Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Adventures of a diabetic in Aspen

After four straight days of incredible skiing I took the morning off to do some hill repeats (yes I do hill repeats on vacation, masochist, maybe, bat sh*t crazy – absolutely!) so I had some extra time to collect some of my thoughts and blog about them. So far Aspen has been incredible, I still haven't found that elusive cougar to pay off my student loans but that hasn't stopped this experience with my great Darden friends from being incredible. We were blessed with some amazing powder on the slopes and essentially have the mountain to ourselves. The altitude had made blood sugar management a bit difficult over the first few days but thankfully that's under control now.

Monday, I had one of the most amazing, heart –warming experiences of my life; an experience where I had to totally trust and depend on my friends and an experience that turned some of my Darden classmates into family. As I mentioned above the altitude had made blood sugar management pretty difficult. As my body adjusted to the thin air I wasn't digesting food at the same rate as I normally do, this caused my blood sugars to be pretty low for the first two days in Aspen. By day 3 all that food I had to eat to maintain a safe blood sugar level started to enter my blood system so my bs was above 300 from 7:30 am until 4pm, reaching as high as 520! My friends could see in my face that I wasn't doing well and all of them offered to ski home with me during lunch. Never wanting to admit that I need help I told them I would be ok and skied back to the condo to rest up and hopefully get my blood sugar under control.

Somewhere along the trail on my way back to the condo my blood sugar meter fell out of my pocket, when I realized this I didn't think it was that big of a deal as there is a pharmacy down the road at Snowmass. I tossed on a pair of sweats and took the condo shuttle to the pharmacy – here's where things get interesting – they didn't carry blood sugar meters. Ok, no big deal I'll just head into Aspen to hit up Carl's Pharmacy and pick up a blood sugar meter there; Carl's doesn't keep bs meters in stock and would have had to order me one!!! Seriously, a legitimate pharmacy that fills prescriptions doesn't have blood sugar meters in stock, ok now I'm starting to get a little worried.

I loaded Google maps on my blackberry and searched for pharmacy, it seemed there was a clinic just down the road in Aspen so I hoofed it over there – the clinic was out of business (the plot thickens). One more shot in Aspen, the city market, and you guessed it, no blood sugar meters there either. Apparently the sodalities in Aspen have no need for blood sugar meters, or maybe they are just trying to get rid of all the type 1s in their town. I sat there on a corner by myself in Aspen, terrified; about to break down in tears, I was afraid. I had taken in 2 clif shot gels during my walk, I knew I had a ton of insulin on board from fighting off the 300s, and could feel the symptoms of a low, I trusted my gut and figured in the short term a high was safer than a low in case I misread my symptoms.

I texted Peter, the head of Triabetes, who offered to drive a bs meter to me all the way from Denver! I thanked him for the incredible offer but told him I would try and exhaust all options before that. My phone then rang, Jen, one of my best friends in the world had called the Aspen hospital for me (who also didn't have any blood sugar meters in stock!!!) and told me that they informed her of a pharmacy 25 miles away that would have bs meters. The big problem was, none of us had a car and without my trust steed El Bastardo, my legs couldn't cover 25 miles fast enough.

Hating to have to impose my needs on someone else I texted another Darden classmate whose girlfriend and Darden graduate lives in Aspen to see if they could bring me to the pharmacy. Bucky and Kelly generously and self-lessly of course agreed to help me out and bring me there. After they picked me up Bucky also told me I should have let them know how important the meter was, since when I spoke with them on the phone I kind of just said it is important so I know what my blood sugar is, but it isn't essential that I have it right now. When I described not having my meter as a blind man walking along the edge of a cliff without a guide stick Bucky and Kelly each said that qualified as an emergency. Bucky, a former pro triathlete, skipped a Lance Armstrong book signing to bring me to the pharmacy – how awesome is that; my Darden friends are truly awesome.

25 miles later I finally arrived at the pharmacy in El Jebel, Colorado and was thrilled to find a shiny blue one touch ultra mini meter waiting for me! The day was saved; during my ordeal I had received so many text messages from my Darden friends making sure I was ok, and each gave me a huge hug when I met up with them again that night. I'm still very much learning how to deal with this disease and I don't always remember that I've had it for less than 3 years. I definitely had my "I just want to be normal," moment on this trip but with friends as amazing as the ones I have I know that no matter what I'm confronted with I can make it through. It was just pretty incredible that people were willing to take time out of their vacation to help out a friend and truly support me when I was scared out of my mind. I've had a few too many life lessons in the past six months but just like I realized in IMAZ that I'm not in this alone, I realized in Aspen that type 1, 2 or 3 people are here to support and care for me; that realization might be the best Christmas present I could ever ask for.


Amanda said...

glad you're having fun now. maybe you should make it your duty to let those pharmacies know how important it is that type 1s have access to a least SOMEWHERE in the city?

btw, those that have good friends, are usually a good friend themselves.

Anne said...

amazing, Ed. I am glad you got things resolved, and that you have such good support from your friends at Darden.

Sorry you had to go through that, though. It is awful to be in the dark regarding BG.

jpnairn said...

Wow, Ed. I've had similar things happen, misplacing my meter or leaving it on a bus, but there were always meters at a pharmacy within a reasonable distance. I'm sure if I went into the nearest pharmacy right now, I would find a full selection.
I'm glad you were able to work it out, with a little help from your friends!