Pastor assists church member during diabetes emergency

Date Posted: 10/13/2022

By Lindsay Peyton
Worship had just begun, and members of Pattison UMC were singing the opening hymn, when Rev. E. Mireya Martínez heard a loud alarm. She recognized it immediately – the sound of a glucose monitor.
“I thought it was me,” she recalled. But after pulling out her phone to check her monitoring app, she realized the noise was coming from someone else in the congregation.
Martínez searched the pews – and eventually spotted Diane Rhoads, who was frantically digging in her purse. “She made eye contact with me,” Martínez said. “I gave her a thumbs up and a thumbs down, then shrugged to ask, ‘Which one is it?’”
Diane’s husband Orval, who Martínez has known since her appointment at the church two years ago, is also diabetic. His insulin was dropping to dangerous levels. Diane signaled back to the pastor that something was wrong.
Martínez jumped into action. “I’ve got this,’” she recalled. “I got a juicebox, which is just the right amount of sugar we need, grabbed some candy and took it over.”
Orval was in a daze and eventually responded with the help of the snacks. “Mireya took care of me, and I am grateful,” he said.
Martínez saved her congregant from a diabetic emergency. The first episode occurred in July and another happened two weeks ago. “This time, I used communion juice,” she said with a smile. “Welch’s grape for the win.”
The church is about a 20-minute drive from emergency medical care, Martínez explained. That might have been too long for Orval to wait.
Martínez was diagnosed with diabetes about two decades ago – and grew up in a family touched by the disease. Both of her parents are diabetic, as well as several aunts, uncles and grandparents.
“I made it my mission to get it under control – and not let it control me,” she said. “I did an overhaul of my diet and started exercising regularly.”
Her ordination physical in 2015 further pushed her health journey forward. Tests revealed early signs of kidney damage, which made her focus on fitness even more.
Since then, Martínez has gone from having high blood sugar to low. “I’ve learned that I always need to be prepared,” she said. “It’s up to me.”
She keeps a stash of candy and glucose tablets in her pulpit, as well as her desk, purse, car and gym bag. “I’ve had critical lows before,” she said.
And her experience and preparation came in handy when Orval needed it most. Martínez said that they both use the same glucose monitoring system, Dexcom G6. “Those alarms are meant to save your life,” she said.
Martínez is part of the Dexcom Warriors Program, an initiative empowering individuals with diabetes to share their stories, spread information and battle the chronic health condition.
The pastor finds solace in having Orval in her congregation to commiserate about diabetes. “We are kindred spirits,” she said. “It’s nice to have someone who understands.”