Monday, January 29, 2007

Late Night Conversations

A play in six acts

Cast of Characters –

  • Val – an increasingly sleep-deprived, mother of three, type 1 diabetic
  • Pump – an Animas IR1200+ insulin pump, who usually sleeps in the pocket of Val’s tee shirt
  • Dex – a DexCom STS continuous blood sugar monitor, whose job it is to make sure Val’s blood sugar doesn’t go too low or too high overnight. He is set to alarm at values below 80 or over 200. He usually sleeps under Val’s pillow.
  • Clock – your basic digital alarm clock, set for 5:30 am on weekdays, 7 on weekends. Lives on Val’s bookcase headboard next to a large pile of Juicy Juice 100% apple juice boxes (15 grams carbohydrate each) and a scattering of used test strips.
  • Meter – a one-touch Ultra Smart blood sugar meter, whose job it is to provide real data if Dex is getting flaky. He sleeps on the headboard between Clock and the juice boxes.
  • Various and sundry other characters, whose short-lived appearances should be self evident.

Act I

Thursday night – or very early Friday. We can assume that Val went to bed around 11pm, after first checking that both Meter and Dex agreed that her blood sugar was about 140.

1:30 am

Dex You’re low.

Val Hmm? [reaches under the pillow, jabs Dex, who shuts up. Goes back to sleep.]

2:15 am

Dex You’re low.

Val Hmm? [reaches under pillow, jabs Dex again. Then thinking better of it, grabs Meter off the shelf. Pops cap, inserts test strip, pricks finger without turning on the light. Then pulls Dex from under the pillow and hits a button so he lights up.]

Dex You’re low. 68, you know. [Val uses light on Dex to guide her finger to the appropriate spot on the test strip. Meter begins his countdown]

Meter 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 –

[Dex goes dark]

Meter 1!

[Val pokes Dex again, twists him so light falls on Meter]

Meter 46.

[Val stuffs Meter back on his shelf, tucks Dex under his pillow and grabs a juice box from the shelf. Pulls off straw, unwraps it, and finds the little foil dot in the dark. Sucks down juice, tosses box off side of bed. Sleeps.]

2:21 am

Dex You’re low.

Val I know that, let me sleep. [Jabs Dex and rolls over]

2:32 am

Dex You’re low. Really, really low. Like 40.

Val I know that, I just drank the juice. Leave me alone.

2:40 am

Dex You’re low. [Val hits him]

3:28 am

Dex You’re low.

Val I can’t be low.

Dex You’re low.

Val What time is it, anyway?

Clock 3:28 am. [Val grabs Meter, repeats testing procedure.]

Meter 5-4-3-2-[pause as Dex goes dark]-1. You are 54.

Dex (smugly) told you so.

Val Shit! [Stuffs Dex and Meter under pillow, grabs another juice box, then has to pull Dex from under the pillow to light up because she can’t find the spot to put in the straw.] How the hell did that happen, anyway?

Dex Last juice box brought you up to 134, then you coasted back down again. Drink your juice.

Val’s husband (sleepily) You all right?

Val Yeah. Just low. I’ve got juice.

Val’s husband You sure?

Dex We’re fine. [Val’s husband rolls over and returns to blissful sleep. Val finishes juice, tosses box to the floor, sleeps]

3:36 am

Dex You’re low.

Val Will you shut up! I just drank the frigging juice. [Jabs Dex and goes back to sleep]

5:30 am

Clock Time to get up. [Val reaches under pillow, jabs Dex]

Dex Hey!

Clock Time to get – [Val reaches up to shelf, slaps Clock]

5:39 am

Clock Time to get up. [Val groans and sits up. Turns off Clock and reaches under pillow]

Val How’d we do last night?

Dex You are 124. Nice and steady after that second juice.

Val Is that right? [tests]

Meter You are 124.

Dex See?

Act II

Friday night/Saturday morning. Scene – the same. Val was about 86 at bedtime, so she had a glass of milk and a cookie before going to bed at 11.

11:57 pm

Dex You’re high.

Val I know that, I just had a snack.

Dex But you’re high.

Val Yes. Shut up. I’ll be fine in a half hour or so. We don’t want a repeat of last night. [pokes Dex]

3:12 am

Dex You’re high.

Val I’m not low, leave me alone. [pokes Dex].

3:20 am

Dex I said you’re high. High, not low.

Val What was that? [Pulls Dex from under the pillow and hits a button].

Dex 278

Val Oh, man! [Gets Meter from his shelf]

Meter 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 [pause for light] – 1. You are 174.

Val 174’s not bad. And I drop in the morning anyway. [Pulls a wire from Meter’s case and plugs it into Meter and Dex. They converse]

Dex Maybe you aren’t that high after all.

Val Go away, Dex.

4:46 am

Dex You’re high again.

Val Wha…. [Val grabs Dex from under the pillow and hits a button]

Dex You’ve been steadily climbing for the past hour. 172 to 265. [Val hits button again] You did it twice in the last three hours. [Val hits button a third time] All night long. You’re high.

