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.
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.