A female Texas pastor’s quick thinking and prompt response helped save an elderly parishioner from possible death during an in-service diabetes emergency.
How the Incident Unfolded
According to a report by Houston Chronicle, Rev. E Mireya Martinez’s keen observation and quick response helped save the life of 77-year-old Orval Rhoads’ life when his blood sugar level dropped dangerously low during their worship service in March.
The congregation at Pattison United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, was reportedly singing a hymn when Pastor Martinez heard the continuous alarm of a glucose monitor.
Herself a diabetic, Martinez quickly scanned the room to see where the sound of the alarm was coming from. She then saw Rhoads’ wife, Diane, nervously looking for something in her purse.
Martinez said she motioned the elderly lady to look at her, which she did.
The pastor said she gestured both a thumbs up and a thumbs down to inquire about her husband’s condition. She said Diane gestured back a thumbs down.
Pastor Martinez said she calmly took out a juice box and a candy bar from under her pulpit, which she purposely hid for such emergencies. She then walked towards the Rhoads couple and handed the items to Diane, who helped her husband consume them. A few minutes later, Orval’s blood sugar level returned to normal.
The congregation was unaware of the ordeal as everyone continued singing.
Orval did not learn who helped save his life until after they got home that night. He reportedly texted Pastor Martinez for her help in saving his life.
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Pastor Calls for Raising People’s Awareness of Diabetes
Pastor Martinez has been battling Type 2 diabetes for two decades now, which explains why she was fully aware of the tell-tale signs of low blood sugar and its dangers.
Martinez, a Mexican American, said she always informs her congregation about her condition whenever she gets reassigned to a new church.
The pastor explained that doing so ensures that everyone is fully aware of her medical condition and how they would respond should her blood sugar level suddenly dip while having worship services.
Martinez added that discussing her condition also helps raise people’s awareness, given her family history and race, which contribute to her current medical state.
The pastor has family members with diabetes, and data from the American Diabetes Association show that Hispanics make up 11.8% of all U.S. adults diagnosed with the disease in 2019.
“It takes my body a good 24 hours before it fully resets itself. Then I’m in a brain fog and I’m lethargic. And it’s really hard to just force myself to push through to get through the rest of my day,” Martinez told Houston Chronicle.
Pastor Martinez’s irregular schedule taught her to plan for her sugar intake to maintain a safe blood sugar level.
“You never know when your sugar is going to drop on you. You will get very weak, and maybe even [be] in danger of passing out,” she explained.
Following Orval’s March incident, Diane knew better when her husband’s blood sugar level dropped anew. Early in October, Orval suffered another episode, but Diane knew precisely what to do this time.
She said she did not wait for Pastor Martinez to help them but walked straight in front and filled a cup with communion wine. She handed it to her husband to drink, which helped bring his blood sugar to normal.
Pastor Martinez attributed the positive incident to her efforts to discuss diabetes with her congregation.
“I really do believe that sharing our stories with each other makes us all better. It makes us all stronger,” she explained.
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