Hypoglycemic doozies

The other night I was lying in bed and I couldn’t sleep. I tossed. I turned. I was tired, but my brain wouldn’t shut off. It took about 20 minutes of this before I decided to check my blood sugars. They were 3.4; I should have known.

For the most part our bodies are pretty good at telling us when things aren’t right, and for me, a surefire sign my blood sugars are low at night is when I battle with sleep. And yet, it’s almost always the last thing I check. As far back as my teenage years I’ve been fighting sleep the same way I did the other night. I’d stuff a pillow over my head. I’d get up to go to the washroom 5,000 times. I’d berate the sleep demons in my head. Anything but actually check my blood sugars. Nine times out of 10, they were always low.

This particular evening, however, while waiting for my BG to slowly creep back up, I got to thinking about some of the lows I’ve experienced in the last 26 years. There’s been some doozies.

What? Did you actually think it would be an in-focus photo? Not when my hypoglycemic hands are shaking like crazy!!!

Probably the most amusing one occurred in my first year. My family and I were preparing for an evening out, for what I don’t recall, but I do remember being told to change into warmer clothes. And this is where my memory goes black… apparently I waltzed out of my room, jacket and boots on, announcing I was ready to go. The things was, all I had on was that jacket and those boots, nothing else – stark naked!!!

Fast forward a couple years and my family was no longer laughing with the onslaught of my first super scary low. I had been reading in the school library, when the first signs of a low appeared. Out of nowhere the words started bouncing all over the pages. I squeezed my eyes shut, I squinted, I concentrated real hard, but those words would not come to a standstill. I did nothing about it. I don’t remember the end of day bell, nor do I remember boarding the school bus home. But I do have flashbacks of dump trucks and semis whizzing by me on the busy farm road, and of me running back and forth across the street. The next thing I remember I was waking up in a stranger’s house with three men peering over me!

It turns out I boarded the wrong bus home and passed out in a ditch on one of the main farm commuter routes. A fellow who went to school with my sister, and who apparently enjoyed his recreational drugs a little much, spotted me and thought I was his dog run over! He took me to his house, called an ambulance and the school. When I opened my eyes and saw the faces of three male strangers over me, you better believe I jumped off that stretcher so fast and started screaming at the top of my lungs. (Moms, you would have been proud!)

To calm me down, one of the paramedics promised if I got back on the stretcher, he’d take me to my moms to which I agreed. But the thing is, the farm town I lived in, it’s a pretty small town, and I knew when the ambulance reached the 4-way stop, it had to turn left to go home, but it kept going straight. Wait a second. He told me he was taking me to my moms. My moms isn’t straight, she’s left. He lied. Anddddddd, I totally slugged the guy!!!

When I hit my extremely hormonal and experimental teenage years, there were too many to count middle-of-the-night convulsive lows, caught only by a mother’s intuition waking her up, feeling the need to check on her baby girl.

Years later, while working my first job in the newspaper industry, living in a community far from my friends and family, I also suffered several lows. Paid peanuts, I was forced to make a choice between whether I would buy food or test strips. There was one day when I knew the low was coming on fast, and so I took a swig of the honey bottle I kept stored in my desk drawer, before walking over to the nearby café for something more substantial. As I stood in line and waited, the girl behind the counter asked if I was okay. I shook my head. I walked to the drink cooler. Everything went black. And once again, the paramedics were rushing me to the ER.

Yep, doozies indeed. But none of those – NONE! – compare to the one I had just weeks after Little Ring was born. I didn’t go into convulsions. The paramedics weren’t called. I didn’t go to emergency. But I did have the worst fright of my life.

At the time, my body was still adjusting to its new state of no longer carrying a baby, and of continuously expressing energy and nutrients through breast milk. Little Ring wasn’t yet sleeping through the night and we were exhausted. There were a few nights where I propped the boy on my chest to ensure at least he got a couple hours shuteye.

