have breakfast.  Fortunately at many of these hotels they have cakes, fruit, juice, and especially Nutella and toast for breakfast.  In hindsight how lucky was I that it wasn't bacon and eggs.  I was jacked full of carbs and pure sugar at the end of that breakfast.

This was probably the scariest situation of my life.  I had no idea what had happened to me.  Had I had some sort of mental break?  Did I drink way more than I thought at supper?  Did someone try to drug me?  I was so embarrassed and ashamed.  We had planned this trip for so long and now I was scared I had ruined it by disappearing for 6 hours leaving my wife worrying (to put it mildly) at the hotel and coming home a raving lunatic.  Luckily I have an understanding wife.  Although that is not to say she wasn't as puzzled and concerned as I was.

This was about 4 weeks before my Type 1 diabetes diagnosis.  I was lucky I survived this episode.  I was lucky to get home. 

Throughout the rest of the trip I didn't have anything like this happen to me but I did have many minor hypo episodes.  We have lots of pictures where I am super grumpy one minute and then ultra happy the next with a Coke in my hand.  For a few days I was feeling really ill and just chalked it up to heatstroke.

Unfortunately I deleted that video because I was so ashamed of it.  I wish I still had it.  Otherwise, I would post it here and you could see the craziness for yourself.  Unfortunately, you will just have to go by my account, (or at least what I remember of it). 


  1. Jane King

    Wow, that is a scary story. That really goes to show how important it is to be diagnosed if you have diabetes. I'm sure that wouldn't have happened had you known. People really need to be reminded that people who appear drunk could actually be diabetic. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for visiting Jane.

    It was so scary. I had experienced similar episodes before but not to that extent. I thought I was having strange reactions to medications before. This one was totally different. I knew I had to see a new Dr. when I got home. The frustrating thing is that we knew there was something wrong with my body for a while and the Dr ran a bunch of tests... except a simple blood glucose test. Thanks again for visiting. I hope this grows into a nice community.

  3. Anonymous

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. That was a real adventure. Did you test at all during your 6 hour journey to see just how low you were? You cracked your head, I am sorry to hear that. Thank God you survived. That's one wild experience, especially talking to your grandmother who is on the other side.

  5. I couldn't test because I wasn't diagnosed yet. I thought I was going crazy. I was diagnosed when we got back to Canada about 1 week later. It is funny, I was low lots during that holiday (which I am not sure how, as I was not on any insulin yet) maybe alcohol intake. I don't know, if there is one thing I have learned it is that our bodies can do strange things. Very unpredictable. Anyways, there are pictures I have where I look miserable in some beautiful place holding a water bottle and then looking normal and happy 10 minutes later holding a Coke! It's nuts.