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Exposed.

I work for a diabetes media company.  People here are significantly more educated than your average co-worker about the intricacies of diabetes.  They talk about it all day long here at dLife.  It’s the focus of our business.  The CEO is diabetic, for crying out loud.

And it’s known that I’m diabetic, as well.  My co-workers know about my blog.  They see my meter case on my desk all day long.  They’ve seen my pump clipped to my pocket, on occasion.  It’s not like I hide anything.  It’s not like I have to.  It's not like I ever would.

My boss popped her head into my office.

“We’re meeting over in [Marketing Woman]’s office.”

I had my hand to my collarbone and, with the other hand, held the juice to my mouth as I drained the can like someone dared me to.  I knew I was white as the papers on my desk and my forehead felt damp and clammy. 

50 mg/dl. 

“You okay?”

“Yeah.  Just low.  I’ll be fine in a few minutes.”

These words – I’m low – they mean something in this office.

“Okay.  Do you need anything?”

Shook my head.  Kept drinking.

“Take your time.”

She left and I finished the juice.  And for some reason, sitting there alone, these tears filled my eyes and I had to furiously blink them back. 

I waited a few minutes.  Tested at 87 mg/dl – high enough to join the meeting without issue. 

Why did I feel so odd?  Maybe because I was low.  Maybe I was embarrassed.  Maybe I just want to write about it - I don’t really want to live with it.  That’s a feeling I try to keep squashed down for the most part, but at that moment, I felt weak.  I don’t make any claims to be in control of this thing, but it’s nice to pretend sometimes. Usually I can make a joke about it, or find the bits that are worth learning from. 

But this time, I felt vulnerable.

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Comments

Kerri:

First of all, I love the blog. I just discovered it. I’m a 30 year old and have been diabetic since I was 15.

I’m generally very accepting of my diabetes and do not usually get too down about it. However, I do think that at least in the short term low blood sugars are the most difficult aspect of this disease.

I think instances of severe lows can cause a wide range of emotions – fear (thinking about what could have happened), embarrassment (like the time I came out of a severe low sitting in a hospital emergency room in my boxers), sadness (like when my wife tells me what I said to her as she tried to give me juice), and so many more.

On top of that, there are the minor lows that may not cause any major emotions, but they do serve as a reminder and are an interruption to an otherwise normal day. I’m sure that all of us at times have shared the emotions you described from earlier today.

Tom

Kerri,
Sending you a big hug, I think we all feel vulnerable sometimes. I am glad you work with people who will take care of you if needed and who understand your taking care of yourself. You are strong, and only the strongest will admit they get weak. hang in there.

There's something about being late for a meeting because I am low... that just slaps me in the face sometimes and upsets my careful balance. If I had to arrive 3 minutes late for a meeting because of a bathroom detour, no big deal, right? But for treating a low... I get what you mean.

Perhaps because we're all so damn busy proving how well we can handle this, even a small chink in the armor can feel like a gaping hole.

You were alone...you stood out from the crowd...you were low and susceptible to weak nerves...there were a lot of reasons why you cried :(

It's tough to not let a little vulnerability pop through when a low has you down on your knees and you see everyone else going about their business without anything holding them back.

We're all here holding your hand in spirit :)

Well, being vulnerable for being late because your treating a low is a very human feeling. But its very cool that you can work in an environment where people don't make a big deal over it. In other places, they would have called an ambulance in spite of the fact that you were treating it yourself! Besides, 50 mg/dL isn't really THAT low, just inconvenient!

Kerri-
I also work in a place that is all about diabetes and with those who are way more knowledgable/understanding about the disease than the average co-worker. I have been overcome by emotions when low at work because of the low but also because the people I work with were so damn understanding about it that it made me able to let my guard down. At another workplace where they were not as diabetes wise, when low I felt more like 'they have no idea what this disease is like, I will deal with this on my own.

