I did something I am not proud of last night. I threatened to hit my husband during a somewhat petty argument.
My blood sugar was low. Very very low. At the time my Dexcom said 47 with a down arrow and wasn’t keeping pace well. By that point I was probably actually in the 30’s.
As people with diabetes who have experienced severe lows we understand – we are often not ourselves during a low. There isn’t NEARLY enough glucose for proper brain functioning and parts of our brain literally are not working correctly – sometimes the parts that control motor movements (which is why sometimes people with lows can’t stand up or walk properly), sometimes the parts that control inhibitions (which is why sometimes people with lows are mistakenly thought to be drunk, especially by law enforcement), sometimes the parts that control both receptive and expressive language (which is why sometimes people with lows slur their speech or speak sentences that make NO sense and have difficulty in understanding what you are saying), sometimes the parts that control memory formation (which is why sometimes, especially surrounding a severe low, ‘memory loss’ occurs – because memories were literally never formed!), and sometimes the parts that control emotion (which is why sometimes people with lows react with overdramatic anger/rage, sadness and crying, euphoria, paranoia, etc). Sometimes more than one of those.
Last night I was definitely having difficulty with inhibitions and emotions at the outset of my first low. By the end of my series of lows I was losing motor control. This was a terrifyingly long-lasting series of lows. I ate about 7 glucose tablets and began coming up after my initial low (and overreactionary threat). I ate dinner, with no bolus….but then went low again. I began a two hour 0% temp basal and drank an entire can of Pepsi and came up…then went low again. I ate TWO protein bars with peanut butter and finally went up…hoping the protein would help (and it did…until I went low at 2:45am again). My Dexcom read ‘LOW’ (meaning below 40 – it won’t give a number at that level) far too many times.
And while in my head I KNOW that this extremely bad incidence of hypoglycemia was to blame for my comment to my husband, I also can’t stop feeling guilty. A part of me feels like I should have been ‘smarter’ than my failing, stuttering brain. That I should have been able to control myself at all times, despite being so low that many OTHER people would have reacted with unconsciousness and seizure.
The worst part is that our spouses, families, etc. don’t ‘get it’ – because really, how can you POSSIBLY ‘get it’ when you’ve never felt/experienced hypoglycemia like this? How can anyone who hasn’t felt the loss of and inability to regain control truly know what it’s like? They may say they ‘get it’ and be forgiving – or they may say it’s an ‘excuse’ and not accept it as an explanation for our behavior…….but either way we are isolated from them in that we know how it feels and they never truly do.
I’ve only reacted with overwhelming anger one other time when I was low – I was at work and suddenly found myself on the floor (apparently I didn’t pass out, but in the middle of walking I just plopped myself down in a sitting position on the floor in the middle of the store) and when pressed to drink juice by a boss I reacted by striking out and hitting him in the face. My thought process at the time was ‘How dare you tell me what to do?!’ but instead of reacting like a normal person to this thought I reacted with overdramatic anger and violence. Because my brain was not functioning correctly. Now we can all laugh about it but after last night, I no longer find it quite so funny. I don’t WANT to hurt anyone and I don’t want to anger anyone with my own inappropriate and misplaced anger.
Please share with me YOUR stories of extremely low blood sugars. Have you ever hit an EMT, family member, or friend trying to help you? Have you ever thrown things and had a tantrum like a child – because at the time it’s the only reaction that makes any sense to your glucose-starved brain? Have you ever done something ridiculous when low that now you can look at and think ‘What the HECK was I thinking?!’. Have you ever had a low that you had to hear about from others – not because you passed out, but because you lost the ability to properly form memories? I want to hear about them. I NEED to hear ‘me too!’ and know I’m not alone right now, because my feelings of guilt are overwhelming right now.