Val Are you sure? [She frowns at the nine-hour graph, blearily realizing that she is seeing The Dreaded Scallops, a pattern she has recognized before. She reaches down and finds where Dex’s transmitter is clipped to the sensor on her leg and presses on it. A click is heard.] Aha!

Dex I’m only as good as my information, you know. So what is your blood sugar? [Val pulls Meter off his shelf, puts test strip in slot, pricks finger]

Val’s cat [jumping on bed] You’re up! You’re up! Feed me. [Val pushes cat off bed. Cat jumps back up] You’re going to feed me, aren’t you? Even if you aren’t I just love you. I’ve told you that, right? And my buddy Meter. Can I have the little bottle of strips? Please? It shakes and it rolls -

Meter Get him off me! [Val picks up cat, drops him off side of bed. Now has cat fur stuck to blood drop, so has to prick a different finger.]

Meter Any day now.

Dex Don’t bother her, it’s been a rough night. [Second finger refuses to bleed, Val pricks a third]

Meter 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – [pause] – 1. You are 143. [Val finds wire for Meter, plugs him and Dex together.]

Dex. Oh. 143. My bad. [Val returns Dex to his pillow and stuffs Meter, wire still dangling, on the shelf. Sleeps]

7 am

Clock Time to get up. [Val slaps him] What?


Saturday night – early Sunday. Scene – same. As with Wednesday, Val had a snack – a glass of milk - at bedtime because her blood sugar was 74.

2:03 am

Dex You’re high! [Val hits him]

3:16 am

Dex You’re high! [Val pulls him out from under pillow, hits a button] You’ve been high all night. Go ahead, ask Meter, he’ll back me up.

Val There is no way one glass of milk can bring me from 74 to 300. Leave me alone.

Dex But you’re high. Ask Meter, if you don’t belive me.

Meter Leave me out of this. You don’t want her getting mad. Remember what happened to Pump.

Pump What?

Dex Not you. The last Pump. Three weeks ago.

Meter Dropped on the bathroom floor. Cracked the screen straight across. It was awful.

Pump Ooooh!

Meter So watch your step.

Dex (worried) She wouldn’t do that to me, would she? I’m out of warrantee, and out-of-pocket besides. [No one answers] Oh, all right. She is high, though.

7 am

Clock Time to get up.

Val [reaching under pillow] Dex?

Dex You’re high. Like 400 plus. I can’t count that high.

Val Shit. [takes meter from shelf, tests]

Meter 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1. You are 374.

Val What the hell?

Dex I tried to tell you, but you just wouldn’t listen.

Val What do I do now? [She wiggles the little button on her stomach marking Pump’s infusion set, thinking he’s disconnected. But it seems fine]

Pump Well, for starters, let’s try three and a half units of insulin. You changed the site yesterday, so it should still be good.

Val All right.

Pump And you could try listening to Dex. [Dex preens]

Act IV

Sunday. It is bedtime. Val has just tested.

Meter You are 157.

Val OK. Good. No snack tonight. Now, I have work tomorrow. You’re going to let me sleep, right, Dex?

Dex I’m just doing my job. Talk to the pancreas. And the thyroid, too, he’s hyper.

Val I mean it, I really, really need some sleep. No interruptions.

Meter (whispers) Bathroom tiles! [Dex gulps]

3:09 am (now Monday)

Pump Uh, Val? [Val reaches under pillow, slaps Dex]

Dex (sleepily) What?

Pump Val? [This time Val hits the shelf.]

Clock Ouch. Hey, what’s the big deal?

Pump Val? [She pulls pump out of his pocket and looks at him incredulously] Umm.. I just thought you should know. I’ve only got 20 units of insulin left in my reservoir, so you’re going to have to fill me by about suppertime tomorrow.

Dex Asshole.

Val What time is it anyway?

Clock 3:10. [Val puts Pump back in his pocket and looks at Dex.]

Dex You are 145. Perfect. And I’d like to point out, I didn’t wake you up. [Val puts Dex back under the pillow and sleeps]

5:30 am

Clock Time to get up. [Val hits him]

Act V

Monday night/Tuesday morning. Scene – same. Val has gone to bed at 10:15, exhausted.

11:31 pm

Dex You’re low.

Val Leave me alone. [Hits him].

12:04 am (now Tuesday)

Dex You’re low. [Val hits him again]

12:13 am

Val’s bladder I gotta go!

Dex See! I told you you were low. [Val pulls Dex from beneath the pillow, tucks him in the pocket with Meter, and heads for the bathroom]

Val’s cat You’re up! You’re up! Feed me. [Val pushes cat out of bathroom and shuts door]

Dex You’re low, you know. You really should check with Meter when you get back to bed. I think you’re 58. [Val finishes, opens bathroom door]

Val’s cat You’re back! Now you’re going to feed me. [Val pushes cat into bathroom and shuts door]

Val’s dog What’s going on up there? Are you feeding the cat? Because if he gets fed, I get fed. [Val ignores dog and goes back to bed, this time switching on the reading light]

Meter What’s up? Oh, a check. 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1. You are 53.