Every day, I wish I could simply work at place that was passionate about diabetes and its care rather than having to live it to.

Let's hope that someday we will have to find new jobs because a cure puts our places of employment out of business :)

My day used to be good or bad depending on the numbers on my scale in the morning. Shallow, I know. Now they are affected by how my blood sugars run. I feel confident and in control when I am in range. I feel angry, disppointed with myself, annoyed--who knows---when I get high readings. I feel vulnerable and foggy when they are low. I experienced a new feeling yesterday---betrayal. I have been thinking about returning to work in the ER I worked in for over 13 years. I was telling a fellow nurse/friend that I knew the hours and pace might be challenging for me as a T1 but I felt confident I could handle it. She really voiced her concerns that I might not and gave me no support. Now I am determined more than ever to get back to work. When the people you expect to support you, don't---wow.

Being low always makes me hyperemotional. I think it's the worst feeling. Feeling like you're about to cry or scream, but not having the capacity to comprehend the sensation of the emotion. I don't think it helps to look back your emotional reactions when you're low, the body shifts into Get-Sugar-Now mode. I don't think anyone would put too much thought into "why did I miscalculate my taxes when my sugars were 35?!"

I had a similar experience today. I woke up at 50 and had a hard time getting it up.
Then after lunch, where was I 50 AGAIN!
Must have been the magic number today.
I am lucky like you that I work in an understanding environment. I work at a college, but my boss's son wears a pump.
She wouldn't let me leave work tonight to go work out until I tested in front of her.
Normally, that would drive me crazy but today it felt sweet.

The lows, when they happen often, can be so much harder than the hyperglycemia. Hypos the regret or resentment is immediate, as is the relief, versus the highs, that the regret can take a while to come when you have some complication arise.

I have started thinking a lot about the masks we often wear when dealing with the mountains of baggage that come with diabetes. Sometimes it's hard to keep putting on the happy face. I think a little resentment every now and then is healthy...as long as you can snap out of it.

I was 35 a few months ago and totally bit the head off of an annoying colleague who made a snarky comment to me in passing. I was so embarassed at my inability to control myself, and I was definitely dealing with a big bout of resentment, but then I got over it and realized it wasn't worth dwelling on. Plus, I was glad I finally had an excuse to bawl her out since she sucks anyway.

Hi Kerri,
I dropped down to 43 the other night for no apparent reason (isn't that the worst when you have no idea WHY it happened??). I treated it, but still wasn't able to get above 50 so I called my roommate. Before I got on the phone I was totally calm, but the minute I started talking I was in tears and I couldn't explain it. For me, it's a relatively new feeling, but it's like no other.... I don't think people without diabetes know at all what it feels like. Sometimes I want to inject a friend with a single unit of insulin just so they could really *feel* it, ya know? (Obviously, I would never do that)

Last night I was on the Subway coming home and went low (40 I think). I started eating the candy I had with me but got to my stop before I had really come back up. Anyway, I got up at my stop and was just out the door when I realized that I didn't know where my cell phone was! I turned around and started yelling and looking panicked and all in the subway car started looking around. Then I looked down..... the cell phone was in my hand. ARGGGGH!!! I felt like an idiot. I wanted to tell all of the annoyed passengers that my brain was a mess at the moment but couldn't. Oh well.

Hi, Kerri! For whatever reason, I have always been a little bit secretive about my diabetes--that's not really good and I think that lately, I am finally growing out of doing that. If someone is interested in my pump, or asks me something specific about diabetes, I have no problem opening up about it. But I have the hardest time telling new people that I am a diabetic. My family hardly ever mentions it, and even though my mom was always really helpful in the "early days" when I still lived at home, now that I am married and just see her and my dad on visits, I don't even feel comfortable admitting that I feel low and I'll usually just take a few glucose tablets undercover. Isn't that something? Now with my husband and daughter, its different. I feel comfortable asking my husband to get me juice if I need it and we talk about diabetes more. This blog is actually helping me become more comfortable with the topic, as I see you openly testing your blood sugar, etc. I need to be more open about it, too. I was diagnosed later in life than you were, at age 14, so maybe that has something to do with it, or my upbringing. My parents are great and I am totally positive that they would be more than supportive if I were to bring up the subject, but they never really acknowledge the fact that I am a diabetic anymore. Maybe they had a hard time with it and now since I no longer live under their roof, they are taking a "break!"

