This past weekend, my daughter impressed me more than I could have ever imagined when she saved Tom’s life.
I left on Saturday for a girl’s weekend with my roommates from college. We all met up at Illinois State for Homecoming and set out for a night of bar hopping and pretending we could still drink like fish, despite the fact we are mommies in their mid-30s. We started at the bar we spent most of our time at in college and indulged in some 32-ounce beers in Homecoming souvenir cups and fried cheeseballs. I’m pretty sure that 15 years ago I would not have been so jazzed about the souvenir cup part, but I suppose that just shows how much I’ve matured over the years. We topped off the night at LaBamba for some burritos as big as our heads to soak up the liquor the cheeseballs didn’t take care of.
In the morning, despite the fact I had gone to bed at 3 a.m., I was wide-awake at 6:30 a.m. Go figure, even when I had the chance to sleep without a little munchkin jumping in my bed, my body had other plans. Of course, within a half-hour, all the other girls’ internal clocks kicked in and we were all up. We spent the morning lounging in our beds and chitchatting about our kids, our husbands and life in general. I had just gotten done telling them about Tom and his diabetes and my concerns about his sugars going low, especially when he was home alone with the kids.
I waited a while to call home and at 8:30 decided it was time to check in and make sure everything was okay. Tom answered his cell phone just before it went to voicemail and his voice sounded muffled. I thought he said he was wrestling Colin, but he continued to slur his words and wouldn’t stop babbling. I realized his sugars were low and I started screaming into the phone. My girlfriends realized something was wrong and their conversation ceased. I kept yelling to have him put Maddie on the phone or hoped that Maddie would hear me and grab the phone from Tom. Finally I heard her voice on the other line and she was crying. She said, “Daddy won’t wake up! I can’t get him to wake up!” We have taught her about Tom’s diabetes and how to tell if he is low and that when he is, she needs to get him juice. Most times there is juice right next to our bed. She said she tried to give him juice and he wouldn’t take it. My first thought was the image of my poor baby trying to force juice on him. I’ve been in that position myself and it is the most helpless feeling when he is so low he refuses to drink it. I also knew that he must be really low at that point and I had to act fast otherwise he would die.
I hung up with Maddie and my first thought was to call my neighbors to get there to help her out. I knew they could get there faster than the paramedics or Tom’s parents not only for Tom’s sake, but for the kids. Lord knows how long they had been up with Tom in that condition. Thank God we are close with our neighbors and they know our garage code and about Tom’s diabetes.
I was shaking uncontrollably and couldn’t remember how to dial my phone or my neighbor’s name. My friends were asking me a ton of questions hoping to help me somehow, but once I was able to access my contacts and call my neighbor I knew it would only be a matter of minutes that help would arrive. I made sure Lisa brought her husband because Tom is hard to handle when he is low. He can also get aggressive and I have had to literally wrestle him to get sugar in him several times.
I immediately called Tom’s cell phone back and Maddie answered. I explained that Richie and Lisa would be coming in the house to help her and not to be afraid. I was amazed at how calm she was on the other line and within seconds I heard my neighbors voices and I felt at least a less helpless and worried. I could hear Richie, but he didn’t know I was on the phone so I started shouting, “Someone pick up the phone!!!” He heard me and then saw it on the nightstand and grabbed it. I started giving him specific instructions on what he needed to do. I knew pouring a bottle of Gatorade down his throat while he’s laying in bed incapacitated was next to impossible. I instructed him to go downstairs into the pantry and get the applesauce that comes in a pouch making it easy to squeeze into his mouth. I told him to tell Maddie he needed “Applesauce Juicies” and she would know what he meant. My neighbors told me after the fact that the whole time they were trying to find what they needed and figure out what to do beyond my instructions over the phone, Maddie was a rock and remained very clear, focused and helpful. The only time she lost it and cried was when I got off the phone with her to call the neighbors. She thought I had hung up on her.
I remained on the other line waiting for Richie to get a combination of applesauce jucies and Capri Sun into Tom, unsure of whether or not any of it was getting into his mouth. Richie mentioned it was getting all over our sheets and I told him not to worry, just save his life. It felt like forever listening for some sign that Tom was coming to. Normally once he gets at least a little sugar in him, he starts to come around enough to sit up and drink the juice and aid in the process. Even after twenty minutes, I heard no sign that he was improving. I wasn’t sure if I should call 911, but I knew that as long as they kept putting sugar in him, he would come around at some point. Then I started questioning whether or not there was something else happening to him. His voice was so garbled, slurred and muffled when I had first called, I wondered if perhaps he was having a stroke or heart attack or something? I felt so helpless knowing I was 2 ½ hours away and couldn’t do anything to get to my family. At one point I was standing there in my pajamas putting my shoes on thinking I should just leave, but realized that was pointless.
Meanwhile, Lisa was tending to the kids and trying to distract them. She thought Colin might still be sleeping, until he emerged from my bedroom waving his Star Wars Light Saber. He proceeded to sit on Lisa’s lap downstairs where he farted on her several times. Clearly, he was there purely there for moral support and comic relief.
It wasn’t for at least another ten minutes that I heard Tom’s “real voice” in the background and could finally take a sigh of relief. I spoke to him just long enough to hear him say, “I’m okay,” and heard him call Maddie over so he could comfort her. At that point, I could finally shift out of damage control mode and let out the emotions I had been holding in. All I could do was cry and tell him how much I love him. He got off the phone relatively quickly, but I knew that he needed to gather himself and finish coming out of his low. He called me back within a half hour and we were both emotional after the whole experience.
This has happened several times in the past and in a handful of times, I’ve had to call 911. We used to have a Glucagon shot, but Tom had instructed me not to use it on him because he swings when he’s low. He was worried he could hurt me or the needle could break off in his leg or if he hit me while I had it in my hand it could end up my eye or any other host of issues. Even when I called 911 a few years back, the first thing they asked me before they gave him the shot was whether or not he was known to get violent when he’s low. Tom’s friend used to pick him up on Friday morning and they would carpool to work together. He had just pulled up in the midst of the chaos and the paramedics used him to help hold him down while they gave him the shot. They figured it would be better for Tom to see someone he knew when he came to rather than three strange men in his bedroom.
We've taught Maddie to call 911 in an emergency and she told us that she was about to call 911, but couldn’t find a cordless phone upstairs and couldn’t reach the one in the kitchen. I think it is safe to say our guardian angels were working overtime. By the grace of God, I decided to call at that time and with the help of my superhero daughter and really awesome neighbors they took care of my children and saved my husband’s life. I think it is important to note this is the same neighbor who helped me break into my house last week.
Needless to say, when I got home I squeezed my husband and kids tight and we took Maddie to Toys R Us to pick out a toy. Of course, Colin scored a toy too since he kept his cool through the situation despite the fact he was lighting it up on poor Lisa’s lap. I don't think I will be leaving on any overnight trips any time soon, we have located all the stray cordless phones and put them on the chargers and reviewed how to call 911 on both the home phone and our iPhones. In addition, we don't ever plan on ever moving out of our commune/neighborhood because the relationship with our neighbors isn't very easy to come by. I was even able to get over the fact that they had to kick dirty laundry on my bedroom floor out of the way in the process.
In the end, I am just so grateful that my daughter inherited my grace under pressure and that the real “Homecoming” was when I arrived home and everyone was alive and well.