It’s not what you think…
Not your run-of-the-mill post title, I know. Before you get too excited, let me clarify, this is not a dope-high… not even a happy-all-is-right-with-the-world high. This is a diabetes high. And it’s ANYTHING but pleasant. That has been my life for the past few weeks!
I’m not sure what’s going on other than I had a little bit of a cold/almost-bronchitis for a couple weeks, which I was able to get over without any prescriptions, praise the Lord! But it seemed to jack up my sugars like a mild illness never has before.
Oh, then there are those middle-aged woman hormones. I think my hormones running amok will be the death of me one day!
So anyway, yeah, I’ve been on a rollercoaster with my blood sugar lately. It is exhausting and I don’t need any help being exhausted, thank you!
Diabetes and all its fun stuff…
They don’t teach a whole lot about the nuts and bolts of diabetes management to nurses, or at least not the nurses that I know personally. One of the most helpful things they do teach, however, is that for a low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) you treat “fast” and for a high sugar (hyperglycemia) you treat “slow”. Now, I’m not positive if it’s actually taught this way, but I would say you don’t necessarily “treat” hypers slowly, but they are MUCH slower events than a hypo.
With a hypoglycemic event, you HAVE to get sugar into the bloodstream in a hurry! There’s no time to wait, no time to explain why you’re ripping open the bag of Skittles you just pulled off the shelf and putting handsful in your mouth, no time to tell why you cut line to grab a Mt. Dew out of the checkout cooler and are chugging it without paying first. No time to explain to a stranger with whom you’re conversing at a conference why you suddenly ran over to the refreshment table and threw a cup of punch down your throat without a word. No time to explain that, Hey, I’ve been standing here trying to keep up with the conversation (or worse, talking endlessly, probably in circles) not paying attention to the nagging tiredness and now I realize I’m low, could we put the convo on hold for a bit? That is always the worst for me. I get so embarrassed and it never fails that I don’t realize I’m going low until it dawns on me that I can’t concentrate on what the other person is saying or I don’t remember the point I was trying to make, but my mouth keeps going for some horrible reason. Worse, sometimes I begin to sweat and can’t seem to find a good time to interrupt to say, Excuse me, but I have diabetes and I need to grab something to eat. Drives me flippin’ nuts when that happens!
HypER vs HypO
On the other hand, there’s a hyperglycemic episode. These can sometimes come on quicker than it would seem (if you read medical info!) and soon I have the telltale “sick headache”, the throbbing in my legs and arms, the nausea. I’m probably pretty grumpy, too. I feel so crappy physically, it puts me in a royally bad mood. If you’re lucky, I’ll just be uncharacteristically quiet. If you’re not, I may come across as being a little more callus or hateful than normal. When I’m at home dealing with a hyper, I absolutely hate the waiting. I can just feel all these complications happening… the throbbing in my limbs is the blood circulation slowing down which will bring on an amputation. My eyes being sticky and dry is the dreaded diabetic blindness coming on. The aching head is my brain struggling with sugar-thick blood that’s slogging down circulation. Running to the bathroom endlessly is my kidneys being overworked and pushing me headlong into kidney failure. Every moment I have to wait feeling this way is like a panicking nightmare of watching as my body slowly kills itself.
Imagining the worst…
Maybe other t1d’s don’t experience this during hyperglycemia, but I sure do. It’s not so bad if I just have a one-off episode because I miscalculated a bolus or carb count, but when it’s chronically high, it is torture. My mind is full of images of hospital beds, IV tubes and monitors, bandaged stubs where my feet used to be, becoming harder and harder to see, all the while, I see another giant red X on a calendar marking another day I’ve just lost because my stupid sugar is too high.
THAT is what happens in my brain when my sugar is high. And there is not one stinking thing I can do to speed the insulin up, nothing I can do to lower the amount of sugar in my blood. All I can do is treat (give insulin) and wait.
And all of this is IF I don’t go into DKA or diabetic ketoacidosis. If I go into DKA, then it’s a whole other nightmare and a hospital stay. The only time in all my forty-two years of living with t1d that I’ve been hospitalized for DKA was about 4 years ago when a cannula kinked and I wasn’t getting insulin from my pump, but didn’t realize it until it was too late. I showed up in the ER with horrific stomach pain and no clue why. Soon the vomiting of neon green fluid began and I was promptly (ha—after an hour or two!) diagnosed and admitted to intensive care!
