During sports many Type 1 Diabetics experience the question, “Why are you sitting out?” Many close and curious friends also frequently ask the question of “What does it feel like when your blood sugar goes low?” In response to this question I always say, “There’s a feeling in my stomach, and you just know.” So here is me trying my best to finally answer this frequently asked question.
I realized that I don’t speak about diabetes on this blog as much as I should. As a Type 1 Diabetic (most likely this is not the same diabetes that your grandparents have) there are many frustrations that I have to deal with on a daily basis. But one of the most frustrating is the constant comparison we get with Type 2 Diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes is an auto-immune disease, this is not caused by eating too much cake or candy and not getting enough exercise. Type 1 Diabetes is most likely also not the same diabetes that your grandma has. Type 1 cannot be cured, we have to deal with it for the rest of our lives. That is unless there is a cure (DONATE HERE: HERE ). Type 2 Diabetes usually occurs when the pancreas (the organ that distributes insulin throughout the body in order to regulate the amount of glucose in the human blood stream) is too overworked and cannot seem to get caught up with the amount of food intake there is. Type 1 Diabetes occurs when the auto-immune system attacks the beta cells in a certain part of the pancreas, therefore causing the pancreas to no longer be able to produce insulin. This is when Type 1 Diabetics become insulin dependent.
For me personally, I try to have fun with this part of diabetes; when someone is first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes they are put on insulin shots. This means that they take insulin through a syringe (gasp!). This causes a lot of non-diabetics to cringe and usually say, “Ew, I could never do that! It’s so disgusting!” Yes, I understand the fear of having to inject yourself with a syringe, but when you’re given the choice between life and death (this is no joke when I say this, in 2010 diabetes was the 7th leading cause of death) you’re going to pick dealing with the syringe.
Another frequently asked question is if both the injections and the finger pricks hurt. For me, I only can take the injections in my stomach and thighs, and after being forced to prick your finger at least 5 times a day you get used to it. My response to this question is usually along the lines of: I think that it hurt at first, but I don’t remember.
The reason why I called this fun is because when taking insulin shots in public I love watching people’s reactions (this is one of the many upsides of diabetes).
In regards to my insulin pump: I am not carrying around a pager. Yes, I know what a pager is, and I’m pretty sure that they do not have a wire attaching to my body.
Also, I can eat sugar. I can eat cake, ice cream and chocolate. Trust me, I am going to eat all of that stuff. Type 1 Diabetics are not limited to what they can and can not eat.
Hyperglycemia (big word, picture a third grader trying to say it), which also means high blood glucose levels. When a diabetics blood sugar is high they need to take insulin. This is because there is too much sugar in our blood stream and the extra insulin will help to remove it.
Every diabetic is different. Meaning they feel different things differently, so in this subject of how I feel under certain conditions does not apply to all diabetics.
When I was first diagnosed with diabetes I could not feel if I was high unless I was REALLY high. Then I would start to feel dehydrated and sick, but for a couple of years, I didn’t really feel anything. However, bodies change. Now, I feel sick and nauseous even if my blood sugar isn’t crazy high. It could be high 100s (which isn’t too bad but not too great; my target range for my blood sugar levels is 70-120) and I would still feel sick. Sometimes you can feel dizzy, get headaches and constantly have to go to the bathroom (which is terribly inconvenient for someone that always has to go to the bathroom).
A similar feeling to getting insulin after being high can be similar to finally drinking water after being dehydrated (I’m talking actual dehydration here, which has happened to me before, and it SUCKS).
Hypoglycemia (almost the same word, but very different for a diabetic), is the scientific word for having low blood glucose levels (is it just me or do both of these words sound a lot like hippopotamus?). Low blood glucose (fancy word for sugar, I don’t think I’ve explained that one yet, oops) is when diabetics actually need to get carbohydrates into their body. Who would’ve thought that sugar tablets would save diabetics lives? But to have low blood sugar means that there is not enough sugar in the blood stream.
Being low can hit you like a truck. No joke. You feel hungry, dizzy, sometimes a little confused, you shake, you sweat buckets (my least favorite symptom), anxious, and sometimes really tired.
Basically you feel like you’re trying really hard to focus on walking in a straight line and you can’t focus because you’re getting dizzy which causes there to be anxiety. You’re also so hungry and feel like no matter what you do you can’t stop shaking.
There have been many hours lost due to low blood sugar. Usually a diabetics day begins at about 3 am because we have to get up and treat ourselves.
Well guys, I’m sorry for this little rambling but I just want to say, next time you make a diabetes joke think about how offensive it can be. Especially to Type 1 Diabetics that can’t help but being insulin dependent.
If you’re tired of me talking, here are a few links you should check out from fellow diabetics:
A few notable people that have Type 1 Diabetes:
Sierra Anne Sandison (Miss Idaho)