As a family, we went to dinner and Birdy’s sequin-covered shoes sparkled furiously in the afternoon sunlight. Her shoes were downright distracting and I found myself low-staring at them, focusing on the individual sparkles being projected onto the tablecloth at the restaurant. My brain had hit an uncomfortably steady pace with the anxiety of being under 60 mg/dL for more than two hours, adjusting to the panic but still needing an outlet. Staring at the glitter on my daughter’s shoes calmed my brain down just enough.
We ordered and ate, and a meal plated with carbs and less-than-normal bolusing still didn’t battle back against the low alarm from my Dexcom. I felt like a failure, asking Chris to grab a glass of juice from the waitress as my empty dinner plate sat in front of me.
“I’m still low.” I tested my blood sugar again, hoping to see a number that didn’t require more glucose tabs, hoping the Dexcom was wrong, but a bright 43 mg/dL grinned back at me. I knew the food would hit but not fast enough. “Yeah, I need juice now.”
In a quiet hurry, I heard the background noise of hypo management done from a distance. “I need a glass of juice.” “Would you like lemonade?” “No, juice. Do you have orange juice?” “We have apple juice.” “That, then. Please.” Chris sat back down at the table while Birdy bounced and played beside me, her shoes throwing sparkles onto the table that were spreading out everywhere, my eyes starting to cave to the low blood sugar. Peripheral vision was being replaced by these starbursts that were sparkly, like her shoes. I felt my body pulling in tight and rallying glucose, sending it to the places that were necessary and not caring that I couldn’t hold a fork or keep my mouth from twisting into a resting bitch face/uncomfortable grimace.
Dinner tumbled into a pile of apologies and distractions because I couldn’t get my wits about me, and even once my blood sugar was stable (back up to 72 mg/dL), it still wasn’t staying up, and tumbled again a few more times before bed.
It doesn’t look like much, from the outside. It’s hard to explain how silent the panic is, how evacuated my brain feels when the hypos hit and stay for too long. I don’t know how to show someone a Dexcom graph that looks like this and explain how it’s not just the blood sugar number, but the cumulative effect on my body – the exhaustion in my muscles from being clenched in fight-or-flight mode, the sleep my brain needs after a five hour low blood sugar experience, my inability to find the words for what I want to say because my mind is just like, “We’re DONE.”
I woke up with a blood sugar of 230 mg/dL this morning, the product of answering low alarms with frustration and marshmallows, and I corrected the number with the predetermined, carefully calculated amount of insulin. And I hoped that, for today, diabetes would leave the sparkles on my daughter’s shoes.