Tag: hypoglycemia

The Diabetic Honeymoon Phase

The Diabetic Honeymoon Phase

By: Camilla Roelants


The Diabetic Honeymoon Phase. I often wonder who decided to call it that, and what on earth they were thinking.

The word “honeymoon” evokes in me images of newly-weds, skipping along the beach, hand in hand under a glorious sun, beaming, happy faces, relaxed and care-free, their excitement at starting this new adventure together near palpable.

Not the ugly reality of this particular honeymoon – the dying process of the islet cells of my pancreas, under auto immune attack, slowly but surely losing all ability to produce the insulin I need to live.

Sixteen months into my Type 1 Diabetes honeymoon phase and I feel exhausted from it all.

This time has been fraught with hurdles and worries and struggles. Despite having done everything in my power to gain control, blood glucose levels have been erratic.

The dying beta cells in my pancreas occasionally and unpredictably produce a little bit of insulin, causing chaos where I have already bolused according to my insulin to carb ratio at mealtimes. I suffer frequent, sudden and terrifying episodes of hypoglycemia.

honeymoon phase

I’ll be doing something very mundane – reading, cooking, or even just chatting to someone on the phone. When I suddenly realize that I’m feeling “off”.

I usually can’t put my finger on it immediately – my brain is already starting to become impaired.

I can’t think straight. I stop whatever it is that I’m doing. Mid-sentence, mid-shower, mid anything. I stumble, and mumble ” check levels ” to myself.

At this point, I have eyes only for my meter. I put a test strip in. Prick my finger. I notice my hands are shaking. My five year old is asking me something. It sounds distant, although he’s standing right next to me, tugging at my T-shirt.

“Not now Darling, Mummy needs to check her sugars. I can’t talk right now, sorry.”

honeymoon phase

My meter is counting down -those 5 seconds seem interminable. My son is still talking, but I can’t concentrate.

Before my meter tells me, I know. I know I’m low, because already my heart is racing. I’ve broken out in a sweat, and everything is fuzzy, spinning around me. I’m shaking like a leaf.

I feel like I’m dying, for lack of a better description.

Need. Sugar. Now. A feeling of panic washes over me. I grab what’s at hand. Fizzy soda, fruit juice, sugary tea, or glucose tablets.

Some of those choices might not be the best from a nutritional point of view, but right now I really couldn’t care less. I would do anything to not feel like this, feel like I’m about to fall off a cliff into the abyss if I don’t deploy my parachute fast enough.

The soda, the juice, the tea, the tablets, are my parachutes.

Any one of them will do. As I gulp down my sugary remedy as fast as I possibly can, I grit my teeth. I know the feeling won’t go away for 15 minutes or so, which is how long it will take for the sugar to be absorbed into my bloodstream. I take a few deep breaths, in the hope this might help my heart slow its alarming rate.

I give myself a few seconds, then turn to my son, and say:
“I’m sorry love, I’m having a hypo and so I need to take some glucose, but I’ll be OK again now in a minute and we can have a proper chat then.” I smile at him reassuringly.

I have a terrible urge to drink more, and a hunger beyond compare – as if drinking more or eating half a packet of something might help me shake this god awful feeling quicker. But I know this is untrue. I resist the urge.

I know the 150ml I’ve just drank will bring me back up into a normal blood glucose range. All I can do is wait and hope my 9 month old won’t wake from his nap during the next few minutes. The lows leave me feeling very tired, as if I’ve just done a couple of rounds of boxing.

They are often followed by rebound hyperglycemia, where my blood glucose levels become too elevated. Prolonged episodes of hyperglycemia can cause long term complications, and in the short term can lead to Diabetic Ketoacidosis.

Hyperglycemia will also leave you feeling bone-tired and lethargic. Hypoglycemia – due to the effect on the brain’s ability to function and episodes of tachycardia- can cause cardiac arrest and cognitive impairment down the line.

It seems you just can’t win with this disease.

It is impossible to predict how long this honeymoon will last for, as it varies from one person to another. For some it is a matter of weeks, others a matter of months, or even years. It looks like in my case, it’s the latter.

