"Wait," you ask, "isn't diabetes that disease where you just can't eat sugar, and have to take insulin every once in a while?" Oh, if only it was that simple.
For starters, you might be mixing up two very different types of diabetes (more on that in a bit). And when diabetics who inject insulin get their dose wrong, things can get bad fast. These problems ("insulin-related hypoglycemia and errors") spark almost 100,000 emergency room visits a year (more visits than those related to all stimulants, including methamphetamine). A third of those visits require hospitalization, because despite how common and treatable it is, diabetes can still straight-up murder your sorry ass.
Medioimages/Photodisc/Digital Vision/Getty Images
On another occasion when he was in college, Zach knew his blood sugar was low before he went to bed, so he popped a few glucose tablets and went to sleep, thinking that would straighten everything out. He woke up with the sensation of sour rust in his mouth -- that's the taste of epinephrine, and it means things are catastrophically bad.
"When I checked my blood sugar," he says, "it was too low for the meter to give a number." He'd already eaten all his glucose tablets, so Zach needed to think of a solution quickly or he'd soon be unable to do anything to help himself. "Somehow I remembered there was a vending machine nearby. I bought a bottle of Pepsi, drained it in two seconds, and told a person in the dorm common room all about diabetes, at the speed of 400 words per minute."
If these episodes sound like bad drug trips gone wrong, well ...