17 Hours with Type 1 Diabetes

By Mattie Peck

Type 1 diabetes can sometimes just be impossible to control. As an adult (26), I try my absolute best to keep my blood sugars in range (much more than I was able to as a kid and teenager), but some days just get the best of me. Today is a particularly bad day…

I went to bed at 10 pm at 154, which I felt pretty good about because I had a pretty sugary beverage an hour and a half before and landing at 154 isn’t too bad.

I woke up at 11:30 pm in one of those horrible, all-encompassing lows. I was disoriented, sweaty, and my only thought was “FOOD.” I threw a pack of fruit snacks down my throat and then stumbled down to the kitchen where I probably spent 20 minutes just eating on the floor. My fumbly fingers managed to find peanut butter, crackers, and a Hershey’s chocolate bar. I felt ravenous and just needed to get that food in me as soon as possible. I ate and ate and ate.

When I finally finished, I realized… this is going to spike my blood sugars up. So I dosed for 25 carbs, which I felt safe doing because the crackers and chocolate would spike in probably 20 minutes and then the peanut butter would slowly raise my blood sugars. The insulin wouldn’t hit for another 45 minutes, so dosing when I’m still technically low, works for me.

I went to bed and set my alarm clock for 1 am and 2 am. At 1 am, I was 184, which I gave a tiny dose for. At 2 am, I was 168, which I gave another small dose for (because the peanut butter should be kicking in by now so it’ll probably go up a little bit more).

I felt really solid about my dosing decisions and decided no more alarms were needed. I could sleep for the rest of the night.

I wake up at 6 am… 345. Yikes.

I dose it down. I can only assume that I miscalculated how much peanut butter I ate or was still spiking from overeating for a low. Hey, it happens, right?

Well, 2 hours later I’m at work and I go to the bathroom (TMI?). That’s when I see my pump site. It’s almost entirely ripped out and there’s no saving it. I guess that explains the high blood sugar. Time to drive home from work to get my supplies, and dose down this high again (I was still sitting around 340).

Less than 20 minutes later (around 9:15 am), everything is replaced and I dosed for that high blood sugar again. Just in case SOME of the insulin got in, I only dosed a unit more than it suggested (It was already suggesting a low number since it thought I still had a lot of insulin in my system). Better to be safe than sorry!

Then 12pm hits… I’m right back where I was last night. I’m shaky, my vision is blurry, I just want to focus on work, but find myself blankly staring at my computer screen instead. I eat a snickers, I drink a juice, I throw a mini box of Nerds in my mouth. And now it’s time to wait. Wait for all that sugar to kick in. Please kick in. And then I get sleepy. That’s not good.

I tend to get afraid when I get sleepy and low. I had a seizure when I was in 5th grade and to me it felt like I was just falling asleep, but then I woke up to an EMT shifting me onto the carrier. I can’t have that happen again so I go into my coworker’s office and just ask her to watch over me until this passes. I don’t want to be alone when it feels this bad.

She reacted so calmly and put me at ease. A few minutes later, I’m just having a normal conversation and I realize, we’re in the clear.

I get back to work, everything’s good. I eat a small lunch at 12:45 since it seems like I’ve just been shoving food into my body nonstop since last night.

It’s 1:45 pm and it hits me again. I’m low. Again. 53. And I can feel that it’s moving fast. I eat another pack of fruit snacks, some pineapple, and a little bit of juice. It should go up now.

I wait 20 minutes.

How am I STILL low. Off to my office’s kitchen. It’s stocked with Halloween goodies so I eat some candy and a cup of jello with fruit in it.

…And that’s when I started writing about my day. It’s 3 pm and right now, I’m 64. Still not high enough, but it’s holding steady there. I’m still shaky. My brain still feels foggy. I just want to go home and lay down, but I can’t do that until my blood sugar is high enough to drive.

These past 17 hours have been rough. I feel like I’ll be out of the water soon, but who knows. I’ve eaten so much today and that feels terrible. I can’t skip dinner though because that will make me go low again. I’ll have to eat a very well-balanced meal, something that I know *exactly* how to dose for so that I can eventually get to sleep tonight.

There are so many factors (predictable and unpredictable…well, mostly unpredictable) that go into your blood sugar levels. My survival is dependent on dosing the exact right amount of insulin and having my technology work flawlessly, but that’s not always the case.

I’m not sharing this story for pity. Overall, I’m pretty proud of how I care for my type 1. But I want people to know that this is just the reality of life with type 1 diabetes. November is #DiabetesAwarenessMonth and I hope this sheds just a little light on the crazy complications of this disease. While I try my best to give just the perfect amount of insulin to keep my blood sugars steady, I’m not a pancreas. But tomorrow’s a new day and I’ll keep trying.

Photos by Steele Style Shots

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