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From Abby: Blood Sugar Superpowers.

Blood checking superpowers ... do you have them?  Abby takes an in-depth look at blood sugar and the subtle nuances of it that only PWD (and those who love them) notice.  (I used the phrase "in depth" as a way to sound as much like Stone Phillips as possible.)
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After having diabetes for a long time, you realize wicked weird things about checking your blood. Like some people can tell they are high or low based on how dark their blood is (what a super power) and some of us go through phases where we can guess our number within five points (I can only do this when I'm low).

Since I made it through science college and nursing school, I have this annoying habit of trying to anatomize everything that happens with my diabetes. (Note:  Usually I find nothing of significance.) Like "Oh, my mouth is numb when I'm low. That makes no sense. I need to eat. Everything. Wow. With a numb mouth. Fruit loops."   Occasionally though, I find something that makes me go "OOOOHHHH that totally explains that really annoying thing!"

For example, I've talked about dehydration before. Sometimes when I'm high and I correct and nothing happens, I drink a bunch of water and magically the insulin starts to work. Dilution. It's a pretty basic 7th grade science concept that most of us have deleted from our memories. Recall this concept, apply it to diabetes ... it makes perfect science sense!

Bluuuuuuuuuuud.  Or blood.

Another great one is blood. We all have those times when we test twice in a row and get wildly different numbers. And usually, now that I've thought about it (way too much) I can explain these differences. Most of the time. For example I refuse to test on my hand when I first wake up if I have been sleeping on that arm. All the blood in that finger has been there for who knows how long while I was cutting off the circulation with my cranium. Why would I test on that hand if that blood is old? I don't. I use the other hand, or I get up and move around first.

Also, if I puncture my finger and I FEEL it -  you know those ones that cause you to say YEOUCH inside your head - but NO BLOOD COMES OUT. Those are the worst. Sometimes you'll squeeze until your toes hurt and you get juuuuust enough blood to fill a strip and the number totally shocks you? That's because you've just broken so many blood vessels, and most of that fluid is actually just extra gross finger fluid and not actually blood. I have tested these kinds of drops against my dex and a few other finger sticks and they're always nonsense. I don't use those blood drops anymore. I will re-prick my finger to find a nice juicy spot that produces a too-large sample. It's worth it to just start over than to question my results.

When you think about anatomy, a lot of the mysteries of diabetes are explained. The capillaries that we use to test our blood sugar are like little tiny nets in your finger tips that fit approximately one single blood cell through them at a time. Knowing this makes me give the strips/meters/companies a little more wiggle room when it comes to accuracy.

Or at least gives me a smidge more dia-sanity.


Dear Abby,
(I've always wanted to type that!hehe!)

My mouth totally goes numb when I'm low-usually below 50. That doesn't happen often (thankfully) but when it does, my tongue is numb and lips tingle. Sometimes it's good to be reminded that I'm not the only one with weird symptoms.

Also, what kills me about an "off" BG is that it's like wasting a dollar...Since every strip costs about that much (if not more). However, I'm lucky to be able to afford more when needed.

Happy Holidays!
A Dear Abby Reader

(aka, Bethany)

I'm one of those strange people who can guess what my BG is based on the color or consistency of my blood. Fun post! I always forget about drinking more when I'm high even without ketones... Thanks for the reminder.

Yep, I'm with Shay - I can tell if I'm high or low depending on the color of the blood drop.
But wow - I never thought of the other stuff. Thanks for sharing, Abby! :D (PS, You're my dianurse hero!)

Huh. You know, I've never thought about some of these things (sleeping on my arm, or the squeezing extra hard), but they DO make sense! Thanks Abster! :-)

This makes sense - I wonder how true it is. I've got plenty of theories myself that may be true or may be complete nonsense...

I also sometimes wonder if I can tell how high my BG is by the sweetness of my blood when I lick it from my fingertip. If I can get an answer faster than the five seconds it takes my meter to tell me, I win!

(I know, that last sentence makes absolutely no sense whatsoever)

What!? No one told me about these super powers! I'm gonna have to try that drinking water trick. hmmm. Makes total sense!

Thanks for a very useful post. This is the kind of thing they can't tell you at the diabetes educator's office.

I have noticed that my numbers are higher when I test on my thumb! It's definitely not as juicy.

My husband claims I smell different when my blood sugar is high. Also that my lips look different-- paler or something.

I've also noticed high readings when I've used certain handlotions.

Very interesting! But the million dollar question for me right now is... What causes the crazy squirting blood finger pricks?? Which happened to me earlier this evening apparenttyaa cording to the spray of red dots up the sleeve of my white sweater!

Never thought about the blood/fluid thing on those tough to squeeze out tests, but it totally makes sense.

And I think the amount of blood that comes out is in direct proportion to the colors you're wearing (Wearing white? Get ready for the spray)

And I'm JUST now noticing the hat-tip to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fVDGu82FeQ in the URL.


Just popped in to say, Merry Christmas!

Great post. Makes me wonder if when my hands are stiff & swollen with arthritis, I'm actually getting poor test results???

Another few diabetes super powers to throw out there:

- bust out a few push-ups and take a lap or two around the block after you've dosed a high

- if you ate a carb heavy meal for dinner and are in the 80's before bed - crank UP that basal for a few hours because you know your BG will be a creeeeeepin'

I once told a doc that I could tell my BG by the color of my blood and he said I couldn't. I CAN! And apparently so can you! :)

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