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Crazy Train.

Oh hi! Are you reading the alt text?The past few days have been unreasonably hot in the northeast, making me wonder if that whole "fry an egg on the sidewalk" thing could have been a real breakfast option.  I visited the Animas HQ last Thursday and Friday, and when I left their offices late on Friday afternoon and headed to the train station at 30th Street in Philadelphia, the heat was relentless.  And apparently, the train station didn't get the note about air conditioning being a great idea.

"Acela 2172 to Boston delayed by 50 minutes" greeted me upon walking in the door.  Awesome.  

I milled around the train station for a while, sucking down an iced coffee and changing from my dress and heels into shorts and a t-shirt.  (Thankfully - more on that good decision later.)  The train was delayed again, this time to 75 minutes.  Many of the other trains on the board were marked as "Cancelled."  

I called Chris.  

"I'm not positive I'm going to get out of Philly.  The trains going north are all delayed or cancelled.  I'll let you know."

"Okay, be careful."

The Acela 2172 did end up boarding, so I jumped on with my fellow passengers, thankful to be in the air conditioned, comfortable seats on the train.  However, right after we started going, the conductor came over the loudspeaker:  "This train will TERMINATE in New York's Penn Station.  There is no further assistance offered by Amtrak.  All passengers must exit the train."

TERMINATE?  Spoken in all caps?  That can't be good.

I've never seen such a large group of people mobilize so quickly.  Within seconds, everyone was on their phone trying to secure a rental car, or a hotel room, or a helicopter.  (Okay, so one guy on this train had some serious money, because he was actually talking to someone about getting his helipad ready for take off.)  Me?  I called a friend, my mother, and then my husband, mainly just to confirm that I was indeed stuck on a train, and it sucked.

The short of it is this:  An accident in New Haven, coupled with wires down due to the excessive heat, shut down all of the northbound train service on Amtrak.  It also completely mucked with the Metro North trains headed north, as well.  This left a bunch of northbound passengers high and dry (actually, low and sweaty, if you're me), and streaming out into the streets outside of Penn Station. 

Part of living with diabetes is hoping for the best scenario, but planning for the worst.  I thanked whatever part of my brain had thought about buying a few bottles of water before leaving Penn Station.  I also thanked that same part for remembering to throw a pen of Humalog into my purse before traveling.  And then I thanked my subconscious for making me change out of my heels before I slogged it through New York City.

Because what unfolded next was a perfect storm of personal diabetes chaos:  While walking from Penn Station to Grand Central in efforts to grab one of the only running Metro North trains, my blood sugar plummeted into the 50's.  I cracked open a bottle of juice I had snagged from the Animas office, and drained half of it while walking with my new friends (aka my fellow 2172 passengers).  Between the heat, trotting along with my luggage, and the low blood sugar, I was drenched with sweat by the time I reached Grand Central.  Dehydrated, exhausted, and watching the now double-up arrows on my Dexcom, I stood in Grand Central and watched the Hudson line board, waiting for the departure track to be announced.  The train finally arrived and the collective throng of people waiting in the terminal moved towards the track.  The heat, again, was incredible.  The Dexcom started to BEEEEEEP! and wail.  And I realized I hadn't used the bathroom since leaving Philly, which meant that my body was sorely lacking in the hydration department.  

As I rode the slowest train EVER from Grand Central up to Stamford, I watched as my blood sugar rose and rose and rose.  Within a 45 minute span, I climbed over 280 points, eventually hitting 380 mg/dl.  The stress of the cancelled train, hoofing it to Grand Central, the low blood sugar, the rebound high, and the dehydration was sending me straight into  a dangerous situation.  I was drinking water, but the nausea was overwhelming, and I spent the entire ride trying not to throw up.  I've never experienced diabetic ketoacidosis before, but I knew that if vomiting started with a blood sugar that high and hydration levels that low, I was in for some trouble. 

I called Chris, who was on his way into New Haven to pick me up.  "Dude, I feel horrible.  My blood sugars are wicked high, and I feel really nauseous.  We may need to stop at the ER, depending on how this goes."

