“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.
howd you go with those glucolift tabs and gummies? I had a hypo yesterday 🙂
Haven’t used them yet. One perk of being sick is hardly any hypos.
Hi Frank not caught up for a long time … been busy with life !! I Hypo most days and have done for 26 yrs 🙈they call it brittle diabetes👯♂️ so I could relate to everything you said …nice to know someone out there who shares their feelings and experiences … love your blog , I hope to start back in mine soon 🌺🌼🌸🇬🇧
Thanks for the kind words, Collette! (and nice to hear from you again…)
This rings so true mate.
I work as a doctor but I try to be very surreptitious around other docs and nurses whenever I’m treating a hypo at work because it becomes a total panic otherwise.
Last week after saying no, I’m really fine thanks, just give me a couple of minutes to let the glucose tablets work, someone ran off to find some glucose paste to have on hand “just in case…”
Never mind my bag full of jelly beans under the chair that I’m happy to dig into if needed.
It comes from a caring but especially while low/easily frustrated and wanting to just sit still and not speak to anyone for a few minutes, it make you just want to scream!
Thanks, Jack! I can imagine it must be harder to navigate in a hospital setting. Sometimes I want to sit and be left alone, but other times I really do just want to get on with it without my hypo being a big deal.
Hi Frank, love your work as always. One of the worst places for me to manage my bsl is when I’m in hospital. Generally speaking, nurses work to a schedule set by well meaning clinicians, but it is formula based. When I am below 4.0 they give me way to much sugar drink. When I am high, they won’t let me trim my levels with an appropriate amount of insulin. I find it bizarre that the most uneducated place for me to manage my bsl is whilst in hospital. Nurses are only following the rules – the rules are so generalised they don’t allow for those of us that know how our body works and manage this disease every day. That’s my 2 cents worth.
Thanks, Duane. You’re definitely not the first person I’ve heard from about a bad experience managing type 1 in hospital. I get the impression type 1s need to be prepared to be firm, speak up and be their own advocate when it comes to a hospital admission because as you say there’s not a lot of awareness.
Ah, yes. I hear you on this one. Especially after having type 1 for 33 years. Many of my hypos aren’t “text book” hypos either, making me the centre of some very common misconceptions.
People mean well. But i will admit to struggling not to roll my eyes at times 😂
I have my favorite glucose product and it is a powder. Unfortunately that powder is white and very fine. Yeah it is a problem sometimes.