Many times during a hard exercise class at the gym I’ve worried that I’ve been about to pass out and require an ambulance, oxygen and defibrillator. However this week I did need an ambulance at the gym. Luckily, this was not related to my diabetes. Moreover it was not because I was so unfit I had collapsed doing burpees. Thankfully, I was still fully able to take care of my diabetes. However due to a back spasm I was left unable to move, in severe pain and requiring an ambulance. This was ten minutes into my session, 40 minutes into a temporary basal rate and suddenly my exercise had stopped. I’m sure you can guess what happened next, with adrenalin included, my blood sugar began to rise.
I had with me my freestyle libre, a Torq gel and luckily my insulin pump attached to me. The poor ambulance men were very confused by me asking them to “flash me” by this I meant scanning me with my freestyle libre. As I was unable to move my arms my personal trainer had his first experience of using an insulin pump. He has a great understanding of my sugar levels and signs of them dropping, yet asking him to take my pump out of my trousers, cancel a temporary basal rate and scan me was maybe a step too far. Especially when I was rather grumpy and thought it was quite obvious how to cancel a temporary basal rate on the Animas vibe.
The paramedics had reassured me that they had their own blood glucose testing kit in the ambulance while they were still trying to work out why I wanted them to flash me. Once I was reunited with my freestyle libre the paramedics were so impressed by the trend arrows and how easy it was for them to see and record my levels. They said they wished all diabetics had one. If only NICE / other professionals could hear such feedback and realise the impact that CGM / Flash Glucose Monitors have across the board for diabetics.
After five hours in hospital, three canisters of gas and air, tramadol, diazepam, paracetamol, ibuprofen and morphine my back stopped spasming and I was able to go home. If I hadn’t have had my freestyle libre and pump on me in the gym I have no idea how I would have coped in hospital as although A and E were beyond amazing, the paramedics were fantastic, there was not one check of my blood sugar. At the time my diabetes was the least of my worries and the paramedic understood that my blood sugar was going up because I hadn’t completed my gym session and the trend arrows had reassured him that I wasn’t at risk of a hypo. However what if my back spasms in a swimming pool next time and my pump is in a locker? Can I rely on the fact it will be brought to me? Fingers crossed my back has had all the attention it requires for the foreseeable future. However after my second blue lights ambulance experience in less than a year I’m beginning to think I should carry an emergency hospital bag around with me at all times. Or maybe that would be taking things a step to far…