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Common Threads.

During my trips to the west coast these past few weeks, my blood sugars weren't my most cooperative pals.  Instead, my numbers were like a game of Chutes & Ladders (all the time), with rattled lows followed closely by spiking highs, over and over.  My Dexcom graph looked like Ms and Ws having a tea party, and every time I clicked over to the 24 hour graph, I wanted to hide the receiver in shame.  Because really, seeing 40's and 280's in the same day?  Three times over?  Fun times.

Last week, at BlogWorld, I had three blood sugars in the 40's over the course of five hours.  My blood sugar just wouldn't come up, no matter how many glucose tabs I chomped.  I treated the first low in my hotel room, dusting the desk with glucose powder as I shook the jar into my hand.  Watching the Dexcom graph, I assumed I was on the upswing, but I never fully crested.  I treated the second low in the shuttle on the way over to the convention center, during which time, my fellow panelist, Jenni from ChronicBabe, noticed what i was doing.

"Are you having a low blood sugar?"  (Jenni is an excellent conference wife - she knows that glucose tabs mean a low blood sugar is on tap.)

"Yeah.  I had one earlier this morning, but it hasn't kicked out yet.  I feel like I've eaten half a jar of glucose tabs."  I shook another orange tab into my hand and popped it into my mouth.  She eyeballed me while I wiped the dust from my lips.

"Do you want to try one?  I think they taste like crap, but I only eat them when I'm low, and everything's crap when I'm low."  I handed her the jar.

"Oh.  Oh, yum!  This is like baby aspirin.  But good baby aspirin?  I love it."  

"Dude, Chris likes them, too.  He's had a few here and there, and he's always a fan.  When I'm low, I just don't have enough saliva going on to make these things melt fast enough."

Chalky, orange ... and a big pill to swallow when your blood sugar is 43 mg/dL.

We finished the ride, but the low hung on, to the point where it was five hours after I had treated the first low in the hotel room, and I was still stuck under 70 mg/dl.  When Jenni and I took a break from sessions to check out the sponsor exhibit hall, we grabbed a table at the back of the room to check email, etc.

And I could not function, not properly, anyway.  The room was too loud.  The table felt like it was extra high and that I needed to stretch myself in order to put my elbows on the table.  My computer felt like 30lb weight on my shoulder, and my tongue felt swollen and glucose-sticky in my mouth.

I grabbed my meter from my purse and did a spot-check:  43 mg/dL.  Third time's the charm.  Almost crying with frustration and fatigue from being low for several hours straight, I threw the meter back into my bag.  I put two glucose tabs in my mouth at once and took a pear out of my purse, setting it on the tablecloth near my laptop.

"I'm sorry," I said to Jenni, knowing I was at the edge.  "I'm low again, and I'm at that 'I'm going to cry' stage.  Sorry in advance, and I'm also really [edit]ing pissed off to still be low, so I'm sorry."

Her eyes softened and she gave me a small smile.  "I'm going to sit here and not talk to you until you're fine.  If you need anything, let me know.  But I'm a little scared of you right now."

Her levity brought the world back into focus, and my shoulders relaxed. 

"I know.  I'm a lunatic right now."  I pretended to flip the table over with my hands.  "I'm ready to flip tables and eat glucose tabs and be all rage-filled."

"Eat your pear, babe.  We'll go when you're ready."

I ate; we waited.  And a special appreciation grew for my friend Jenni, and other people who deal with health stuff every day.  They get that this is just part of the routine with diabetes.  They understand, even though their health conditions aren't the same as mine.  The common threads of chronic illness run through every moment of every day, and "understanding" isn't limited to those living with diabetes. 

Everyone who is tuned in to their health "gets" it. We're all in this together, regardless of our health.  We are all patients

(Also, I need to start traveling with a new flavor of glucose tabs.  I've had it with orange for at least a year.)


I understand! I had a low yesterday that had me cursing at squirrels and wanting to flip my office desk over. I couldn't get my words to come out right, either in written or spoken form and it took me 2 hours to put together a 5 page packet that should have take 15 minutes. I might have raged at myself, but no squirrels were physically harmed.

Before my pancreas checked out, I used to have to keep glucose tablets in my bag for swimming practice and I thought they tasted like candy. Now I'd rather just have a piece of chocolate when I'm low.

On an unrelated note, my husband knows when I'm low before I test because I hit an "I hate everything/everyone" stage.