A honeymoon is supposed to be a joyous, stress-free occasion. But this honeymoon is the exact opposite. It still isn’t over, and already I want a divorce!



 

This Is My Low With Diabetes

This Is My Low With Diabetes

Michelle Meyer


My eyes are heavy and dry and sometimes watery. They’re tired. My breathing is slow. And fast. Heavy and shallow. So tired. My thoughts are jumbled. Scattered. Confused. Angry. Sad. Scared. Tired. Too tired and/or confused to speak.

My body is weak, shaky, hot, sometimes sweaty. Tired. I’m thirsty, hungry.

I’m too tired to get up to get some sugar. I’m too tired to think about what I need to do. My head is too heavy to hold up. My jaw is too tired to chew. I’m too tired to swallow. I need to pee but I’m too tired. My heart is beating so fast.

I’m going to cry. I just want to curl up and get cozy. Fall asleep. I probably won’t ever wake up. I need to move. Stumble to the other room. Stand and stare. What was I doing? Why am I in here?

Oh! Grab my low blood sugar stash. Force myself to eat it while trying to remember how to breathe. No, don’t close your eyes. Chew. Swallow. Again. Get my glucometer and unzip the case.

this is my low with diabetes

Try to pry open the strips container without spilling them all over. Get just one of them into the tiny little opening the right way. Stab my finger and try to milk enough blood out so my glucometer can tell me exactly where I’m at. Try to make sense of the number.

Nevermind. I can look later. I know I’m low.

Try to remember to set the reminder timer to do it all over again in fifteen minutes. Stay awake. Breathe.

Sometimes after a few minutes, I feel safe enough and my next blood sugar check will be okay so that I can rest after starting to die. Sometimes I need to still keep trying to do life while still dealing with the after effects of starting to die.

Sometimes I continue dying for hours and have to just keep fighting to stay awake and breathe and think enough to remember to keep trying to nurse myself back to life even though I’m nauseated and full from eating and drinking.

There have been many times when I couldn’t stay awake or didn’t wake up to begin with and have gone into seizures. Sometimes after getting my blood sugars to a better, safe level, they go too high and then I have to deal with another set of effects/symptoms and another fight to get them to come back down to normal, safe levels.

I do this almost daily. Sometimes multiple times a day.

This is just one tiny part of my life but it’s a really HUGE part!

So many contradictions. So much fighting. So much exhaustion. Constant and consistent thoughts about if, when, where, why, how. Almost daily, I save my own life.

I am exhausted but I am also a fighter. I am strong! I am a type 1 diabetic and this is my low.



 

My 3 AM wake up call

My 3 AM Low Blood Sugar Wake Up Call

It’s around 3 AM and I wake up out of a restless sleep.

I believe it to be my natural instinct kicking in or a guardian angel telling me to wake up and check my blood sugar. I then go to check only to find out that I’m low (40 mg/dl) and headed straight down.

My CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) is setting off alarms with an “URGENT LOW” alert. I can now hear it echoing throughout the house. It takes me a minute to grasp what’s going on as I gather the little energy I have in me. My mind is telling me to jump right up but it takes my body a minute to catch up.

I then head to the kitchen and find a juice box, crackers, and anything I can find. I fumble to open the juice box as I’m frantic and lost. My body is trembling, I then drink the entire juice box in a matter of a few seconds. I then sit down and scarf down everything else I have, and I still feel weak and disorientated.

I look at my CGM meter and it’s not signaling upwards yet. I sit for a moment to let the sugar get absorbed and the adrenaline starts to pull away from me.

That’s when it usually hits me and I realize that this isn’t a dream. No, rather a terrifying nightmare but in the end I’m thankfully able to save myself once again. I’m frightened because I think of the “what ifs”. As I look back down at my meter my blood sugar is beginning to rise.

That’s when the mental and physical numbness starts to diminish. I feel myself again. I feel tired. I feel exhausted. But I’m alive. This is my normal, something that I’m fully acquainted with, and even after years of managing it still leaves me uneasy at times.