So yeah, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how short I may or may not be cutting my life because of something I can’t do anything about. It really stinks, too. I mean, it’s bad enough to want to kick yourself when you’ve indulged too much… you know, went ahead and had that one cookie or bite of cake but the bolus you gave didn’t cover it fully OR your body just won’t use the insulin you give it in a timely manner (what I suspect is going on with me). I swear! Sometimes it’s like I treat and treat to correct a high and it seems like NOTHING happens and then four hours later, my sugar takes a nosedive and I have to treat a low. I HATE THAT!! ARGH!!!!!
ahem Sorry. But I really REALLY hate when that happens. So like I said, it’s bad enough when it’s something I did that has my sugar up but when I’m sick or it’s a medicine (like steroids or antibiotics) I’m having to take that jack my sugar up? I go down a really dark road in my mind. A road littered with amputated limbs, dialysis machines, and blindfolds. A road where I can see my hubby and kids gathered around my casket. It’s ugly and scary and I don’t quite know how to stop it when I’ve been fighting the highs for days.
How I wish it had been explained to me…
When I was a kid, these two things confused the heck outta me. The words sound and look so similar but they couldn’t be more different. If only someone had taken time to explain to me what the differences in the spelling and meaning were, I’d have spent a lot less time being clueless. So I’m going to explain it to you the way I wish someone had explained it to me.
Glycemia has to do with glucose or more specifically, blood sugar. This is the ending of both words so all we have to focus on is the prefixes, hyper- and hypo-. When you’re a non-genius kid and no one points this out, you have a terrible time differentiating between the two!
Okay, so hyPER should remind you of a kid who is overactive. People say the kid is HYPER–too much energy “too much sugar”. The other thing you should remember is that an episode of hypERglycemia can land you in the Emergency Room more often than a hypo.
On the other hand, HyPOglycemia is when the sugar is too LOW. “PO” rhymes with “LOW” and that’s pretty much the extent of my little remembering tricks for that one. Ha ha…
I said a hyperglycemic episode can be more serious than a hypo (“land you in the ER”) because it’s fairly cut and dried how to remedy a low blood sugar. Unless you go so low that you lose consciousness, you can eat or give a glucagon shot to correct a low, A stubborn high, however, is a bit harder to recognize, can sometimes lead to ketones which is one step closer to DKA even if your sugar isn’t “all that high”. And once you are in DKA, it’s very hard to correct without medical intervention. Your entire body chemistry changes once you become acidic from the high level of ketones. So for anyone who wondered why I said that, this is why. In my experience, it’s the highs that can be the most dangerous.
I guess this isn’t really an “explanation” of hyperglycemia as much as it is a look at it from my side. This is what hyperglycemia is to me. Big. Bad. Mean. Deadly. Threatening. Hateful. Slow. Nauseating. I could live my whole life and never miss dealing with it. Not ever!
Happy Friday, folks! I’m getting a late start, but that’s been my norm the past few weeks. I won’t bore you with how flippin’ tired I have been and how much I’ve been sleeping, but trust me. It’s A LOT and I’m getting really…*heh*… tired of it. *psh!*
In other news… I just read this article about a study to see if more information (ie: blood sugar testing ..I assume via CGM) can improve the life and health of PWDs. My first thought?
As you probably recall from previous posts, we purchased out of pocket (we’re still paying for it, actually) a CGM transmitter for me early last year in the hopes that our then-insurance company would soon cover them so I could get sensors to use the CGM.
That was a dream. It never happened, so when the four sensors that came with the transmitter were done, I had to put the thing in the cabinet and there it sits. Pretty sick feeling to send a payment for something you paid over 5k for and only got to use a month. Ugh!
So I’m looking forward to getting the CGM, in case you didn’t realize. *ha ha* I know they’re not perfect, but people, when you are walking around, helping move heavy furniture, thinking you’re fine as frog hair only to test because your honey thinks “You look kinda pale, hun.. why don’t you test?” and find that your sugar is 27?? That is NOT a good feeling! It’s terrifying to know that you can’t tell when your sugar is dropping. To clarify for you non-Ds, a low is more of an emergency situation most of the time. You can drop so low, or so quickly…or BOTH that you COULD DIE from it!!
