There are two feelings in my life which I seem to spend a lot of time either thinking about, or doing something about. I love food, I love eating cake and sweets and chocolate, however my enjoyment when eating is not always at the same level.
Hungry – the feeling where you need to eat and know that although you might feel like you could eat a starter, two main courses and two puddings you will be able to continue with your day if you don’t eat straight away. Hypo – knowing that your blood sugar is low and you need to eat / consume sugar in order to bring your blood sugar back up regardless of how full you are, or how recently you have just eaten. Even though they might both involve me eating. It does not mean that I am going to enjoy eating the same amount when I’m hypo.
My hypos always seem to time themselves badly. In particular I dislike the hypos which occur when I have recently eaten a meal. Moreover I dislike the reaction of people I’m with when I take out a biscuit or small selection of haribo shortly after having finished my meal – “you’ve only just eaten. How can you be hungry?” or “Are you sure you need to eat?”
Yes of course I realise that I have only just eaten quite a huge meal. The feeling of being so full that you can’t squeeze any more food in and then having the sudden feeling of a dropping blood sugar, followed by the confirmation via a finger prick. Hypo. Feeling so sick, yet knowing that you need to eat yet more food which ironically you really don’t want to. Those hypos are the worst. If only I had my crystal ball and had predicted the hypo then maybe I would have been able to adjust my meal time bolus and saved myself from cramming yet more food into my mouth. Avoiding the comments, out of interest, about how can I be eating again. I don’t want to be eating, unfortunately I need to eat the pack of haribo and I’m not even enjoying it as I am cramming in the sugar that quickly.
Living on my own I am used to my hypos at different times during the day or night. I have my supplies ready next to the bed (glucose tablets and lucozade), but occasionally a night time hypo will give me the “eat everything hypo” and those supplies cannot help. I need to venture to the kitchen… I can’t explain why I felt the need to eat three bowls of cereal and two bakewell tarts (this is true) during the night, or why I couldn’t stop eating biscuits after the sixth one. Yet this is what I do. When I have lived with other people they have occasionally come to rescue me from the night time munchies using the skills worthy of a police negotiator to move me away from the food and back to bed. If I wasn’t hypo there is no way I would have eaten so much food, therefore why does a hypo turn me into a champion extreme eater? Surely I can’t be the only one? Recently I stayed with my friend in Newcastle. After a meal and cocktails we returned home, enjoyed some pre-bed Easter egg and then went to bed. My friend has previously been on holiday with me, seen me through two bad hypos and had many sleepover with me since secondary school. She has not however had a sleepover with me, my insulin pump and my Dexcom. The Dexcom will alert to sudden drops and when you are moving towards your low target. My poor friend had a terrible night’s sleep; the Dexcom alerted that I was going low, so I took my glucose tablets from the side of the bed and went back to sleep. This happened twice. Then the Dexcom alerted that I was low again, which involved me having to double check with a finger prick, then find something with a bit more carbohydrate (biscuits of course!) and lucozade. Apparently there was a lot of noise, rustling and bumping around. Quietness is not my forte! Once that hypo had been treated I went back to sleep. My poor friend however had her sleep well and truly disturbed. Something she might not be used to! This made me think. How many times a week do I check my blood sugar in the night? How many nights in a week am I taking glucose tablets during the night? Is it really that unusual to get up in the night and eat? Should I be worried that I am turning into one of those people on secret eaters who go to their fridge in the night? Obviously I am eating because I need to. I am sure the diabetes nurses would hold out their mini cans of fizzy and drink and tell me that is all I need, but sometimes I don’t want that. Sometimes I do need more. Sometimes I have a hypo where I have to eat and eat and eat because nothing will bring me up. Other times my hypo is super easy to treat or can be avoided with a reduced temporary basal rate.
The thing is I don’t know which hypo I am going to get. There are many modes of hypo and I can’t predict which it will be. It could be a night time “eat everything” hypo, or waking up to a “soaked in sweat” hypo and having to spend the rest of my night wearing a poncho towel in bed because everything really is that damp.
The “confusion” hypo. Am I going to have a hypo where I just cannot work out what I want to do, or need to do? I know I need to eat, yet I cannot make the decision of what to eat. If anyone asks me a question, then I dread to think what my answer would have been during that time and most of the time it will be accompanied by tears. It could be the “I’m right” hypo, where I am the only person alive on the planet who knows everything and anyone who dares to suggest a different food option, stopping to check my blood sugar or even commenting that I might be hypo will most likely find their head placed on a mental stake in my head because I am the only person on the planet now who is right. Perhaps the “questioner” will be in play, be prepared for questions that have nothing to do with what I am currently doing, be ready to be interrogated on where the tide might be now and how many hours until low time even though I am nowhere near the beach. Or finally will it be a “sabotage” hypo. You know the one… After having prepared like a pro for exercise, reduced my temporary basal rate like an expert, donned my gym kit, done a final blood sugar check to find out somehow in the last few minutes I’ve dropped from the constant 9-10mmol I was aiming for to a rather, at this time, disappointing 3.8 mmol. This list of different hypos is by no means my complete hypo list. However after spending time with my friend I realised how wonderful my friends are when observing my hypos and extreme eating, never batting an eye lid, never questioning and never bringing it up again. My family who are used to being told I’m not hungry; I’m hypo like it is the definitive answer for everything.