Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mr. Jones and Me

So, I haven't blogged in a while. I've been going through some stuff that I didn't want to uncover in my blog (divorce, mostly) and didn't know how it would affect my diabetes, nor did I want to talk about it. Everything is finalized now, and I am finding my voice again. But, be gentle on me as I ease back into this.

I work at a "Upscale Casual Dining" restaurant now. And I love EVERY bit of it. The people I work with, the coaches (management,) the company, and most of all, our regulars. The regulars are the people that keep coming back because they know we are the best. Even though we are just their servers, we learn SOOOOO much about them. We know their history, their allergies, their families, their money situation, their secrets, their ambitions. We know their stories.

There is a gentleman that has been coming in since Day 1. For his privacy, his name is Mr. Jones.

Mr. Jones has A LOT of money. He had a very successful company and one of his past employees is now the backbone of our restaurant.

Mr. Jones is a vivacious individual. Well, he used to be. He liked to drink. He liked to dine. He loved to share his financial greatness with the rest of us. He still is one of the best tippers I work with. Mr. Jones tells me that I am pretty, wonderful, nice and a beautiful human being. He pulled over a co-worker of mine and told him, "Watch out for this one. She's one of the exceptional people that will change the world." In his mid-eighties, Mr. Jones makes my heart melt.

I found something out tonight that I had not known previously about him. Mr. Jones has been living with Type 1 Diabetes for 78 years.

In the past few years, over his many visits to the restaurant, my co-workers have watched him deteriorate. Not only is age hurting him, but dementia has attacked. Most of the time he is mostly lucid. But, occasionally, he is not and does not make much sense. I learned, from his past employee that he had many lows.

Tonight, in the middle of dinner rush, when we were at our busiest and my section was of course full, I went low. REALLY low. I kept pushing myself to get past it, not treating because I was convinced that the restaurant needed me to be attentive and get "First Round Drinks" within 60 seconds. (First round is when someone sits down and needs service immediately. We have many time restraints and first round is the first priority.) I noticed my blood sugar dropping by the sweat beads rolling down my back and continued to get six more greets. That is approximately 10 minutes before I tried to do anything. Then, I took a food order, further procrastinating my treating of my blood sugar.

All of a sudden, I dropped so low, I couldn't focus and someone noticed that my hands were unctrollably shaking. I dropped a glass. Then a plate. Then my server book. I couldn't concentrate or communicate what I needed because I had pushed so long that I had no idea what was going on. Moments before I felt like I was going to pass out, another server got a big glass of Sprite and let a coach know. The coach panicked. He picked everything up for me and made me sit down until my blood sugar was under control. Then, he started asking questions.

My coach wanted to know how to treat a low. How to treat a high. How to tell the difference. He wanted to know how to read my pump. What to tell an EMT. He called for servers to look over my section. He was worried. Really worried. I explained a little, but knew we were busy, so I told him I would get him some fact sheets. It took about twenty minutes (felt like an hour) to get my low under control. And I hit the floor running again.

But, I couldn't help but think of Mr. Jones. How his dementia must have to do somewhat with complications and lows and highs of diabetes. I don't want to get that bad. And chances are, it could happen. My heart goes out to him and his caretakers. I just want to give him a big hug and tell him I respect him and that living this long in a world that isn't always diabetes friendly (especially at his age and when he was diagnosed) is a huge accomplishment. He is such a sweet, sweet man and he will be included in my all of my prayers to come.

Now, I have to think about how to get my lows under control. Tomorrow, I am going to start using my CGM again. It's been months because I hate it. It is scary and hurts and looks ugly. But maybe it will help predict my lows before I go so low I can't get a grip.

Mr. Jones most likely will not last much longer. In my short five months at the restaurant, I have seen him go from bad to worse. Dementia scares me only second to losing a limb as a complication of diabetes. And I hate that he's going through this. I hate that there is only so much I can do to prevent it from happening to me.

I wish I could stop this crazy disease. I wish no one would ever have to live with it. I wish the fears would go away and people could just live with a working pancreas. I wish there was no diabetes. But, that's not true. There is diabetes. And it's different for every one. And everyone deals with different fears and eating disorders and complications and trials.

What I do know is that knowing people like the diabetic online community, fellow camp counselors, campers, and diabetics in the wild like Mr. Jones makes me feel less alone. And hopefully, I offer the same to all of them.

I faced a very real fear tonight. In a lot of small ways. But they are nothing like Mr. Jones faces them, when he knows whats going on. I just wished he knew that he has so many people pulling for him in this crazy, high-carb world.