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Exercise Lows.

This thing is used for more than just hanging clothes on!Last night was an at-home workout (so I could get a little exercise in without missing the Wednesday night #dsma chat), so I was holed up in the basement with the ellipmachine and Stephen Colbert, with a starting blood sugar of 138 mg/dL.

At the twenty-three minute mark of my workout, I started to feel a little strange.  Heavy.  Like each foot had a big, fat chicken sitting on it, trying desperately to hatch it.  My arms were over-cooked spaghetti noodles.  And from the shelf, just a few feet away, I could hear the Dexcom buzzing over the sounds of Colbert's applauding audience.

"Twenty-three minutes ... I can get to thirty." 

Stupid, stupid, stupid Kerri.  This is the same brand of stupid where I think I need to test my blood sugar at 3 am before any drinking juice, despite the fact that I'm damp with nighttime sweat and dizzy.  And the very same brand of stupid where I clean the house instead of treating the low.  When the glucose is sapped from my cells, my brain doesn't know how to prioritize. It's like I need to challenge myself, taking control of a situation that's rapidly spiraling out of it, despite the fact that the smart and safe thing to do is treat the low.  But my brain doesn't function properly when I'm under a certain blood sugar threshold.

So instead of stopping my workout and going upstairs to raid the fridge, I pushed through the workout for a few more minutes, until that rational part of my brain spoke up.  

"Um, Kerri?"

I keep moving my legs, concentrating on the computer screen halfway across the room that was broadcasting the Hulu show.

"Hey, Kerri?"  My Internal Motivational Speaker pipes up again, more forcefully this time.


"You need to go drink some juice."

I'm so low and so confused, but still trucking forward with this workout.  In my mind, I'm an elite athlete and moving with pop-and-lock precision.  But in reality, I'm loose and fogged up, my knees buckling every few seconds.  My whole body is screaming at me to STOP but my brain is drunk with power (seeing as how it's probably the only part of my body receiving any glucose).

"I need to get some juice," I say outloud, like I just thought of it.  I can hear my Internal Motivational Speaker sighing.  The ellipmachine shows a completed time of 18:58 and my brain is rattled by the fact that the numbers aren't round and complete.  (What is it about that need for symmetry and control when my blood sugar is in the trenches?  Why can't I force myself to focus on what I need, instead of what my OCD flare-ups are re-prioritizing for me?)

Once upstairs in the kitchen, my meter shows me at 48 mg/dL.  The grape juice enters my system almost immediately, firing off the synapses that were previously on snooze.  I start to relax.  I start to come up.  My brain switches back on in full.  And I realize how stupid, stupid, stupid I am.

"I'm an idiot," I mutter, wiping the sweat from my brow.

"I agree," the voice in my head mutters back.

(But damn it, once I was back up in range, I finished my workout.  Am I stubborn?  Yes, yes I am.)


I am not the only crazy diabetic out there. I try to get things done first all the time. Last weekend, I was at the store with my two daughter and I felt like I was going low, but I finished shopping. I went to the car and was at 37 mg/dl. We sat in the car and ate donuts and cheese curls, of course I went to 300 later in the evening. I wonder what the clerk was thinking with me sweating and shaking at the checkout?

Been there done that a million times and I don't have a dex beeping at me. I also think part of it is you can feel like crapola and be high, so the thought of testing while exercising just pisses us off. :)

If it's any consolation, I do this too! I just want to finish. Why does low blood sugar have to get in the way?!?! It's a bad pattern; and if I could figure out how to change it, I think it could change my life. :-)

It's amazing how much we need the brain to have sugar. I have been similar situations more often than I would like to admit... admittedly.

Hi. I've been at work and hovering a 71 for the past 2 hours. I'm just treating now. Who knows what meds I've refilled all morning. You are not alone in stupid-land :)

It is SO frustrating to have to stop working out for a low, especially when you didn't want to workout in the first place! Blah! I've done the same thing, trying to finish before I treat.

i do this all too often. especially at the grocery store..like yesterday. i was almost done when i started to feel a little sweaty and limp but i just knew i could finish! speed ahead 20 minutes and i am sitting on front of the refrigerated juices with a bg of 38 mg/dL. yep i am an idiot. a stubborn one.

Oh, you are right on the money, as usual, with this one. My brain has said those exact things when working out, cleaning, even checking email. The walk down to the kitchen seems so far away and my stubborn O.C.D. self just has to finish matching all the clean socks and folding the towels. Thanks for writing this so I could read it to my husband and say, "SEE!?"

You are NOT stupid! Our brains don't work as well when they don't get food! Don't beat yourself up, stubborn lady!

I hate when this happens... and I hate that it happens to you. But I love how you can blog about it, after the fact.

I am a creature of habit, and was taught years ago... to jack up the sugar as fast as I can. Therefore, I over-treat. UGH. Also, I'm so focused on treating (and soooo hungry, trying not to eat my right arm) that I didn't notice that I just dumped 2 or 3 spoonfuls of sugar into my orange juice.

Being a T2 I don't suffer from lows like you describe. I have, however, had lows while exercising and it completely sucks! If I'm not careful and be sure that I've eaten just before exercising my BG can drop like the New Year's Eve ball at Times Square; slow but sure. Maybe we'll learn some day...but we aren't stupid.

I have exercise highs! But today, I did have a low and also tried to get through. I was too mad to stop as this was the 2nd time I had to stop on the treadmill

I feel your pain. I try to amp up my workouts, only to feel that I am being punished with lows, even after adjusting my insulin. UGGGGGGGGGGG.

