April 2013 Flashback: Kiwi & Patrick Save My Life and More Soul Food

In April 2013, I experienced one of the craziest, out of body experiences of my life.  To preface, I must first tell you I have diabetes.  I have had diabetes for over ten years and have always been able to detect when my blood sugar is getting low without even using my glucose monitor (I still do check my blood, however, so I know exactly how low it is).  With low blood sugar, I typically feel weak and sweaty.  In extreme cases, I also feel dizzy and shaky.

Now for my crazy experience.  I really can’t accurately describe what I was feeling, but I will do my best…

It was a beautiful San Diego day, sunny and in the seventies.  I had taken Kiwi to a somewhat secluded park – bordered by trees on two sides, stairs leading to a baseball field on the other and more trees that hid the park from the main street/public view on the other.  I threw the ball a few times for Kiwi as I worked on a short talk I was giving that night at a small Relief Society church meeting.

After a few throws, an overwhelming exhaustion washed over me.  “I just need to rest my eyes for a few minutes,” I thought as I closed my laptop and stretched out on the towel I was sitting on (with Kiwi still off leash ready to play ball).

After what felt like mere minutes, I awoke to Kiwi’s barking.  As I sluggishly opened my eyes, I saw Kiwi on the heals of two teenage boys taking a shortcut threw the park.  Kiwi NEVER barks, and never at people – she LOVES people!  To her, every single person is another friend to play fetch with, give her snuggles, and to scratch behind her ears.

Instead of realizing Kiwi was crying out for help, my first reaction was to quite her barking.  As the boys left and she stopped barking, I weakly grasped my phone, I let out a little gasp as I saw I had been asleep (or more accurately, passed out) for almost four hours.

As I tried to stand up and shake off my sleepy haze, I instantly collapsed back to the ground.  As I tried again to stand up, I stumbled back to my hands and knees.  “What is happening?!”  “Why can’t I stand up?!”  I thought.   The world was spinning around me in one green grassy blur.  I crawled a few inches and tried again to stand but all my muscles had turned to Jell-O – uncontrollable, pliable, drippy Jell-O.  “This is crazy!……I need sugar, I need sugar.”  I thought.  “I need to get to the car…but if I get to the car, I don’t think I can drive.”

I don’t know how many times I tried standing and how many times my legs buckled, and I crashed to the ground, falling on my side. I just know that by the end, my hair was covered in leaves.  “This might be it,” I thought.  “This is so weird…this can’t be it…” and then I pictured myself in the ER trying to be revived.

As I accepted defeat, I pathetically tried to wrap my towel around my shivering shoulders.  How could it be so cold when it was so warm earlier?  My trembling hands barely had the strength to hold down the number 2 speed dial and press the receiver to my ear.

“Pat..rick?”  I called, and then with the slurred and halted speech of someone with hypothermia, I uttered, “I…need…help…I’m at…the…mini…park.”

Without even asking what was wrong (he said later my slurred speech was alarming) he said, “Hold on, I am only 15 minutes away. I will be right there.”   Sweet words of relief as I swaddled myself and rocked back and forth trying to generate warmth.

I must have passed out again because in no time I saw Patrick running towards me.

“I..don’t..know..what..happened,” I said.  “My…blood…sugar…is…low.”

I expected Patrick to help me stand and then help me walk, but with one swoop I was in his arms as he started running towards the car…and then repeated the process with Kiwi who had stayed right by my side the entire time.

I blacked out again in the car, and finally awoke after Patrick had carried me up two flights of stairs and placed me in the bathtub with all my clothes on.  He immediately turned on hot water and began serving me glass after glass of juice.  After a few full glasses, he checked my blood sugar – it was 34 – which probably meant it was in the twenties before all the juice. (Low blood sugar was also why I was so cold – not enough sugar/energy to warm my body.)

