Christmas in Australia is always hot. More often than not the high temperature really gets into full swing right in time for Christmas day lunch. Which is why our usual tradition is a BBQ seafood lunch with salads, my mother in law’s infamous and most amazing potato salad (as she is Dutch this is not made with mayonnaise or salad cream but with a perfect mixture of oil, vinegar, a stock cube and mashed up boiled egg – delish!) fresh fruit and icy cold beverages is the better choice over a traditionally cooked hot roasted Christmas lunch.
We try to stay outside most years but sometimes you just cannot feel remotely attractive sweating into your prawns when trying to enjoy your lunch and the conversation. So into the air conditioning we end up until at least the twilight fans some cooler sea breeze into the thick choking air.
This year however, Western Australia had a major heat wave. Well, that is at least what the news reporters called it, a heat wave. But to me, a week of temps between 38 and 45 degrees celsius is a freaking bloody heat tsunami and it sure knocked me and my diabetes down like a gigantic wave.
Just like a Tsunami is formed by a series of waves following each other my blood sugars rose in the form of a few sudden spikes just before Christmas. I didn’t think too much of it because 1. With the madness that comes with the lead up to Christmas – I just didn’t have time to ponder the why 2. My eating, sleeping and exercise habits went a little out of whack and… 3. I was so busy that I just raged bolused my way through the mayhem.
But about an hour before Christmas lunch when I felt so dizzy and could barely keep my eyes open I tested and was 19.8m/mol. Okay, I’ll just have a massive shot, lay down for a little while and it’s all good hey! But it wasn’t. This was actually one of the lowest numbers that I was to see over the next few days.
With the temperature soaring around 40 degrees, my blood sugar so high when I hadn’t even eaten anything for hours I was obviously so dehydrated that they didn’t come down. For days! My ketones went into the medium range, my ankles became cankles and I felt so listless that all I could do was sleep, drink water, go to the toilet like a billion times and give myself shots and shots of rage bolus. I changed my pump lines and site area because the sticky was getting less sticky from the humidity and freshened my insulin in case it was hot. Does that happen? It was worth a try.
Anyway, short version is: I barely ate for days (yes, even Christmas lunch), missed our tradition of a beach swim on Boxing Day followed by a day of eating leftovers watching the cricket, slept, slept and when I thought I couldn’t sleep anymore I slept some more. It wasn’t until I was so water logged, refueled with electrolytes and resembled a prune from having cold baths that my blood sugars came down and stayed down.
The only reason I didn’t just go to the Emergency Department was that my blood sugars would come relatively down over night – when it was cooler I suppose – and my ketones levels bounced around from having none to medium to low to none.
But in retrospect, maybe after the fourth or fifth straight day of this – or even before actually – I should have gone. But that’s the thing isn’t it? When this kind of thing happens you really are not in the right mental capacity to think things through so logically. It becomes this total blur of time. Your brain becomes less than functional grey matter from the lack of glucose it’s getting and you tell yourself (and your better half) it will get better after a lie-down.
To predict the appearance of a tsunami is difficult. Sometimes it is only in the minutes before when the water suddenly recedes so far from the bank that you can see it.