We should probably all be worried about the possibility of our Internal Motivational Speakers someday gathering at a conference and deciding to go on strike... Our community-wide stupidity in "plugging on" would apparently be felt worldwide.

You hit it on the head, as usual. I did the same thing just this morning, only because I swim, I don't have the benefit of having the Dexcom beeping at me. I felt that heaviness in my arms kick in at about 20 minutes, but just HAD to swim until the big hand made it to the top of the poolside timing clock, which took me to about 33 minutes. How irrational is that? I could barely stand up in the shower afterwards, but I too trucked forward. We really are crazy sometimes, aren't we?

This sounds so familiar. No matter how long I have dealt with this disease, I still have that little voice in the back of my brain that says lows can be treated with "mind over matter" and I'll just take care of it in a few minutes. This has resulted in my now not really feeling the lows and the arrival of my Dexcom CGM yesterday. Wonder how long before I start ignoring it and thinking I'm smarter than the beeping/vibrating device that's telling me what I need to know ;)

They need to have things exercise equipment and cars that plug into CGMs that cause the equipment to stop operating when the numbers go too low. I wish I was smart enough to build something like that.


Since I'm old enough to be your mother, I'm allowed to scold you and say that even when exercising at home, you should have glucose tabs or a juice box with you.

As a Type 1 diabetic, I'm allowed to admit that there are times that the same thing happens to me and I'm not smart enough to eat the glucose tabs in my pocket.

Most of us strive for perfect BG numbers that just aren't possible with today's technology. Sometimes I forget how vulnerable we are to low BG's.

Glad you're OK and thanks for once again describing what many of us experience in our diabetes lives.

Casabby - Thing is, even if there was a bottle of glucose tabs right there in my hand the whole time, I was still too fogged out by the low to have understand what to do with them. Having the glucose resources close by wasn't the issue; making my brain function properly during the low was the issue. :)

Kerri I'm begining to think some weird low habits all PWD seem to do. My husband always cleans when he is low, sometimes in the middle of the night he cleans the kitchen before getting to the apple juice. I'm a little ashamed to say that sometimes the only reason I know he was up and low during the night is because when I go into the kitchen the next morning it is spotless other than the empty Apple Juice bottle on the counter.

This past weekend, I was replacing a light switch in the garage while a low was coming on. My pump/CGM was vibrating at my hip, and beads of sweat started forming on my forehead. The most important thing on my mind was "I'd better finish getting this wired up and turn the power on before my wife gets home... or I'll really be in trouble!!" In the end, I finished the electrical work without incident, then (over)treated the low while reflecting on how stupid I was. It happens. I'm not sure why, but it does.

Wow! I feel so much better after reading all the posts. I have been type 1 for 24 years and have done this many times. Relieved I'm not the only one who goes stupid.

I think another issue is that we test before starting to exercise, and even if we have a CGMS we don't want to TEST AGAIN!!!!

Crazy that you posted this today. When I got home from the gym I was 59. So I got to indulge in some yummy peanut m & m's.
Next week I add my cardio back in so I'll be playing around with how many carbs to eat and take/not take insulin for.

It's always the pits when you get geared up for a great fat burning workout and then you have to eat more calories than you burned in the workout in order to treat a low. Might as well have just sat on the couch and watched TV.

My 14 year old w type 1 just came down the stairs from her bedroom after being asleep for nearly two hours. I knew she looked funny and she didn't say a word. I got her meter and tested her...39. Damn, I get the starburst and start unwrapping. She eats a couple then opens her eyes and asks "how'd I get here." I said a thank you prayer and continued w the starburst and got her to eat a sandwich. I know pwd hate lows. I know I hate lows. Thanks for your post, kerri. Please take care.

I am just wowed by the fact that you were able to exercise with a starting glucose of 138! I must be weird because if I am under 200 when I start exercising I end up in the 30s within 30 minutes! So frustrating to have to "undo" the calorie burn treating a low.

Kerri-I apologize for offending you. I do think if you read my second paragraph you would see that I understood your post. I don't know why some lows seem to overshoot the phase where you can make logical decisions to help yourself. It's just part of the beast. And once again I'm sorry.

Casabby - You totally didn't offend me. I'm sorry if my comment seemed in response to being offended! I thought the smiley face negated any weirdness. Ahhh ... now I'm sorry I offended you!!!

(And I just tried to email you but my email bounced back as spam. So that's why I'm responding here.)

Thanks for responding, Kerri. I appreciate you taking the time to do that. Don't know what's up with the email address, except that it's a secondary account that I don't use very often except for Internet stuff.

You do a fabulous job of describing lows and I always feel "been there done that" when reading your posts. I can remember (and they're nightmares) some of my worst lows from my whole adult life: in airports, in hotel rooms, at the shopping center, at home, etc. The ones driving (especially with children in the back seat) are the most terrifying and I give daily thanks to have escaped terrible consequences. A pump and Dex reduce the frequency of terrible lows, but as you experience too often, we're never immune from them.

Take care and be safe. And don't you wish that it was easier to find women's workout clothes with pockets for glucose tabs?

Well, zippedy-doo-dah! Let me add the chorus of "me-too's".

I was out for a 30-mile bike ride today (an easy ride for me) and I had turned into the wind. When I started feeling sluggish, I thought that I was just fighting the wind. Then I pulled off and looked at my meter- 61! Whee! Time for a couple gels. I fought my way back to town and got a "real" snack (I hate "power gel" taste) and cruised home. I didn't go over 90 for the rest of the afternoon.


You make me feel so much less "alone"!

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