Thursday, January 12, 2012

Your Lows May Vary

As Bennet has wisely established as a mantra, Your Diabetes May Vary.

The same applies to Lows. Kerri (Shelby?) wrote about this very recently, which was actually funny timing because I'd had that same topic on the mind after a conversation the day before with my own mom. She's lived with Type 1 for more than five decades, since she was a young kid, and we were doing an interview about our own individual, joint, and differing D-Life experiences. Lows came up, and that got me wondering how our experiences varied.

I've written about some of my examples in the past - violent thrashing and struggling, believing my wife was an alien or robot or Communist trying to gain control of me, the dog trying to eat my head, and the dream-like states of being outside my body and then waking up to the paramedics hovering above me. You get the idea.

But I wanted to know about my mom's, so I asked. She responded by email:
I did (have reactions) and remember my mother pouring juice down my throat. She also always carried one of those little boxes of raisins in her purse to give me when I didn't feel well. The only glucose tabs were those white ones, which I would lock my jaws against and refuse. When I was a kid, a lot of it had to be done on what I said I was feeling, because there was only urine tests and they were so far off. They might show you weren't low but you could have dropped low in the meantime. Also I only took Lente insulin, a pig and beef combo, and it wasn't real stable. If you didn't eat your meals on time and didn't eat all of your food, you had lows. There wasn't anything you could do about it as that was all there was.
I never had anything bad like the seizures you did. When you first had them, we were terrified. The endo clinic said it wasn't because of the diabetes and by the time we could get the seizure under control and do a blood test, you wouldn't be real low. So they never thought it was from low sugar.  They made us see a neuropsychic guy who did a bunch of head tests, like CAT scans and stuff, but they never figured out what it was from. The seizures only lasted a couple years and then they stopped.
It wasn't until years later that some other parents at a JDRF meeting said their kids, usually boys, also had seizures with low sugars.
If by violent lows, you mean kicking and striking and generally being mean, I do do that.  It's just that your father is much bigger than me and can easily sit on me and keep me down to cram stuff in my throat. It was easier when you were small and I could sit on you to get juice down you.  Once you became as big as me, it became much more difficult.

In our household, Suzi and I have an understanding that if I'm in "violent Low mode" and she can't easily get at me with frosting, juice, or glucagon, then it's best to step back and summon the paramedics. That's just how we do it.

Reiterating the questions I'd asked in my post back in late 2009, I'd be curious to get feedback on others' experiences when Low.

- How often you do/have had these happen (maybe pre-CGM days, if applicable)?
- Stories that stand out, for better or worse?
- Worst (most dangerous) examples?
- What brought you out of that reaction?
- Scariest part - the dream state, emotions, guilty, etc?
- Lessons learned?
- Whatever else might be pertinent, relevant, or randomly of interest

Whatever our experiences might be like, hopefully they are few and far between. And, you know, the aliens and robots don't really take control of us.

6 comments:

Bennet said...

There is wisdom here but it ain't from me.

This on the other hand is brilliant:
"It's just that your father is much bigger than me and can easily sit on me and keep me down to cram stuff in my throat. It was easier when you were small and I could sit on you to get juice down you. Once you became as big as me, it became much more difficult."

Brendon Livingstone said...

Hi Mike

Fascinating post. I learned a lot because I assumed that most diabetics experienced hypos the way that I do, which is pretty low key compared to some of your reactions. I have never needed medical assistance with hypos in almost 19 years of diabetes which probably reinforces that my reaction is normally low key.

Some hypos that stick out in my mind:
- night hypo in Anaheim after an international flight from New Zealand. My wife had to wake me, I didn't know who she was and asked her if I flew there with her.
- recent night hypos where I have insane semi-conscious dreams that someone else is (or another part of me is) low on blood sugar and the first part of me needs to convince me to get up. A couple of times I have gotten up subconsciously and started having jellybeans when consciously I still haven't fully grasped what is happening.
- I have had tighter control recently so I am also starting to get insanely low blood sugar levels like yesterday's 1.4 mmol/L / 25 mg/dL and I am still standing and feeling just moderately low. In the past when my control has not been as tight, a low at this level would have had me off my feet with sweat pooring off me.
- A recent low at work where I was in a conversation with someone who wouldn't stop talking and I was low and I could feel myself getting lower and lower. When I felt jolts going through the back of the inside of my head, I backed out of the conversation and sorted myself out. I've never had jolts before and I feel that this is probably the closest I have gotten to being unconscious due to low blood sugar.

Anyway great post. Thanks for posting it.

victoria said...

I've had six seizures from low blood sugar. No one told us that would happen -- we learned the hard way. The paramedics weren't always called, buy my mom always was. :) Thanks for posting this. People often think seizures is a sign of poor control, but it's actually the opposite. The tighter control, the better chance for lows. And by the way, I love your mom. The sitting on you part was hysterical!!

Kelly C. said...

That is really interesting, I agree with Brendon Livingstone that my lows are very mild compared to others, I don't recall ever fighting anyone usually I keep really good composure and sometimes don't even low if I am 35 . I would say the worst low I had was when I was working in a doctors office and I could feel my level dropping rapidly while I was trying to check a patient in, I had to excuse myself and run into the break room and get something really fast, during this time I sat down and the walls started swirling, it was pretty scary.

Most of the time those who are close to me can tell I am low when I get moody or if I can't finish my thoughts. Nice post.

Kerri. said...

Diabetes varies. Lows vary. The whole thing is chaos. But I'm glad we're in this together. Solidarity helps, don't you think?

Carol said...

Casey's bad lows have happened after her bedtime. Scary stuff buecause of just get a feeling (nudge from God) to go check her, 33, 31, 27.. ugh. Moderate lows, and flucuating lows/highs have her not distinguishing well if she's low/high. Spacy, limp, squishy are words my 8yo discribes lows. I'm very thankful to know that the DOC is/will be available for her as she ages. Great source of encouragement and info!