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Tommys Adventure in the LOWlands

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July 18, 2004
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October 24, 2013 - 6:44 pm
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For those who don’t know me, I am an insulin dependent diabetic. It’s not always easy or even possible to get the insulin, exercise, food combo just right to keep the blood sugar in the zone. High blood sugar is bad long term but usually not so bad here and now. Low blood sugar can be a problem right now. Mostly I can deal with it myself. It rarely slows me down. But …

Columbus Day weekend, Canoeing the Saco River between Conway NH and Brownfield ME. 30 miles, 3 days, 2 nights, down river easy paddling, what could be better?
Saturday we put on in Conway and paddled down to Swans Falls where we carried around the dam. With the dead water above the dam and the portage I’d have expected to go low sometime so I kept snacking. No problems.
Sunday we had a nice easy current all day. No portages. Easy livin’.
Sunday afternoon we passed Walker Bridge and camped at a pretty beach. As I set up my tent, I spied a small dead tree broken off but leaning against a larger live tree. With my brand new saw I cut it into three pieces. I hauled the first two pieces down to the beach where my friends were starting our campfire. The last thing I remember was going back for the third piece…

They tell me I staggered back past the fire and did a face plant on the beach.
They tell me that I was semi coherent, slurring my words and totally uncooperative. They tell me I refused juice, mocking Jack when he tried to be stern with me. Somebody found my first aid kit and the glucose tabs and cake frosting I had in there. They put a glucose tab in my mouth. I spit it out. Carp got frustrated, shoved a frosting tube between my lips and squeezed it out. I closed my eyes and stopped responding.
Carp called 911. They decided to load me into a canoe and paddle me down to Walkers Rips where the Ambulance would meet us.

I was having a really weird dream. As I drifted towards the surface people kept getting in my face and trying to get me to go somewhere. After a while I realized someone was holding my hand. Then I started to recognize faces. Then I realized I was lying on the beach, Kieko was holding my hand, Kaichi was looking as worried as only an 8 year old could. My head was on Molly’s lap. If I wasn’t so embarassed I’d have liked to have stayed that way a while longer. It felt pretty safe.

They were all worried. I told them I’d be fine. We decided that we had better paddle down and meet the EMT’s anyway and let them check me out.
It had gotten dark while I was away. Walter walked me back to my tent and let me lean on him while I changed out of my sweaty clothes. I grabbed a bag of trail mix and had a few hand fulls. Carp, Hal and I got in the biggest canoe we had and paddled the mile down. I had a hand full of trail mix between strokes. The ambulance got there as we did. The EMT’s were great. My sugar was good and my BP was a little high. I signed the paper and they went home.

We paddled back up against the current. My arms got tired paddling from the middle of that big wide boat. It was great to see our fire burning on the beach. When Kaichi realized I was in the boat he got so excited that he ran right into the river! I fixed some supper and drank some beer. That fire sure was nice.

So yep, I dodged a bullet that night. My friends, some new that weekend, some I’ve known a while, they had my back. Bigtime they had my back.

What could be better?

What I did wrong?
I should have tested my sugar a few times after we started setting up camp. A little more snacking would have prevented all of this.
I did not tell everyone that this could happen or that I had stuff in my first aid kit for it.
Carp and Hal already knew and I was lucky that they were right there.

What I did right?
Having the tubes of frosting. I’m pretty sure that Carp squirting those in my mouth was what brought me back.

What everybody else did right?
First off they fed me. When in doubt with an out of control diabetic, feed them. You won’t make them worse and most likely you will make them better.
Second they called 911 when I stopped responding. If you can reach them, EMT’s can do an awful lot to bring back someone with low blood sugar. They can also figure it out if it’s something else. If you can not reach 911 you might try testing the victims blood sugar if you find their meter. Anything over 70 is good from a first aid perspective and would indicate there is something else going on..
Third they made me feel safe. Coming back up is pretty surreal. Even when I’m back I can still be shaky. Folks took care of me. It was actually one of the more pleasant recoveries I’ve had.

Pictures of the weekend are here.…olumbusDay2013


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October 25, 2013 - 8:21 pm
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Tom, Glad you posted this. Good for all to know. I’ve paddled with a diabetic friend in the past and did, way back, get some training in dealing and recoginizing the symptoms. I’m glad Carp and Hal were along, both level headed idiots! ;-) I’m glad all turned out well. See you on the White if not sooner!


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October 26, 2013 - 1:12 pm
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Hmm no edit function?
Oh well. I noticed the phot link got boloxed so here is one that works I hope.

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