“But you’re a good diabetic”

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.) 

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