Diabetes Yo Yo

It was a bit of a rough night. The morning started way too early for my liking, although our two year old seemed okay with it. (UGH!)

When my husband tested his blood sugar last night, it was in the 240’s. We kind of expected it to be high, because we had jasmine rice at dinner. We rarely have rice, but last night I was hankering for this for dinner. I will be having it for lunch today too. It was hard to stop at just one bowl. 🙂 At about 2:30AM, I heard my husband’s c-pap machine turn off. At 5:45, I don’t notice it, but my mind must have known it was the wrong time. I sat up, put my glasses on and asked what was going on. I asked if he had a low blood sugar and he said he thought so. He sounded a little slow, so I got up to check it for him. 57!

In the course of four and a half hours it went from 240 to 57.

This does not reassure me about his upcoming business trip!

After bringing his blood sugar back up to the normal range, covering the sheets from his sweat fest, and laying back down, I couldn’t sleep. First he was snoring. Then that two year old wasn’t interested in going back to sleep. I was going over “Where did we (I) go wrong?” And I couldn’t stop thinking about how to prepare him for his trip, to ease my mind and to help him in the case of a low blood sugar.

I told him that he had to wake up to test each night he is gone, no matter what. I am going to make sure he has some Squeezable apple sauce, pbj’s, and small sodas available. And I am going to pray A LOT.

(What are some other ready to go snacks he could have available?)

Parents of kids with diabetes, how on earth do you survive time away from your kids? I feel like a control freak, or that I am being really annoying about this. We’ve survived time apart before, but still I worry.

By the way, I went to the library yesterday and brought this home:

20150618_154245

Just a little light reading for the kids’ summer break. 🙂

Back to that low blood sugar, what’s the deal with rice anyway?

A Diabetes Break

The thing with diabetes is it never gives you a break. It is constant and you always have to TRY to be one step ahead of it . Some days you will succeed and others you will fail miserably. Every day you have to get right back on the horse, or the bike, or your motorcycle and try, try again, because giving up is not an option. My husband will never ever get a break from diabetes. It will go wherever he goes. It’s a constant companion. No matter where he goes or what he does, he will have to consider diabetes. It’s almost like a girlfriend that turns into  a stalker when you try to make it go away.

My husband will be going on a business trip soon. He will take his diabetes with him. He will take a box full of goodies, hopefully enough for his time away. He will need some carb-y snacks and some low carb snacks. I’ll probably stick some peanut butter, crackers, glucose tablets, etc in there. I will also probably worry the entire time he is gone. Especially at night. He sleeps soundly, but I get up at least once per night. No matter what wakes me up, I make it a habit to check on him. Depending on what his activity level and/ or blood sugar was before or at bedtime, I might check his blood sugar.

These are the things that worry me when he is away for any length of time. It hasn’t happened very often. I can probably count on one hand how many times it has. When he went to Reno 16 years ago, I don’t remember worrying. He was diabetic then, but it hadn’t infiltrated my life as much as it does now. We are constantly checking in with each other on his blood sugars, his insulin doses and how he is feeling. He CAN count carbs, but typically he relies on me to tell him what they are, because I prepare most of his meals. (he’s generally on his own for breakfast and takes leftovers for lunch)

So he won’t get a break…. ever, but I will. He will be gone and I won’t be able to count his carbs or prepare his meals. I won’t have to meal plan with him in mind, while he is gone. The kids and I can graze if we want, we can have ice cream, sandwiches, cereal. I won’t have to make sure that the meal I am providing is well rounded.

It sounds almost delightful, but I am sure that when the time comes, I won’t think so. I will probably worry too much to really enjoy it. He HAS promised to keep in touch morning and night with his blood sugar readings. It sounds awful, like he has to check in with a mom, but he knows that it gives me peace of mind.

And as a side note, have you seen this? http://www.wral.com/news/national_world/national/video/14722595/

Do you think a cure for diabetes is possible? I’ve seen many hopeful “cures” that haven’t panned out, so i am a bit hesitant to get excited about anything that seems possible.

I’ll check back in at a later date and let you know how the time apart went. eeeek.

Sugar!

Yesterday my husband and I were at Lowe’s, looking at this and that. When we found something we wanted, we moseyed our way up to the cash register. I looked at him and asked if he was okay. He said “Yes”, but I could tell by the look on his face that his blood sugar was low. I asked him if his blood sugar was low and he said “yeah, it might be”.

It was just a quick trip to Lowe’s while the baby was napping and I didn’t know if we had glucose tablets in the truck. The soda fridge was right there, so I grabbed a Mt. Dew, “just in case”.

