In 2004 my first child was delivered via c-section. The c-section was planned, as was most everything about the pregnancy:
- The switch, prior to conception, from oral medication to insulin (MDI - Multiple Daily Injections)
- The counting of carbohydrates and adjusting of doses as hormone levels changed
- The umpteen appointments with the endocrinologist, obstetrician, and perinatologist
- The very many ultrasounds
- And the birth plan that specified the endocrinologist’s favored delivery time: 11 AM
While I was grateful to be pregnant, I did not love the experience of it, as many women do. Instead, the frequent monitoring served as a constant reminder of the risky environment I felt I was providing for our growing fetus. Having a birth plan felt reassuring.
I was relieved and excited when the delivery date arrived. September 10, 2004 was a busy day in the labor and delivery wing. (Evidently, I wasn’t the only soon-to-be-mother hoping to spare her child a September 11th birthday.)
Despite my most proactive efforts, 11 o’clock came and went.
“Excuse me, my c-section was scheduled for 11 and it’s 11:30 now. I have diabetes. My blood sugar’s okay right now, but I haven’t eaten since 9 last night.”
“Excuse me, I can see you’re busy, but I was supposed to have surgery 90 minutes ago. I have diabetes and I haven’t eaten in over 15 hours…”
I continued politely bothering the busy hospitalists. Eventually, 2 hours after the scheduled time, off we went to the operating room. I met the team, got hooked up to some equipment, was anesthesized, and within about a half hour everything was underway. Probably sensing that I'm nervous about the surgery, my OB made light chit-chat:
OB: So, Emily, do you guys have a pediatrician picked out?
Me: We do – it’s Dr. Papadopoulos.
OB: Aww, he’s terrific! And such a nice man. Here’s a challenge – can you spell his last name?
[That I cannot spell the pediatrician’s long, Greek name doesn’t surprise my OB. It surprises me, though, as I’m generally a good speller. It’s my first clue that something is amiss.]
OB: (New topic) So, when you're in recovery where should your blood sugar be?
Me: Well… Mmmmm... I think... Whatdidyousay? (Is that slurring?)
OB: After surgery – your blood sugar. Where does your endo want your sugars?
Me: (Can’t. Quite. Reach. The Words.)
Something’s wrong, I think.
I manage to ask the anesthesiologist if the anesthesia is scrambling my thoughts. Nope.
Something’s wrong, I think.
“Something’s wrong,” I say, “I’m low. What's my blood sugar?”
Anesth: Where's your meter?
Me: I’m in surgery..I'm naked. I don't have my purse.
Anesth: I don’t have a meter.
Me: But – the plan... the blood sugar... how will you know if I need insulin?
Anesth: We’re not doing any of that.
Me: But, the plan...! I'm low. I'm very, very low.
[I’m not thinking anymore about the baby, or about being cut open. All I feel is the panic of an extreme low. A low that the plan – the one that nobody is following – was designed to prevent.]
I want my OB to remind everyone of our plan, but at this moment she’s tugging the baby out of me. I can’t catch her eye. I’m not her priority and I feel very afraid.
I hear the anesthesiologist say, “There's no meter; every floor is supposed to have one.”
I'm not a player in this scene anymore. I am tired. I close my eyes so I can focus on listening, which now requires some effort.
I hear someone say, “Get her some orange juice.”
I hear my husband ask, “Are you sure you can give her orange juice during surgery?”
I hear a code announced over the PA system.
I start to wonder about the code, but doing so takes too much effort.
I hear drawers opening and closing. They sound like the junk drawers in our kitchen at home. The ones that have AAA batteries rolling around inside. I don't feel afraid anymore. I feel tired and calm and focused and I wonder why a drawer in an operating room contains AAA batteries. I'm aware of the chaos around me but I feel detached and too tired to care about it.
Somebody finds 500cc of dextrose in a drawer.
10 seconds and I feel the change. So much faster than juice.
Someone asks how I feel.
“It's helping. I'll feel better soon.”
“You have a beautiful, healthy baby girl.”
I smile from the post-low haze.
It will be hours before I really feel better, but this lovely baby helps a lot.
This post was written for Diabetes Blog Week
The Prompt (suggested by Jasmine at Silver-Lined): Share a memorable diabetes day.