“A disturbance in the force” is how I like to approach the topic of feeling lows. I think that for me, it accurately describes subtle symptoms of lows that are not immediately obvious.
For example, most of my lows start out with certain symptoms and then those symptoms evolve with increasing severity. But sometimes symptoms of lows are masked by a number of possible factors including but not limited to:
- major stress
- being in a hurry
- being under the influence
I’ve found over the years that I do a better job than ever before when it comes to sensing low blood sugar. And the way I do it involves asking myself if I sense a disturbance in the force. This means I tune in to my body for a moment. I mindfully scan myself real quick and I check for:
- increased/uncomfortable heart rate
- slight hunger
- sense of urgency (hence the famous lows that occur while cleaning)
- weak core muscles
- poor attention and slow thinking
If I’m feeling confused and irritable, I usually pop a glucose tablet in my mouth because for me, those are symptoms of being very low and I don’t mess around when that’s a possibility.
Checking for my heart rate is, for me, the most reliable because as I get lower, my heart races faster. Eventually, it starts to beat out of my chest. However, that’s how I feel when I’m giving a presentation or doing high-intensity exercise so a blood glucose meter is needed to confirm in certain situations.
I treat lows differently based on circumstances. If I’m driving, I don’t check, I get a glucose tablet and pull over, first. If I’m alone with the kids or in another vulnerable situation, I quickly get glucose before fumbling with a meter. What if I only have time to ingest the glucose? I’ve never gone unconscious from a low in the almost 25 years with type 1 but maybe that’s partly due to the precautions I’ve learned to take.
The overwhelming majority of my lows these days are gentle ones in the 60s. For those, I confirm by checking and giving a small measured amount of glucose so that I only bump myself back up to the 80s.
It’s tough being mindful about our bodies at times but trusting ourselves when we have a split second thought about a “sense” we’re getting might be a valuable early warning we can act on to help keep us safe. Getting in the habit of “scanning” our body for symptoms is one I highly recommend.