As we walked to our vehicle, I looked at the nutrition label and gasped. “This has 77 grams of sugar in it!”‘ I told him that if his blood sugar was low, he only needed to drink like a third of it. He tested at 54, and drank just a third. I was actually surprised. He typically chugs a soda if his blood sugar is low, which makes it go sky high. Those of you with diabetes know the drill. Too low, too high, just right is somewhere in between.

When we got home, I got our little scale out and measured out 77 grams of sugar:

20150615_163731

It’s not the world’s greatest picture, but LOOK AT ALL THAT SUGAR! In one 20 oz soda!

How much is 77 grams of sugar? There are 4 grams of sugar in one teaspoon. (77 grams = about 19 teaspoons) Three teaspoons in one tablespoon. (19 teaspoons = about 6 tablespoons) Four Tablespoons in a quarter cup. (6 tablespoons = 1/4 cup + 1/8 cup)

To say I was flabbergasted is an understatement!

I have never been a diehard sugar avoider, but this made me look at some of the foods I eat. Yikes.

The World Health Organization recommends that the maximum amount of added sugar per day for women is 25 grams. For men, 37.5. So if you are a woman, a Mt Dew is three times the daily allowance, and twice the daily allowance for a  man.

Whoah.

At first I was confused, because milk has 12 grams of sugar per 8 ounces and I thought “Wait! That is half the daily allowance!” Thankfully, it is ADDED sugars, although we should not be overindulging on the natural sugars either.

If it wasn’t for my husband’s diabetes, I might not have even noticed how much sugar is in stuff. I tell you, I was a crazy woman, running around, checking the nutrition label on EVERYTHING I put in my mouth. It’s not pretty. Sugar is added to nearly everything. They don’t make it easy for you either, because added sugars and natural sugars are counted together on nutrition labels. So you kind of have to super sleuth it.

How much sugar is in your favorite food? Have you ever realized how much sugar is in everything we eat?

As a side funny, my husband told me that the 77 must have been a misprint, he’s never seen it that high. I used that trusty Google to visit the manufacturer’s site and there, right on the site, 77 grams! I showed it to him, then he brought up that time that I thought the speed limit on our road was 40 and went to prove it and it was only 35. I don’t know what that has to do with sugar, but whatever. 😉

Where Are We Going?

When I look back, it’s hard to believe that 17 years ago, I knew absolutely nothing about diabetes. Well, I guess I can’t say NOTHING. I knew my husband had it. I knew he had to test his blood sugar and take shots. I didn’t know about carbs, high blood sugars, low blood sugars. I was about to get a crash course though.

Less than a year into our marriage, my husband, stepdaughter, and I went camping with my parents. My parents have never camped in the local parks. Oh, no, as children we hiked miles to our camping locations. As adults, it was a little gentler, we just drove hours to our destination. (By the way, I miss those days!)

On this particular trip, I don’t remember how long we had been there or how long we were staying. I do remember waking up at some point in the night and knowing that something wasn’t right. I checked my husband. He was breathing, but he wasn’t particularly responsive. Fortunately I knew enough to know that not responding was not okay. I grabbed his blood glucose monitor. I had seen him use it hundreds of times. I looked at that thing, I pushed buttons, I looked at it again.

I had no clue what I was doing.

I ran to my parents’ camp site and knocked on their trailer door. “Something is wrong with Chad!” They woke up right away and came to our site. They tried to figure out this blood sugar tester thingamabob and we. were. CLUELESS. It was a bad time to realize that we had no idea how to operate this thing. I am not sure that I should even get points for knowing we NEEDED to use it.

My dad said the hospital was some 40+ miles away. Somehow we were able to get my husband into the truck. My mom stayed behind with my step daughter. My dad was hurtling down this windy, curvy road as fast as he could maneuver the corners. It was dark and it was a little concerning and I don’t think my anxiety could handle a trip like that today. I remember wondering what it was going to be like at the hospital. What would they do? Would he be okay? I didn’t have any experience in this department and I hadn’t prepared myself very well. It was his disease. I was just married to him. I never gave any thought to his diabetes.

Somewhere between the camp site and the hospital, my husband came out of his low blood glucose stupor. (I can’t remember if we had tried to give him anything. My mom probably remembers) What a surprise it must have been for him! He looked around and said “Where are we going?”

I told him we were headed to the hospital, because he hadn’t been responsive. Then he asked where his daughter was. I figured if he was aware enough to worry about the care of his daughter, he was probably okay, so I gave my dad the all clear to head back to camp.

You better believe that we learned to use that monitor immediately!

