Wednesday, March 08, 2006

(34) Getting it right with diabetic comas and Treasure Hunts

On July 26th 1988, Clare mentioned to me that a friend of hers had once slumped into a diabetic coma and had lain at his desk at the school where he taught for over two hours before anyone realised that something was wrong.

The children had assumed that he had fallen asleep.

At 10 a.m. the following morning I read this from Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time:
"Sherk died in tragic circumstances (he suffered from diabetes and went into a coma when no one was around to give him an injection of insulin)".

Shortly afterwards Clare and I drove from St Ives, Cambs. to Bedford.
She parked her car there by the suspension bridge over the river.

I remarked that I had once seen an issue of the TV programme Treasure Hunt that had begun with Anneka Rice boarding a helicopter only a few yards from where we were parked.

She replied that it was odd that I should mention that for on the only other occasion that her friend had suffered a diabetic coma he had been behind the wheel of a car.
This had resulted in a tragic accident.

That very day he and his wife had been due to appear as contestants on Treasure Hunt.

Just before we had left St Ives that morning I had shown her the quote from Hawkings’ book. She now informed me that that had instantly put her in mind of that accident.

I am diabetic.
... ... ...
On the afternoon of May 14th 2010 I was in my parked car by the Decathlon store at the Parque Mediterraneo shopping centre in Cartagena.
I thought back to how a year or two earlier I had been parked in almost the same spot whilst my wife and son partook of an introductory "dive" offer from a local diving club using scuba gear in a pool which had been rigged up nearby.
I had slipped into a low blood sugar phase, and several people had attempted to help me by administering my insulin.
I babbled in incoherent Spanish that my family were in the pool and that they would be able to assist. They were fecthed and advised for a paramedic to be called and with his admistering sugar to me the necessary raising of my blood sugar quickly occurred bringing me back to normal.

I thought on how my brother David had been diagnosed diabetic in the early 1970s when he almost became comatose. He had been administering honey-laced drinks to himself - thinking that he was exhibiting cold symptoms - but of course, I remember once hearing my mother say, those had only sufficed to raise his sugar levels still higher and hence placing him more in peril.

I then opened a copy of The Oldie which we had just received, as it contained a piece written by my wife.
On page 52 I spotted this letter -

Sam Taylor mentions Mrs Butcher, a diabetic pensioner, being unconscious but recovering ´with the aid of a much-needed insulin shot´. (East of Islington, May Oldie.)
This is a common but dangerous mistake. An unconscious diabetic is far more likely to be suffering from too much insulin, and the antidote is lots of sugar, typically a canful of Lucozade or non-diet Coca-Cola. If this is impractical, e.g. the patient cannot swallow, an injection of Glucagon is needed, and this is often carried as an injection kit in a bright orange box which contains Glucagon powder, sterile water, a small hypodermic syringe, and very clear pictorial instructions.
W H Jarvis. Edinburgh

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