Dex Told you. Have a juice box. [Val drinks juice, turns off light, goes back to sleep]

12:27 am

Dex You’re low! [Val hits him]

12:46 am

Dex No, I mean really low! [Val hits him again]

1:04 am

Val’s bladder I gotta go again! [Val gets up, walks to bathroom]

Val’s cat I’m saved! You’re here to feed me, right? [Val blinks at Dex]

Dex You are 55. Talk to Meter.

Val I can’t be low again, after the juice.

Dex Didn’t work. You just went lower.

Val Oh, crap. [Back in bed, Val reaches for Meter]

Meter Again? Somebody have a loose transmitter?

Dex Up yours! [Meter counts down]

Meter You are 39.

Val Shit. [Grabs another juice box]

Dex I tried to warn you, you know. If you’d just listen –

Meter Yeah, it’s the little boy who cried high. [Val ignores the bickering and sleeps]

3:29 am

Dex You’re low!

Val OK, I believe you. [Drinks another juice].

Val’s bladder You really are, you know. Or maybe it was all that juice.

Val I know, I know. [puts Dex in pocket, goes to bathroom, shuts cat in closet]

5:23 am

Dex You’re low!

Val You have got to be joking.

Dex No. 61. Honest!

Val What time is it?

Clock You have seven minutes.

Meter You are 64. Drink some juice.

Val Arrgh!

Val’s cat Um? Somebody? It’s dark in here…

Act V1

Tuesday night to early Wednesday. Scene – same. Val was 112 at bedtime and too tired to care that she should have had a snack.

5:30 am

Clock Time to get up! [Val reaches under pillow, hits Dex]

Dex Hey!

Clock No, it’s me. [Val stares at him]. It’s 5:30. You know, wake-up time?

Val Dex, how’d we do?

Dex Flat at 120, all night long.

Val You mean, we slept the whole night? It’s over?

Dex Don’t get used to it.


Scott K. Johnson said...

Hey Val,

A very entertaining post! But I must say, you have to be EXHAUSTED!! Here's hoping you get a few more nights of undisturbed sleep.

Sandra Miller said...


This was a terrific post-- entertaining and enlightening.

Makes me wonder how many lows we might be missing (we check Joseph every 1 1/2 to 2 hours, and he never wakes up when he's low).

I hope you start having many more nights like that wonderful last one.

jill. said...

That's hilarious! I really do hope that you have a few more nights like the last act, though. It makes me wonder how much I miss by sleeping through most nights...

floreksa said...

Love it! Hilarious.

Unknown said...

Best post in a long long time. I am a dex user, and that is exactly how it goes for me too.

Anonymous said...

great post, very amusing!

Christine said...

That was a great post. Both makes me glad I don't have a CGMS and wonder how I survive without it.

Chrissie in Belgium said...

I should be crying but I am laughing. Just too funny.

Anonymous said...

I'm visualizing this as a radio show, and getting ready to laugh my ass off. Again.

Drea said...


I know EXACTLY what you are talking about, except I don't have a cat or dog!!

I have had sleepness nights as the alarms ring out - as I was reading your post, I was laughing as I knew exactly what you were writing!

Bernard said...

This is hilarious, though I really wanted to kill Dex or Meter by the end.

Maybe I was just taking out my frustration with my own meter there.

Thanks for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

So incredibly true and funny. I went searching for this site in hopes of finding a place where people share their Dexcom experiences. I think it helps to hear other peoples experiences.

My experience was much like yours, although I didn't think it was funny at the time. However, I have been able to make some changes in my basal rate and my boluses. I try to eat slower acting carbs to avoid the rapid highs and I try to limit my carbs so that any error in calculating is minimized.

I am having success and I am falling in love with DEX as my dependency on Meter is wayning.

Thanks so much for your story... you are incredibly talented..

Anonymous said...

Val, this is why my Dex got canned. Too many late night conversations.

Take care!

Anonymous said...

Dex and I had a similar conversation this morning. I was about ready to throw him/her across the room. "I know I'm low but not low enough for you to wake me up every five minutes!!"

Wendy Morgan said...

Hil-ARIOUS! I hate being high, not becuase of the way I feel, but the Freestyle Navigator CGM's constant and completely annoying alarm! Nav should know I took insulin, I told him! Can't he leave me alone until it starts to work?


Vivian said...

That was great. Thanks for sharing your talent for capturing the moments even when you are sleep deprived. Hope you get some rest.


Khürt Williams said...

Very entertaining post. I am still in the honey moon period and I am not looking forward to any of this.

Anonymous said... of the best posts I've ever read.

I'm laughing so hard to type anymore.

Unknown said...


Super post! I've been on a Dex 24/7 for over a year and couldn't live without it, but it can be totally annoying lots of times. You say you use an Ultrasmart meter. I was told it has to be an Ultra. I tried an Ultra 2 once but it didn't work. Whassup?

Anonymous said...

That post made me laugh. Very funny.