You know that feeling when you wake up in the morning and can still taste the mango (or other fruit) juice that you guzzled as you attempted to recover from a very low blood sugar that struck at 4.17 a.m., a truly inconvenient time to be fumbling around for glucose tablets and test strips.
I was in the middle of a dream when I heard that annoying yet potentially life-saving “beep beep” aka the urgent low blood sugar alarm on my iPhone. “Huh?” My husband mumbled, then sat up, ready to spring into action.
I leaned over to the shelf on our headboard and took a glance at my phone. “Oh.”
(That’s the extent of my conversation at these moments; I’m still pretty much asleep).
“Oh?” My dear husband asks.
“Oh. That’s not good. It’s 2.6 and falling,” I mutter, glancing over at my iPhone which is now displaying a very red orb where my usually “normal” blood sugar should be.
And the weird thing is, I don’t feel like it’s that low. My husband goes into the kitchen to get me a glass of mango juice. I stumble into the kitchen to test my blood. “Hmmm. It’s actually 3.6,” I note, knowing that that’s not much better. But it’s somehow comforting.
Juice taken and I lay awake for the next half hour, hoping to see an upward arrow on my Dexcom app. I’m rewarded with an 8.3. Well, that wasn’t too bad, I think.
At least it wasn’t one of those blood sugars that failed to respond to juice, glucose tablets, a square of chocolate, an apple, dried mango, mini granola bars, and anything else I can get my hands on when I’m caught in the downward spiral of a plummeting ow blood sugar.
Hours later, I meet a close friend for coffee. “I’m tired,” I confess. “I woke up at 4 a.m. to a low blood sugar.”
“Why?” She asks.
“Um, who knows. That’s the thing about diabetes. It’s unpredictable,” I answer.
“But I thought you were a good diabetic. That shouldn’t happen, right?”
Huh? Judge much?
And that’s the thing, I know my friend isn’t judging. She honestly doesn’t understand why low blood sugars happen. Or why high blood sugars happen. Or why sometimes, I’m a little irritated by this whole diabetes thing.
At 4.17 a.m., a lot irritated.
I consider going into a long explanation about how blood sugars can be affected by so many things, and how I don’t really understand why it can be perfect many nights in a row, and then send me crashing and guzzling juice in the middle of the night.
And I can’t explain why the term “good diabetic” makes me cringe. I am good at many things: playing along with Jeopardy; easy crossword puzzles; vegetarian cooking; and my daily work life.
But am I good at diabetes? I spent too many years judging my self-worth based on my blood sugar levels throughout the day and my Ha1c.
These days, that’s a question that doesn’t warrant an answer.
(Please remember, I’m not a doctor or an educator. Just a person who has had type 1 diabetes for the past 26 years. Please follow me on instagram at @grownupdiabetes.)