My 3 AM wake up call is not a normal rise and shine moment. It’s a fight to stay alive. It’s all too real. And while others may be able to sleep soundly throughout the night, I’ve been called to take on this challenge.

As I lay back down to go to sleep, I know that while this battle with Type 1 Diabetes is never fully won, I also know that I’m not the only one fighting.

Here’s to the warriors of the night.


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You Are Never Given More Than You Can Handle

You Are Never Given More Than You Can Handle

“You Are Never Given More Than You Can Handle”

By: Amy Payne

“You are never given more than you can handle” — I have heard this many times over my life, and it has never really stuck until this past year. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes 36 years ago at the age of 6. I never really thought much about it thanks to my amazing family who never made me feel different.

The only thoughts I had were that I would likely have horrible complications and die young from my Type1 Diabetes. Besides those thoughts, I truly did not think too much about it. I lived my life to the fullest thinking I should live a big happy life now because my future was going to be bad and short.

As time went by technology/drugs improved greatly and after living a somewhat reckless no fear life through my late teens and twenties my diabetes changed. All of a sudden I could not feel my lows/hypoglycemia anymore and my no big deal Diabetes had changed.

After a few years of trying to manage the lows with my new husband we moved to Denver, CO and went to the Barbara Davis Center. They told me I had had Type 1 Diabetes for over 25 years and had most likely avoided any major complications (except for my eyes, etc). I started crying right there in the office. Endocrinologists had stressed my whole life the importance of tight control otherwise I would have complications.

They have since changed their way of advising diabetics as they realize the old way of instilling fear of complications did more harm than good. Unfortunately being from the generation of 1980 diagnosed Type 1’s and even after being told I have bypassed most complications I still would rather be low than high and to this day feel the same, ironically it is the lows that threaten my life now.

Let’s cut to 6 years later –

The cost of Type 1 Diabetic supplies have skyrocketed (the US insured populations out-of-pocket costs for insulin increased by 89 percent from 2000 to 2010 for insulin alone) and with the 89% conservative estimate increase of my insulin alone depression entered my life.

I lost it one day at the Barbara Davis Center- United Healthcare was forcing me to change from Novolog Insulin (that I had been on for approx 10 years) to Humalog Insulin (due to their contract with the manufacturer of Humalog, not for the best interest of their clients).

I was so upset because of the forced switch and how dare they when my Diabetes was so hard to control on a strict regimen and now you are forcing me to change insulin because of your financial interest vs my health best interest, I literally had a breakdown in the Dr’s office.

This along with the never ending increasing expenses to manage my Type 1 Diabetes just to simply stay alive seemed too much to handle and the happy and strong Amy had finally broken down after 34 years of being a tough Type 1 Diabetic.

Barbara Davis was amazing and helped me with my depression (by the way Type 1’s are prone to depression due to insulin is a hormone that we inject multiple times a day, the fluctuation of our blood sugar levels makes us feel bad, loss of sleep, stress and the 24/7 never ending demand of our disease). I also have an additional theory that the blood glucose testing numerous times a day or with a CGM every three minutes along with your A1C results contribute to depression in Type 1’s.

You are judged by a number constantly –

(You are high, you are low, you are good, you are bad). It is a constant number that gives a judgement on your control of a disease that is impossible to control and I firmly believe it does a number on your psyche.

I am sure Dr’s would agree with my thesis. It was a relief to know what I was feeling was normal, and it is okay to finally say you know what this is hard, I have a lot to deal with and guess what I don’t feel that great most days!

Yes it could be worse and I could have cancer but you know what Type 1 Diabetes sucks and is really really hard to manage. It is a very misunderstood disease, being confused with Type 2 and people thinking you caused this by eating too many candy bars vs the fact that Type 1 is an autoimmune disease where my body attacked my beta insulin-producing cells in my pancreas preventing it from ever producing insulin ever again.

The misunderstanding hurts –

You hear comments like you don’t look like you have diabetes and you know you can reverse it with diet. NO, you cannot! I am good today. I am tired. I continue to be strong and continue to fight Type 1 Diabetes EVERY SINGLE DAY!

