I’ve written posts where I’ve referred to Type-1 Diabetes like riding a deadly roller coaster… The only difference is there’s no way to stop of get off of this ride. Some days, it feels amazingly overwhelming. The issues, complications and amount of control and attention that needs to be paid on a daily basis… It can get to be too much for some people. And despite my drive and determination, it can get to me, too.
Never much of one to feel sorry for himself, I’ve always fought hard against my unseen enemy. The harsh reality is that there are so many complications to Diabetes that I often lose track and wonder what’s wrong with me, forgetting that it’s all a part of the condition that I’ve had to train to love with, since birth. Yes, I know this post is likely coming off as depressing. And I’ll be the first to admit that it likely is. So recognize this fact: what I’m describing, depressing as it may be, is what every Type-1 Diabetic lives with on a daily basis.
Now that I’ve sufficiently harshed everyone’s buzz, I’ll provide an example. Last Monday, I travelled to Saskatoon for my eye injections, which happen every seven weeks. I was unable to secure a bus ticket, so I had to book a hotel room and stay the night since my oldest son goes to school and my wife has to work. Typically not a big deal, it still requires me to be away from my family for the night. I usually treat the evening like something of a mini vacay, indulging in a couple of pints at the pub in the hotel’s lobby while I binge-watch some Netflix on my cell phone.
On this particular trip, my blood sugars were reasonably normal and everything was going according to plan. I got my eye exam, followed by dilating drops, followed by surface scans of the back of my eyes. Then I was attended to by the eye surgeon who provided the injections into my eyes. Yes, it stings. And yes, it sucks. Even with the localized freezing, you still feel the needle pierce your eyeball and a hot pain flare through your skull. Good luck getting that image out of your head, tonight. Anyway, once the injections were done, I staggered back to the hotel room, where I planned to nap for an hour or two to allow the immediate pain to dissipate.
I checked my pump and noticed that my blood sugar was running slightly high, having crept above 11.0 mmol/L. No big deal, I corrected with a bolus and slipped onto the bed for my nap. I set an alarm and drifted off to sleep. I woke up just shy of 6 pm and felt like I had been struck by a freight train. I knew right away, by my urgent need to urinate when I had drank nothing in hours, that my blood sugars were still high. I checked my pump and found myself above 15.0 mmol/L. What the fuck??? I once again corrected with a bolus and slipped into a shower to clean off the high blood sugar sweats before heading to the pub for supper.
My head was throbbing and I felt groggy, but I needed to eat, so I headed downstairs to my favourite irish pub and ordered a pint and a sampler platter, which contained some mozzarella sticks, deep-fried pickles and three chicken strips. Yes, please! Now, calculating a bolus for beer has become a fine art for me. I’ve got it down pat and can usually accommodate beer with insulin in a pretty balance way. And the irony is that the platter contained items that on their own, would be essentially carb-free. If they weren’t wrapped in batter. Bar food. Fuck me…
I bolused as best I could for the platter, knowing full well that the bar staff wouldn’t have nutritional information for their menu items (although they should) and that in the past, they’ve looked at me like some kind of an alien for asking. So I ate slowly and sipped slowly, hoping to let the insulin take effect faster than the carbs would. I think that I watched some American Dad of all things, and got back to my hotel room shortly before 9:30 pm. I had to attend some video meetings for my job, in the morning before checking out, so I didn’t want to stay up too late. But as I’ve often said, life doesn’t care about your plan.
The platter of battered foods was apparently the tipping point, as my blood sugars were still in the high teens when I attempted to go to bed. I bolused and the pump actually provided some units, which told me that my blood was actually running high and not just a byproduct of having just eaten. My alarm was set for an appropriate time the following morning, so I sipped some Gatorade (sugar-free, of course) and laid my head on the pillow and unceremoniously passed out.
I woke up at about 11 pm to use the washroom. I cursed myself for the beer and for the Gatorade, which I assumed was why I had awoken. After using the washroom, I checked my insulin pump. 22.4 mmol/L. What. The. Bloody. HELL??? I checked my levels via fingerprick to make certain it wasn’t some sort of misread on the sensor’s behalf. Blood sugar level was confirmed to be in the low 20’s. I bolused once again, piling more units into my system. I could bore you with further details, but the bottom line is I woke up just about every hour after that. You read that right: every FREAKING hour!!!
It took the majority of night and constant fluids and bolusing to bring it down to the mid teens and I started to almost feel human again, just in time to attend my meetings. I know what you may be thinking. There are a number of things that could have caused a spike in blood sugar. But I take it as no coincidence that my blood sugars had been fine over the previous 24 hours, only to have them go haywire after getting eye injections and eating battered food. Ultimately, my only crime may have been just that: indulging in a drink with some bar food. My punishment is going through an almost sleepless night. Such is the reality of Diabetes.
I know a number of my Diabetic brothers and sisters who eventually just close up shop and give up. When you face the prospect of such nights on a regular basis, it can overwhelm a person. And it sucks. I’m lucky with respect to the fact that I work hard to maintain proper control. Not everyone has the benefit of an insulin pump. I have a friend back home, whose father succumbed to Diabetes. He had no augury of control whatsoever, had blood sugars off the charts, ended up having his feet amputated and died about six or seven years ago. It can sneak up on you pretty quick, if you’re not careful. ☯