Tough Lesson for People living w/ type-1 diabetes (aka me)

I will never forget the day 3 years ago when I got trapped in a white-out blizzard in Iowa on Interstate 35. I left early in the morning from my parent’s house in Northern Minnesota to head south to Kansas City, where I was living and working at the time. I had checked the weather forecast for that day and it said “light snow”. Ok, I was good to go. As I entered Iowa the light snow started to turn into white-out conditions. I should’ve pulled off the road, but instead I trudged ahead knowing that I had a work event that afternoon. It got to the point where I literally couldn’t see two feet in front of me. People started braking, going, stopping, slowing down, speeding up. I started to panic. Then I heard metal crashing behind me. I knew it was bad. I needed to get off the interstate…and fast. I called 911 asking for assistance to help drivers get off the interstate. I saw an exit right in front of me but nothing past that. They told me they couldn’t help. So the next semi-truck that I saw getting on the exit ramp I quickly followed, but I lost visibility very quickly and drove myself off the ramp. I was stuck. I called 911 back and now told them I was stranded in my car

dudleyscorner and that I feared I was going to get hit from behind. The operator told me a squad car was coming up the exit now and he could pick me up. It happened all so quickly all I had time to think of was to grab my purse and get into his squad car. He brought me and another young man to Dudley’s Corner (a small truck stop), the only thing off that exit, in Latimer, IA.

To make a very long story short (for blog purposes) I ended up being stranded there for 24 hours. I wear the Medtronic insulin pump, but when I pack for a trip I used to always keep my bulk supplies (infusion sets, reservoirs, inserter, etc.) in my suitcase. The supplies that I carry with me are my blood glucose meter, lancet device, test strips, and my vial of Novolog insulin. I could never have imagined being stranded at this truck stop for so long. That day I had less than 50 units of insulin left in my pump. As the hours dragged on my insulin reservoir got lower and lower. I got to the point where I was only eating things with no carbs because I didn’t want to use up any additional insulin and knew I needed to eat something. I couldn’t believe that I was stuck here, let alone that I was separated from insulin pump supplies.

road closedThe next day a co-worker of mine showed up at the truck store (once the highways were re-opened) to come and find me. She had heard from my boss that I had been stranded there with over 100 people. She got me back to her house and then she helped me troubleshoot on how we were going to get my car towed out (there were 100’s of cars in the ditches within an 80-mile stretch of interstate). Because my car wasn’t obstructing traffic flow, I was told my car couldn’t be towed out for another 2-3 days. Janie, bless her heart, knew the police chief and called him asking if he could help us, knowing that my diabetes supplies were in the car and at this point I had been out of insulin for hours it had become a medical emergency. By a gift from God he was able to move my car up the list and it was towed out in the next hour. It was a miracle. My car was pretty banged up from cars and plows hitting it on their trip up the exit. Later that day I found out that the metal crashing behind me on the interstate was a 40-car pile up that led to numerous injuries and a couple of fatalities. It made national news:

Sometimes I go day by day thinking my life is pretty normal and that I don’t live with a chronic illness. But days like that one 3 years ago, I’m reminded that I have a very serious disease that can be deadly without my medication. Going forward I was so thankful for my life and used it as a learning lesson for future trips.

I was in North Carolina this past weekend visiting a college friend of mine. Before I left I made sure to have 1 infusion set, insulin, and reservoir packed in my purse in case of an emergency. 🙂

Have you ever gotten yourself into a mess because you didn’t have your diabetes supplies with you?