I stand. I’m not quite sure what to do, the lights are flashing, I look up to see if I can work out what I’m supposed to do but I feel confused. I know I need food but I also have to pay and I just can’t work out where the tills are. I don’t know how long I stand there, minutes, but I know I need to move.
I had been busy, focussed, trying to fit stuff in and get everything done. I had popped out to buy a present for a girl who was leaving and we didn’t have too much time so we needed to crack on. I suspect I felt a bit light headed then but I was absolutely focussed on task, it was only afterwards that I realised I needed to eat.
No matter what everyone tells you about being prepared, that’s all fine, but when my brain is struggling and thoughts are fuzzy I am not always as logical as I could be. I did have hypo treatment tablets in my bag but I seemed to have forgotten all about those. Believe it or not in a city centre buying food, preferably fast acting junk food, isn’t as easy as it sounds. I bought some Jellies from Thornton’s and crammed a few into my mouth, barely chewing, merely trying to ingest as quickly as possible.
Sometimes, for some reason that doesn’t always seem to bear any relevance to logic, it seems harder to bring my blood glucose up. It’s a rare event but nevertheless happens now and again. I needed something to drink, something with sugar. I knew what I needed to do. I walked through the shop doorway and stood.
I stand a while. No one seems to notice. I close my eyes and try to think. I walk a few steps, wander past the isles. I see a fridge and eventually a grab a drink. But where are the tills? I feel mildly panicky. I can’t drink the drink without paying can I?
This happened to me two weeks ago. I manage this day, as I have managed for 36 years. Eventually I feel marginally better and slowly make my way back to the office. I tell no one and get on with my work. I know that there will be an inevitable rebound high so I keep a close eye on my blood glucose but giving myself more insulin seems counter-intuitive and I worry – too little and I will feel rubbish through ketones, too much and I will bounce down again…. It feels a little bit like Russian roulette.
I tell no one because I don’t want pity. I get on with some work but pack up early and make my way home.
I feel like I have the worst hang-over ever. My head feels sore and slow, my brain reacting to the lack of glucose, objecting and asking me to slow down.
Somehow it seems worse, the recovery, as I get older. It takes me longer to bounce back, to be on top form. This time the feeling of other-world-ness and being in a different space to everyone else persists for another day.
Type 1 Diabetes is hard. It’s a bit hard every single day but that’s OK. But just sometimes it’s more than hard, it’s disabling and frightening.
Do you know what it’s like to feel seriously hypoglycaemic?
Here is what a few of my twitter friends with Type 1 said when I asked them:
@anniecoops My BS can be quite low (40ish) and I will not always catch it. I feel hungry, I yawn or I panic…or keep on until my family says otherwise…if they are with me.
It sounds bloody horrible.
Although not diabetic myself my son was. When he described how he was feeling I was reminded of Munch’s The scream.
Thanks for sharing Annie:-) the value of these insights is something I never underestimate. Great photo!
Thanks for sharing. A bad hypo is definitely difficult to rebound from, and it always ruins any traction I have going with my d-management.
Great Blog Annie.
Although I am a Type2 I have been on insulin since I was first diagnosed in 1999. My triggers for hypos are a sudden need to go to the loo, shaking, sweating and generally feeling unwell.
Ken Tait BA Hons DHP(NC) MNRHP
web : http://www.intrinsic-revolution.co.uk
Getting you back on the right track
As ever an informative & great blog & it really brings home the seriousness of the condition. Those with other conditions (mine is asthma) seem to want to avoid a sceneand I can really relate to your feelings of not wanting to make a fuss.
I too, on more than one occasion, have walked into a shop hypoing and wondered how on earth I was going to negotiate getting a drink out of the fridge and paying for it, without looking like a complete buffoon. Also wanting to just rip the top off the drink and swig it down there and then. I’m sure I’m going to do that one day! As well as scoffing down a couple of KitKats while I’m at it.
I remember fondly (not) walking around Richmond in the baking heat, unable to find a shop and having to go into a bar to ask for a lemonade and dealing with a barman-with-attitude (did I look drunk?) whilst feeling my sugars sinking lower and lower…
I have realised recently that I can get quite stroppy too, which is something I really have to watch at work – I think it depends on what mood I’m in before I sink below the magic number 4.
Thanks for a great blog, and keep up your fabulous work!
Great read Anne thanks, helps me understand what people with diabetes go through which will help me in my work.
Thanks Anne, your posts are always so insightful!
Bit late getting to this Anne, I have been married for 34 years to my partner who has Type1 DM. As a junior Doctor he had a difficult time with frequent hypos and I have to say very little empathy from colleagues particularly Consultants !. An example of this was not allowing him to go for meals at an appropriate time.The nursing staff showed more empathy however ensuring regular supplies of jelly babies and Dextrosol!.
Its often an undestimated condition with profound effects on individuals particulalry in respect of hypos and concerns about the effects of uncontrolled blood sugar levels and the consequents of this over time.
Thank you for commenting Angela. It is hard sometimes I think but not all the time. That’s part of the issue too, most people don’t want a fuss all the time as it’s irritating so we create a ‘please don’t fuss’ persona when in fact perhaps we need to be a bit more open to help too. As to making in it deliberately hard, like meal times etc, that is on a base level unkind and on a more serious level discriminatory 😦
Thank you everyone for your encouragement and feedback. I can sense my blog resonates with some of you too. I will keep writing to try to help people understand what some of the ups and downs are like. Thanks again. X