Sunday, March 23, 2014

Low Blood Sugar...From the Victim's Point of View

I have been a type I diabetic for twenty-six years or so now, and have several family members who are also type I's, so I have seen from both sides of the fence what it looks and feels like to have a "low blood sugar", an "insulin reaction", a "diabetic episode", or you may prefer the clinical term, "hypoglycemia".

Note: I am not a medical professional, I am simply someone who has many, many years hands on experience in this area.  If you, or someone you know, are experiencing a medical issue, I highly suggest seeing a doctor.

Hypoglycemia occurs when the body experiences a severe drop in sugar levels.  Basically there is  too little sugar in the blood.  Anyone can experience hypoglycemia, it is not reserved just to torture diabetics.  Think about it, have you ever been at work or school and been so busy that you forgot, or didn't have time, to stop and eat?  After awhile you may start to feel hungry, then a tired and weak and shaky feeling sets in, and maybe eventually you start to feel sick, sweaty, and even your heart-rate speeds up.  Then you decide to eat and eventually feel just fine, maybe with a headache, though.  That is usually what it feels like for a "normal" person to have a low blood sugar.  And those are just the mild symptoms.

A healthy person should maintain a blood-sugar level between 70mg/dl and 120mg/dl.  The preferred healthy levels may vary depending on what your doctor says, but generally 70-120 is the accepted range.  Anything lower than 70 will result in hypoglycemia. 

Here is a rundown of the usual symptoms of a low blood-sugar starting with mild and ending with severe:

Mild: Hunger, nausea, increased heart-rate, sweaty/clammy feeling, cold, weak and/or shaky feeling, moodiness

Moderate: Blurry vision, numbness or tingling (especially around the mouth), more moodiness, difficulty concentrating, twitching, lethargy

Severe: Drunk behavior (stumbling, confusion, slurred speech, etc.)  loss of consciousness, seizure, DEATH.

A mild hypoglycemic episode can be easily treated by eating something that has a decent sugar or carbohydrate content, like fruit or juice, crackers,  a sandwich, or candy.  Diabetics should be careful not to overdo it and end up with a high glucose level! An excellent way to be sure and not over treat is to use glucose tablets instead of food or drinks.

A moderate hypoglycemic episode should be taken seriously.  If you are having a moderate episode you may be able to treat it yourself, eat or drink something sweet.  If it is on the more severe side of moderate, you may need help from someone.  They may need to give you glucose gel (preferred to lessen risk of choking) and coax you to do what needs to be done and make sure you don't choke.

A severe hypoglycemic episode should be treated by professionals.  If the patient is conscious, they may become violent, emotional, or otherwise difficult to treat.  If they lose consciousness or begin to seizure, you most definitely need to get emergency medical help.  Never feed a severe hypoglycemic episode, the patient can easily choke.  Instead, if you must get sugar in them (while waiting for an ambulance, for instance), the preferred treatment is to inject them with glucagon. If a glucagon emergency kit is not available then you can put sugar or a glucose tablet or gel on the patients tongue and let it dissolve there, although, at this point it will do little help, they probably need IV glucose at this point (very fast acting).  I can not stress enough how important it is to get the patient to the hospital for proper treatment.

OK, so you are probably wondering what a low blood-sugar is like from the point of view of the person having it.  I can, and will, give you a detailed account of what it is typically like for me, but I have to let you know that a low blood-sugar is unique to the person experiencing it.  In other words, it is different for everyone, not everyone experiences the same symptoms in the same severity at the same times as everyone else.

For me, when my blood-sugar first begins to get too low I usually feel weak and tired.  A shaky, unstable feeling sets in that is usually accompanied by a "panic" feeling.  I often think of this as my body's (instinct) way of telling me "Something is wrong and you need to take care of it".  If this stage happens at night while I am asleep, I usually wake up (more of the body's instinct).

If, for some reason I ignore,  don't experience, or for some reason cannot address, the above symptoms, I will then move into the moderate stage.  I begin to notice an even weaker and more sleepy feeling accompanied by numbness or tingling feeling, usually of the lips, hands, feet, and patches on my back.  Really, the numbness can occur anywhere. My vision blurs and I can't focus my eyes.  I become rather lethargic, and although I may know I need to address this low blood-sugar, I may simply just not care, or feel too tired to do anything.  Most times, I get my husband to help me.  In a very weak and mumbling way I tell him "my bloos-sugar is low" and he will hurry off and bring me something to eat and sit with me (monitoring closely to be sure I come out of the low) until I am better.  My husband says that I mumble a lot, don't respond to his questions quickly, and act groggy during this stage.

On the rare occasion that I don't get help for a moderate low, then I will move into a severe low.  In this stage, I can not tell you my point of view because I always experience memory loss and don't remember much, if any, of what happened.  I can tell you from my husband's point of view, since he is the one who has been there, by my side, the whole time.  Usually I begin to make weird vocal sounds, like mumbling, groaning, grunting, and very slurred speech. I do not respond to questions or commands, or if I do, it is very slow and confused.  I twitch, usually my fingers and legs.  I may burst into tears and cry uncontrollably and in a panicked manner.  I can not eat or drink on my own, my husband usually has to hand feed me and remind me to close my mouth and chew/swallow*.   When I begin to come out of the low, my vision clears up (as if I've had my eyes closed the whole time), I regain my mental and physical faculties and usually it feels like I am coming out of a drunken state, but much faster.  I usually feel very sleepy when I come out of the low.  I may also feel very cold and be shivering and find it difficult to get warm.

