Have you ever driven while suspicious of having low blood sugar? Have you ever thought you should stop and test but said to yourself, “I’ll test when I get to the next light” or “I’m almost there”? Or do you always park the car, test, fix your low, and then be on your way?
How do we feel on this matter? It’s an ethical one for sure. What might make it awfully common is the fact that for a diabetic, lows are not once in a lifetime matters. They happen plenty enough so that we don’t panic over many of them. We might even classify them for our personalized experiences:
Class 1 Low
Just starting to feel low, around 60-65 when tested, energy level is still decent
Cass 2 Low
Feeling a bit shaky but not too bad. About 55-60 when tested
Class 3 Low
Active insulin on board causing this to be a violent and sudden low. These feel the worst for me.
Class 4 Low
Blood sugar in the 40’s also known as “Eat. Sugar. Now.”
Class 5 Low
Sugar in the 20’s and 30’s. Red alert light beeping loudly in brain, heart feeling heavy and beating fast, and mixed in is a feeling of <yawwnn> “I’m so sleepy…”
(Please note the above is MY classification, it may not be how lows feel for YOU)
Since I am most often dealing with Class 1 and 2 lows, I will often test at a light or a gas station or parking lot, intake sugar (as long as I don’t have active insulin) and as long as I feel ok then continue on my way.
I’m thinking I should instead stop the car somewhere safe and only attempt moving it again once a blood test confirms an adequate blood sugar level for driving. Inconvenient, yes, but what would you say this is:
A type 1 diabetic woman once told me about how one time she felt funny while driving and decided to ignore it because the kids were screaming in the back seat and she was in a hurry. Next thing she knew she was being helped by paramedics after having crashed her car. They tested her sugar to be 43. She and her kids were fine but she said she learned her lesson. As we all should before something happens…
What do you do when you’re driving and feel low?
And do you classify your types of lows?
It only happens a few times a year but there are times when I wake up in the morning, test, and discover I’m low. I don’t even feel low when this happens and since it’s first thing in the morning, I assume I’ve been creeping down slowly throughout the night instead of shooting down fast. Then, and it never fails, I start having a headache, much like a migraine over my eyes. This only progresses throughout the day, getting stronger and stronger and doesn’t go away until the next morning, providing I don’t have any more lows. If I have another low within 24 hours my headache really flares up and I feel like I have to lie down because it’s seriously overwhelming.
When we’re low, we lack glucose. Our brain needs glucose to function and so I imagine this is what causes the headache? I don’t know. Anyway, does this happen to any of you? I never get this headache after a low during the day, it’s always if I’ve had a low during sleep where it was prolonged. I sure hope this doesn’t kill off too many of our brain cells when it happens!
If I’m not the only one this happens to, then it could be useful information to spread. If someone is having headaches for no apparent reason, I’d suggest setting an alarm or two and testing overnight. I did this to find out if my headaches were being caused by nighttime lows (that would often rise by morning thanks to the liver) and I found out I was having lows at night. No wonder I was feeling so tired every morning! I adjusted my insulin and voila, no more headaches. (Make sure to talk to your doctor before adjusting insulin).
So, am I the only one this happens to?
There are good reasons for using all sorts of different options for getting blood sugar up.
Dr. Bernstein suggests glucose tablets for their fast acting sugar supply and for the fact that it’s measured, so you know exactly how many grams you’re getting.
Many parents of children like to use candy because it works quickly, is welcomed by the child, and I think we’d all agree, a child suffering a low blood sugar deserves a cheer me up. Sidenote: I was once low to the point of having a hard time chewing my Smarties candies and proceeded to choke on them. Sometimes a really bad low might call for something easier to intake-like kids gel-like candy!
Most adults I know tend to lean towards juice because it’s easy to find, carry, and consume quickly.
Still, others use anything they might enjoy: some ice cream, a waffle with some maple syrup, some fruit, etc. I’ve had all of the above hundreds thousands of times.
I like to change up what I use for lows but, I must say I do prefer juice because it’s so fast and easy (no chewing/munching). (Although this may not work too well for very young children) There is another reason I like juice. Typically, after drinking juice for a low, I follow that with some water to swish around in my mouth. When I use candy or other solid sugary substance, I feel like it’s stuck in my molars (in fact, it is). The only time I’ve ever had a cavity in my life was the year I used candy or glucose tablets for every low blood sugar. Coincidence? I don’t know, maybe. But, juice is also convenient for adults at work (you look like you’re just thirsty as opposed to having a sugar craving in the middle of what is supposed to be time for working). I can recall lows in meetings full of older men and feeling a little funny when I took out some candy for a low. Some of them would make jokes like, “Looking for a sugar high?” or “you just ate enough calories for lunch with that bag of candy there” or even the despicable “Ha ha, what are you, five?”. When I had juice, I noticed no one ever said anything. So although I’m ok with awkward situations like these and didn’t mind telling these rude fellows they were just jealous that they didn’t have the guts to eat candy in public, I know some people prefer to avoid the awkwardness. Besides, I have a hard time stopping eating candy. I will eat a few pieces resulting in 15 grams of carbs and next thing I know I’m giving insulin for the extra candy I enjoyed all too well.
Either way, I’d say the best low blood sugar treatment was just whatever one is more comfortable with. Some of us have had too many glucose tabs to ever have another. BD Orange glucose tabs make me nauseated just thinking about them. But, when I was a kid, mmmm they were delicious! Whatever works best for the individual should be used-always taking in consideration just how low one is.
I’m glad we have so many options these days aren’t you?