One night, I woke up in a panic. Little Ring wasn’t on my chest. I whipped the blankets off, I threw my pillows, I pushed Big Ring. I couldn’t get my words out, my hands and eyes were frantically searching, my heart felt like it had a belt around it twisting it tighter and tighter. Big Ring tried calming me. There was no time to be calm. Tears shot out of my eyes. My head filled with the worst thoughts a mom could have. Had I smothered my boy? After what seemed an eternity, I finally looked over to the bassinet next to the bed and saw my sweet baby soundly sleeping.

He was not on my chest. He had never been on my chest. He would never again sleep on my chest. My blood sugars were 1.7. Worst feeling in the world!

Thankfully – knock on wood – I don’t experience much of those these days!

Anyone else want to share some of their low doozies?

5 thoughts on “Hypoglycemic doozies”

  1. You’ve got some doozies, there.

    I think it’s really unfair how a low can cripple the one thing we need to get out of it — our brains!

    One time when I was young and having a low, my mom handed me a stack of oreos in one hand, then a napkin in the other hand. She looked at me and said “now DON’T EAT THE NAPKIN!” Any guesses on what I did? Yep, tried to take a bite of the napkin. Haha!

  2. I’m not going to even try to play “can you top this”, but I sure know how a child can put everything in a different perspective and new degree of importance. Your stories are terrifying (and, in a sort of convoluted after-the-fact sense, amusing).

    I do recall one case, not too many years ago, where my girlfriend-and-wife-to-be’s father took the three of us out on his boat to a small island off the coast of a larger island. There was no place to dock the boat, so we dropped anchor in the water and had to wade to shore. To keep my ‘stuff’ dry, I left it on the boat. Inevitably, we got lost on the island and I felt a low coming on. I remember the thought “this is how my story ends” going through my mind. Fortunately, my girlfriend/wife-to-be spotted some sunbathers in the distance, ran ahead to them, and returned with a bag of cookies. It gave me enough power to regain my bearings and to return to the boat, where I could check my sugar and treat properly. It’s not as dramatic as your stories, but it could have ended up much worse.

  3. Like you Katie, I haven’t had a really bad one in quite some time but the worse one was terrifying. I was in my early 20’s and working in a very busy restaurant/bar. I remember it being the summer and how hot it was running back and forth between the customers’ tables to the bar to get their drinks, then to the kitchen to get their food and back. I don’t quite remember but I probably felt the low coming on and chose to blame it on stress or fatigue so I didn’t test right at that moment. Well, my largest group, a table of a dozen or so bikers asked me for their bills to which I replied, “Bills? There’s no bills. The pig’s took the bills…” I ended up sitting down and passing out. When I woke up I was at the hospital, plugged on an I.V. of liquid glucose and felt like I’d been hit by a truck. To make matters worse, there was a cop at the end of my bed looking at my chart! OMG, what have I done!?! Luckily he was a friend of mine that agreed to come and check up on me and report back to my boyfriend. The nurse told me I was at 1.9 when they brought me in! Thank God I got through that and I had people around me that new how to help. Now I make sure that the people around me are aware of my condition.
    Let me know if ever you want to write a book, I have a few other stories like that 🙂

  4. This one time I was in Taiwan and we had ridden our scooters (the kind with engines lol) to the beach. We parked and walked about 5 minutes. I was swimming in the ocean when my world began to shift. I stumbled onto the beach. I tested my blood and it was 0.9. My bf came running over. He had to go grab the juice that was in the scooter. I watched him run and it felt like an utter eternity. I passed out and he managed to get the juice in me.

    Taiwan. No phone service. Nobody around that could speak Mandarin and no locals near by. Out in the middle of nowhere.
    Worst low I’ve had to date.

    Your situations sound terrifying. In some ways I’m glad I got through most of my life without diabetes.

  5. hi, nice reading ur article. i know, it was really scary if someone who diabetics had an episode of hypoglycaemic attack. my mom is a diabetic, and she had the ‘attack’ twice. luckily managed to reverted it.

    btw : i am really impressed with your dedication to run/cycle eventhough you are a type i diabetic. hope this can be a good motivational drive to others as well 🙂

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