Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How low can you go??

Hypoglycemia. Low. A diabetic's worst nightmare, no? The one thing parents of kiddos with diabetes fear most. At camp, its the one HUGE thing we attempt to avoid for the 6 days we have the rugrats. A new diabetic has heard horror stories, everyone (wrongfully) thinks this is why Julia Roberts (I KNOW...I mentioned her AGAIN) dies in Steel Magnolias...wrong. A good friend of mine will let a hypo event rob him of several hours of his life...he is overly dramatic about them (thank you, hormones) and then over treats (hello hyper!), and will bitch, moan and complain about the fear of dropping low again....until it happens....again. Makes me want to choke him. Why all the drama? Why all the fear? How many diabetics do you know, personally, that have kicked the bucket from a low? Now, its not unheard of, and those that have passed in this manner, its absolutely heartbreaking...but honestly, its not something I let ruin my day.....

That is, until this past Thursday. Had an appointment with my orthopedic surgeon...lunch, earlier that day, was a bistro and glass of wine for my BFF's b-day (SHOUT OUT TO THE NESTOR!! COLLLLLAAAAAA), and the partial loss of my voice due to viral laryngitis. Typical day, right? Well, as Dr G is getting my x-rays, I start to feel the quickening pulse and sweaty, light headed feeling that precipitates my lows. So, as a responsible diabetic, I grabbed the glucose tabs out of my purse (These are my FAVE, they taste like sweettarts, and are 1 gram of CHO each ), popped a few...and after a few minutes, the feelings began to dissipate. So, Dr G goes over my xrays, and as we are in the exam room, I began to feel like I was in a tunnel...started to see stars...and the next thing I knew...I awoke in his arms....super romantic, right??? NOT. I was low enough that I couldn't tell the nurse Dr. C's #...low enough that I couldn't speak at all...so I did the next best thing, I started crying!! Thankfully, I was OK, and in the same hospital professional building as the hubs, so he got down there...and proceeded to laugh at me. Yeah. A-hole. I believe the combo of being sick, the alcohol, my use of off label Metformin and not wearing my CGM all contributed to my dramatic lowness.

Its said that an average diabetic, diagnosed in childhood, will drop low between 5,000-15,000 times...in a lifetimes. Dude. Technically, a low is not considered a low until less than 70 mg/dL (3.8 mmol/L, eh?), and some freakkin docs don't consider it low until less than 60...jerkoffs. Something I always aim to explain to my patients is that symptoms can occur, not because of the number, but because of the fall. So lets say you drop from 140 down to 85, in less than an hour..that's at a rate greater than 1 mg/dL per minute...which is quick! Even just that plunge can trigger the symptoms of an actual low sugar. This is where continuous monitoring comes in handy. Having rate of change, predictive and low/high alarms is the only way some diabetics can function. I have been wearing my sensor since Thursday...and I have to tell you, it may be a pain in the ass, but the amount of data made available to me is mind blowing. The thought of bedside screens, displaying this data from another room, or a vehicle that won't start because it senses your sugar is too low, this is the wave of the future, guys!!! Diabetes has come so far, and its amazing to be a part of it all, but yet, we have so far to go. So lets just keep on keepin on, diabetic friends.

Love, Kelley

PS. To all of you Divabetics out there, please remember to always be prepared for a potential hypo. Make sure your Glucoagon Rx is current, that you have at least 15 grams of FAST acting (Not peanuts or Cheerios...you know who you are), this can be 4-6 oz of juice (I love toddler juice boxes for this reason!!), glucose tabs, Smarties, cake icing (Not the can, the tube...duh), and even a follow up snack can be a good idea...Thank you, Sam's & Costco, for your overly large boxes of granola bars!


  1. OK- How does Julia Roberts/Shelby die then? I always assumed it was a low. What the heck was it?

  2. This was immensely helpful for me to read. I didn't know that the low symptoms could happen because of the fall even if his blood sugar isn't horribly low.

    True confession (don't hate me): my immediate feeling when Matt runs low is to be pissed at him about it. It doesn't happen often (he's not a divabetic!) and I know it's irrational and wrong on so many levels - but, I feel incensed (at him) when he's low.

    Maybe you could do a post about finding some friggin' empathy when your one true love is having a medical moment. Don't get Doug's input on that one :)

    Hugs to you,

  3. Word. When I am dropping or just coming down from a mega high I always feel like I am low.
    I realllllllly want a cgm, more than strippers want tips.
    But I think my insurance thinks it's not really necessary and will pay like 2 bucks on it.