Monday, May 14, 2007

When being diabetic is scary

Those of you who read my blog regularly may remember that I am a type 1 diabetic. Anyway, most of the time I don't mind -- taking a shot with every meal or snack is so normal to me that sometimes I catch myself being surprised when characters in movies that I identify with don't take a shot with their meal. (Funny, huh?) There are times when I consciously think, Wow, hey, yeah... I'm diabetic!!!

Yesterday was not one of those times where I forget or don't mind being diabetic. I struggled with mild lows all day -- between every meal or snack, actually. Then, a few hours after dinner, I started crashing and didn't recognize the symptoms. I just thought I didn't feel well from the wine I had with dinner. (Sometimes wine doesn't sit well with me.) After Michael suggested several times that I check my blood sugar, I finally took his advice... and discovered my blood sugar was well below the crashing point.

It took nearly an hour before my blood sugar climbed back to a level where I could think straight again. I was out of glucose pills, the fast-acting chewable pills that I take when I crash. We didn't have any candy, either. So Michael spoon-fed me honey and opened a soda (which, unfortunately, had natural sugar -- so it wouldn't work as fast as, say, a Coke).

Even while Michael was pretty much shoveling honey into my mouth (I was too dazed to want to chew, let alone pick up, anything), my blood sugar kept dropping. It fell to probably my third-lowest reading ever before it started to come back up. When I finally regained the ability to think straight again, the past hour or so had become a blur -- like a dream that you only half-remember when you wake up. Needless to say, I didn't feel like working anymore (which I'd been intending to do).

The problem with days like yesterday is that it really screws with my work goals. When I have a low, it takes a long time to feel "normal" again, even after my blood sugar returns to a reasonable level. Usually, I feel tired afterward, maybe even a little disoriented depending on how badly I crashed.

Of course, the best thing is to minimize days like yesterday as much as possible. For a few days I'd been suspecting that my nighttime dose (I take a 24-hour insulin called Lantus) was too high, but so far I'd had no clear indication of it. My blood sugar has been a little difficult to control since we returned from our honeymoon, and I think it has something to do with the large amounts of food and exercise we were getting there -- any change in metabolism tends to affect the amount of insulin my body needs. When I took my nighttime dose of insulin last night (several hours after I crashed), I cut the dose back by a few units. I'll just have to monitor it closely over the next day or so and see if it is helping.

Today, unfortunately, I have a lot of catching up to do. Thanks to the combination of dryer problems and yesterday's blood sugar drama, I didn't get my priority assignments done as I had intended. If I am going to catch up in any reasonable amount of time, I need to buckle down and work pretty seriously.


Harmony said...

How does it affect your diabetes with your sleep schedule and when you are trying to adjust it? I know when I was pregnant anything I did differently resulted in crazy blood sugars.
I know in Canada we use a different method to indicate blood sugar results - but my lowest was 1.9 after I had my second son. I had to go on an IV drip!!
Take care of yourself ;)

Katharine Swan said...

Yes, changing my sleep schedule tends to impact my blood sugars. (I've also wondered if being on an earlier schedule since the wedding is part of the problem lately.) Other things that screw with my blood sugar include stress, exercise (or lack thereof), the pill, and even sex (!). It all has a scientific explanation, of course, but that doesn't make it much easier to predict.

What is the normal range in Canada? In the U.S. normal blood sugars are about 70-100 or 65-110, depending on who you talk to. Crashing is anything below 60. The lowest I ever went was 27 and I was a mess... Unfortunately I was all alone at the time and had to force myself to chew my candy through that awful haze. Last night the lowest reading on my meter was 36, but I think I may have gone even lower after I checked it.

I haven't gone to the hospital since I was first diagnosed at the age of 22 -- and then it was because I was too high, rather than too low. I was in the hospital for four nights because the general practitioners couldn't figure out how to get my sugars down. They would give me a shot to correct for my high sugars, and then the kitchen would feed me immediately afterward, with no extra insulin to account for the meal. Um... HELLO!!!

I know gestational diabetes is fairly common, but much different than type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is where the pancreas doesn't make insulin anymore at all, usually because the body's own immune system has killed it. Type 2 is where the body has become resistant to insulin and can't use it efficiently, even though the pancreas makes more than enough. I think gestational diabetes is more closely related to type 2 -- the American Diabetes Association says that gestational diabetes happens because the hormones in the placenta cause the woman's body to be resistant to insulin.

There's my little diabetes lesson for the day. ;o)

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts.


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