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Posts from the ‘Blood Sugars’ Category

Hypo Kick.

“I heard the alarms going off, yeah.  But what woke me up completely was when you started screaming,” Chris said over breakfast.

“Oh yeah.  That was a thing,” I agreed, remembering that moment clearly.

On the whole, I’m a very quiet sleeper.  I don’t snore, I don’t move around much while I sleep, and generally I’m silent, except for the occasional whimper (apparently I make small yapper-type dog noises while falling asleep).

That explains why my terrified screams  jolted my husband awake last night.

Dexcom alarms started going off around 2 am, at which point I woke up, had a juice box and some raisins, and went back to sleep.  But it wasn’t a restful sleep, still punctuated by the low blood sugar alarms blaring into the night.  I woke up to the low alarm five minutes later, decided to wait a little longer to see if my blood sugar was going to climb, fell back asleep, the alarm went off … this cycle of interrupted sleep and CGM soundtrack went on for the better part of an hour.

But eventually, I was back up to 75 mg/dL, so I thought I was fine.

Only the snack wasn’t cutting it, and my blood sugar started to tumble yet again.  My Dexcom started bleating out alarms once again, but I wasn’t awake.  I was dreaming, actively, only in my dream, I was aware that I was low.  And also that I was asleep.  I don’t remember the storyline of my hypo-induced nightmare, but during the course of it I realized I was low and, if I didn’t wake up, I would be in some serious trouble.  Dreaming Kerri decided that, in order to wake up Actual Kerri, she needed to scream.  Loudly.  It was the kick my Inception-influenced mind needed to bring me fully into consciousness.

So she did.  I did.  (The pronouns are starting to tangle.)

“AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!  AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!”

“What?  WHAT?!”

I clumsily reached past my blaring phone towards my meter, with 48 mg/dL the result on the screen.

“I’m very low.  Could I have juice, please?”

(Our communication skills about lows, especially 3 am ones, has been diluted down to screams, jolts, and polite, disembodied-voice requests juice.)

A full glass of juice and two hours after the lows started, it was done and sleep finally returned.  But my dreams were still strange, still restless, still confused, and when I woke up to ready my daughter for school, I wasn’t entirely sure if I was really awake.

Hypo Perspectives.

Last night my low alarm went off like a siren in my bedroom, partly because I had hooked my phone up to a bluetooth speaker to (successfully) help amplify the Dexcom alarms, but mostly because my blood sugar was 50 mg/dL.

How the alarm didn’t wake up my daughter (clad in Captain American pajamas and asleep in my bed because Chris was out of town last night) is beyond me.  How it didn’t wake me up the first few times it went off is beyond me as well, since I was low for about 35 minutes before actually acknowledging it.  A text message from my husband, asking “Are you awake and drinking juice?” grabbed me from the fog.  (Thank you, Dexcom Share, for making the “Big Brother” moments worth the moments when I need a hand.)

Some lows are textbook ones in that they employ symptoms like a sweaty forehead and clumsy hands, but a juice box or some glucose tabs or a banana can take the edge off those symptoms at first bite, the adrenaline surge of the low quieted by a chewing jaw.  These lows don’t leave a hangover or a residue of panic.  They just happen, and then they’re over.

Other lows are so odd, so disconcerting, so thick with confusion and hypo fog that I find myself unable to put the straw into the juice box, or to even reason with my brain that a juice box is necessary.  Last night, my hypo-addled hands weren’t able to push me up onto my elbows so that I could eat or drink anything without spilling it all over the bed. 

My kid slept beside me, unaware and occasionally stretching so her hands tangled in her hair.

I frigging hate these kinds of lows.  Somehow, I ended up treating with juice and felt the need to wander downstairs into the kitchen and have a box of raisins.  And then a second box of raisins.  And then another glass of juice.  I remember standing at the kitchen island and taking two units of insulin after grossly over-treating this low, still wobbly from still being in the low.  I know I didn’t need to eat anything else after that first juice box but for some reason, my body needed comfort.

In that moment, I’d trade a 250 mg/dL for the waves of nausea and unconsciousness that lapped at me.

I went back to sleep damp with sweat, covered in juice.

This morning, the plastic sleeves of two juice boxes were on the bedside table.  I corrected the high blood sugar I had eaten myself into.  The bedsheets are in the wash in efforts to remove the carb count from their thread count.

The trench of a very unsettling overnight low blood sugar and the mountain that followed. #diabetes

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Small Victories.

My only resolution for 2016 was to write more. Not necessarily here on my website, but wherever the words seem to come most comfortably. I have a few fiction ideas I’m fleshing out here at home, but blogging has always served as a way to unknot some of the thoughts in my head, mostly centered around my disease. Once my disease angst is unknotted (with blogging being the mental equivalent of gently tapping a fork against a knotted necklace chain until it goes slack and gives up), my mind feels better about diverting thoughts to things that are More Fun.

The problem with blogging is that it’s a public forum. Which means that I sometimes write with readers, or perceptions, or assumed judgments in mind. Sharing while simultaneously panicking doesn’t make for good writing, and more importantly, it takes away from the whole therapeutic/fun aspect of blogging. SO. I’m trying to blog like no one’s reading. Which means there may be more fractured sentences. And shit that doesn’t make the most sense. And probably less-than-lovely language, but oh well.

