Friday, February 23, 2007

The Spaceman

What is it about hypoglycemia that is so (terribly) fascinating? Yes, a high blood sugar has its symptoms as well, and more than its fair share of complications. (The especially nasty ones, namely.) But there's nothing like that low that gets a group of folks with diabetes comparing their experiences. They are mostly annoying, sometimes intensely scary.

My coworkers caught me yesterday. Just when I think everyone knows I have diabetes, someone else pops up and plays 20 Questions with me. For better or for worse, I've never shied away from these conversations. I think the worst I do is make light of diabetes . . . never fails that the phrase "It's not that bad" slips out of my mouth. Only later am I smacking myself in the forehead. Anyway, I digress.

Yesterday around 11:00am, I was popping a glucose tablet into my mouth to head off a 65-and-dropping feeling when one of my peers - let's call him Dave - walks by.

Dave: "Hey, what's that?"

Me: "Oh, it's a glucose tablet. I mean, sugar."

Another coworker - let's say Shirley - pops up.

Shirley: "Ohhh, my roommates in college were Type I diabetics! They were twins, they got it when they were 8 and 11. Theirs were always the orange flavor!" (Holy crap. Think of their parents, people. Jeez.)

Me: "Yeah, mine are watermelon . . . it's not 1984 anymore, I like to mix it up a little."

Dave: "Can I try one?"

I think about how expensive the stupid things are and then shrug. Of course! Share the chalky love!

Shirley: "They are like Tums, I think . . . "

Me: "Well they're not that bad. I know a lot of diabetics don't like them but I always have and they're easy to carry in my purse and get me feeling better fast."

Dave, a bit concerned all of the sudden: "Wait, are you okay?"

Me: "Well the whole reason I'm eating these is because my blood sugar is lower than it should be. I need sugar to bring it up. I just feel a little funky right now, but (HERE IT COMES) it's not that bad."

Dave: "So what do you feel like?"

Me: "I always say it's like being a spaceman. Like I'm walking on the moon and not really all here."

Dave, laughing like a fratboy: "That sounds pretty cool to me!"

Yeeah . . . a little more convo from here, but what I didn't tell him was that I have also experienced the following "cool" symptoms:
  • shaking
  • cold sweats
  • HOT sweats
  • impaired coordination
  • numb lips, jaw, face, thighs
  • nausea
  • blurred vision
  • overwhelming feelings of adrenaline coursing through my body ("flashes")
  • feelings of doom
  • intense mood swings
And I know there are more out there that I haven't experienced yet. It really is like an out-of-body experience to me more than anything, though. Sometimes it feels like my feet are bouncing off of the floor.

The dreams I've had while low are remarkable to me. They are vivid and lucid and have probably saved my life on a couple of occasions. The d-dream I remember best took place during my freshman year of college. My roommate had met a guy two weeks into the semester, so I had my room to myself every night. Nice, but not exactly safe for a college frosh with diabetes on MDI, dealing with whacky mealtimes and huge amounts of academic stress and whatnot. (Funnily enough, my mother had been immensely relieved to learn that roomie's dad was also diabetic, so she would be a "BIG HELP" to me during the year. Haha...) Anyway there I was at o'dark thirty and my subconscious is showing me this scene:

I'm at the bottom of a huge stone staircase. It looks like the one from The Exorcist. My friend Paige is standing at the top, calling to me to follow her. I reply, "I can't get up there! I'm too low!"

I snap awake immediately after I say this to her. I am soaked in sweat and my whole body feels like it's quivering. I grab out Ye Olde One Touche and test. 25. Currently my lowest low to date. I lurch out of bed, snap on the room light, and grab a box of cereal.

Later that morning I come to and see cereal bits all over the floor, and the opened box by my bed. Classic!

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