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Hypoglycemia Hangover.

Wash, rinse, repeat.  Oh, and grape juice.The 48 mg/dL I had the other night wasn't the lowest I've ever been, or the most 'out of it' I've been in the middle of the night.  Getting out of bed and not being able to stand without swaying, forcing me to wake my husband and ask him for assistance isn't the best, but it isn't unfamiliar.  And the fact that my washing machine doesn't have a "hypoglyemic sweat-and-grape-juice removal" setting for my bedding the next day isn't new, either.  (Though I wish that setting existed.)

What's new in the last year or two is the hypoglycemia hangover that happens after a middle of the night low.  

Years ago (as far back as I can remember), low would come swooping in, be treated, and then would take off again.  There wasn't much of a lasting effect, so even if I had a nasty low in the morning at school, I was fine within a few minutes.  A couple of years ago, when I was working at dLife, I had an intense low before I left for work in the morning, and I needed an extra 30 minutes to get my act together ... and at the time, I was mortified because diabetes rarely affected my ability to get to work on time.  (Thankfully, the phone call to my editor at the diabetes media company that started with, "I had a really nasty low and I am going to be about 30 minutes late," was met with a very understanding, "That's fine.  I hope you're feeling better; we'll see you when you get here."  I could not be more grateful for my former boss.  /digression and office-longing)  The majority of the time, a low sucked, but I could bounce back from it without too much issue.

Now?  Bah.  I'm a waste of space for at least three hours in the morning following a visit from the hypo fairy.

The aftermath of severe hypos is me, struggling to pry my eyes open after a gross low but needed to eject myself from the bed to rescue Birdy.  She runs through the house, arms over her head (E.T. style), happy to be awake and shouting about "it's a sunny day!" and I'm switching on the coffee maker with one hand and debating sunglasses though I'm indoors.  It's a headache that pounds not right behind my eyes but right in the middle, like someone slapped a slice of toxic cheese on top of my dome.  It's these chills that set in on the overnight, the result of falling asleep in hypo-sweat-soaked clothes, making me shove a sweatshirt into the dryer for a few minutes before putting it on, craving some kind of comfort cocoon.  Kind of like the flu, but more like just my brain has the flu, and not my entire body.  It's a lingering feeling of exhaustion and soreness, not like the aftermath of running a marathon but more like someone ran a marathon ON me. 

But it passes.  And I feel normal again, with energy and brain function and the ability to process more thoughts than just, "Should I test?"  Instead, I'm back to playing, and working, and putting the sheets back on the bed and wondering if the sheets would ever get changed, were it not for the lows. 


Hi Kerri,
Thanks for sharing your 'overnight' adventures. It's comforting to know these feelings are not mine alone. This story sounds almost identical to my own. The last 2 nights my blood sugar has been in the 40s, and now that I'm older(32), I'm having the same lagging effects from the once 'no-big-deal' lows. I've had to call in late for work the last couple of months too, which I haven't had to do in the past. I'm looking forward to having more control after I order my first CGM this week. (I've been diabetic for 17 years,I'm a little behind I guess). Is it still 'easy' to slip into a low with all of the alarms and beeps and trending sugar notifications? With my unpredictable sugar, I am really counting on this to change my life, give me some peace of mind which I haven't had in a long time. Thanks for listening.

Been there. Done that. Invest in white grape juice, and Spray & Wash RESOLVE for the sweating. Also, though you didn't mention it, testing blood glucose often means blood stains on clothing and sheets, so always keep Hydrogen Peroxide handy. Pour it on the blood immediately, and it will lift it like magic. (I got that tip years ago from the mother of a hemophiliac child!)

Hangover is the only way to describe it and luckily it passes more quickly than the real thing. I've experienced them for a long time but not as bad lately. In my 20's and 30's I attributed it to my overtreatment of lows..."what do they mean, carry a roll of Lifesavers?? I'd have to eat a case to bring up a low!" coupled with the fact that I lived by myself. Sometimes it was the excuse to eat chocolate and well, we all know how the fat content will give you high readings for hours. "Hangover" is the only way it can be described...just like the swaying, dizzy, sweaty low in the middle of the night gives you the "5 shots of tequila without dinner" feeling.

I try my best to avoid hangovers of any variety these days! :)

Hi Kerri!!

Long time no email. :-). I was thinking about you and decided to stop by. Sorry to hear about your low hangover. Blech!! Emily ha always been sick following severe lows. She will almost always eventually vomit. And then she feels better! I remember one time when I was mowing the lawn and she had had a low low (30s or 40s) and a couple hours had passed since being in range but I knew she would eventually throw up, so I positioned her on a lawn chair with a puke bowl. LOL

Blessings to you for a fantastic 2013!

Peoria, IL
Mom to 3 kids with t1d:
Sarah 17 (dx @11)
Emily 13 (dx @ 2)
Matthew 11 (dx @ 5)

While I don't get the hypo hangover often, I recently had a few lows that lasted for a few hours. Those on the other hand didn't just knock me out for a little bit but more the entire rest of the day. And one symptom I have *only* when waking when low is huge spots in my vision. I often wonder why this happens only when I am awoken by the low (via CGM typically). Is it because our bodies are sleeping when it happens? We can't respond properly? I'm not sure but I'm glad it passes and that you feel human again!

been there.....
you are hilarious !
thank you for starting my day with a "far side" view of a hypo
hope you are feeling "normal" soon

Yeah, hypo hangovers are weird. I don't get them all the time, but when I do I just want to curl up and sleep. I think the most frustrating thing is trying to get Pete to understand that even though I'm not low anymore, I still feels just plain icky. I felt bad because a Hypo Hangover on Saturday evening changed our dinner out to take-out on the couch. :(

I've never been able to describe it to anyone quite as well. Thank you. I sent this to my supervisor at work...just so she would understand. I have NEVER made up a diabetic excuse for being late (karma), and I often wonder if they think I'm making things up.