Type 1 Diabetes builds character, strength, and maturity. Every experience, every interaction, no matter how bad it might seem, has the ability to shape you, to mold you, and to help you become the person you were born to be.

And if it seems that life has given you “a lot” to handle; it is only because it knows how powerful you truly are. It wants you to discover the courage, the wisdom, and the strength that lie deep within you.

Type 1 Diabetes does not define me — it has built my strong character to handle anything!


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I Won't Go Down Without a Fight

I Won’t Go Down Without a Fight

I Won’t Go Down Without a Fight

(I’m 15 years old at the time)

Brittany, what’s your blood sugar?” My mother asks after I get home from school.

Umm… 136.” A number I randomly blurt out without testing what my blood sugar actually was.

I go in my room and glance over at my unused lancets and test strips. I know what’s it’s there for. I know I’m supposed to take care of myself.

But why aren’t I? Why am I fighting against it?

I go to lay down, I’m tired, and I don’t feel right. I fall asleep…

(A half hour or so slips by)

Hi Brittany, My name is John , I’m an EMT and we’re here to help youCan you tell me what your name is?

“...Brittany“, I reply.

“Great Brittany, do you know why we’re here?”

My diabetes?” As I let out a deep saddened sigh.

Yes, your blood sugar was 19.”

We gave you a shot of dextrose. Please drink this juice and eat this sandwich to stabilize your blood sugar.”

Thank you“, I reply as I’m still very dazed and confused as to what’s going on.

My mother hugs me and begs me “please take better care of yourself“.

As tears fall from her face. I see the frantic look in her eyes.

Once I’m back to full consciousness, it sets in. I melt down. I cry, and this isn’t a normal cry. This is painful and it hurts and all the anger releases from within me in full despair.

The feeling of helplessness, guilt, shame because I feel weak… I feel tested… I feel numb… I feel unworthy of all these extra chances I get.

I feel like I’m letting everyone down… I’m letting myself down. I feel like a failure at a disease I never asked for. Something I could have never prevented.

All I can think about when I take my insulin injections is if I don’t take enough I could end up with amputation, loss of eyesight, kidney failure, heart disease and various complications.

I think about how even if I have great control, there is still a risk. It overwhelms me. I went from having a care free childhood to having a fear of dying in my sleep from a low blood sugar or too soon from complications.

This isn’t the typical “teenage reality”.

I’m sick and there’s nothing I can do to fix it. No denial, begging, or lashing out will make my situation better.

I’m my own worst enemy and the only person who can save me in the end, is me. It’s the most terrifying and debilitating feeling having this burden riding on my back.

It took awhile but this process has changed me. I came to grips with knowing I only had one choice. Which was to fight. So I did. I let it in. I embraced the unknown. I rose above the darkness that consumed me. I continued to get up everyday to fight the same demons that left me tired from the night before.

I went from crawling to walking to eventually running. I didn’t want diabetes to win. I knew that this wasn’t going to be easy. But I knew what was on the line.

I knew I would fail, which I have. It took much trial and error. But I’ve learned to get back up, brush myself off, and keep going. To not let the fear overcome me and dwindle my spirit. To honor and respect the journey, for it has led me to here.

To not go down without a fight…


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What a Low Blood Sugar Feels Like

What A Low Blood Sugar Feels Like

What A Low Blood Sugar Feels Like

Here I am again.

Where I find myself vulnerable and exposed to the most unsettling and debilitating aspect of diabetes that consumes my mind and body in a short amount of time.

A low blood sugar which was caught unexpectedly and suddenly. A low blood sugar or (hypoglycemia) meaning that my glucose level drops below 70 mg/dL and I now starve for energy.

It’s a feeling I know all too well, and I feel as weak as I did the last time. I can’t run from it but only bear through it, fix it, and come out of it once again.

It has caught me dead in my tracks. I urge to resist this constraint it has over me. “No I’m fine”, I think to myself. “My meter must be inaccurate”.

But I know that I’m not okay.

I’m tired, even more than I usually am (if that’s even possible). All I want to do is lay down and go to sleep. I know that this is my body wanting to shut down.