"When are you supposed to get to New Haven?"

"We have to change trains in Stamford to a diesel engine, because the wires are down in Westport and everything sucks.  Looks like I'll get to New Haven close to one am."

Thankfully, by the time we reached New Haven, my blood sugar was down to 117 mg/dl and the nausea had passed.  But not without issue.  Hours and hours passed, and the train crawled from stop to stop, the doors of the car opening and the hot air rushing in.  People were irritable and exhausted, myself included.  I had left West Chester, PA around 3:45 pm, but didn't smash my face against my pillow at home in Rhode Island until 2:30 am. 

  • Test strips used during my travels:  11. 
  • Bottles of water consumed:  4. 
  • Average temperature while traveling:  103 degrees.
  • Number of bouquets of flowers that Amtrak should send to my house as an apology:  2.
  • Glucose tabs consumed:  8. 
  • Humalog pen injections taken:  1. 
  • Number of hours it took to get from West Chester to RI:  11.
  • Number of times I texted and used the phrase "effing train":  14.  

Being home, safe and in the air conditioning?  Priceless.


I experienced something similar this weekend when we were driving through St. Louis for the first time. Our interstate was closed at one section, so we had to follow the detour messages while listening to our GPS scream "Recalculating" every time we turned. Constance was beeping that I was high as we were passing the arch. I was so stressed out by the time we left St. Louis that I had to get off at the next exit and let Trey drive.

I've found that I have to increase my basal when I take a long trip just because of the stress.

Ooooh you smart, smart cookie getting extra water! I had DKA once and wound up in the ICU for 3 days. It's NO JOKE and you've now convinced me to always (always!) pick up the extra bottle of water!!!

You deserve more than two bouquets of flowers! You deserve a fresh bouquet every week for a year!

Wow Kerri...this sucks. Sounds like our trip to the pool Saturday. 396 to 38 to 350 to 84 and it goes on and on and on...

Oh, my gosh, Kerri, wow. Manhattan can get some wicked heat, and with all those people on the streets, it usually is just awful. I refsued to go outside during that monstrous heatwave. I'm glad you're okay and recovered. And as for heat lows, I get them all the time!

Oh how terrible! I am so sorry that it turned into such a train wreck, and thank God that didn't happen! You should have totally called me from 30th Street, I am about 10 minutes away. I am so sorry about your NYC troubles my friend and thankful that everything turned out OK in the end. And I am emailing you my phone number, seriously.

O.M.G. That is freaking insane!! I'm so sorry that you had to deal with all of that. And I'm glad you're in a safe air conditioned area now!!

Dude. What a sucky trip. I'm sorry. Glad you had most everything you needed (except a helicopter).

...wow Kerri...what a story...i know Ethan won't have to endure this for some years...but wow something to think about...scary stuff for a mom to read...glad you are home safe and sound...

I used to take the train into NYC every day, and always wondered "what if". I've heard of power outages leaving passengers stranded on trains for hours, perhaps in the fields of nowhere, or perhaps in underground tunnels. I remember when the tram/cable-car from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island got stranded, and passengers remained strung by a wire over the East River for hours until they could be rescued. I was stranded somewhere in Brooklyn once when all the subways stopped running because they were flooded by heavy rain.

Yet, I'm usually only minimally prepared for these situations. I've got the insulin in my pump and probably a syringe to draw it out of needed, and an spare reservoir and infusion set (or maybe a used, useless one) in my work bag), and hopefully enough glucose tablets. I've changed my infusion set in the train restroom, and tried to reach for my pump/glucose tabs in crowded trains and subway cars while trying not to grope the large person standing or sitting next to me.. It stinks.

But I'm glad you finally made it. Next time, maybe you can post a plea on your blog, and someone may offer some hospitality. (Yeah, go to the house of someone you met on the internet? That's a good idea).

That sounds like one of the worst days ever. I'm sorry you had to deal with all of that, diabetes not making it any easier :( But I'm glad you got home okay and it's just a memory now.

