Hello all you happy people. I’ve got another diabetes issue clanking around my brain lately. First, let me explain about that funny word in the title…
GLUCAGON- n. (gloo-KA-gon) Glucagon is a naturally occurring hormone. It raises blood glucose whenever it falls too low. …in a REGULAR person, that is. For us diabetics, we may or may not still secrete some glucagon naturally. The thing is, if we’ve over-dosed our insulin or had more exercise or stress or missed a meal… we could end up with LOTS more insulin in our bodies than would ever happen normally in a non-diabetic. So, if that happens, and we still secrete a little glucagon ourselves, it will still not be enough to prevent hypoglycemia. We will still go severely low and may lose consciousness or even die. (here is an even better explanation!)
Low blood sugar is SERIOUS! That’s why you always see a type 1 with tons of snacks or other means of raising blood sugar if necessary.
RABBIT TRAIL: While I’m on this topic, let me just say that it is tough having to treat a medical condition, a potentially deadly medical condition, with food. Countless type 1’s have been heckled, bullied, scorned, gossiped about…you name it, over this self-preservation method we MUST use.
Let me explain…let’s say for instance, you are in a roomful of high school students, taking a test perhaps, and you begin to feel your sugar dropping. The rule of this class, from this teacher, is no candy in class. The fastest way to counter the impending hypo is to quickly chew up a couple peppermints or glucose tabs or Lifesavers (my fave). The teacher is aware of your condition (because you informed them, like a good diabetic) but the kids sitting around you may not. Even if they do, because they don’t know anything about diabetes, they think you are faking, milking it or worse, doing it for spite. Then there are those times (BTDT too many times!) when you have a substitute OR even a regular teacher who doesn’t understand diabetes and is completely uncooperative or gives you a hard time about treating hypos in or during class. (remind me to tell you about the middle school teacher I had who had flunked out of med school & insisted on making a major production every time I went low in his class!! GAH!!)
Then there are those wonderful times when, as an adult…maybe a parent, even, when you have to treat in front of children. That’s always lovely. Here… these photos will give you the gist of what I mean:
(thanks, Jimmy Kimmel, for these perfect examples of how kids respond when they think you’re hogging all the candy)
Then you have co-workers and such who will respond this way:
Yeah, no matter how many times you explain, no matter how much info you give them, they STILL don’t get why you have to stop and EAT FOOD and you call it “treatment” or say it’s because you are sick.
That’s the big problem…people don’t see food as “medicine”, they don’t relate food intake with how the body functions. They don’t get that as type 1 diabetics, we must MANUALLY balance food intake with energy expenditures and insulin dosages. EVERY DAY. ALL DAY. And even while we sleep. They don’t get that if we have too much insulin (or perhaps overexert or expend too much energy for the nutrients in our bodies) or if we don’t inject insulin according to our food intake, or if we experience an illness (like a cold, people. A COLD can derail our diabetes!) or excess stress, it can cause all sorts of problems for us simply because we do NOT have a functioning pancreas to do all that thinking for us like everyone else.
deep breath Sorry…thought I needed to throw that stuff in there. Heh.
Okay, so back to the glucagon question. You see, like EVERYTHING ELSE with diabetes, (and most any other illness or disease these days!) medication and supplies are NOT cheap. With diabetes, there’s a never-ending list of supplies that we need and most of those need to be kept with us, on our person, all the time. Especially when travelling or any sort of activity where we are away from home.
The point to all this is…when trying to decide what to spend our family’s limited funds on, medically speaking, I sometimes have to choose what is absolutely vital over what is not-so-absolutely vital. Yeah…stinky choices, I know. So when I have to pick, I must choose my insulin (because without that, I will die) and all the instruments I need to administer the insulin (reservoirs, tubing sets, batteries, alcohol swabs, syringes in case the pump fails) and also testing supplies so I know how to dose the insulin (test strips, lancets, sensors, transmitters and batteries). Other than those, I also need adequate food supply and foods that can be carried easily, so certain types of snacks and candy and/or glucose tabs or gels. When figuring all this up, most often, spending another $50 on a glucagon kit, which always has a short shelf-life and will likely expire before I need it (which means it must be thrown away) becomes an easy “no” and usually a very distant after-thought.
Fifty bucks might not be a lot to you, but to us, it’s a small fortune. I have a REALLY hard time laying out $50 that most often has to be thrown away in a few short months.
However, when you are sitting on a highway in another state with no exits in sight and no way to get off the road (because you’re with the Hubby in his work truck pulling a trailer) and you are popping Lifesavers in your mouth, chewing as fast as you can, drinking a can of Coke and trying to fend off a very aggressive low that feels like it’s threatening to put you under…you begin to feel really stupid about not spending that $50 bucks. That is, you feel stupid in between your life flashing before your eyes, wondering if you told your kids you loved them enough or hugged your mom the last time you saw her or if your best friends know how much you love them.
I’m not exaggerating. That’s how it feels when you are close to passing out while your blood sugar is plummeting. It’s horrible and you do NOT want to experience it.
So what’s a poor diabetic supposed to do?
I honestly don’t know right now. I mean, if it was just a matter of scrounging up the extra money so I’d have the thing, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But when it expires so quickly and it’s not every day/week/month or even year that you even need a kit?? It’s hard to know what to do.
However, it’s those times that you never suspect, the times you could never “plan” for, those times when you ~thought~ you planned everything very, very well–when you ate properly, counted all the carbs, dosed exactly as prescribed but STILL everything goes wrong….those are the times you keep a kit for.
How do YOU deal with this? I have been reading and chatting with folks in the DOC about this and some have great insurance so keeping a good kit isn’t an issue, others speak of never being without several for their children (which would TOTALLY different! it’s much easier to risk my own life…I’d never be without a kit for one of my children!) So how do YOU handle this issue? What do you think should or could be done?? I know making the kits more affordable would be an awesome first step for me. Even half that price would be helpful. I don’t understand why insurance doesn’t cover them more than they do since having one of these kits can help me avoid a trip to the ER or worse.
Before we discuss, let me drop this info on you…I know many people, even in my own family, who would shudder at the thought of having to mix a medication and give me an injection in an emergency. I understand. Opening a glucagon kit when someone you love is passed out can be intensely scary! People panic, especially since it has to be mixed, not just drawn out like insulin. Maybe I’m just way out of the loop on this, but Eli Lilly has an app to show people how to use glucagon! I’m not sure how this would work, especially if you use a password on your phone (and I think most people do these days!) but there IS an app!! Look:
Okay, so let’s dish…what is your stance on the glucagon issue? Is it hard for you to afford and/or justify purchasing it for yourself? How do you handle it?
Inquiring minds want to know…
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!