Did you catch that? I could DIE because I am unable to tell when my sugar is falling. My body no longer sends me signals to warn me that I need to eat something or suspend my pump and chug a can of Coke or scream for Tommy to come and help me until I begin to feel that being-pulled-out-of-myself feeling that I can only imagine means I’m about to pass out. It FEELS like I’m about to die. Seriously. I detest that feeling. It’s terrifying and I’m looking forward to not dealing with that, not having to worry when I’m by myself somewhere or when I’m driving.
Is more information important for people with type one diabetes? You bet your bottom dollar it is!! Why do we need a study to prove that? I guess because insurance companies are still denying CGMs to people who have documented hypo-unawareness and doctors’ letters saying their patients need them. Because people out there still don’t understand how T1D affects us or how serious it is. (remember me telling you my friend thought because I had a pump, that “took care of everything” and I really didn’t have to “do” anything regarding diabetes??!!)
So yeah, information is crucial. Knowing what our bodies are doing with the replacement hormone we inject ourselves with daily in order to live is kinda important. Knowing whether our blood sugar is too high or too low or just right is vital to our safety, not to mention the safety of our children or YOU, in the case of driving or operating machinery. Think about it. If YOU didn’t know your body was doing something…for instance, if your body didn’t recognize that it was blind or deaf, do you think that might cause a problem?
That’s silly, you say? The only reason it’s silly is because you can visibly see (or not, as the case may be!) when a blind person needs help or a deaf person needs assistance. It’s not at all visible with diabetes. All our dysfunction is on the inside, but it affects the very system that controls our entire metabolism!
*sigh* I’m thankful for the technology of CGMs. I’m looking forward to having it and feeling more confident and safe when I’m by myself or with people who may not understand diabetes enough to help me if I needed it.
I’m curious what this study will determine. I can’t eve imagine it concluding anything other than more info equals more power to control our disease. At least more ability to keep ahead of it!
What do you think? If you’re not a PWD, have you or are you learning anything more about T1D from these posts?? Please let me know. Interaction is like air for me!! Like the posts or comment!! I am dying to know what you guys think.
Have a beautiful weekend & a blessed Lord’s Day!
Say what? Yes, I just read about this new stuff that could be coming out soon. Instead of depending on someone who is with you knowing how to mix and inject a traditional glucagon pack for you, they could just spray it up your nose!
That’s a pretty awesome idea! This company who’s been doing research, Locemia Solutions, has basically been working in secret on this stuff but is now sharing that they are ready to apply for all the FDA crapola to be put on the market!
For those of you who don’t know, THIS is the current and ONLY method for delivering glucagon:
About the worst they could do giving a shot of spray in your nose is give you a nosebleed, right? And how much less freaked-out might they be having to do that instead of mixing, drawing and giving an injection?! Let us know, any non-T1Ds out there…which would YOU rather do for your friend or loved one?
This was especially close to home for me this morning because last night, I did it again. insert furious face here I have had my pump for about 12 years now. I have NEVER taken a break from it, never opted to go back to MDIs (multiple daily injections) for awhile. Getting that thing really saved my life, and as much as I hate it sometimes…like when the tubing gets hung on a doorknob as I’m working in the house or when I’m struggling to find a comfortable place to wear the thing with some more fashionable clothing, I wouldn’t part with it!
Maybe that’s why it’s such a habit for me to just press that button and dose without stopping to think sometimes. That’s pretty much what I did last night. Yes, again!! I was SO angry with myself that I probably shot it a bit lower just from that emotional surge, ya know? (Tell me I’m not the only one who does that…intense emotion can drop my sugar! Do any of you experience that??) I was up watching TV by myself since Tommy had gone on to bed. He’s staying super-tired from all his projects out in the garage so after trying to settle in with him, I found I just wasn’t sleepy yet and thought I’d catch up on something from my watchlist on Hulu. I had the munchies for some reason and wanted to eat a few chips. I rarely buy those, but heh there was a special at Kroger, so I had some of my fave bbq chips. I faintly recall bending over to get them out of the pantry while simultaneously pressing my trusty button…and I have no clue what I gave. After I realized what I’d done and was in the middle of trying to treat myself for the hypo (about 20 minutes later) I looked on my pump to see how big a dose I’d given. SEVEN UNITS!! What?! WHY on earth did I do that?!?! I don’t even know other than it is such a habit for me now!! Especially after that last episode doing this kind of thing?!?! WHY!?!? I could have just strangled myself, really. SO angry!! And scared. Not a good combination when you’re trying to raise a low blood sugar.