Also, the next morning, we were talking to the camp host and told him what had happened. He said he was diabetic and he could have helped us. Why didn’t we think of that?

I know the answer to that. Back then we didn’t think about a lot of things. We would eventually learn though.

How Low Can He Go?

The right amount of carbs + the right amount of insulin = Diabetes Bliss

The right amount of carbs + too much insulin = Diabetes Hell aka a low blood sugar

My least favorite thing about diabetes is the low blood sugar.

This is my husband

IMG_0313

This is my husband with a low blood sugar

Chad blood sugar beachThe difference may be so subtle that many people wouldn’t even notice. I don’t like this picture. It is a reminder of the time that I was so focused on something else that I didn’t notice he was not “right”. Usually I can look at him and tell by his stance, the look on his face, the way he holds his hands, and the way he talks to me. On this day, I completely missed it, and he had to bring it to my attention. A few days later I was looking through the pictures I had taken and it was as clear as day.

According to WebMD, symptoms of a low blood sugar include:

I normally have a sixth sense when it comes to my husband and his blood sugars. I called him from work a few years ago and knew he had a low blood sugar. I was too far away to help in a reasonable amount of time, so I called the paramedics.

Low blood sugars can be caused by too much insulin, too little carbs, and exercise. It happens when the body does not have enough glucose in its blood stream.

I asked my husband what it is like to have a low blood sugar. He said that for him, low blood sugar leads to confusion, exhaustion, and feeling like it is extremely difficult to move. I looked at him and smiled. “That explains the time you kept telling us your feet were glued to the floor”. He said that is exactly what it feels like, as if he is slogging through mud and it takes all of his strength and effort to lift his feet one more time. I asked if he knows that he is having a low blood sugar. He said “Sometimes, but it’s like I am in an alternate world. I know that’s what it is, but I can’t figure out what to do to take care of it.” He also said that diabetes likes to trick the brain. His body feels off, but his brain keeps telling him he is okay.

My daughter says that the scariest time for her was a day we were at Goodwill. My husband was shopping with the kids elsewhere in the store. I hadn’t seen him for a while. My daughter came up and said “Something is wrong with daddy”. It was very crowded and I had a hard time finding him. When I did, he was staggering like a drunk. I found a chair and sat him down. We had been at Target prior to Goodwill and I just happened to buy an orange juice. I had taken a sip of it, then put it back in my purse. His blood sugar was so low that the bottle didn’t help much. I grabbed a bottle out of their cooler and gave that to him. We’ve had to do this a few times over the years, and I do it knowing that I could risk making an employee angry. I don’t care. 🙂 Sometimes, like that day, a low blood sugar comes on so quick that he doesn’t have time to react to it.

Night time is the worst, because it is generally 8 hours of untreated diabetes. If you are resting, you are not testing your blood sugar. Lucky for my husband, I don’t sleep. Okay, I’m kidding. I do wake up several times a night to check on him though. I don’t always check his blood sugar, but I make sure he is breathing and not sweating. When he is sleeping, I can predict a blood sugar by the way he breathes and if he is sweating. A low blood sugar sweat does not present itself in the same way as “this room is way too hot” sweat.

I wish that people who know he has diabetes understood better the signs and symptoms of a low blood sugar. Last week, I made a spur of the moment decision to visit him at work. I didn’t tell him I was coming, I showed up. When I walked in, he was glad to see me, then he said “I’m not doing well”. He sat down and tested his blood sugar. It was 32. (anything less than 70 is considered low, although he is much more functional at 67 than he is 32) Even while he was treating his low blood sugar, his co-workers were talking to him, asking him questions, and trying to push him out the door for lunch.

If my husband has calculated his carbs and his insulin amount, he can’t decide halfway through that he just isn’t hungry anymore and skip eating the rest of his meal. Since he has already dosed for the entire meal, he’s kind of stuck eating the entire meal. It’s pretty inconvenient.

A low blood sugar can be relatively easy to counteract, you just have to catch it. One of the challenges we face is his insurance company only wants to cover 3 test strips per day. One for breakfast, one for lunch, and one for dinner. Without insurance coverage, test strips are very expensive. He needs to test, at a minimum 4 times per day. (He needs to test before bedtime) If he feels off, he needs to test. If his blood sugar is low, he needs to treat it and retest in 15 minutes. It is very hard to get by on just 3 strips per day.

Have you ever seen someone with a low blood sugar? Do you know how to treat it? The general consensus is 15 grams of fast acting carbs and retest in 15 minutes. I’m official. I have glucose tablets in my purse at all times.