And I enjoy that she was scared "of" you, not "for" you! :)

Way to make me cry. Seriously, YES - common threads indeed. I wasn't feeling so hot myself at that table in the afternoon, and it made me feel less bizarro to know I wasn't alone. That's the deal: we're all in this together. As your friend, I care a lot and want to be supportive. And as someone who also has chronic illness, I feel like the more I understand the better I'm able to help others, too. I think we all owe that to each other. The cool thing is, folks get me too; there were many times you (or Russ, or someone else) helped me with my bags or brought me a water or piece of fruit when I was flaring up. It's kind of awesome how we all just step up for each other... as it should be. xoxoxo

This made me smile. Having those around us that understand makes all the difference in the world.

FYI - Love me some Jenni! She is awesome!

The other day at school I went low, and I got into a huge fight with a teacher about transverse-waves. I was mad! I had a hard time understanding what was enraging me, until I checked, then it all made sense.

It's interesting how even though our experiences with diabetes somewhat vary, we can all relate to one another. In your posts it seems you get low a lot. For me, it's just the opposite. I have high blood sugars all. the. time. and it drives me insane. It stumps my endo. I could have a yogurt and you'd think from my sugars that I downed a jamba juice with no insulin. One day I had that same frustration as you after being 400 for 3 hours I took a needle with 10 units of insulin and just jabbed it in, I was getting so pissed from feeling like I got run over 100 times. And I was 40 about an hour later. Ws and Ms...good times.

As for glucose tabs, try the tropical punch at Walgreens. Good variation!

When these lows occur, do you temporarily reduce your basal rates until the numbers stabilize?

I've been dealing with the same thing for the past couple of days: lots of unexplained lows. This morning, I sat in my car in a Home Depot parking lot for a half hour waiting to come back up from a BG of 38 (AFTER treating a 76 a half-hour earlier). It's happened a lot lately... my poor son is losing all his Halloween candy!

I don't get it... it must be something in the air after that October snowstorm...

I can relate to how dry the glucose tabs are. Sometimes when I have water available, I'll take a small sip along with the tab and it does help it to dissolve better. Also, strangely it makes the tab taste better.

I have never embraced total low carb eating, but I think for many of us type 1's, that's the only way to smooth out some of those M's and W's. I eat fewer carbs than I used to, but way more than "low carbers". I just know that I find it impossible to reliably balance food and insulin to get rid of the peaks and valleys. If I never had to eat, my Dexcom lines would look great.

Hope you're having a smoother BG ride today.

Fruit Punch are the way to go. The orange make me sick, it tastes like chalk mixed with swweet, yuck.

I hear you about the lows that just won't leave. I just can't function, I am there but not able to understand. I often feel as if i am looking into a tunnel and for some reason I hear a mouth harp playing in the distance.

Sobbing Heap Phase. When, after a day of repeated deep lows, you finally quit trying to be Strong, even give up Mad and just collapse into a sobbing heap. Your description makes me laugh and cry for all of us. Losing it in public is the worst!

At some point, maybe year 35?, I actually listened to this doctor guy I know who kept telling me to track my menstrual cycles - You know, count days, day 1 being first day of period etc. The Day of Horrific Lows almost always came just before day 1 each month and required a huge basal downshift (like 40%). From ovulation through the last day of cycle was The Week(s) of Horrendous Highs, and required a totally nother higher basal rate.

Does this happen to all of us girl d's?

I had emailed Dex4 for some 'samples' to try, I led them to believe I was crunching Life Savers for lows. Whatever. 2 weeks later, they sent me this huge box with all kinds of the little 4 tab keychains, the Dex4 drink (YUKKKKK!), the gel and a whole bottle of raspberry tabs, and a bunch of coupons for any Dex4 product! I still go back to the Grape flavor (great with green tea! no chalk mouth afterwards). I find the others (orange or raspberry) don't work as fast. There's a gnarly sour apple flavor that will make your cheeks pucker! Another diabetic friend of mine emailed Dex... and they sent her about 60 little 'sample packets' 4 tabs in a little foil package. Tres convenient!!

I have a friend who knows that if I'm pissed off when we're chatting online then I'm probably low, and she (very nicely) asks me to test. And I have several friends who know that there are days I literally can't talk and walk at the same time because I can't breathe. It's interesting how my friends understand better than my family does, and my family HAS many of the same chronic illnesses!

Seriously, Jenni, you're awesome!

I frequently have bouncing blood sugars... I also have several chronic "invisible" illnesses, so thanks for sharing Jenni's Facebook page. Now I have two blogs to look forward to!

