Don't Blame Everything on Dementia

Leah Health Guide
  • I made a mistake with my insulin, a mistake not caused by my dementia.  It was evening and I was getting ready to go to bed.  At night, I use 75 units of long acting insulin which helps to hold my blood sugar level for 24 hours.  Instead, I took 75 units of Humalog, the fast acting insulin I normally take with meals.  I usually only use 20 units of that insulin, so this amount that I had just injected was almost 4x what I would normally have taken at a meal.    Immediately, I noticed my Lantus sitting on the counter and I realized my mistake.  But, I didn’t stop there.  I knew I hadn’t taken my Lantus, so I took 75 units of that, too.  And then I called my doctor’s answering service that put me through immediately to my doctor.  Since I had taken so much short term insulin, he said I would be seeing a severe drop in my blood sugars.  He told me to eat some sugar and get to an emergency room before I went into a diabetic coma.  My husband took me immediately.

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    Once at the hospital, I had to tell my story several more times.  I stressed to them that it was not intentional, nor was it caused by my dementia.  I made a mistake.  My mind was on other things, and I was tired.  I had presence of mind enough to know what I had done and its seriousness.  I knew enough to call my doctor immediately.  Had the overdose been caused by my short term memory loss, I wouldn’t have known to call my doctor.  I wouldn’t have remembered the severe problems it could cause.


    I must say that after nine hours in the emergency room, I have it well engrained in my head to check two and three times before taking any shots from now on.  I was well cared for in the emergency room and monitored closely.  They had to run an IV with “sugar water” (my term, not theirs).  They gave me a sandwich and juice.  They put a higher concentration of “sugar water” in my IV.  They gave me milk and cookies… and, finally, my blood sugar level stopped plummeting. 


    I suppose I am telling the world about my overdose because it is important not to point your finger at DEMENTIA each time you or your loved one makes a mistake.  It’s important to look at the sequence of events to get the full picture.  Don’t assume that the dementia is worsening every time there is a problem.   

Published On: August 22, 2008