July 18, 2013
Rare Tumor Caused Woman To Act Drunk As Blood Sugar Plummets
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
For nearly two years, a New York woman would randomly begin acting as though she were drunk or crazy, until doctors at the Mount Sinai Medical Center discovered the cause of her malady -- a rare, mysterious tumor on her pancreas that caused her blood sugar to unexpectedly plummet.
The patient, a 54-year-old Rockland County realtor named Rosemary McGinn, would experience episodes during which she would talk to herself or sway back-and-forth, according to Daily Mail reporter Lydia Warren.
"In one episode in Spring 2011, she was sent home from work early because her colleagues thought she was drunk," Warren wrote. "Shortly afterwards, she was driving with her husband but could not remember where they lived. She also forgot who the president was, and the year. The next thing she could remember, she was in her kitchen with two paramedics who were feeding her candy to keep her blood sugar up."
"What happened was I noticed a few times I would get weird," McGinn told Sydney Lupkin of ABC News. "I felt just not myself. I couldn't explain it to anybody else."
At first, McGinn was diagnosed with hypoglycemia, and would travel with snacks and juices in order to help keep her blood glucose from dipping too low. However, the incidents continued to occur, so she turned to Dr. Ronald Tamler, clinical director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes Center, for a second opinion. He was the one who discovered that her problem was far more serious.
"A normal blood sugar is around 100 milligrams/deciliter, and most people start feeling poorly when their sugar dips below 70," Tamler told FoxNews.com. "But Rosemary had a sugar of 20. That level usually leads to seizures and coma."
As Tamler explained to Lupkin, a certain amount of sugar needs to remain in a person's blood stream, where it acts as fuel for red blood cells. After examining McGinn, Tamler diagnosed here with insulinoma, a rare pancreatic tumor that constantly produces insulin, even when a person's blood sugar becomes too low.
She underwent a 90-minute laparoscopic surgery at Mount Sinai, during which she had to be placed on a sugar IV drip to keep her glucose from dropping too low. Once the tumor was removed, her unusual episodes no longer occurred.
McGinn was released from the hospital in January, and now she's even beginning to shed the more than two dozen pounds she gained as a result of the sugary snacks she had been forced to consume.
"For almost two years, I wasn't living," she told ABC News regarding the ordeal. "They basically saved my life."