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More Willpower Than Carbs.

It’s been a week of strange and unusually clingy lows, and they are often to blame for a rough day of blood sugars, as it’s so easy for me to over-treat a low, causing me to bounce  up too high, which makes me aggressively correct with a bolus (rage bolus!), which sometimes makes me low again.  Vicious cycle involving too much insulin and way too much candy corn (hypothetically speaking, of course – it was on sale!!).  Today, I’m looking back at some words of wisdom from my endocrinologist about over-treating nasty lows.

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“It takes more willpower than carbs to properly correct a low blood sugar.”

This goes through my head every time my blood sugar is below 65 mg/dL.  I talked about lows with my endocrinologist a few weeks ago, and how when I’m excessively low (the ones that tangle my tongue in my mouth and leave cotton balls in the place where my brain should be), it’s very hard to measure out fifteen grams of carbs, then eat, and then sit patiently and wait for my blood sugar to rise.

“Usually, I measure out fifteen hundred grams of carbs, usually in the form of an entire bottle of grape juice, and then consume the whole lot in a matter of seconds.  Then I end up haphazardly bolusing to cover the extra carbs.  Usually, I end up much higher than I was aiming for, mostly because I’m in a freaking panic and treating the low as fast and desperately as I can.”

She and I talked about how panicky lows often lead to over-treating, which leads to highs, which leads to rage bolusing, which leads back to panicky lows.

“Fun vicious cycle, that is,” I said.  “I do notice that the more stable my blood sugars are, the more stable they remain.  It’s once the bounce starts that it becomes gross. My Dexcom graphs start looking like giant letter Ms.”

“Not over-treating a low is very important, but I know it’s a tough thing to avoid.  That panic drives you to eat until you don’t feel low anymore, which can take up to twenty minutes.”

“So I need to distract myself while low?”  (Like I’m not already distracted enough at a blood sugar of 40 mg/dL.)

“Whatever you can do to treat the low without overdoing it, yes.  It can help stop that vicious cycle.”

Lows aren’t as prevalent now as they were a few months ago, but they do hit every once in a while.  (As irony would have it, I’m writing this blog post while low.  But I only had three small sips of juice.  And now I’m waiting patiently.  PATIENTLY.  SEE HOW PATIENT I AM?!)  I’m trying to be patient while low, and waiting out the panic until blood sugar serenity sets back in.  I thought about crocheting while low, but decided that would be an epic exercise in dropped stitches.  Thought about jumping on Twitter while low to pass the time, but that would end up looking too much like drunk Tweeting. And I can’t whistle, or else I would fashion up a low blood sugar tune to pass the time.

So I’ll try to sit.  And wait.  And pretend that my brain and my body aren’t freaking out while I wait for the glucose to hit my blood stream, the same mantra running through my head while the adrenaline runs amuck in my body:  “More willpower than carbs.  More willpower than carbs.”

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Cordell #

    Something that i find helps to prevent the binge / rage bolus cycle is to pre-measure my juice when i’m thinking straight and set it to one side of the fridge. I try to have 3-4 measured bottles on hand. When the low hits and I’m not thinking straight, i grab a bottle or two (depending on how bad the low is), drink up and then sit and wait for my BG to start moving up and my brain to engage again. It doesn’t make the wait any easier, but it helps me to avoid drinking the whole bottle out of fear.

    08/23/13; 10:40 am
  2. Lindsay #

    Amen! So true. And lucky you for having an endo who actually understands this!

    08/23/13; 11:17 am
  3. Pamela Brooke #

    This is an interesting infographic about how nanotechnology is impacting the world of medicine, including the delivery of insulin. http://www.associates-degree-in-nursing.org/nanomedicine/

    08/23/13; 1:33 pm
  4. ria #

    now you have me thinking “low blood sugar tunes”
    limbo rock was the first one to enter my brain
    “how low can you go”
    thanks, Kerri

    08/23/13; 3:14 pm
  5. Dan #

    Hi Kerri,
    This is a suggestion. Upon awaking with a low in the 60′s, I have taken the time to change the rule. Meaning 20 carbs of OJ and tracked the twenty carbs over the next 20 minutes. Found that the 20 carbs at 20 minutes had a positive increase of my glucose level to 75 mg/dl. which is a rise of 16 mg/dl This was with a straight CGM arrow. It is the position of the arrows which can change the amount of carbs without going nuts with the crackers. That is peanut butter package of crackers with 23 carbs. The actual response to a stable arrow can be the beginning to a response pattern to other directional arrows. Hope this helps and as always have a great day.
    Dan

    08/23/13; 4:21 pm
  6. Lauren #

    I just eat a lot of cheese. No carbs, and I can eat as slowly and as many as I want!

    08/23/13; 7:48 pm
  7. I agree with you. My endo also gave me some advices regarding this matter. Just don’t panic and be patient, that was his advice. :-D

    08/24/13; 7:46 am
  8. Julie #

    How ironic that I am reading this today after JUST testing and treating a 38 mg/dl! I am now re-reading to keep myself from over treating while waiting for my number to rise. Thanks for the willpower boost!

    08/24/13; 2:40 pm
  9. I eat what I want (but try to limit the calories – not carbs!). I use my pump to figure the difference between my bg and my carbs and yes, I have often taken insulin with a low – to compensate for the extra carbs. BUT – it works! I thought it was crazy years ago when I learned about it. But it’s wonderful to just eat, and not go high after a low. Good luck Keri!

    08/24/13; 10:46 pm
  10. JW #

    Hi Kerri,
    Something that I find really helpful with treating lows is carrying around and also leaving by my bed small juice boxes that have only 14 – 15g of carbs in them. That way the juice is already pre-measured and you don’t have to worry about drinking too much, too quickly. Also, when you’re running around all day you don’t have to worry about refrigeration if you don’t use the juice.

    It works 95% of the time except for when my dexcom fails on me and I end up waking up with a bg of 45 and have at least two boxes and then head to the kitchen for some peanut butter…. oops.

    08/25/13; 3:20 am
  11. I can’t whistle either! Thought I was the only one …

    08/25/13; 8:03 am

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