My husband will check my blood-sugar often during the treatment of a severe low to make sure it is coming up.

*Remember to never feed a person who is having a severe low.  My husband and I are aware that this behavior/action is risky. He usually treats me with glucose tablets, honey, and/or granulated sugar which can dissolve easily on the tongue.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I Can See...Kind Of...

 *As usual, the following is written from my memory of the events.  Some things may be inaccurate due to faulty memories.  In any case, this is how I remember it:

March 11, 2014 I had surgery number two on my right eye.  The first surgery, three weeks earlier, was to clean up my eye from the ravages of diabetic retinopathy.  This second surgery was to clean out my eye fluid of blood from a hemorrhage that didn't want to stop on its own.  And also to take out the remainder of the gas bubble that was put in three weeks earlier, and put in silicon oil.  And, finally, to finish the laser treatment that was started during the first surgery.

I am happy to make some pleasant points of difference between the two surgeries:

Surgery one:                                                                   Surgery two:
3 hours                                                                             1 hour
 pain throughout (not unbearable)                                    Pain at beginning and end (not unbearable)
 all conversations in the room were about the surgery   Conversation varied and was lighthearted
           at hand (very serious)
Nausea and vomiting in recovery room                          No nausea or vomiting
Extreme swelling and bruising of eyelids and cheek      Some swelling, no new bruising

March 12th I went in for my post-op appointment and the doctor said everything looked great.  There were sutures in my eye that would probably cause discomfort and irritation for a while, but I can live with that, I guess.  The happy awesome part was when I realized I could see out of my right eye!  It was extremely blurry but I could make things out.  This was awesome because for the last three weeks I had been completely blind in my right eye.

So what was this surgery all about?  First, they had to clear out my eye fluid because there was a bunch of blood mixed in with it that wasn't clearing itself out.  This bleeding was caused from a hemorrhage in the back of my eye that wasn't stopping on it's own (they usually do).  During the first surgery they had put in a gas bubble to hold my retina in place while it healed. Usually they let the gas go away on it's own but since they had to do this second surgery they had to remove the gas to do the job.  Next they used a laser to close off the hemorrhage.  After this they injected silicon oil into my eye, this stuff does pretty much the same job the gas was doing but allows for better vision than the gas did.  Next, they went to the front of my eye and cleaned up a hemorrhage there.  Then they did a laser treatment, sutured me up, and called it a day.

If all goes well, I wont have to have surgery again until they go in to remove the oil and fix my cataract. This will be in 3-six months...

Friday, March 7, 2014

I'm Naked!

They say it is a common thing for a person to experience the occasional naked at work/school dream.  When one is experiencing stress, anxiety, or insecurity, they tend to manifest these feelings into dreams in which they are put in embarrassing or compromising situations.  I've got plenty of stress, anxiety, and insecurities in my life, so it is no surprise that I have finally experienced a naked at work dream.

Let me give you a bit of back story so you can understand how this dream gets started.  I recently had eye surgery, invasive enough that I had to be put on medical leave from work.  There, now you can understand the dream's beginning.

I am at the eye doctor getting my weekly post-op check-up, everything is good so I ask the doctor if I can return to work soon.  "Sure!  You can go back right now if you want."

I get a release to work note from the doctor and head over to my work thinking I'll turn in the note and they will put me back on the schedule to work in a few days.  Of course, because this is a dream, they put me to work immediately.

"Well, uh, OK, but I'm not dressed for it."  I say as I look down at myself.  It is now that I realize I am totally naked, not a thread on my body.

I am sent right to work.  My boss and co-workers and customers don't seem to notice or care that I am naked.  I, on the other hand, am freaking out.  Not that I am naked, but that I am not wearing the proper colors or attire to be at work!  And I don't have a name tag!

Some time passes and I am becoming more stressed about being out of dress code, so I take my break and it is then that I remember I have clothes in my locker (not in real life, but yay for semi-lucid dreaming).

In my locker I find old worn out and dirty clothes that also all happen to be miss-matched colors and styles.  I think to myself "I can't wear these!  They don't follow the dress code either!"  So I throw them back in my locker save for the panties, socks, and shoes, because they are the only things that follow company dress code.

So, now I am at work doing my job wearing nothing but blue underwear, black socks, and black shoes. 

I feel a little better.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hail, Canidae, Full of Grace

So, yeah, this dream happened...

My husband and I decided to go over to his brother's house to hang out or something.  When we arrived the house was full of people; Mama, Mona, Mark, Jacob, Joseph, Bri, and Tony.  The group of adults were having a heated discussion about something trivial, while the two young boys chased the dog, Canidae, around the house, having a fun time of it.

Out of nowhere comes this massive gust of wind so strong it shatters the windows and throws open the front door.  The force of the wind blows everything from one side of the house to the other and knocks everyone to the floor.

We all get up and look around, perplexed and shocked at what just happened. Mona and Mama scream for Jacob and Joseph who are nowhere to be seen.  The two boys come from the kitchen laughing as if they had just gotten off a fun roller-coaster ride.

It is at this point when we all notice the ghastly scene on one of the walls.  Mona and Mama immediately fall to their knees and make the sign of the cross as they stare in horror at Canidae's corps nailed to the wall with shards of window the perfect pose of crucifixion. 

Mona finally speaks.  "You see!  It's  a sign from God..."   I wake up before she finishes her sentence.