Sunday, May 31, 2009

My First Low

(Attention K-Mart shoppers, orange juice is on sale over on aisle 6. In addition, stay tuned to the very end on this one. That is all)

Lows, from the latin: LOZ, meaning to suck. Used as a noun: suckage. We all have them. Lows. Hypoglycemia. It goes by a hundred different names, and we all experience them in different ways. The D-tang knows this. That's why it does it. It makes it that much the harder to treat.
This picture shows me 6-7 months before onset.

No matter what the cause; too much insulin, not enough food, (can someone please tell me the difference here???) too much exercise or activity, (especially the activity from 3 days ago that is just now manifesting itself in my body. Jeez!), stress, incorrect carb count, on and on. No matter what the cause is, it happens. I've had them. You've most likely had them. But what I'd like to do is tell you about my very first low.

I'm including a few pictures from those days so long ago. Two of them were taken in the year before my symptoms began to appear. One was taken fairly soon after diagnosis, and then the final two show me progressing to a more stable condition in the year or so afterwards. It's amazing what diabetes can do to your body, but even more amazing is the body's ability to deal with it. My pancreas was no longer functioning, but I felt like the rest of my body did amazingly well after an initial period of adjustment.

The picture to the left was taken just a few months before onset. I was 17, felt great, and was having an awesome senior year of high school. Little did I know what was just ahead.
My first low occurred shortly after I had been admitted to the hospital following my initial diagnoses. After being there for several hours, visiting hours were over, and my parents kissed me goodbye and headed for home. They wanted to stay, but the hospital rules wouldn't allow it.

A little while later, I was given my first shot of insulin. (BTW, by a rough estimate, that was way over 45,000 shots ago. I've been on the pump now for right around 6 months, and I LOVE IT!)

Anyway, I was given my first shot of insulin, not really told anything except "you'll feel better now", and left alone in the room. Well, not only did I experience my first shot, after a little while, I began experiencing my first "low". Except I had no idea what was going on. It must have been a very good one (is there really any such thing?) I started to sweat, my heart began to race, my ears were ringing, and for some unknown reason all I could think about were the candy machines I had seen up on the top floor by the observation deck of the hospital.

I called for the nurse on the intercom, but no one came. I called again . . . and again . . . and again . . . but no one came. I thought I surely must be dying! I opened the door, looked out into the empty hallway, and called out, seeking a nurse . . . a friendly face . . . or anyone who could help me. I wasn't sure what was happening, but I did know 3 things.

(1) I knew I felt like I hadn't eaten for months, (2) I knew where those candy machines were and (3) my wonderful dad had left me with some money for "Just in case". (thanks Dad!!!)

I vaguely
remember a lady dressed in white wearing a funny hat calling my name as I screamed past her somewhere near the 2nd set of elevators. My feet may have even touched the floor, but really kind of doubt it. And even now, over 32 years later, I can still remember thinking that surely nothing had ever tasted as good as those 3 . . . well maybe it was 5 . . . Ok Ok, it was probably closer to 10 candy bars I literally shoved down my throat.

Here I am some months afterwards, proudly showing off not one but two medic alert necklaces (why?), 3 chest-hairs, and one TOTALLY less than hip belt buckle. Lisa and Bev, why oh why on earth didn't you run? ha ha

(But getting back to the hospital; please cue the dream-like harp glissando) . . . . And so it was, a bit later, after listening to those 'way off in the distance sirens' turn into the voice of one panic-stricken nurse calling my name over the hospital intercom, as I slowly made it back to my room, my happy face now covered in after-low chocolate goo and peanut butter filling, that I also experienced my first after-low crash. I hadn't felt that tired since, well, ever! And yes, the nurse was shocked when she checked my BS, only to find it incredibly higher than when I had been admitted. I think I remember hearing her exclaim, "Jeez!" But the peanut buttered chocolate covered smile on my face said it all. And at that moment, I didn't care. It was time for my very first self-induced after-low 'coma-nap'. And sleep I did. With a smile on my face. And now you know . . . the rest of the story.

What's yours?

on the road to recovery

I realize I've attempted to make this a bit humorous, simply in an effort to keep your attention. But the reality is, lows are neither funny nor something to be taken lightly. They really suck. Big time. And they can be frightening. And even more unfortunately, they can be deadly. Never turn your back on a low. 'Cause as soon as you do, that's when it's gonna get ya.

The majority of my posts will never end on a down note. But sorry gang, this time I sucker-punched you. I brought you this far into the post with a bit of humor, and some grainy pictures of a formerly studly young man turned outrageously studly (in his own mind) 30 year old. You remember that's how old I feel in my head, right?

I did all of that to bring to this moment. I seriously thought about trying to capture myself on video during a low, and believe me, during the writing of this post, I've unfortunately experienced a few of them. I just couldn't pull it off. But my good friend George (@ninjabetic) recently did. And with his permission, I'd like you to experience what I can only say is for me, one of the suckiest, most awful sucky parts of being a diabetic. The Low. Watch this, and then feel free to share your experiences in the comments. We can only learn from each other what we share with each other.


Here is my good friend George.


  1. Another great post. I have to admit, I don't remember my first low. I do remember being low at the mall around Easter time - probably before I was old enough to drive. I remember Cadbury Cream Eggs had just come out, and I was thrilled to be low because my mom bought me one. I know most people think they are gross, but I loved it. And still do.

    I also loved George's video, because it's so real. The look on his face says it all. It says exactly how I felt a few months ago when I popped a 42 blood sugar before ballroom dance class - and our instructor told us to go home and rest and come back the next day. I have never felt so humiliated and frustrated in my life. Ggggrrr.

  2. Great post. AWESOME pictures Tim!!

    LOVE the Two medical alerts. Nice belt too. ;-)
    So "Tim Loves the Pump" wouldn't have grossed me out, eh? Oh well.

    Keep up the Great work. Wonderful blog.

    And Karen -- I WUV Cadbury Cream Eggs!!!!!!

  3. Just wanted to give you a shout from the valley of the sun, great information. Much appreciated.

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