Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lows In Public

No Low is fun, any time or place.

A low blood sugar at home can be scary and embarrassing enough.

But being out in public, around other people who may or may not have any experience with diabetes or hypoglycemia is a completely different experience.

I absolutely hate having Lows in public more than anything. To me, there's nothing much worse about an average D-Life than losing your ability to think, function and even take care of yourself when you are out among other people.

If I'm going to be away from home for any period, I do my best to prepare ahead of time and make sure I know where my BGs are at. Being on an insulin pump gives me that control, to some extent. But regular BG testing and mindfulness - and consideration for other people - goes along away.

If I go Low to a point where I am not lucid and able to self-treat, that puts at least one other person in the uncomfortable situation of having to navigate my health and Low BG. That person may not have any personal experience on that front, and it's really not fair to put someone in that situation.

For example, if I'm going to be walking around all day at an event, then I might choose to run a bit higher - even in the 200s - just to make sure I don't get too Low. More testing might be in order. A temporary basal on my pump could be a solution. But having quick-acting sugar - juice, glucose tabs, candy, or whatever - is necessary. That way, if I feel a Low coming on or see one's on the way, I can take immediate action to prevent it.

I've gone Low at work more than once. In the past, those situations were so serious that I'd passed out and the paramedics were summoned. This is just embarrassing, and aside from everything mentioned above, it's tough to get over the feelings after these Lows that people are looking at you a little differently. That maybe your reputation, or ability to self-manage and be "normal," is compromised. I hate that. Really. Really. Really. Despise. That. Feeling.

Everyone's Lows May Vary, but for me my reactions out in the world have ranged from the inability to read and talk normally, emotional fits, even unconsciousness. One time a few years ago, there was a Low that came at me at the end of the workday when I was about to go home. I found my way to the parking garage and spent 30 minutes riding the elevator up and down and wandering the garage levels searching for my car. Even tripped and ripped my pants and got a bloody knee. Luckily, my Loving and Supporting Spouse was trying to reach me by phone and eventually did and talked me to getting to my vehicle, not starting it and eating glucose tabs to bring myself up.

So, thanks to my own diligence and with the help of a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM), I am able to catch and prevent these Lows most of the time.

Back in the day, before starting on an insulin pump, these had the chance of happening more often because of the higher uncertainty of insulin injection treatment. Research and history shows that our old friend NPH (which is still out there and being used by some) has an higher track record of being crazily unpredictable and leading to dramatic dips and spikes in BGs. When I first started on a pump, I had some severe Lows in public because of my tighter management and unfamiliarity with it all. Luckily, it didn't take long to learn how my body responded to a pump and these types of regular Lows were short-lived.

Obviously, you can't always prevent Lows. Even when you do everything right, these situations happen. That's just a part of diabetes, at this point in time. And just because I've found an insulin pump to work the best for me in "managing" these public reactions, that doesn't mean that others using Multiple Daily Injections or other insulin injection regimes aren't able to manage just as well, if not better. I know many who do.

Whatever treatment method works for someone, I urge them to use it. But overall, I'm thankful we have the ability to mostly control these situations and make sure we're not confronted with them out in public.

5 comments:

Amy@Diapeepees said...

Lows in public -- I can only imagine how embarrassing they are for an adult. My son had a low, a pretty bad one, while we were on a tour, in a museum. I had to feed him sneakily, because I didn't want to have to explain it all, all while trying to hold him up as he pretty much crumpled himself on the floor. I felt so bad for him. And he esp. didn't get to enjoy the tour.

Jonah said...

I'd rather have a severe low in public, where somebody might notice in time to save my life, than at home where I doubt anybody would.
I'd rather have a mild low at home.

The Diabetic Camper said...

I have to agree with you that lows just stink. I have been low a couple of times at work as well and just like you I was embarrased and afterwards everyone is like, I guess he doesn't take care of himself.

Nikki said...

Great post. I found myself nodding my head as I read it. I haven't had a low at work where I've passed out -yet- but I have had lows at work where I lose control of my emotions and begin sobbing and can't stop. Totally embarassing!! One coworker asked me why I was crying. I think she thought I was sad.

Anonymous said...

So true, I hate getting lows anytime. But especially around my family. As an 18 yr old girl heading off to college the what I want most is to show my parents that I am able to be independent. So when I get low I feel ashamed even though I know it's not always possible to prevent.