I have been many things, husband, father, coworker and patient. I am also a person with type 1 diabetes. I have lived with type 1 for 42 years and I have to admit I am at least one more thing. I can be a prick when I am low. It’s true. I acknowledge it. Of course I often prick my finger to test my blood sugar, but I am also a prick.
Low Blood Sugar?
Having a low blood sugar is like being in an automated car wash without a car. Having a low blood sugar feels like all the stimuli are coming at one thousand miles per hour and yet all you can think about is food. It causes those around us to suffer sometimes. I have many low blood sugar stories, some funny, some sad, and a few dangerous. It is the accumulation of stories that show up after 42 years of taking an artificial hormone that allows me to live.
Low blood sugar is caused by not adequately matching food, exercise, and insulin. An insulin user can go low if they eat too few carbohydrates, exercise more than estimated, their body is assaulted by emotional stress (good or bad experiences), too much insulin is delivered, or a thousand other inputs that get out of balance. No matter the cause; the result can be extreme sweating (I hate that one), rapid convulsive movement in hands or legs, unconsciousness, blurry vision, confusion, hunger, crying (I hate that one as well) or in some cases no discernible symptoms at all. My most typical symptom is anger. I tend to get defensive when I have a low blood sugar and I can turn into a raging lunatic.
But A Prick?
I can turn into a raging maniac based on the stimuli around me. I have been known to throw things, yell, take off my clothes, laugh wildly, hit, and disobey those trying to help me. I once opened and ate a box of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes in the store. When the manager asked why I was doing that I said the most important thing I could think of. Because they’re GREAT!!!!!!
However, when I get upset is when someone remarks about my care while I am low. These phrases always start with same words, If you, you need, you should, if only followed by some prescription for what I did wrong or could do better to manage diabetes. It angers me to hear these things, as if I wanted this outcome, or the speaker could do better.
Inputs and Outputs
Taking insulin is not strictly an input/output arrangement. The human body is much more complicated than the sum of its inputs. I know this because sometimes I eat the same food, do the same exercise and take the same insulin and I get widely varying results. It seems unfair that if I am sitting at home I can go low because my body metabolized its inputs differently. Sometimes stuff happens.
Yes, we can control some parts of the equation. I can put in less insulin, I can eat more or less carbohydrates and I can stay home while the family goes on a walk or swim, but that is like sitting on a four legged stool with two legs cut off. Most of the time I get it right. I can usually keep the stool balanced but often, I make a mistake and my blood sugar goes too high or low.
What I have learned after 42 years of managing diabetes 24/7/365 is that no one can do it perfectly. We miss and sometimes those misses are big. When that happens, I may need some help. And if I ask for that help, know I do not mean to be a prick, but if I am also know my apology is sincere. After all I hate pricks those on my finger or the one that comes out when I am low.