Way to go, Jenni! I have a family member with MS, and though MS and diabetes are totally different, the chronic element of both highlights the sameness. it's kind of a cool bond.

Also, my students LOVE glucose tabs, and always ask for some if I go low during class...

My last early hypo left me with a mouth that tasted like a badger's arse when I woke up later on that day. Was not best pleased!

ok, i know this wasn't the point of this sweet post, but if you are eating orange glucose tabs, no wonder you think they're disgusting! orange = EEEWW! blech (at least of the round kind, the old-school white square in foil packet kind with a hint of orange was tasty to me). get yourself some raspberry, or any flavor but orange!

also, im sure you've read other people's postings on this, but smarties test better, have less chalky dust for our low selves to choke on, and cost about 1/5 as much or less as glucose tabs. less convenient to carry in flimsy foil packets, but i just put some in a ziploc bag or old glucose tab or altoid tin. they have 6 grams per roll :-)

On a similar note- what do you guys do for lows in the middle of the night? I always say that I'll brush my teeth after a low at 2am, but when it gets to that time, I just conk out right away and when I wake up I have a horrible feeling mouth and 30 more cavities. (and something else- when I forget to bolus for high, long lasting carbs- macaroni, pasta, pizza- my enemies!- worst feeling in my mouth ever. I used to forget to bolus all the time and that would happen all the time, but I've gotten wayyyyy better).

basically, blood sugars suck. (suck blood? ;)

Ugh, those orange g-tabs are the only kind that the pharmacy stocked when I was a kid, and to this day I can barely choke them down. I much prefer sour apple or berry. Sour apple is hard to find, but moderately tasty.
And when it comes to a low that WILL NOT END, it's time to do the only thing diabetes is useful for: go buy a pack of skittles, M&M's, a regular soda, or a snickers and eat it guilt free. My purse is currently stocked with the requisite tube of g-tabs and a few pieces of laffy taffy left over from trick or treaters that didn't show. Diabetes has to be good for something, right?

Oh, man.. Diabetes is such a total beeotch. And Zoe hates the glucose tabs, hates. Troy, who doesn't have d, steals them out of my purse. :)

Raspberry. Definitely raspberry.

Glucose tabs are awful. Gu (the stuff that athletes use) tastes way better, doesn't lead to that chalky mouth feeling/taste, and works way faster (for me at least). Discovering gu was definitely a key component for me of getting my blood sugars more under control because I had finally found a way to treat them that I didn't abhor. Favorite is Power Bar's raspberry cream.

Oh Kerri. So frustrating, I really hate those times. Yesertday my sugars were high all day and nothing would get them down. Had to a have a full site change plus insulin cartridge. So annoyed as when they came down, they stayed down for 3 hours and i got through 2 huge cartons of orange juice. I cant enjoy orange juice now!

My little monkey has been having the same kind of lows ...her fav is Skittles!

For some stupid reason, I also have issues with West Coast lows - almost every trip (see also "Target lows").

Must try a temp basal % or something next time!

If I have to eat the tabs, I eat the orange - they are my favorite for some reason, despite being disgusting. My mom (sweet sweet mom, who still hunts out info on new products and tips even though her "baby" is 35 years old) found a company in Dallas that makes a "Glucose Quick Stick" and I am a huge fan - you just rip open and pour into your mouth - it's basically like eating pixie sticks to treat a low, and who doesn't love those?? You can get them on amazon, and they donate to research. Here is the link for more info:


please note - I am in NO way affiliated with this product, just a huge fan. And also a fan of something that works fast and isn't a tab.

we're in this boat together babe: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzN1J0cpjks

I'll never forget once when I popped a few orange tablets in the middle of Walgreens and a small cloud of orange dust puffed out of my mouth as I coughed and gagged on them! Orange is the worst! Raspberry and grape taste MUCH better. Target has a great generic brand that I've been buying for years because I can get the big bottle of them. I keep one in the coffee table, by the bed, in my purse and an extra in the kitchen. I love them!

Just curious, do you do the glucose tabs because they work more quickly than juice/milk?

I can half understand - my husband is a type 1 and I frequently pick up the fact that he's low because of his attitude. He's had it since he was 10 and we've only been married 3 years but I can spot it sooner than his family. I love your blog - it really does help me understand the trials of Type 1 better and it's nice to know that there are so many others out there.

The glucose tabs are easier to carry than juice (or milk?!?!??????) when travelling.

Nerdy Nurse is the second person I've ever heard mention milk to treat a low. I don't get it....??

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