As I continue down the uncertain path that is diabetes; these words are a warning something not so good is happening. My wife asked me the other day what it felt like to have low blood sugars, I told her it is a lot like trying to run the 100 meter dash in quicksand.
Yet it is much more than this. As I reflected upon this question it dawned on me this is the most dangerous part of having diabetes. When I have high blood sugars I am fully aware of what is happening to my body. I develop a metallic taste in the back of my throat, the kind of taste one gets when one has a bloody nose and it runs down the back of the throat….I know gross! I have to use the bathroom NOW! And I develop a headache behind my eyes. I recognize these as signs I have high blood sugar and treat it accordingly. When I have low blood sugar levels, and the lows can be very severe, my mind is in a fog and I usually do not recognize I am entering the danger zone until someone else mentions it or I am so dizzy I have to sit down.
With this foggy mind the conversation with my wife will go something like this…”Why do you think my sugars are dropping?’ ‘You are becoming angry.’ ‘I AM NOT ANGRY!!!’ ‘Okay, do you want to check your sugar levels?’ ‘NO I’M FINE!’ Silence for a while, then it begins to dawn on me, my blood sugars are low. I am dizzy, I am sweating profusely, I am confused and angry….hmmm could she be right? Well duh of course she’s right. I respond, usually, ‘I think my blood sugars are low, I should check them.’ As if I have just had an epiphany. Sad but true exchange. My brain is unable to correctly process the signs of a low blood sugar episode and instead of listening I become combative….smart, real smart. Now it does not always go this way but more often than not by the time I recognize low blood sugar in myself I am way too far into the danger zone to be able to correctly assess the course of action. I appreciate my wife and her patience with me and it is a stark reminder that I am a foolish person to think I can do this on my own.
The lowest sugar reading I have ever had in my 20 years of having diabetes was 30 and I was still standing…barely. My brain and body were shutting down rapidly and yet I still thought I could argue that I was just fine…what is wrong with me? I have diabetes, that is what is wrong. I marvel at how the body does everything it can to survive. The liver will eventually dump sugar into your blood stream to survive, but it has no way to regulate the amount, it just dumps the sugar. The danger then becomes going from 30 to 300 in less than an hour. Which brings me back to the picture I posted. This is a walking path in the middle of the city I live in, yet it is winding and uncertain to where it will lead. Living with this disease is a lot like this path, it has its beauty but in order for me to appreciate the beauty I have to be able to navigate the uncertainty of where it will lead me.