1 In 20 Type 1 Diabetics Will Die from Low Blood Sugar?
How about this for a diabetes anniversary:
Last Friday I wake up feeling like celebrating my 17 years with type 1 diabetes but remember I have an endo visit the exact same day. Ugh. These always make me nervous.
I get online to put up the day’s post and learn about an ad the JDRF just put up that says 1 in 20 Type 1 Diabetics WILL die from low blood sugar. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know I keep my A1c rather low. I feel like I have to after previous years of high A1c’s. I don’t have a problem with lows (meaning I don’t get many severe ones) but that doesn’t mean a singular low event won’t be pivotal in changing everything. It only takes one bad low.
At my endo visit my doctor shows me the CGM study graphs from when I spent four days, blindly on the CGM with the doctor’s office seeing and recording all my glucose data from those four days. I couldn’t help but gulp when I noticed my bedtime number of 102 and my wake up number of 108 and a dip into the low blood sugar range in the middle of the night. In the middle of the night, in other words when I’m asleep, vulnerable, unable to defend myself appropriately. My doctor gently pointed this out just for my knowledge. I will make it a point to go to sleep a tad higher than my feel good 80-100 range. I will do my weekly 3am checks again. I have slacked on them lately. Then I talk to my doctor about my anxiety and he prescribes me something. As I leave the office I can’t help but feel a little defeated. I hear scary news, I see my blood sugars dipping at night without my knowledge nor consent, and I succumb to an anti anxiety drug all on the day I’m supposed to be saying “In your face, diabetes!”
And you know what? I’m not even scared of lows. Rarely. I assume it’s because I’ve never gone unconscious from one so in that sense I’m very fortunate and spoiled. About 5 or 6 times in the past 17 years have I ever needed help. Though, I must fear lows to some extent because I don’t mess around with high carb meals or lots of sugar or anything that will cause me to give a massive amount of insulin, possibly resulting in a subsequent crashing low. It’s just my responsibility to myself as I see it. Just so you know I don’t feel anyone has to do this or should do this. If you want to eat pancakes with syrup, that’s your right. And if you cover them well then good on you. It’s just that I’ve found out the hard way that I avoid scary lows almost completely by avoiding high carb so I impose this on myself. And it has kept me safe up until now. I would actually venture to say that avoiding tons of carbs at one sitting is as life saving as much of the technology we seek to help us. (By the way, I do know that growing children need plenty of carbs and balance from severe limitations. If you have a child with diabetes, please know this isn’t speaking to you at all.)
So about the ad:
On one hand I’m kind of like, “Well…I do want people to know type 1 can kill me”. On the other hand I’m like, “How on earth can that statistic be accurate?” With some digging I came across the conclusion that it’s not perfectly accurate. It’s a lifetime risk, for one. If you’re concerned with the accuracy of it, read this post. It goes into the math of it.
To be honest, I do want the general public to understand that what I have could kill me rather easily and this ad, though quite dramatically, helps do that. I’m secretly (or not so secretly), grateful for that.
I do want to say that fear gets us absolutely nowhere. I would know. I’m now starting an anti anxiety drug just to help me stop a cycle of fear fueled thoughts. Thoughts that are sort of taking me over and ironically, not allowing me to take care of myself properly. I will write more about this soon.
For now I want to remind us all that fear gets in our way, it impedes our actions, and our decision making skills. It sucks joy out of life. It escalates into paranoia if squeezed too tightly. So I encourage all of us struggling with this news to take a deep breathe and remember that fear must be managed. We can’t let it win. We have to keep it in it’s place by focusing on what we have and what we want. If we focus on being healthy we’ll focus on doing those things we need to do to be healthy. If we focus on how a low blood sugar might kill us, we won’t be focusing on those actions which will keep us safe because fear will keep us distracted or immobilized. I realize it’s a fine line because by being aware we can prevent things from happening. The point is for us to try not to be so afraid. To have a little faith.
We can do this, too.