Within hours of being diagnosed with diabetes the nurses told me to “Beware of low blood sugar.”
What they should have said was, “Watch out for those diabetic attacks, if you think you’ve kissed death while your sugar is too high, just wait until it gets too low.”
Of course they couldn’t say it just like that, but since I’m not in the medical field–I can! So here it goes, “Watch out for those diabetic attacks, if you think you’ve kissed death while your sugar is too high, just wait until it gets too low.”
Here are some textbook symptoms of low blood sugar:
shakes, confusion, hunger, blurred vision,
sweats, convulsions, pounding heart,
clammy skin, and irritability.
Here are my top thee real-life symptoms: (I am describing the diabetic attacks that occur during the night while I was sleeping, so I woke up in the midst of the following)
#1 The Shakes–It feels like your body’s natural vibrations have drank Red Bull, so they are in OVERDRIVE. It’s subtle, but present and gaining strength as if a convulsion is on the brink.
#2 Sweating–Imagine sitting inside a home in South Florida or the Caribbean, with no air condition or fans. It’s about 3pm (not high noon sun, but it’s still bright and shining) and it’s time to start cooking, so the oven and stove are turned on. It’s the type of sweat that washes your entire body. You realize that parts of your body are sweating that you didn’t even know existed.
#3 A Beating Heart–Your heart is beating so hard that you feel like it just joined The Marching 100.
When I’m violently awaken from my sleep with these symptoms, I am in a state of fear so intense that it’s almost measurable. I can smell the plants in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. When my glucose was high, I felt like I was oozing, slipping, creeping into a coma. But, during a diabetic attack, I feel like I’m running, dashing, sprinting into the open arms of death. I ‘m in the small space between fighting for my life or reflecting on my life and letting go. So, I fight for my life. And what do I have to fight with…
The very thing that diabetics have to avoid most days is the life-saving nectar that we need during an attack. Orange juice is my sword of choice, but I also carry glucose tablets on my keychain (just in case I have an attack during my awake time).
What the textbooks don’t address is the level of anxiety diabetic attacks cause. I haven’t sleep the same since my diagnosis. After experiencing two attacks back to back while taking a much needed nap, I have stopped taking insulin. Apparently, I was having frequent attacks because my dosage was too high. (Thanks again to my mom who, as a nurse who worked at a diabetic clinic, told me that the sliding scale I was put on was too low for me and that I needed to stop the insulin).
Since I am no longer on insulin I have not had a diabetic attack, but the residue (fear of waking up in the middle of an attack) is still present.