When diabetes invades, he is armed with weapons of destruction such as elevated blood sugar, dehydration, frequent urination, extreme thirst, and fatigue. He is an unwelcome foe and not any fun to have around. But his kryptonite is insulin! Yea for insulin! Dear Miss Insulin put the pep back in my step, added some meat back onto my dwindling frame and cleared most of the fog from my weary brain. She helped me defeat, or at least hold at bay, the Diabolical Diabetes.
But as much as I loved and welcomed Miss Insulin, her help and support come with sharp sticks and a fickle mind. She has her own dark side. You see Miss Insulin sometimes doesn’t know when to quit. She is amazing at getting glucose into starving cells, so the body can do its work with ease. But when she is clearing glucose from the blood she won’t stop until her superpowers are drained. Despite her noble attempts, she can push you into the valley of Hypoglycemia.
Hell on Earth
Hypoglycemia is the closest I have come to hell on earth. It feels to me like I am dying and slipping away. Sweat drips down my body. My hands shake. My vision blurs. My heart races in my chest. My thoughts don’t make sense. I am aware I am not making sense, but powerless to do anything about it, but eat and wait.
The waiting is the hardest part. To be in this place where you feel life oozing out of your body. Sometimes I have been apathetic, knowing I should move, but my body not responding. Sometimes it sneaks up and initially, it feels a bit nice. Sort of sleepy and warm and I drift into the 50’s or 40s until some survival mechanism wakes me up. Other times, it plummets in rapid descent and I spin in a dizzy whirl of fear, hunger, and dread. Sometimes I am starving like my life depended upon the ingestion of massive amounts of food, except my life depends on 15-20 grams of carb. I know not to eat anymore while I wait. But it feels bad. It feels like death is knocking on my door. Correcting some high blood sugars later doesn’t seem like such a bad option. Sometimes food sounds gross. I am nauseated but have to gag something down. I know how to fight this battle, but hypoglycemia has been my hardest challenge.
The first time it happened, I was alone at home. I remember I was clinically amazed at how much sweat was pouring out of me. It seemed medically impossible as I watched fluid drip from me to the floor. I ate and ate and ate. It was pure madness. I had never been THAT. HUNGRY. I knew I didn’t need that much, but I couldn’t stop. And I was scared. The nurse in me knew that glucose was what I needed, and I would likely be fine. But I had also seen countless people unresponsive with hypoglycemia. Should I call 911? What if a paramedic I knew who showed up? I could either be fine by the time they arrived and embarrassed that I wasted their time, OR I could be incontinent, seizing or any number of other horrible versions of “passed out”. I wasn’t coherent enough to call someone without freaking them out.
So, I kept eating and thank God I never lost consciousness. Eventually, my levels came back up (actually way up so I had to take more insulin later – grrrrr), the fog cleared, and I found my way back to myself. Luckily my pride and vanity didn’t get the best of me. I really should have called someone – I was such a stubborn newbie.
I wish I could share that was the last time. It wasn’t. But I am better prepared now. I stand watch and know the signs. I have never lost consciousness – Thank God! Seriously, Thank you God!! Nights are the worst when I don’t see it coming on. The brain is an amazing survival organ and gives me the absolute worst nightmares to wake me when hypoglycemia hits. I am grateful for those nightmares. My pride still causes me to fiercely fights this battle in private. But that is just part of my journey. Miss Insulin is my superhero for life and I try to keep her on a tight leash, but she must do what she must do. I study the battle she fights with Diabolic Diabetes every day trying to learn what I can. Always watching and waiting ….forever.