My mind is the first to trail off, and my body takes a little longer to catch up.

I start to feel confused, dazed, and slightly numb to my surroundings. I start to lose myself in the moment and focus heavily on something random.

It takes a minute or two to take in what’s going on. It’s as if time is standing still… The earth is still revolving… the clock is still ticking… but I’m not all there.

I catch myself, and then gain a sense of adrenaline.

My body uses the rest of the energy it has stored, and I go off of instinctual impulse or what you would call a (fight-or-flight response). I now become frantic, I’m looking for food, I’m sweaty, eyes are blurry, I’m fumbling my words, and somewhat disorientated. I can’t keep my train of thought. All I know is that I need sugar, fast.

I scramble for food and juice. Wrappers and crumbs everywhere. I’m not hungry, but the feeling of mortality creeps in which food is my only savior. I eat whatever I can find and is easily accessible. Five minutes feels like an eternity waiting for my blood sugar to rise.

Once the glucose enters my blood, my body starts to feel tingly. I can start to regain my thoughts, and I feel like the instant sensation of a breath of fresh air.

It’s almost like it was a dream or an out of body experience. I feel in despair over the power this disease has over me. How I am now fully present to the world, but felt so absent minutes before.

The worst part of having a low blood sugar like this is being alone through it.

With having this constant battle with this disease, there’s no perfection. I’m fighting so hard, and as much as I make it look effortless, deep down I’m exhausted.

What’s even crazier is that this chaos has become normal to me. I’ve become less aware of the lows, as my body changes its response to it. Meaning I’m used to self-destructing. I’m constantly seeking normal blood sugars but often falling a little short.

I think the real challenge lies within trying to find control over a uncontrollable disease.

But here I am…

Fighting against all odds.


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My Battle With OCD and Diabetes (Over-Correcting Disorder)

 

My Battle With OCD and Diabetes (Over-Correcting Disorder)

We have all heard of the anxiety disorder that causes people to act or think in repetitive ways is known as OCD (Over-Compulsive Disorder). Where someone may have unwanted thoughts, fears, and/or perform certain rituals.

But having diabetes, there is also a form of OCD and diabetes called “Over-Correcting Disorder“.

I actually didn’t know that I had OCD until recently when someone mentioned the term in a diabetes support group. I thought that it just meant I was trying my best to manage my diabetes. But OCD and diabetes combined is actually a huge factor and sometimes a downfall in my diabetes management.

When I started analyzing how I approach my diabetes, more and more I noticed…

ocd and diabetes

• I tend to overly micromanage my diabetes—even over my physician’s advice. I constantly adjust my insulin requirements without giving adequate time to pass to see the “actual” trend that’s going on.

• Having the Dexcom (Continuous Glucose Monitoring), I am able to see my blood sugar trends. But if it’s high I tend to chase it around, rather than letting it come down gradually. The Dexcom is a blessing and a curse for me at the same time.

• I’m afraid of highs—even when lows are just as worse and are more urgent and fatal. The bouncing back and forth is also not good for me.

I’m aware that diabetes can be managed. I’m also aware that trying to control too aggressively can backfire. I think that’s what bothers me the most, is that I’m constantly combating this disease. I wish I could just win every time—but I can’t.

I’ve slowly but surely taken the time to address my weaknesses and faults.

For instance:

• I take days in between adjusting my insulin requirements—even though it pains me. It’s better to see what I’m dealing with and the trends going on, then to jump the gun.

• Now I try to take breaks from using the Dexcom. Having the ability to see my blood sugars at all times, causes me to want to control every little number. It’s better to let the insulin in my body take the time to work.

• My biggest accomplishment is not overly correcting my “highs”. I still correct accordingly, but I have to be more cautious. The rollercoaster ride takes a toll and isn’t better than having a high.

Diabetes is all about balance and consistency. It’s a constant struggle. I’ve lived and I’ve learned. A lot of it has been me letting go of what I can’t control and by controlling what I can—to my best ability.

Perfection doesn’t exist with this disease—I’ve just grown to accept my imperfections and live beyond them.


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