[ clumsy segue ]

I’ve been making use of Dexcom Clarity over the last few weeks and while it’s humbling to see my blood sugar graphs plotted out in full color folios, but there is a certain power to logging and reviewing my blood sugars.  (Huge sigh here because I make progress when I fastidiously review my blood sugars, which means I should continue to review my blood sugars, which I hate because is a tedious pain in the ass.  That’s kind of a diabetes theme:  tedious pain in the ass.)

Applications that actually DO SOMETHING USEFUL and don’t require extra work are my favorites, like the One Touch Reveal app that my Verio Sync uses and the Dexcom Clarity one.  Checking my blood sugar is mildly painful; reviewing data compilations should not be.

My numbers are improving, and with them, my mood.

This A1C is not entirely accurate (as it changes every few days when I review the PDF downloaded from Dexcom Clarity), but it’s very close to where my lab work pinned me, so I’ll fucking take it.

Also bringing much joy this week? These Tweets:

Unrelated to anything:  I found this sleeve smiling at me the other day:

And now it’s smiling at you.

Guest Post: E-Patient Dave Takes on T2D.

Dave deBronkart and I met several years ago through patient advocacy and online connection points, and I’ve followed his health story as he has simultaneously followed mine.  Dave comes from the perspective of a cancer survivor who almost died and has turned his “free replay in life” into a crusade to open healthcare’s minds to the idea of partnering with patients.  So when he messaged me to tell me that his lab results for A1C came back a little elevated, I watched our health stories smash up for the first time.  Nothing like the experience of trying to change an A1C to bring people together.

Today, Dave is guest posting about his experiences toeing line of type 2 diabetes, and his take on patient guidance in the diabetes space.  (And for more from Dave, you can follow his very lively Twitter account or blogOr just Google him and see all the fun that pops up.)

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Dealing with an “increased risk” of T2D
by ePatient Dave

A1c Nov 2014

A year ago this week I got some blood work done and it came back with this great big numeric fart in my face: the number 5.8, followed by “Increased risk for diabetes.”

WHAT?? I. Am. Not. A. Diabetes. Person. Those people are Kerri, or Amy, or Dana, or Manny, or Scott, or Eric, or Dominick. It’s all those people I like and respect and enjoy knowing, but it’s not me. I mean, they’re not me. I’m not them – they’re a special class. What?  I mean, I’m a kidney cancer guy, not an insulin problem guy. I don’t even know what that is, really. And I certainly don’t know how to do it.

In hindsight it feels like it was easier when I was diagnosed in 2007 as almost dead with kidney cancer. And that episode was over in less than a year. Me with a permanent thing? (I know I’m sounding like an uninformed idiot here. That’s what it’s like when you’re in the denial phase.)

What to do? Back then I got it in gear, doing what I could despite bad odds, and I was one of the lucky ones, aided by a great online patient community, which my oncologist said (in the BMJ!) he thinks helped save my life.

So, what to do this time? My PCP told me about a diabetes prevention program run by the YMCA that reduces by 58% the odds of ever developing T2D, if you lose x% of your weight and get 150 minutes of activity every week. I’d have to pay for it – a few hundred bucks – but it seems worth it.

Withings weight curve 2015-08-30And boy has it been effective for me – check the graph from our wifi bathroom scale. (My results were not typical!) I lost 30 pounds in four months (January to May), dropped a few more to 197 in August… I’m back up over 200 now but I’m also a gotta be active guy … first time in my life I’ve felt I have to get outside and move around.

It’s really a lifestyle program – they teach what I’d call food awareness, but it’s really not a diet. They have you count fat grams, with a book or an app or whatever, but that’s no diet. Then later they get into some more detail. But it’s not complicated. And they have you get active – no particular exercise regimen, no in-your-face smiling Sweat Coach.

You know what, though? Effing stupid insurance won’t pay for it.  If the insurance industry wanted to reduce medical spending they’d obviously spend a few hundred on prevention, so I conclude that they’re either stupid or corrupt. (I know I don’t usually talk this way but I honestly can’t figure out any either explanation. Can you?)

Plus, the effing stupid program isn’t available to people who aren’t yet officially pre-diabetes! It’s a good program, and my wife wants to do it too, but they won’t let her in because she’s not almost in trouble! What the !@#@! are these people thinking, not even letting someone buy their way into this course?

And you know what else?  When I measured my A1c again in September, it was up … it was worse. 5.9.

So now I’m in the middle of trying to educate myself about that.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to find out what to do about that??

Well, I imagine you do know. I’m here to say, for sure, that although T2D is different from T1D, it’s clear to me that the system (whatever that is) sure doesn’t make it easy for us to do the right thing.

I do know this: digital tools made (and continue to make) my own work on this a lot more practical … I mean, without important information and without feedback tools, how is anyone supposed to do a good job? As I always say in my speeches – “We perform better when we’re informed better.”

Here’s to a radical acceleration of the tools we need – driven by what patients say they – we – need!

And I’m not even T2D yet – I’m just frickin annoyed at how I can’t even get clear instructions on what I should be doing about it! I believe health goals should be patient-driven, and the C word (“compliance”) should be thought of as achievement. So why can’t I get good guidance on that??

*   *   *

Health goals should be patient goals, and there needs to be clear guidance on how to achieve them.  Thanks for lending your voice here today, Dave. 

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