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Posts from the ‘Blood Sugars’ Category

One, Stupid High.

On any average day, my glucose meter results are just mine.

… mostly.  I worry about lows while I’m driving my daughter or traveling alone, but while a low might be witnessed by someone else, it’s my body that goes through the experience.  (Not to minimize the experience of watching diabetes from a distance; that’s a whole other post.)  The long-term influence of diabetes is still a process-in-progress, but on the whole, the individual meter results are mine to mitigate.

Right now, though, every number on the meter isn’t mine and only mine.  These days, every high and low and all the bits in between belong to me and the baby I’m creating.

No pressure.

I take this job very seriously.  It’s easier to play by every, single rule during pregnancy because there’s a definitive start and end to this process.  40 weeks marks the duration of an average pregnancy, which means that I need to be on the ball, knocking it out of the park, and other sports analogies for that timeframe.  It’s important to plan ahead, if you can, and it’s important to keep at it once the baby is born, but diabetes is truly only shared in tandem for 40 weeks.

Which is why one stupid high is enough to send me into a spiral of panic and wtfuckery.

Yesterday, things got stupid for a few hours and I saw a number on my meter that made the string of curse words come easily.  A pump site that needed to be changed and a Dexcom sensor that was repeatedly throwing wonky numbers and a pregnancy that is moving into the “upped insulin resistance” phase didn’t help matters.  It took an injection of insulin and hours of frustration (because my body thought, perhaps, I had injected water instead) for the number to move in the right direction.  The anger was intense.  As was the guilt.

I know that days of highs, not hours, adversely influence a developing baby, but holy shit.  This wasn’t just MY HIGH but it was OUR HIGH, and that left me feeling helpless.  The best laid plains of NOD mice and women still had me higher than I wanted to be and higher than I felt safe being.  I can deal with  blood sugar fluctuations as a soloist, but bringing a baby into the mix makes me want to make my standard deviation less … deviant.

Eventually, the numbers started falling, and I cried – a wimpy, gross cry – when I saw the 74 mg/dL on my meter because it meant that I was back in the game.  23 weeks left to go, give or take, before diabetes is “all mine” again.

(Note: Crying is not limited to blood sugars.  I also cried when the mailman asked me to sign for a package.  Hormones are weird.)  

Diabetes Privacy?

I was thinking about diabetes privacy this morning while I was poking through the archives, and came upon this post from Diabetes Blog Week last year.  (Here’s a full list of the contributions generated by that prompt.)

What do you share about your diabetes? And what is on your List of Absolutely NOT Sharing, diabetes-wise?  For me, I don’t share my A1Cs with any regularity. Because as thick as my skin is in some respects, it’s admittedly very thin in others.

But hell yes I’ll post a photo of a 24 hour no-hitter on my CGM graph, because I’m proud of that accomplishment and I want to document it for my own sake.  Sometimes I feel a little creepy about posting a photo like that because it does not illustrate a true “day in the diabetes life,” but it’s nice to freeze frame a moment that I feel proud of instead of looking at a graph of Ms and Ws and throwing up my hands* in frustration.

Diabetes doesn’t always play nice, and I don’t always have a calm head.  Sometimes I go full Veruca Salt-rage when the effort into diabetes management doesn’t produce a stable flat line but instead reduces my glucose meter to what feels like a random number generator.

Diabetes goals feel really personal to me.  Back in 2009, when I shared that my A1C wasn’t under 6.5% when I conceived my daughter, I received criticism for not having my numbers under “good control.”  What gets lost in translation is the why of some decisions, like I was aiming for a slightly higher A1C earned without a pile of debilitating low blood sugar events.  My medical team and I had reasons for making specific decisions, ones that I don’t feel the need to constantly have to defend.

So I remain quiet about a lot of diabetes specifics.  I’ll share what medications I’m taking and what devices I’m wearing, but where my high alarm is set at on my Dexcom receiver might not be publicly shared.  I have my A1C taken regularly, but I don’t post a running tally of it anywhere.  The specifics of my data – blood sugar or blood pressure or weight or CGM values – do not define me as a person and do not dictate my ability as an advocate.

But seeing diabetes in context, the real juggling act that takes place to take a crack at making proper sense of this disease, is what I appreciate most about our community.

To revisit a thought from years ago:  “diabetes isn’t a perfect math where you can just solve for X.  Usually, we’re solving for ‘why.‘ And part of that equation is acknowledging, and appreciating, the sum of our community and what we document, every day.”

 

 

* this phrase has always grossed me out – “throwing up my hands” – because it’s hard not to picture someone throwing up their hands, vomit-style.  

Looking Back: Cleaning Crews.

It’s weird to see that posts from 2011 are still relevant to how my diabetes behaves today.  See also:  when my blood sugar is tumbling, sometimes the dishes become a priority over a fistful of jellybeans.  Today, I’m looking back at a post from 2011 discussing that exact phenomenon, the urge to become a one-woman cleaning crew when under 65 mg/dL.

*   *   *

The urge to clean grabs me by the throat, and I find myself spritzing Clorox on the counter and rubbing frantically with a fistful of paper towels.  Once that task is accomplished,  I notice that the floor just below the refrigerator door is sticky with juice or something, so I kneel down and scrub that, too.  And then suddenly the fridge door needs a scrub down, and I should probably grab all the sweet potatoes that are growing actual faces there on the back shelf and I think there’s a jar of minced garlic that’s spilled somewhere in there and …

… all while the Dexcom wails, shouting “LOW!!  KERRI!!  STOP FRIGGING CLEANING AND EAT SOMETHING!!!”

I look at the graph and see the double-down arrows, and confirm the low with my meter.  But it takes an awful lot of self-control to stop scrubbing and drink some grape juice.

Why am I struck with that urge to clean when I’m low?  I do not understand what it is about the Low Cleaning Crew that moves into my brain when the sugar apparently moves out, but they are a merry and manic mix of maids.  When my blood sugar is in the absolute trenches, I get these cleaning fits.  Emptying the dishwasher, folding laundry, picking up the piles of Bird toys that little the floor … it’s like the slow ebbing of glucose from my blood stream makes my body feel so disorganized and rattled that I search and destroy all external messes to level the proverbial playing field.

(And I am clearly not alone in this affliction.  Scott posted about this the other day on Facebook, and the flood of comments was just enough to make my low blood sugar cleaning crews grab a mop.  This apparently happens to a lot of PWD … so explain why my house isn’t cleaner on a regular basis?)

Usually, it’s the beading of sweat on my forehead that makes me stop cleaning and acknowledge my blood sugar.  A lot of times, that cleaning fit comes with a frantically panicked mindset, where my brain is racing to think as many thoughts in as little time as possible, my hands shaking open a new garbage bag or sliding silverware into its place in the drawer organizer.

“Did you have a low?”  Chris asks, looking at the gleaming kitchen and the piles of folded clothes.

“How could you tell?”  I responded, wiping the glucose dust off the kitchen counter with a swipe of my sleeve.

“Wild guess.”

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

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