This is exactly what my experience has become. For the first time I can remember, I called the Court to say I'd be 30 minutes late for a hearing because of a nasty low. This hangover effect combined with the hypo unawareness that seems to have become pretty complete is making for a vicious combo.

Hypo unawareness coupled with low hangovers EVERY, SINGLE TIME I'm low means some pretty nasty days. My hypo hangovers are full-on migraines, and they're the only trigger I have for migraines.

The chills, the horrendous, nauseating headache, the icky-feeling, the exhaustion and sometimes even weakness can be awful. And imagine trying to explain it to a Physics professor--what are you supposed to do when you're about to take a MASSIVE exam with a hangover like that? There's just no way they can understand. (Not that they want to, but...)

The best part is, it took me more than a year to figure out where the migraines were coming from, and it took me almost as long to figure out that they were, in fact, migraines!

This now happens to me too :( but only after a really bad low - the kind where I don't know where I am but can manage that basic human need for sugar. It takes me hours to recover too. I've had T1 for 32 yrs and this only started happening in the last two years. The soaking chilling sweats are the worst!

Once again, you have managed to hit me where I am - on the exact day I am suffering from my first real hypo hangover. This is a new phenomenon for me, and I am hoping it is not repeated any time soon. Headache, spaced-out brain, shakiness. For the first time I had to call off a meeting at work due to diabetes and that just adds to the frustration. But I find this post incredibly encouraging in a perverse sort of way - it's great to know I'm not alone, nor am I imagining things.

Unfortunately, I get the hangover feeling pretty much after every hypo event. Not the nausea, but definitely being cold and struggling to get going. And the headache.

The spouse and I were talking about it this morning and saying that the people who think I'm weak due to a hypo event (and there are still a couple of those folks in my life) don't have any idea how strong I really am to make it some days. Thanks for sharing.

Yes, the hangover. I've been calling it that for years (and am having one now so you all can imagine my delight to see this post- it's the little things, isn't it?)

I've had T1 for over 19 years and I don't remember these hangovers back in the day either.

This is so relevant for me today. This was my FB status this morning: When my uninvited bedtime snack and breakfast appetizer are glucose tablets, it is rarely a good day! :-/ The equivalent of chalky giant Smarties is not the breakfast of champions.

While I haven't had any hypo-hangovers I have recently noticed changes in my aging diabetes as well. All of a sudden highs make me feel sick. It used to take levels in the 400s for that to happen but now I feel like I'm dying at 220. After 27 years what gives?

I have been following your blog for almost a year. My son was diagnosed almost one year ago. I love your writing style and I love what your blogs have taught us as a family helping a child/sibling with T1D. Sometimes your writing crack me up and I have to share them with my son(who is 9). Sometimes they evoke tears and waves of emotion as they put adult experiences and words to what my child maybe unable to express. Thank you for sharing a very personal experience with us so we can better care for our loved, brave little boy!

It's amazing how reading some of your posts is like reading my own thoughts. This one, even my wife said that it sounded like I wrote it! Spot on! My headache usually lasts all day because I'm usually dehydrated. Try hydrating with water as you're coming out of a low, (and it helps with not over-correcting!) and the headache will pass much quicker.

Hi Kerri,
Hypos are no fun. Have you given any consideration to the fact that your insulin sensitivity is increasing. Meaning it might be time to re-adjust basals to a lower basal rate for the evening-morning time period. Did you miss a Dexcom G4 alarm? How fast was your glucose level dropping? I find that a highly exercised day can lead to a delayed impact during the night. Sorry that you had such a low. Our challenge is to minimize the highs and the lows and have "normal" as our running level. As always have a great day.

Great Post Kerri!! Yeah, aging w/Diabetes sucks. I hear ya girl! I just got home from Grocery Shopping, and I felt very weak... 74, but I felt like I was 30!! I overate, treated and have a headache now.

Kerri, you do seem to have a gift when it comes to being able to express your clinical - physical - Diabetic Self. Great use of words to describe "Our" lows!!

I've had Diabets for 35 years... it gets worse each year :( After 35 or 37 years old(and being diabetic for many many years: 35), it became very noticable for me! I believe it is becasue our Youth HORMONES are going away very quickly at these ages(33-40)... Our Youth HORMONES are the only real Weapon we have to help "Combact" or Fight off, & help to Re-Generate our bodies(& Minds), after a High or a Low. So, when we lose our ability to recover from our Chronic Degenerative Disease... we feel WORSE!!! I am pretty sure this is only "one" of the primary major casues for how poorly we feel. The changing status quo is not fun w/Diabetes.

I couldn't agree more, after 30 years the hypo hangovers are looong! Though these might not be best served at night, I find the Jelly Belly carb beans with caffeine help fix the low and shorten the hangover during the day:-).

I am going to say this blog post and keep it to explain hypo hangovers to family, friends and work-people. You put it so well! I have had Type 1 over 30 years and find it changes, too, so my family thinks they know my diabetes from having grown up with me, but it is different now! It takes a long time to recover from lows AND (super high) highs! Thanks for articulating so well what many of us can't, once again.

Ditto. What sucks for me is having to get on the road & start driving when the hangover isn't quite gone :(

Recovering from a nice little 300+ mg/dL evening this morning and man, do I need coffee...!

Oh dear, I recognise myself in this story so well!

I've had t1 for 27 years now, and it's not until the past couple of years this has become a "thing". For me, the worst thing is to have a hypo, say around 4-5am, then sleep a few hours more and then try to get up after that. Phew. I feel like a zombie!

I think we all deserve a medal for dealing with all this!

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