Diabetes Forecast

Smart Phone, Smart Son


One morning in May last year, I had an appointment with a physician assistant to go over my lab results. It was routine; I've made countless visits like it in my 52 years with type 1 diabetes. My report was good, and I left the doctor's office to do some errands.

I stopped at the library, grocery, and car wash before heading for home. But suddenly I couldn't remember how to get there. I drove for about 15 minutes, and then I started to get concerned. I searched for a safe place to pull over.

I was sure I was having a stroke. In the doctor's waiting room, I had been reading about how diabetes increases one's stroke risk. Although I carry food and glucose tablets in the car, never once did I think I was hypoglycemic. My brain said stroke.

I picked up my cell phone to call my son, James. He is No. 1 on my speed dial. But I couldn't do it, couldn't remember which buttons to push. Then I dialed his number. Somehow I could remember how to do that.

James answered, and I told him I didn't know where I was. He asked if I had eaten anything. It wasn't low blood sugar, I assured him; I was having a stroke. He asked me to eat something. I refused.

My son remained extremely calm. He told me not to get out of the car and asked me to read any signs I saw. Looking around, I read him the two signs I could make out. He kept talking with me and encouraging me to eat, which I finally did. He said he was on his way and would be there in just a few minutes.

When he pulled up, I hugged him and told him not to let me die, that my granddaughter, Jasmine, James's child, needed me still. He encouraged me to eat and tried to convince me that I was hypoglycemic. I wanted to go to the hospital.

James took me there in his car. After running tests to rule out heart attack and stroke, the doctors determined that my disorientation must have been caused by hypoglycemia. By the time I reached the hospital I had eaten enough that my blood sugar was normal, so there was no way to be sure just how low it had been.

Using his smart phone, James had googled the names on the signs I gave him and found the block where both were. That's how he knew where I was. I had no idea how I had gotten there.

This incident taught me a lot. I never had left home without testing my blood glucose, but I hadn't been as conscientious about testing before getting back in the car to drive home. Now I do that. Although I certainly don't blame the physician assistant I visited that day, I now go to a doctor who always runs a test before I leave the office. It is a good safeguard—and so is my son, James.

Janice Winkler is a retired middle school teacher. She lives in Murfreesboro, Tenn.



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