When blood sugar is too low a person with diabetes will have distorted perceptions and feelings. In this blog I will show ways to prevent these distortions from happening or managing them, so less or no personal damage occurs.
I was walking across campus at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Maryland, back in 1991. It was a beautiful crystal blue day outside, not a cloud in the sky. I remember walking through the quad as I approached the giant clock tower. The bright blue day vanished, and it became foggy out.
My legs start to feel frail and shaky. Just after passing the clock tower I fell. My new jeans were torn, and that was OK. It was the early 90’s. My hands were scraped up, but I knew at that moment I needed to get to the luncheonette at Lane Center. I was very distraught. An ex-friend came up to me and asked if I needed some help. With rage in my voice, I said, “From you, no f**ken way!” I pushed him aside and continued my beeline to the luncheonette.
Man, after seeing that ex-friend, boy was I angry at all people to offer help! Screw that! I headed through the back entrance to Lane Center and started walking up a flight of stairs. It was more of a crawl, but I got to the top. My legs felt like Jello, and my head felt woozy too. I kept on moving and finally arrived at the luncheonette. It was practically empty, and there was no line to get food. I didn’t bother with a tray. I grabbed orange juice and downed the whole glass. I started to open a cheeseburger as the cashier asked, “You going to pay for that?” I ignored the question, went back and got a tray. I set the empty glass and cheeseburger wrapper down on it. I slid the tray up to the mean cashier and smiled at her. I asked, “How much?” She didn’t smile back but handed me my change. I left the luncheonette for the common area and crashed into one of the comfy chairs.
I fell asleep and woke up an hour later. I went back to my room and checked my blood sugar. I then gave a shot to counter the extra food I ate during my reaction and took a nap. When it was all over, my blood sugar was back to normal, and it was dark out.
What could I have done differently? First and foremost always have stuff for a reaction on you. My choice, how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? One, only one! Do what works for you and check with your doctor to make sure it works with your body.
“I could have sat at the base of the clock tower and had a Tootsie Pop” It’s ok, I have learned from my mistakes.
No chocolate! It’s slow acting sugars, and the key is to get out of dodge fast. This is important, fast-acting sugars like Orange juice is one of the quick ways to increase Blood Glucose Levels. Fast-acting sugar causes less damage to the body and reduces the chance of you doing or saying something stupid. So the best recommendation is orange juice over chocolate any day, but glucose gel or powder trumps all.
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.
All the advice included in this blog is therapeutic in nature and should not be considered medical advice. Before making any changes to your diabetes maintenance program, please consult with your primary physician or endocrinologist.