Diabetes Blogs

A Guest Post: Low at Five Stories

Hello! I am pleased to present you today with a guest post from a friend of mine who also lives with Type 1 diabetes, Jim Murray. We met through the diabetes online community (DOC) shortly after I began writing my blog in December, 2011. I believe I first met Jim after he left a comment on a blog post I wrote about a severe low blood sugar I experienced. We have been friends, connected through diabetes, ever since.

One of the ten most popular posts at my blog, Diabetes Lightis a poem written by Jim. I didn't hesitate for a second when he approached me this summer about featuring another piece of his writing.

Jim, thank you for putting your experience into words and giving us a glimpse of what living with Type 1 diabetes can be like for you. Everyone benefits when someone is courageous enough to share their story. You are a gift to all of us in more ways than one.

Jim MurrayMy name is Jim Murray. I have been a Union Mason for 15 years, and I've had Type 1 diabetes for 13 of those. A Union Mason is a job that often presents unique challenges. The location and intensity of my work can differ daily. I could be anywhere from many stories up on the side of a building with nowhere to go, to down in an elevator shaft. I must plan carefully, one minor mistake could be very costly. I almost always have a snack in my pocket, but this time I didn't. Luckily, I had an older small snack in my tool bucket. It probably saved my life.

During this event, I was experiencing a few months of great control. This sounds good, except when I spend more time in the normal range, my body doesn't trigger the warning signs of a low episode. So often I'm caught off guard. But once again, I was lucky. I continued working at a steady pace, and avoided checking my blood sugar, as this would just cause me to panic, and I didn't have any food to fuel panic. Instead of getting angry or depressed, I decided to write about it. And I'm actually a little surprised about how much better it made me feel.

This is just a glimpse into the daily struggle of a diabetic.


View from 5th floor worksite (taken a few days after poem was written).                       

Low at Five Stories

It was a beautiful morning with a bright blue sky
We are working on a building that is 5 stories high
It is the best time of year, early in June
We’ll enjoy it while we can, it’ll be heating up soon
As masons our job is normally tough

But this day is different, just painting and stuff
The boss hands out jobs as I wait for mine
Whatever I’m doing, I’m sure I’ll be fine

He says “I need you on 5, and work your way down,
I’ll take you up there, then I won’t be around”
I put on my harness, and boarded the machine
Did a quick check to see I have all that I need

I was lifted to the balcony that I’d spend some of my day
Got off, grabbed my stuff, then the machine drove away
There’s one way up, and one way down
So I’m stuck up here until he comes back around

Without a pause, I organize the deck
Wasn’t sure of my blood sugar, so I decided to check
I bled on the strip, my jaw hit the floor
The reading that appeared was a low 54!

This has happened before, and will happen again
First I panic,then calm, then panic again
I have a snack with me, with carbs about 10

But then I’ll go lower, but how low, and when
Most think it’s easy, but they don’t see the inside
The pain and the struggle, and all of those that have died

Or the parents that wake to check young children at night
I think that they have a more difficult fight
Think about your child dying, it would be such a shame
Could you stay in that house, keep their bedroom the same?

I eat my small snack, as an hour goes by
Will this 8x 10 slab be the place that I’ll die?
I think of the mistakes that got me this far
Like not testing sooner, or grabbing food from my car

Yesterday I did things exactly the same
With different results, this is not a fair game

A game misunderstood by people on the street
That speak of a relative that lost both their feet
Or how we can’t eat sweets, or certain food
It’s not only incorrect, but often it’s rude

Although most mean no harm, it’s just a bad habit
I was confused myself, before I found out I had it

A sound in the distance, and a beautiful scene
As my boss rounds the corner, aboard the machine
He scoops me up, I tell him “go down”

So happy to make it, I could’ve kissed the ground
I didn’t mention anything about what had gone on

I ate from my lunchbox until most food was gone

This disease has taught me to be more alert
To plan far ahead, or I’ll risk getting hurt

I made it through this one, and I’ll survive others too
This is just a small glimpse of what we go through

I was stranded for a few hours, but one things for sure
I would’ve stayed up there all week, if I could come down to a cure

-- Written by Jim Murray, 2013



In Peace & Wellness,



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