To put this in perspective, a fasting blood sugar should be no lower than 70 (150 two hours after eating).  I had been dangerously close to a diabetic coma, and even death if not found (I just appeared to be sleeping to anyone who saw me in the secluded park).  If Kiwi had not awakened me and I had not been able to call Patrick, Patrick would have assumed I was running errands and would have had no reason to come looking for me, and if he did come looking, he wouldn’t known where to find me.

I sat in the warm water, still shivering, as Patrick asked, “Should I call the ambulance?”

“No…I just…need…more juice,” I said, not wanting to make the situation a bigger deal, but at the same time thinking maybe he should.

He kept feeding me juice as I concentrated my fuzzy head on staying awake.   Finally, after drinking an entire 2.84 liter bottle from Costco, my blood sugar levels tested normal again. I shakily got out of the tub, changed into dry clothes and curled up in bed with mounds of blanks piled on top of me.

I cannot imagine Patrick’s fear, panic and desperation as he found me unable to walk, unable to talk. The weight of the world must have pressed hard on his shoulders as he felt responsible for my survival.  He carried me that day, just as he has carried my heart every day of our marriage.  I am so blessed to be married to a heavenly angel.

After I was settled, Patrick called his friend, Mike Foulger, so he could tell his wife that I wouldn’t be able to speak that night.  As Patrick began to speak, his voice cracked.  Mike immediately said, “I’m coming over right now.”

Mike and his wife, Lauren, showed up minutes later.  They were so willing to drop everything and rush to the aid of their friends who needed them, without even knowing what was wrong. I hope I can be a friend like that.

Sporting matching headbands made by a friend at work - not sure if Kiwi likes it.
Me and my little saint sporting matching headbands made by a friend at work – not sure if Kiwi likes it. (April 2013)

After “Pass out park,” I learned the kidneys are responsible for removing excess glucose (sugar) from the blood.   As the kidneys fail, they have a harder time removing the glucose; consequently, less insulin is needed because the glucose stays in the bloodstream for longer periods of time.    Now that I was in Stage 5 kidney failure I would have to begin monitoring my blood sugar even closer!  I was prescribed a Glucagon pen by my doctor.  This magic pen is essentially injectable glucose that will reverse severely low blood sugar by releasing sugar directly into the bloodstream.  Thankfully I have never had to use it!

I am so grateful for all the tender mercies, miracles  and everyday angels in my life – from my husband and family, to our friends, to my lung donors, to even my dog.  Where would I be without these angels in my life? They have been the answer to prayers again and again and again.  When we are tempted to wonder where God is, we just need to look around us.

We all carry our own burdens but they become lighter when we help carry the burdens of others.  President Thomas S. Monson said, “One of the greatest feelings in life, is knowing the Lords has sent you to answer someone’s prayer.”

My angel Lauren graciously gave my talk that night, appropriately titled, “Jesus Christ, the Master Gardener.”  Thank you Lauren!

I hope you enjoy!  Full text, click here.

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18 Comments

  1. sheralie says

    jen – what a story. i am so grateful you have so many angels to watch out for you. very miraculous indeed. extra hugs for kiwi and patrick!!! love to you all.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Sheralie! Love to you and your family too!!!

  2. Ciera says

    Your stories always bring me to tears because I am so flooded with the spirit every time. Thank you so much for sharing them.
    Xo.

  3. Katie says

    Oh sweet, Jen! You are so, so incredible! I’m so grateful I get to claim you as family!! Thanks for sharing your story and strengthening my faith.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for your kind words Katie – they mean so much to me! I am so grateful we are family too! xoxoxo!

  4. Lisa says

    I can’t even imagine how scary that must have been for all of you. How sweet that Kiwi was trying to get help for you. Kiwi is a doll, by the way. She reminds me of my English bulldog, Coco, we had for 9 years. Kiwi has the same cuteness. The picture of you two makes me smile. 🙂 Adorable!
    Thank you for sharing your experiences along with your fabulous recipes.
    I am so glad you and Patrick have each other. He seems like such a great guy.
    What a hero! And how great to have friends like Mike and Lauren. I am so grateful you have so many angels looking over you. You are such an inspiration to me.
    Love you! Lisa