If any of you Ds out there have had this sort of issue, how did you STOP yourself from going auto-pilot with your pump dosing? I am thinking of putting some tape or some sort of fuzzy sticker on the button so I’ll stop and think about what I’m doing. Maybe I should just put the whole pump in a ziplock or some sort of case so that I have to take it out to use it? Have you tried any tactics like that to retrain yourself to test first or at least THINK before you dose?? PLEASE don’t tell me I’m the only one who does this?!?!
Tommy commanded (yes, he did!) me to go pick up a glucagon. I haven’t yet, but we will probably do that tomorrow. I’m getting ready to call the endo’s office right now for a prescription AND to find out if they can help with another insurance-related problem that is making me furious. Maybe I’ll share about that once I ever get any hint that there’s a solution. SIGH
Happy (& SAFE) weekend to you all! Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms.
Hi everyone. I had such big plans for yesterday. We had another awesome sermon that filled me with all sorts of good thoughts and scripture to share with you. If you haven’t checked it out, go watch the latest sermon series from our church or listen to the podcast.
I have to say, I had a really great weekend. We had all our kiddos over Sunday afternoon for a cookout. We haven’t been able to do that in quite awhile. I put off hitting the house, really getting it cleaned up, til way late. I’d been cooking, doing some make-ahead recipes and food prep after all.
Honestly though, I started on the house at midnight! I’m thinking maybe I should always do that because by the time I went to bed at 2:30 am, the house was in better shape than it’s been in awhile.
Granted, I don’t mean the entire house and we have those “unused” rooms that stay hidden from guests. I need to just suck it up and start on them, but boy, those are going to take several days and I haven’t quite got the nerve up yet.
Anyhow, we had a great time and a ton of company. We should’ve known since Tommy said something about taking a long nap after the kids leave. He doesn’t often slow down and if he stops, he usually falls asleep, so it was odd for him to even think about a nap let alone mention it. Me? I am down with a nap anytime and almost any place. I think I could sleep at just about any time of the day or night. ALWAYS tired!!
But nope. Surprisingly, our kids stayed longer than we had expected. They usually have things they need to run off to do or people to meet. Maybe they didn’t have to leave because several of their “peeps” came up to the house! Ha ha! We had about 5 of the kids from Corey’s church come up to the house. Then a guy Tommy had sold a transmission to on eBay came from Ohio to pick that up along with his wife. Someone else showed up in there somewhere but I forget who at the moment. I think when we counted them all up, there were 11 people at our house Sunday! That’s pretty unusual for us too. So anyway, there was no nap taking done on Sunday.
The guys finished up a dreaded part of the Jeep modifications, so they worked a little later than normal and Tommy was wiped by the time he finally came in.
We had that awesome sermon and once again, it tied right in with things we’re discussing and studying in our LIFE group as well. God’s working on us, I believe. Moving us closer to Him, maybe preparing us for something.
Monday morning, like I said, I had big plans and lots of ideas for a blog post. Seems like I normally have a new one for Monday, but I didn’t feel so great when I woke up. My first thought was that it was in spite of the sermon the day before (seriously, go watch it! then you will understand my statement) and I tried to just ignore it. It wasn’t anything in particular, I just didn’t feel good. My initial thought? The devil is trying to thwart my efforts to practice what was taught Sunday! Hmph! That may or may not be, but whatever the case, I was sick. No ifs, ands or buts!
Around 11 am, I decided to test my sugar. I’m almost out of strips and my shipment isn’t due for a few days, so I’m trying to conserve all I can. Anyhow, it was 432!! I about passed out from disbelief! That is of course, way too high. Normally with a blood sugar at this level, I’ll feel queasy and headachey, really lousy, but not much else. I texted Tommy to let him know. I gave a correction bolus with my pump (to “correct” my sugar), grabbed a bottle of water and went to lie down. I downed the water since high blood sugar can dehydrate you and also the water helps flush your system.
