“Are you still using the Animas?”
“Actually, I have the new YpsoPump.” I replied to the nurse, pulling it out of my pocket.
“Would you like to use your own lancet?”
“Good idea,” I replied, pulling it out of my pencil case and avoiding a bloodbath on my fingers.
“Oh, you’re 3.8,” the nurse said to me after I had applied some blood onto the test strip. “Have you got some hypo treatment on you?”
Before I was even given any time to answer, she had poured me a glass of sugary fluid to drink and handed it to me. Encouragingly, it was an appropriate sized amount that wouldn’t send me rebounding.
“Are you able to feel your hypos?”
“If it’s a steady 3.8, like this one, I feel fine. But if it were a 3.8 and dropping rapidly, I would.” She was lovely, and I didn’t feel that I was being judged.
Another nurse walked in, also wanting to have a look at my new YpsoPump. “Of course, you should treat your hypo first!” She exclaimed to me in a motherly way, after being reminded by nurse one that I was hypo.
“Are you sure I can’t get you some biscuits or anything?” the nurse asked me, as I made my way towards the door.
“No, I’ll be fine. The tea will probably bring me up as well,” I said as I grabbed the Styrofoam cup that I had been given in the hallway earlier.
I made my way back toward the end of the corridor, took a seat and buried my head into my iPhone, grateful for the warm drink on my sore throat. I wasn’t worried.
Some time later, the nurse returned. She hovered for a moment, but I didn’t really notice until she spoke.
“Frank, would you like to check your blood sugar again?”
Knowing it had been sufficiently treated, I had completely forgotten about my hypo. I pulled out my FreeStyle Libre, registering the 3.7. I wasn’t convinced that I needed anything further, and pulled out my meter.
“I’m happy to leave it,” I said, holding up my meter that was displaying a 4.4. “I don’t want to overtreat it, and the tea will probably bring me up a bit more as well.”
“Are you sure I can’t get you any biscuits or something?”
“No, I’m fine. Thank you.”
I get that this comes from a good place. A really good place.
Perhaps if hypos hadn’t interrupted many of my work days, bed times, socialising, housework, walks and errands over the years, I might just treat them with the same response as that nurse.
Hypos are not a scary thing, provided I know how to manage them. They are a part of living with diabetes, just like checking my blood sugar or injecting some insulin. Last year at the Roche Educator’s Day, I made a big point of stating that two hypos per week was an unrealistic expectation from my healthcare professionals. Moreso as my skills in managing blood sugars improved and I was spending more time in range.
I get that hypos are not good for me in the long run. I get that hypos can impair my cognitive function. I also get that hypos can be life threatening – and maybe I’m just lucky that I’ve never had one where I’ve needed help. Believe me, I don’t like having hypos anymore than a healthcare professional likes seeing them appear on a blood glucose meter.
However I feel it’s more important that I’m dosing insulin responsibly, checking my blood sugar often enough, travelling with glucose tabs on hand and am able to sufficiently treat a low.
Some healthcare professionals condemn people with diabetes for having too many lows, and this is where we need to reshape our attitudes toward hypos.
Making me feel any lesser for the number of hypos I have will only make it more difficult for me to share openly in front of a healthcare professional, ultimately jeopardising the provision of any support I may need.