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Low Blood Sugar Took Me by Surprise

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Ilene Raymond Rush - Blogs
By Ilene Raymond RushAward-winning health and science writerJune 17, 2019

Just when you think you’ve conquered diabetes, you realize you haven’t. Which is why it can be such an interesting – and frustrating – disease. Despite my ‘control’ of my Type 2, last week I experienced a steep and sudden low that took me by surprise.

And while I like to think of myself as always prepared, that day, I was not.

On the afternoon in question, my entire day was discombobulated. Most days, I eat breakfast before I exercise. But on that day, I skipped breakfast, exercised, and didn’t eat until 9:45 that morning — two hours after my normal breakfast time. 

The breakfast menu was vast, but the calorie counts were stratospheric, with nothing less than 750 calories (nearly half my daily allowance). Many of the items came doused in sugary syrup or were simply all carbs and no protein. As usual, I tried to work around the menu, picking from column a and b to piece together something I would feel okay about eating, but when the waitress arrived, she assured us that no changes were allowed.

My friend suggested we go somewhere else, but by then I was starving and we were kind of in the middle of nowhere. I took a second glance at the menu and settled for an English muffin and some butter – maybe the milk fat could count as a protein.

I went from there to a coffee house to finish an assignment on deadline, then to the next town for a lunch with another pal and a planned excursion to see her new house. This time I had a bowl of gazpacho and a salad with feta cheese and sunflower seeds. We splurged on a few bites of a chocolate caramel tart to celebrate her new purchase, then took a fifteen-minute walk to check out her new digs. 

After a tour, we sat down to gossip, when, my blood sugar began to fall.

At first, I paid it no attention: It was such an unusual situation - it had not happened for over a year - I thought I might be imagining it. But the longer I sat there, the more I recognized the signs: I was dizzy, a little disoriented, with a faint headache. My fingers trembled. I tried to pay attention to my friend’s words, but it got more and more difficult until I managed to ask, “Do you have a hard candy?”

Since she’s alert to my diabetes, she knew immediately what was going on. She got me candy and small glass of orange juice. Because I didn’t have my glucose monitor on me – I had run out without grabbing it – I didn’t know how low I had dropped, but I knew I had to get home. I sat for a few minutes until I felt stable and then had her drive me to my car. I was still trembling, but alert enough to make the blessedly short drive, where I took my sugar: 75, after the sugar and juice.

Why had my sugar dropped? It was very hot, and I easily get dehydrated, which sometimes causes my sugars to fall. I had upended my regular schedule, running from place to place, and maybe I hadn’t eaten enough to cover that extra activity. Although I had been having fun, it had been stressful sandwiching work between outings, and stress can also impact sugars.

Or maybe it didn’t matter why. Maybe it was more important to remind myself, yet again, to cart along my monitor no matter what along with my glucose tabs. Because when it comes diabetes, preparation is everything.

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About the Author
Ilene Raymond Rush

Ilene Raymond Rush is an award winning health and science freelance writer. Based on her own experiences with type 2 diabetes, she brings a personal take and a reporter’s eye to examine the best and newest methods of treating and controlling the disease.

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