We laugh. At least we try to laugh and have a good humor about having diabetes. I mean, it’s something that we have to live with for the rest of our lives and at times if you don’t laugh, you will do nothing but cry. It’s the truth. A lot of us use humor to get through it, but regardless of that, there are still those times that make you shout out, “Oh, shit!” at 5 a.m. because you really have no other way of expressing yourself at the moment.
One thing that I’ve seen a meme created over was the fact that you can feel relatively low (as in having hypoglycemia) but the full affects don’t hit you until you see that number on the tiny screen telling you that you’re definitely low. Shakes, sweats, stars that are a sign of a blackout all of a sudden hit you like a ton of bricks and you become a wobbly zombie headed for the refrigerator trying to get some juice in your mouth. Seeing that stupid little number always makes it worse.
There are sometimes, and I know I’m not the only one, where your body feels so weak that you want to convince yourself you’re just tired and think of even skipping trying to eat something. I know, it’s terrible. But when you have a pump or on insulin therapy and also happen to have a continuous glucose monitor, you know about the lack of sleep. Beeping, buzzing, whizzing… I’m pretty sure it talks to aliens sometimes. It doesn’t stop. That’s why if you’re on social media you see people talk about how grateful they are to have gotten a good night’s rest. It’s rare.
So last night, I went out for drinks with friends to celebrate a birthday. I was having a good time and my blood sugar was fine. I had also gone to the gym, an evil place that ruins diabetes for a lot of people.
I came home, had a little snack before going to bed and then the beeping started. You know, that decreasing three-tone beep that lets you know it’s coming. “Predicted Low” says my pump and I groan and roll over. It’s at 70. If you have a CGMS, you know that sometimes it can be off. Maybe mine is off I thought. A few minutes later, that other beep… the one that tells you you’re low. I ignore it. A few minutes later, there it is again. My reading says something like 60 but as I lay with my eyes wide open, deciding what I have to drink or eat, I realize that it’s dropping more. At this point, I’ve already suspended the pump. Even though I do that, I keep dropping. It’s really a pain that started since I started going to the gym again. It drops at night even more on the days I don’t go, which is how I know my workouts are really working. Weird, I know, but that’s how I feel about it.
I finally get up after having a mini dream about drinking the last of the orange juice in my fridge. I get to my meter and check myself. “Holy shit!” I said without even realizing it. The number: 26. As I stumbled (from shock, I think) to the fridge, I thought, should I even be awake right now? Conscious? I mean, anything below 70 is already considered hypoglycemia and I was way below that.
I chugged the orange juice so fast that I got brain freeze. At 5 a.m. In the middle of winter. My dumbass gets brain freeze. I look around for more things to eat. I had just gone grocery shopping and I got healthy food. It’s times like these that I get upset at myself for trying to be so healthy. What is asparagus going to do for hypoglycemia?! I found my stash of peanut butter and even better my stash of Nutella. Hello Nutella and peanut butter sandwich at 5 a.m. Best breakfast ever. After the juice, drank some milk and there I went, off to bed. I checked one more time and I was at 49. Still incredibly low, however it was going up.
I tell you, for having diabetes, it’s rough. And it’s times like these that rob me of an independent mindset. I always tell myself that I can live alone and that I’ll be fine, but there’s a fear that sets in during those early morning hours that make me think, “What if no one looks for me tomorrow and I’m passed out on the floor?” The only thing I could think after all that was, “Thank God I woke up.” When the diabetic educator asked me if I lived with someone and I said no, she said, “Well, when you do, we’ll teach him how to give you a glucagon shot.” How romantic.
“Hey sweetie, as a sign of our love for each other, I want you to learn how to shoot me up and save my life.” I guess it can be, just not the way I envisioned it.