Kerri,
You are a wonderful, caring and strong person. There is no doubt about that! We all must let down our guard, expose are vulnerability and weaknesses and need for help from others. This makes us AND THOSE AROUND US in fact stronger and better human beings. Hej, it gives me a chance to send you a ((((((HUG)))))))!

I know what you mean about feeling exposed because of the need to treat a low. Emotions tends to be more on the outside when low, at least that is the case for me. Sometimes I am very emotional when low, other times not. It can’t really be predicted, but I do suspect that it has something to do with the context of the given low, whether I’ll be an emotional wreck or not :-)

My colleagues are very supportive too, although not everybody knows very much about diabetes. Those closest to me have of course had the crash course in diabetes, but as I work in a large research group of more than 50 people, where the exchange of personnel is relatively large, then it is impossible to keep everybody equally informed. Although I do not hide it in anyway, I am sure that some may not even know that I am diabetic.

About 6 months ago I experienced a bad low, 1.2 (22), on a late Friday afternoon, where many had already left for the weekend. Although my brain was really foggy and unable to think straight, I managed to shot off the pump and grab the glucose tabs on my desk. I felt so close to passing out, though, that I felt that I needed to let someone else know that I was very low. I succeeded in that, but because my sugar was only rising very slowly, I was soaked and pale, and it was Friday afternoon, my colleagues ended up calling the paramedics anyway. I certainly did not feel the need to go to the ER, but I agreed to do so anyway, just to calm my colleagues and let them leave for the weekend without being worried about me being left behind.

Hey Kerri,
Sorry you had a rough time yesterday! You are an inspiration to me and I'm in awe of your ability to share your experiences with us. It lets us know that we're all in this together and not alone. Have a great weekend!
Go Colts!!!

You're lucky to work in a place that is so understanding.

Having coworkers who understand what a low is, how to treat it, and to offer assistance, would be beyond my comprehension.

We're all vulnerable (diabetics and non-diabetics alike) -- we're human.

It is frustrating to put your life on hold to treat a low.....after you work so hard to keep diabetes from running your life....

Totally understanding you ... I would almost rather my sugar stay a little high than get a bad low! Hate it, hate it! And yes, very embarrasing at times ... when low, I feel so out of control and I don't like being in control. A low has almost become a fear to me! I really enjoy reading your blog ... it's a great inspiration to me ... it's easy to think sometimes that you're the only one in this world dealing with "diabetes" ... it's SO nice to know that I'm not! Thanks for taking the time to share ...

Opps ... the comment above should have read ... "when low, I feel so out of control and I don't like "not being in control" ...

opps ... the comment above should have read ... "when low, I feel so out of control and I don't like "not being in control" ..."

Everyone's said what I thought already :)

Here's a *hug* instead!

DEEP THOUGHTS by Jack Handy

Why do people in ship mutinies always ask for "better treatment"? I'd ask for a pinball machine, because with all that rocking back and forth you'd probably be able to get a lot of free games.

Ambition is like a frog sitting on a Venus Flytrap. The flytrap can bite and bite, but it won't bother the frog because it only has little tiny plant teeth. But some other stuff could happen and it could be like ambition.

I bet one legend that keeps recurring throughout history, in every culture, is the story of Popeye.


To me, clowns aren't funny. In fact, they're kind of scary. I've wondered where this started and I think it goes back to the time I went to the circus, and a clown killed my dad.

If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.

If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is "God is crying." And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is "Probably because of something you did."

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