By this time, I had a more serious headache, but I was able to fall asleep. About an hour later, I got up, drank another bottle of water, tested 372 so I could see it was going down, but slowly. SO SLOWLY! I gave another correction bolus and went back to bed because I felt SO tired and was a little dizzy when I got up. The headache had gone from highly annoying to alarmingly insidious. I’m serious you guys. I have never had a headache that bad, not even a migraine. Maybe I should clarify and say that I was really aching all over. My arms hurt, sort of throbbing, my head hurt from my shoulders up and a weird, different kind of pain. I was a little concerned but didn’t know what to do. I had grabbed a soft ice pack from the freezer so I slapped that on my head and tried to get comfortable again.
I didn’t sleep as much as I just dozed in and out of sleep. I was hurting really bad. I guess it had been around 30 or 40 minutes when I started to feel sick at my stomach. I eased off the bed and headed to the bathroom. I also needed to pee really bad! It was definitely time for the “flushing” part of all that hydration. I reached into the laundry room right beside our bathroom and grabbed our trusty “puke pan” before I sat down. I don’t get sick often and I hate throwing up as bad as anyone…but I got SO sick. I hadn’t had anything all day besides the one cup of coffee around 8 am and then all that water. And every bit of it came up. After I dry-heaved awhile, each time seeing stars and worrying that I was going to pass out, I was finally able to get up and clean myself up. I texted Tommy to see if he could come home…told him I’d been sick and felt like I was going to pass out. He said yes, he’d leave right then, bless his heart. I dragged myself to the bed and realized I felt a bit better than before, so I called him back and told him not to come. I didn’t feel “passy-outtie” anymore.
I drank more water and laid back down and slept pretty hard for about an hour and woke again. Time to test again: 463!! I was FURIOUS! I get mad enough at myself when I’ve done something or forgotten to bolus for a food or miscalculated the amount of carbs in a food, but when I’m giving corrections and ingesting nothing but water and my sugar is still high, I get REALLY angry!! Stupid diabetes!! Why can’t you just sit over there and behave? Why must you torment me this way? ARGH! So, I decided maybe my pump site was no longer absorbing or something and gave an injection of insulin this time. Before I’d got out of bed though, I’d texted Taylor to ask her if she thought it would be okay, with my weird symptoms, to take some Tylenol. I was about to the point of going to the ER just to get relief from the pain of whatever this was. She said she thought it should be fine and she felt I probably had a virus of some sort. I had to agree. My sugar has been well over 400 before without making me feel this horrific. Normally, I’d have been queasy, headache-y and felt generally crappy, but this was off the charts. With such a short-lived high, I shouldn’t have been this sick.
Then again… it seems the D and me, we don’t get along as well as we used to. I mean, I’ve never been really fond of Diabetes, but in the past few years, the symptoms that I’ve come to rely on have started to change. I can no longer be sure that my dry mouth means a high blood sugar or know that I’ll have the shakiness, the cold sweats, the numbness around my mouth or any reliable symptoms of a low blood sugar in time to treat it myself. For decades, I’ve trusted my body to send me those signals to tell me when something’s not just right and now, I feel betrayed because I can no longer depend on getting those signals or that they will even mean what they always have.
Oh well…whatcha gonna do? There’s not much you can do when something like this happens. Learn the new symptoms or realize there won’t be any and make yourself be even more diligent. That’s all I know to do. Thankfully, this time didn’t land me in the hospital. I really should get a small bottle of keto strips, though.
My endo asked if I had ketones and we didn’t know because we had no strips. Like the issue with glucagon, I hate having something like that just expire without me ever needing it. I don’t know if keto strips have gone down any in price, but I’m betting they haven’t. I’ll just hope I can get a very small package that isn’t too expensive. Seriously guys, I DESPISE paying for something that I know I won’t likely use up before the expiration date. Drives me up a wall!
Type 1 Diabetes Sick Day Rules
Bad, bad Geannie. I know. Deal with it. Am I the only one who feels this way? Am I the only one who doesn’t buy seldom-used diabetic supplies because they are not cheap and always end up expiring? Tell me if I am. (but I bet I’m not!) 🙂
What DO you guys do when you’re sick? I usually end up low when I’m really sick like this, so that’s another reason I’m not sure it was the level of my sugar that made me so sick. How do you T1Ds respond to illness? Like the books say or differently? Is it always the same? Have you experienced changes in the way your body reacts to things after 10 or more years of T1D?? I would love to hear!!