I could feel the sweat dripping from my forehead. My favourite red checkered cotton pyjama pants were stuck to my thighs, drenched in sweat. My entire upper body was trembling. I felt like I’d woken up from a bad dream that still felt very real in the dark of my bedroom. I pulled off my blankets, which I usually hid underneath to stop myself from freezing in the air conditioning.
The red numbers 12.40 were glowing back at me in the dark of my bedroom early on this Thursday morning. I reached over to flick on the lamp beside my bed. I pulled back the cap on my tube of test strips, grabbed one and feverishly stuck it into my meter. I pricked my finger and navigated it over to the test strip. 2.1 mmol/L. Just the number I wanted to see at 12.40am on a Thursday morning.
I heaved myself up to reach for the bag of marshmallows on the bed head behind me. Too weak to support this upright state, I leant over to one side. My elbow rested on my pillow, supporting my upper body weight. Marshmallows were in hand.
I opened the zip lock bag and pulled the marshmallows, stuck together from the heat, apart. One, two, three, four, five. I mentally counted to myself as I placed them into my hand, knowing my hypo-muddled brain would lose count of how many I’d eaten midway through.
By the time I was down to that last one, I couldn’t even remember eating the other four. I collapsed back onto the bed, relieved as my head sank back onto the pillow. I felt absolutely exhausted, and too weak to move. I reached over for the remote to the air-con, dialling the temperature down a few degrees. I so badly wanted to close my eyes, but knew I had to stay awake and see this hypo through. I turned and faced my bedside lamp, hoping the bright light would keep my weary eyes distracted.
I’ve always felt very in control of my diabetes. Throughout the day, I’ll test as often as I want. Those tests produce numbers. Numbers that give me a sense of security. Numbers that keep me in the know while I’m riding the wave of an unpredictable disease.
But when night comes and my body switches off, I’m forced to give up all control.
Laying there in that moment, paralysed in front of the lamp, I couldn’t help but feel a little defeated by my diabetes.
I roused again at 2.24am, having dozed off in front of the lamp. I switched it off, rolled over and closed my eyes with a sigh of relief.
(And I’m only now realising why my shoulders were aching the following day!)