I’m certainly no stranger to the complications and difficulties that accompany living with type-1 Diabetes. I was diagnosed at the age of four, meaning that I’ve had to live with this condition for over four decades at this point. I’ve learned a lot in those years, going from an ignorant kid who simply thought all he had to do was “not eat sugar” and take a daily shot and I was golden. Multiple complications and coma episodes later, my knowledge and understanding has expanded a bit, to say the least.
These days, I have the benefit of a broader knowledge base, including but not limited to carb-counting, proper bolusing, ratios and exercise. Weight management and frequent blood sugar monitoring are also key, and I have the benefit of significant technology that wasn’t readily available to me in 1982 when I was diagnosed. All of this has made my life significantly easier than what it could be, if these aspects didn’t exist.
As a result, I’ve managed to avoid some of the nastier side effects of Diabetes, such as blindness, amputation and/or major organ failure. This is something that I work hard at avoiding, with only mild issues with my eyes requiring the lovely injections I receive every eight weeks. So for the most part, I’m GENERALLY used to things going my way, with some exceptions that often can’t be avoided but are usually explainable. Except when they’re not.
I’m sure every T1D has been there; your work day is winding to a close, you plan on hitting a solid workout right when you get home and are even listening to some high-octane, motivational music on your way home to get your in the right frame of mind for fitness. You make a brief stop on the way home to grab a couple of things and suddenly, BAM! Your pump vibrates… This happened to me on Wednesday when I was headed home. From there, my evening would certainly NOT go according to plan…
I was walking down the aisle at a local pharmacy, grabbing lip balm for my son, when my pump vibrate that I had dropped below normal blood sugar levels. Although this was a bit of a concern, I figured it would correct itself once I got home and grabbed a bit of fast-acting carbohydrates. I got home and did so, still intent on working out once I had brought my levels up a bit. Unfortunately, life rarely cares about one’s plan and although what I consumed usually kicks in within ten to fifteen minutes, I continued to drop.
At its lowest, my blood sugar levels reached about 2.4 mmol/L. Anyone who recognizes and is aware of blood sugar levels know that I was riding a dangerous line towards slipping into medical distress. In a bit of a panic, I started consuming everything I could get my hands on; jellybeans, gummies and half a full sleeve of candy cane Oreos that my wife had purchased. I hammered hard at the food and ate like a man possessed. Usually I’m all for eating a bit and letting things catch up, but given how low I was dropping, I was concerned the drop would overrun my ability to treat for it.
After about twenty minutes, I checked my blood sugars and saw a 4.1 mmol/L reading, so I was confident my levels were finally coming up. I went to the bedroom to lie down while things levelled out, which I’m grateful for my wife, who understood what was happening and didn’t question why I was heading to bed at 5 o’clock in the evening. Shortly thereafter, I fell asleep and actually napped until about 6:30 p.m. where I woke up groggy and feeling as though I had been hit by a bus. My blood sugars had levelled off at about 11.0 mmol/L.
Probably one of the biggest issues that folks living without Diabetes don’t understand, is how realistically hard on the body it is to have blood sugars go from one extreme to the other like that. The effect includes extreme exhaustion, hence the nap. But finding the get-up-and-go after an episode like that is nearly impossible. And the worst part is that there was absolutely no rhyme or reason behind why it happened.
I could understand if I had missed a meal or had already worked out, that I could expect a low. But this came completely out of left field. And such is the way of it, sometimes. Diabetes is a difficult condition to navigate. All the more reason, as my lovely wife has reminded me, to keep snacks and fast-acting carbs in the family vehicle for just such occasions. ☯️