    • Jen says

      Its so good to hear from you Lisa! and thank you for visiting my site! I love English bulldogs, I am sure Coco was such a sweet addition to your family. Yes, Patrick is my hero, he is such a sweetheart. I feel very blessed! It has been too long since I’ve seen you and your family. I hope you all are doing well! Love you! Jen

  5. Lauren says

    Oh Jen, you have me in tears. I can’t tell you how much I love you.. I learn so much from you and your amazing example. You ARE a “friend like that” and so much more. Mike and I frequently talk about how we are blessed to have you two in our lives. Some of our most cherished friends. Thanks for the soul food I’m catching up on tonight.

    • Jen says

      The feelings are mutual! I love you both too! So blessed to call you dear friends!

  6. Renita says

    Jen, I feel led to reach out to you… I too have diabetes and experience those “lows”. A few nights ago, my 7 month old Lab woke me from a sound sleep w/ a bs of 31. Again the next night at 60. Our old Lab, who passed away, had watched after me this way for years. Jen, dogs can detect these lows before we even realize and they are God’s gift to us. Your touching story brought tears to my eyes, thanks for sharing…and to think it was enchiladas, that are your husbands favorite, that led be to your page! Lol
    🙂 Renita

    • Jen says

      Hi Renita, thank you so much for connecting! That is amazing that your lab, especially at 7 months!, woke you from your low! What a blessing, especially because 31 is crazy low! Thank goodness you are all right and thank goodness for your dog! That is awesome your other lab did the same thing! I have read that dogs can sense low blood sugar but so far, this park incident was the only time Kiwi has done anything about it – and I’m so grateful she did! I wish I could train her somehow. Did you ever train your dogs in anyway or was it all instinctual? If the latter, then it sounds like I might need to get a lab 🙂

  7. Kevin | Keviniscooking says

    Wow, so glad that Patrick found you, Kiwi stayed with you and that you be with us this weekend! Quite moving to say the least!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Kevin! I have a hard time even thinking about what could have happened – so many miracles, so much to be grateful for!!

  8. Leah says

    Hello Jen! I have read bits and pieces of your story. I hope to be able to read it in full soon. All of your recipes look so amazing! Carlsbad is such a beautiful place. I too have many health issues. Mine started about 4 years ago. Mine are not life threatening but chronic and extremely painful in nature. I too am blessed with an angel husband and 3 angel pups. I developed LADA diabetes at the age of 42. Similar to Type 1 where I don’t produce insulin. I have passed out several times with seizures, lucky for me , my hubby was there each time. Talk about scaring the heck out of him! One time, I had Apple juice foaming out of my mouth during the seizure and my dog ran up to me and cleared my airway with kisses. Now my family will laugh and say it’s because my dog wanted the apple juice but I know the truth. I know that she sensed that I needed help since she has had seizures herself. I’m Sure you know that they do have hypoglycemia awarness dogs? I’m Not sure if you can have another dog in the house though. I would just spoil them and ruin their training. Lol. Anyway, thank you for all that you do! God bless you and your family!!!!!

    • Jen says

      Hi Leah, I am going through approved comments but see that I never responded to your comment from forever ago – ah! I’m so sorry! First of all, thank you so much for taking time to read my story and second, thank you for sharing a part of yours! I am so sorry you have to deal with chronic pain and diabetes – no fun! But I am so happy you are blessed with a champion husband and your pups – what a difference they make! How scary to have passed out so many times with seizures – absolutely terrifying! I am so relieved you have been okay and that your pup was watching out for you and cleared your apple juice airways 🙂 Dogs really are angels! God bless you and yours as well! xo

  9. Melissa Howell says

    Oh wow! That is so scary! You are truly so blessed to have a wonderful husband and faithful dog who saved your life! So many people have been and are being blessed by you and the goodness you put out to the world. We’re all lucky that you get to stick around!

    • Jen says

      It was SO scary but I’m grateful I was blessed to stick around too 🙂 Thank you for your super sweet comment! You always brighten my day and no doubt countless others as well! xo

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