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Functionally Low.

The Dexcom yelled at me from the kitchen table – “BEEEEP, BEEEEP, BEEEEP!” – and I double-checked the alarm just to make sure I was actually low, since I’d been basal testing all morning long and I’m always wary of my graph when it’s nice-happy-in-range.

(Note:  It’s really, really easy to test basal rates when you take a red eye flight from Los Angeles to Boston and don’t sleep for even a minute on the flight, causing you to fall asleep for three hours when you finally get home to RI at 7 am, leaving you in the “No Eat Zone” from like 3 am – 11 am.  Exhaustion makes for easy basal testing.)

Sure enough, the alarms were right, confirmed by the 58 mg/dL on my meter.

Four glucose tabs, down the hatch.

Symptoms were alive and kicking on this low.  Numb lips, tingly mouth, that restless feeling in my arms where I suppress the urge to flap them, and the settling in of the low fog, where all my thoughts are smoky and loose at the edges, not fitting together entirely and leaving gaps between moments of clear reason, leaving all thoughts that made sense clouded with a big, “NOPE.”

The Dexcom showed me as still dropping ten minutes later – the dreaded double-down arrows – so I went for some juice.  Only it wasn’t a “stop and have a measured sip of juice” but more “grab a swig of juice right from the bottle while you walk by the fridge” because I couldn’t sit down for this one.

Some lows are disgusting and debilitating and don’t leave any wiggle room for choice.  But other lows (like the cleaning lows or the endless lows) have their own idiosyncrasies and distinct patterns.  This low felt like a functional low, where my blood sugar is in a ditch but I’m still able to walk around and talk, despite being in the 40 – 60 mg/dL range.  And if I were to sit down and actually acknowledge the low in full, the symptoms would take over and I’d be trapped.

Which left me wandering around the house, picking up toys that had escaped from Birdy’s room and absently looking out the windows or at my phone, focusing intently upon the mundane instead on the lack of sugar in my blood stream, while at the same time snacking on glucose tabs and peering at my Dexcom.  Chris saw me shuffling around the house and gave me some raised eyebrows.

“You okay?”

“Yep.  Low.  I already had juice,” which is Sparling-speak for, “I’m definitely low and I know I look scattered right now, but don’t worry; I’ve had juice and am just impatiently waiting for it to work.”

About thirty minutes later (after I had examined individual leaves on the houseplants in order to think about anything other than hypoglycemia), the Dexcom graph showed arrows pointing back towards safety.  Only then did my brain take the nope-filters off and let me calculate the total carbs consumed, and the potential blood sugar boost that might be coming.


7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sandy T #

    Oh my goodness, this is such a GREAT description of certain lows. Thank you! Its so frustrating when you know that if you sit, it’s done…so yep I’m often walking around cleaning up the small things also. I always thought I was a bit odd in that regard, I guess not. Thanks for a great post, once again!

    05/20/14; 7:47 pm
  2. If you and others didn’t write about the lows (and the highs), I would be clueless. Sweaters on my teeth? Been there, done that.
    Overtreating a low – yup, me too!
    It’s so nice to know that my “odd” is normal.

    05/20/14; 9:22 pm
  3. Penney Giles #

    I’m functionally low right now, browsing through blogs and Facebook. I have cleaning lows quite frequently, and it made me laugh to know I’m not alone!! Thanks!

    05/21/14; 3:15 am
  4. I love how you so eloquently/accurately capture my life! Just yesterday I, too, had this happen.

    ” And if I were to sit down and actually acknowledge the low in full, the symptoms would take over and I’d be trapped.”

    Except I sat down. Woah. Mistake. It took me about 20-30 minutes before I felt able to get back up. I too, wandered around the office, waiting to feel human again before I began my commute to another meeting and then home. But – I never thought about the different kind of lows, until you described them. And you described them perfectly. Thank you!

    05/21/14; 1:10 pm
  5. Kelly #

    I often tell my 8 year old son to sit down and rest and let the treatment work. I have always been worried that his constant movement will drive him lower, but after reading your post a light bulb went off. He needs to distract himself. Thank you for helping me get it.

    05/22/14; 4:56 pm
  6. Gary #

    Love the Batman and your description of the dreaded lows!

    05/26/14; 4:07 pm
  7. Andrea R #

    OMG. Kerri I came across this when searching different kinds of lows. I’m a recent addition to the diabetic world (type 1 at the age of 44 and on the Pod and Dexacom within 6 months of diagnosis). However, my mom has been type 1 since the age of 11-so I grew up in a “diabetic household”.

    I get the… “grocery shopping low” every time I hit the market. Don’t know what happens, but I’m throwing food in the cart while everyone wonders what I’m chomping on. Trust me people, it is a bad version of one of your favorite childhood candies–A CRAPPY SWEET TART!

    Thanks for the insight!

    06/2/14; 10:39 pm

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