Hypos: The Weird and Wonderful

Hypos can have many triggers. Exercise, cold weather, hot weather, revision, nerves, stress, for me my pancreas could secrete some insulin randomly and of course there’s giving too much insulin for food amongst many other causes.

But some triggers are little weird aren’t they? A friend of mine’s diabetic brother goes hypo everytime he sets foot in H&M. Yeah, H&M the shop sends him low. How weird?! They’ve given up shopping in there!

But for me, my weirdest low-causer is getting ready to go out for dinner. The action of putting on a little make up, putting on another outfit and packing my bag makes me go hypo! And let me tell you, applying eyeliner neatly is not easy at 2.9. Plus having a low in the middle of getting ready is a major inconvenience, because it’s 15 minutes that you don’t have to spare! I set aside a little time to change and apply mascara, so getting light-headed and confused whilst you’re running around finding the other shoe, well it’s certainly not helpful.

Something else that’s incredibly weird, walking. Yes that’s logical becuase you’re using energy, it’s light exercise etc. But when jogging doesn’t send you low…… you start to wonder what’s going on. I can go running for 1/2 an hour and stay at 7 mmol/l but walking down the street, for 10 minutes! Nope. Not without hitting 3.4.

I don’t understand!

We even spoke to one of my consultants who was incredibly confused because it should be phsyiologically impossible! Does anyone else find this? With any sports?! I can be in my school’s fitness suite for an hour without a low in sight too, but walking 100 metres out the school gates will induce hypos. Where is the logic?!

Don’t even get me started on the hypos themselves. It’s not only the situations that cause the damn hypos that are weird, just take a look at some your recent symptoms and you’ll find some curious ones. For example, (okay it wasn’t in the last 6 months BUT I think it should make the list) I had a 2.4 in the middle of dinner one time.

The reason it got so low? My one and only symptom was the fact I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the table. I literally couldn’t not stare at it. I couldn’t even lift my eyes to the T.V to watch the programme that was on! I literally just was listening to the programme (I missed so much of it!) and staring at the table aimlessly whilst cutting up the food. After a good 10 minutes I finally realised something may be a little off and subsequently found out that lucozade is wonderful with chicken. Not.

Okay last but not least. Why would your body suddenly decide to give you high symptom for lows?! Because I now get very thrirsty when I go low. I don’t like it, it confuses me because I think I’m high, I often dismiss it and just grab a glass of water without testing and just why? Why? It’s not helpful. Stop it.

What I guess I’m trying to say is – diabetes is unpredictable. And the hypos can often be worst of it. I certainly have my fair share of weird and wonderful hypo stories, as do most of my diabetic friends. Of course of if written all of the causes of lows and all the possible or random symptoms, this post would take weeks to read! 

Do you have any hypo stories you’d like to share? If so, please leave them in the comments below!








Type 1 Time Management

Time. There’s a lot to say about it. Diabetes takes up a lot of time, doesn’t it? But it doesn’t ever borrow it. Diabetes steals time.

60 seconds in a minute. 

60 minutes in an hour.

24 hours in a day. 

7 days in a week. 

How much of that time is taken from us by diabetes?

Time is a big thing for me. Because sometimes it feels like it’s taken every single second of my day away. Hypos, highs, carbohydrate counting, bolusing, testing, stocking up my bag, doing set changes, doing sensor changes and even the fleeting thoughts wondering what my BG is or a long think about an emotional struggle regarding diabetes. It has certainly stolen a lot of my time. 

On the other hand, I will also give it some time when I’m sharing stories sometimes of a funny hypo, stories and feelings of an experience in hospital, musings about what certain events might hold in terms of my blood sugars etcetera. Type 1 diabetes (and the CHI/surgically induced aspect for me) is a subject that I am comfortable talking about with people because it is a big part of my life and I find it interesting to discuss such things. 

But verbal time is a little different to physical time. Yes I know that’s not a ‘thing’, but it’s true. When I want to talk about it I am willing to let that time be taken up by diabetes because I have chosen that. Physical time however, diabetes takes that as and when it likes through pump alerts, out of range blood sugars and daily management. So it is very, VERY different.