OH wow, that's horrible. I am so sorry! I am so sick of this heat too!

sounds like usual Amtrak to me... I've often taken the train between Chicago and Jackson, Michigan, and I'm fairly certain it's run late EVERY TIME I'm going eastbound. That's okay for me, usually, but drives my mom nuts when she's waiting for me and was really NOT FUN with my wiggly little kid. I like taking the train, but that part is highly annoying.

Certainly glad the DKA didn't kick in, though... that is a not fun experience to be avoided whenever possible.

Oh man Kerri, that is awful. I am sorry you had to deal with all that.

I hope you get those flowers soon!

My stomach was churning while reading that story. I could feel a low coming on as you described it. I am so glad you were prepared.

Oh Kerri that sucks. If that ever happens again, I think you should send a tweet out to the DOC. We're in between where you were, and where you wanted to be, & I wouldn't have had any problems helping you out at a train station or even offering up a place to crash.

YUCK! You should have totally offered the guy with the helipad anything to catch a ride!! ;)

I don't know if you can fry an egg but you can make cookies using the heat of your car. No joke. http://bakingbites.com/2007/09/car-baked-chocolate-chip-cookies-step-by-step/ In all seriousness though I hope you are feeling better today.

Sounds like a perfectly hideous day! If you find yourself in a similar circumstance in the future: Put Chris and painfully cute toddler out of your thoughts for a minute and start batting your lashes at helicopter guy.

I lived in Houston during Hurricanes Katrina & Rita. The evacuation for Rita didn't go well. I headed to my BFF & his family who lived about 3 hours north of me. Except it took over 9 hours to get there. The closer I got, the higher my blood sugar was from the stress. I figured an ER trip would be in order when I got there too. Luckily, it started coming down during the last 45 minutes of the drive. And my BFF stayed up for a couple more hours to make sure I didn't crash.

Glad you're okay, honey. This heat sucks all over. We are on day 24 of 100+ temps with no sign of it letting up. They've even stopped putting an end date on the Heat Advisory warnings. Did anyone see where winter went?!

What an awful day! Kudos to you for being so well prepared and avoiding DKA. My six year old was admitted to the PICU with his first, and hopefully last, bout of DKA. After hanging out by a lake fishing over the 4th, the combination of dehydration and a bent canula were too much for his little body. Glad you jumped on it and that you finally got home safely!

Sorry for your experience. Thanks for the reminder about how dehydration effects BG. I had some unexplained highs this weekend and now, thinking back it was because I simply didn't drink enought fluids.

all aboard the crazy train! glad you made it home safely! eeeuuurgghhhh!

"How many times did I text effin train?" That part made me laugh. I mean that sounds like it sucks, but the one time I rode the train from D.C to New York I was only on it for three hours and still texted effin train 4 times. And you deserve way more than two bouquets of flowers. :)

That sounds positively horrendous! Our summers here in Melbourne, Australia get pretty hot (40 C/104 F plus)and yet each year it still takes me a few days of heat to remember just how the warm weather affects my BGLs. Glad it all turned out in the end!

P.S. Where's winter? Right here, right now! I'm dreaming of thawing out in your northern summer!

poor you...smart cookie tho for having all of your back-up 'stuff', including shorts and and a t-shirt...I was thanking my lucky stars that I traveled to NY on the 'infamous' Amtrak on Thursday...and all I prayed for was a cab as soon as I left Penn Station to take me downtown to Mom's...I think many more than 2 bouquets were warranted for this excursion...and aren't you glad that you paid the extra $$$$ for the 'fast' train...GLAD that you were finally able to smash your head against your pillow...safely!

OK, that sounds terrible. I have a question as a non-pumper. Why did you need your Humalog pen? Couldn't you bolus with your pump? Is the pen faster or something? Or was your pump malfunctioning in the heat? I'm 2 years into this disease and I still feel like a newbie. I'm so glad you got home safely. It sounds terrifying.

Wow, I knew you had a rotten time getting home, but I had no idea just how rotten. :( I'm so so sorry - and you deserve more than flowers. You deserve Amtrak to send you some Crumbs cupcakes!!

How awful! Amtrak owes you big time!!! Glad you got home safe and no ER visit was necessary.

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