I didn’t always count the sips.
I used to treat low bloodsugar reactions by chugging cranberry juice until it spilled down my chin and choked me just a little bit. That panicked, adrenaline fueled consumption, rendering me unable to close my eyes while I drink, but instead leaving me focused on that part where the ceiling and the wall merge. Focus. Drink the juice. Sit on the floor. Wait.
Waiting is always the worst part. “Consume 15 grams of carbohydrate, wait 15 minutes, test again, treat if necessary.” I don’t know a single diabetic who has that kind of time. A Low, one that gnashes Its teeth in your belly and keeps Its hands at your throat, doesn’t wait 15 minutes with you. You drink the juice, It turns around in your stomach. You sit on the floor and It stands up beside you, a heavy hand on your head, just enough to roll your neck forward a bit. Fifteen minutes is a terrifying lifetime while you wait for the juice to start raising your bloodsugar.
Lurch forward 20 minutes, after you’ve tagged half the bottle of juice and maybe some crackers. Bloodsugar hitting a cruising altitude of close to 250 mg/dl. That sick to your stomach feeling from a deviation of more than 200 points in 20 minutes. And there’s the guilt of No Control, when you couldn’t just consume the 15 grams of carbs and wait it out.
It’s hard to wait when you’re afraid you’re going to pass out.
It’s been after many years of treating my own reactions that I’ve come to the Eight Sips Theory. If my bloodsugar is anywhere under 55 mg/dl, I fill a glass with juice and gulp down Eight Sips. Never more. But I’ll refill the glass if there isn’t enough for eight. It’s enough to bring me back. Every time.
“One … two … three … four…” I count in my head as I swallow. Reaching “…eight,” I promptly put the glass down and sit. It’s still within reach, but it’s not lying comfortingly in my hand. Eight Sips. They calm the panic enough for me to breathe evenly. My eyes languidly scope the room, but I know that I will come up enough from whatever the low is with Eight Sips. Seven is not enough. Ten is too many.
There’s a comfort found in this routine. It makes me feel safe. Protected.
And oh so slightly OCD.