The contract is in the mail for my upcoming story in Diabetes Forecast! It will be in the “Reflections” section, the last page in the magazine. I wrote about Diabetes and Driving in a newsletter ezine because I was inspired/fired up after watching an interview on the Ellen DeGeneres show….(I want to include it in my blog)
On the Ellen DeGeneres show the other day there was a mother with type 1 diabetes and her 11 year old daughter. The woman was driving on the highway with her daughter and son when her blood sugar started to drop. They were going 80 miles an hour. The 11 year old had to reach over her mother and press on the brake with her hands as well as steer the car to the side of the road. She then called 911 and we could hear her crying as she spoke to the operator saying she needed help for her mother whose blood sugar was low. Ellen was very proud of the girl and gave her a new computer and cell phone and I was angry. I love the Ellen show. I don’t watch it very much any more, but when we’ve had a long day and I’m too worn out to do any writing, sometimes I sit on the couch after the boys are in bed with my low-sugar hot chocolate and I watch Ellen. Watching this woman with diabetes marvel at her daughter made me angry. She made no disclaimers about how that had never happened before, about how she had an excellent driving record or how she usually tests her blood before she gets in the car. (I’m projecting, I have no idea if this woman takes good care of herself or not) When she made her daughter look like a hero, the rest of us looked incompetent.
Her story took me back to the day I took my drivers test. I was so excited, sure I’d be leaving the DMV that day with a license in my hands, sure I’d be driving myself and my friends to the movies every weekend. Instead, I walked out in tears. The DMV sent me home and said I needed to return with a letter from my doctor proving I was in good health. I was devastated.
Last October, when my sister was two month pregnant with her second child she got into a car accident because her blood sugar was low. Her 2 year old son was in the back seat. She swerved and almost hit another car and drove into the marsh. Jim Hirsch, type 1 diabetic writes in his book, Cheating Destiny about getting low while he was driving with his son in the back seat. My sister and her son were taken by ambulance to a hospital to be examined, everyone was fine but her car was totaled and it gave her a terrible scare. I told my sister that she needed to test her blood sugar every time she got in the car. It’s so important! I urged.
The other day I was a chaperone for my kid’s field trip to the local strawberry patch. I drove Miles, his classmate Michael and his teacher Miss Diana in our car. I’d hurried around that morning, getting everyone dressed and fed, taking a shower,and trying to make it to the school on time then we piled in cars and drove 20 minutes to the strawberry patch. As soon as I got out of the car, I knew there was something wrong. I checked my bag for sugar and found just four melted skittles in the bottom of my purse. Panicked, I looked around, there was a soda machine but it was locked until the farm officially opened, a half hour from now. My vision was blurring and I was in charge of Miles and Michael and what would I do? I’d driven over the biggest bridge in South Carolina with a child that was not mine and my blood sugar was low. I was shamed and saddened. Miles and I hurried toward the strawberries and I pulled one after the other, crouching down at his height, hiding myself from the other parents behind my son, and ate the berries until I could see again. When the field trip was over, I tested my blood sugar before we got back in the car and was relieved to see it was 80. We were safe to drive.
Resources: When you are driving always remember to: check blood sugar before you get in the driver’s seat, carry sugar, pull over immediately if you feel funny, and carry diabetes ID in your car or wallet. Here is some good information about diabetes and driving.