If a minute passes while I can’t locate my type 1 daughter, I kind of freak out. She doesn’t know what a real low blood sugar feels like and that makes me nervous. In the few months since she’s been diagnosed, her lowest blood sugar has been 58 mg/dl and at the time I tried to get her to describe how she was feeling but she said she felt perfectly fine.
She doesn’t like me panicking, and I don’t either, but lows are serious and one can’t ignore that. It’s only been four months so I think as we get into more activities this Spring and Summer, we’ll have more opportunities to learn how to cope.
Once she does get a reading in the low 50s or below I hope to get her to pay attention to the symptoms so she can start recognizing lows the way I do.
About My Typical Low Blood Sugar Episodes
I have about one low blood sugar a day. These are usually not below 60 though and they’re very slow moving so they’re very rarely a bother. (Slow moving because I follow a low-carb diet which removes almost all threat of fast-moving, scary lows).
However, I think it’s valuable that I can sense them physically because it helps keep me safe and I want that for her, too.
Here’s what my low blood sugars feel like:
As I slowly drop (fast drops feel different), I’ll first start to feel better–like super healthy, good energy, and this is when my blood sugar is in the 70s. I don’t know why but I feel like superwoman in the 70s. Then I’ll start feeling a bit weak and hungry and feel a sense of urgency thanks to an elevated heart rate from an adrenaline surge–that’s when I’ve typically hit the mid-to-low 60s. If it continues to the 50s, every symptom will increase in severity and I might start trembling. Since I was a kid I’ve grabbed a piece of paper with my thumb and forefinger to check for trembling–makes it clearer. I may now also get a numb tongue, which is weird. The 40s feel awful, with tightness in the chest and impaired cognitive abilities. The 20s and 30s are rare but I have experienced them all while conscious. They feel like I’m disassociated from my body, slightly drunk, and heading towards the impending emergency shutdown of the body–on the way to unconsciousness to try and conserve energy for necessary organ function and to preserve life as long as possible (my drama-filled guess anyway).
I tell my daughter what my symptoms are but have let her know that hers could be different.
Confirm With Meter or CGM to Be Sure
I’m teaching my daughter that while recognizing the symptoms is useful, checking blood sugar is still important because symptoms can overlap. For example, being nervous or even very excited produces a rise in certain hormones and the symptoms of jitteriness, fast heart rate, sweating, weakness, and anxiety can all feel very much like low blood sugar.
Sometimes a high can be confused for a low, too. So, it’s just best to confirm.
Not to mention, you can’t figure out if you’re on point with your observations unless you confirm with a meter. But, it’s helpful to first feel symptoms, take a second to describe how you feel to yourself, and then check to see if you’re close.
Over the years, I have become pretty good at guessing my blood sugar within 10 points. But sometimes I’m way off and so obviously, it’s still necessary to not solely rely on feeling.
This is what I’m teaching her. I am enjoying the fact that she hasn’t had a low that makes her feel awful, yet, but it’s only a matter of time before she does and when that happens, I want her to remember what it feels like so she can recognize it the next time around.