Memory is a tricky thing for a person or child living with diabetes because shifting blood sugar levels that interfere with how we view the world. Out of control blood sugars may cause a person living with diabetes to have distorted perceptions. There are several ways to reduce these distortions from happening, so less personal damage occurs.
Ok, so what happens to reality when one’s blood sugar rises? Now that is where my story begins today, although it’s hard to remember due to the very topic at hand.
Several years ago, I had just started dating a girl I was crazy about. You know LOVE & FIRE — that only once in a lifetime deal. I had been thinking about seeing her for days.
It’s now Saturday, and she was to come over around 3 pm. My blood sugar was 112 at 10 am. It was starting out to be a beautiful day. My fasting blood sugar, right! All’s great, so it seemed.
I was going to get ready for the day. I checked my email, and my friend had sent me an upsetting email that sidetracked me. It twisted me the wrong way, but I needed to talk to him about it before I could make any assumptions. Before I wrote my response, I went on Facebook & then Twitter. It was now noon, and I didn’t eat yet, and my BG level raised to 250. I was thinking about that email and boy, did I write a response! I always wait until the next day before sending something like this. I also need to eat. I feel tired, and I am hungry. I’m angry with my friend and mad at myself for trusting him Feeling depressed; I didn’t want to call anyone, but I had to get ready for my date.
I called her, and before I got a chance to say anything, she told me that she was not going to get to my house until 8 or 9 pm. Instead of being grateful that I had more time to get ready, I said that she had some nerve and the rest of the fight was a blur. By the end of it, our relationship was almost over. I hung up the phone and said what else could go wrong, but I didn’t want to find out.
So I ate and gave myself a huge shot of insulin to compensate. I didn’t have the energy to clean up, so I went back to sleep. The pain was over. I was lucky that I didn’t go into a hypoglycemic reaction.
It was 5 pm, and I couldn’t believe how distorted my view of the situation with my friend and girlfriend was. While rereading the email from him, I noticed he was frustrated and that he was talking about how he felt. Glad I have that rule about emotional email writing and waiting to send my response until I’ve read it a second time.
I was still physically and mentally exhausted when I called my girlfriend back and informed her that my blood sugar was high and that I wasn’t thinking clearly. We talked about how to reduce the emotional impact this situation has on both of us and how she could help me when I am in that state of mind. Her job was important to both of us, and I was lucky enough to have a girlfriend who shares in the expenses of our relationship.
In the future, I started telling those around me when my BG was high or low. Most people I found to be supportive and understanding. Some even point out when I look off at which point I test my BG level.
Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE, is a diabetes-focused psychotherapist. His private practice, located in New York City and is also available via Skype. LeBow, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1977, treats the many diverse cognitive, behavioral, and emotional needs of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.