I do try and give diabetes time by making sure I calibrate to sensor. (Yes Mum AND Grandma I do know this is rare, but you can’t deny that I do sometimes do that!) Or by deciding to put on a temp basal before I’ve reached the very high numbers. This way I can prevent it stealing more time later, you see?

However sometimes, diabetes can do this clever thing where it may or may not steal physical time but it will actually steal other time. In negative thoughts. Sometimes small resentment, other times hours of ridiculous but unpreventable, self pitying, internal raging. 

Recently it feels like diabetes has taken a lot of my physical time, I give it a fair amount of verbal time anyway and as a result HEAPS of negative thoughts take up the rest of my other time.

I hate that I give diabetes so much time. I hate that I talk about it with friends, whether they’re non diabetic and not involved at all with diabetes or have a diabetic in the family. Even my closest friends who I can talk about anything, I hate even saying ‘oh I’m low!’ in a message. But I can’t stop myself! I just talk about it and my experiences because I like talking about it and then don’t.  

But one of the strangest things out of everything recently is, if you start giving diabetes the physical time it needs, it will stop stealing all my time. Funny isn’t it? I’m just hoping that it means I can give it verbal time without being so bothered. 

I know this is a waffly post and I apologise for that. Do you find that diabetes take up more of your time than you’d like? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Hba1c Importance. Or lack of?

What’s all the hype about the HbA1c? It’s all the consultants seem to go on about, but are they that important?

First of all, some basics and facts!

  • HbA1c means the glycated haemoglobin in the blood. So, the amount of glucose stuck to haemoglobin accumulated through having high blood sugars. (The higher, the more glucose gets stuck)
  • The glucose ‘falls off’ after around 3 months which is why that’s how frequently you have your A1c measured. 
  • The target A1c was 7.5% but has been lowered to 6.5% because studies showed that the average A1c across the country was 0.5% above the target. 
  • They are using 2 units of measurement % and mmol/ls so if your A1c 7.0% it is 53mmol/ls. 

Here is a link to a page with a lot more details on the subject if you’d like to know more about what an HbA1c is and means – http://www.diabetes.co.uk/what-is-hba1c.html 

All that is very well, having a high A1c can lead to complications, you should aim to lower your A1c and it is an incredibly important measurement, of course. But what does an HbA1c actually mean to the diabetic?

Not much. When I was younger at least. 

Until I was about 10/11 it was just a number. I didn’t care what it was really. I realised that everyone in the room was happy if it was in the 7s and there was surprised congratulations if it was in the 6s. And that was it. 

Of course as I grew older I understood more and more about complications. Words like neuropathy and retinopathy were thrown around in conversations and they would crop up on my timeline. However I didn’t directly ever link it with your A1c, that was a number and those were long term consequences of high blood sugars – two separate things. 

I wasn’t stupid believe me, I knew both were important and so a year into high school I started really thinking about it all. Suddenly my A1c had to be below 7. If it wasn’t it meant I was a ‘bad diabetic’. I wasn’t too harsh on myself – but it was a personal challenge. 

Now? What does an HbA1c actually mean to the diabetic at 16 years old?

I don’t think “Oh my gosh! My A1c will go up!” every time I get a reading over 9 mmol/l. I also don’t think about complications every time I have a high blood sugar. But it means a lot more than it did. 

If I have a few bad weeks of blood sugars, or a few months I begin to dread what the number will be. Little seeds of doubt plant themselves in the back of my mind. 

What if my A1c had gone up by over 0.5%? 

What if I’m making it a habit?

What if I can’t get it back down into the 6s? 

Will I start seeing complications?

But mostly, what I’m thinking is actually….

What will my mum say when she sees it? What will my doctor say? I’m such a bad diabetic. (Well I say that, I’ve never been scolded before for my A1c!)

Because there’s so much pressure to have a good A1c, it’s all anyone seems to worry about with diabetes long term! Everyone in the know judges you if you mention your A1c and it’s a little higher than it could be. I know this because I’m guilty of it myself sometimes! 

It’s just a shame because NHS England does things by numbers and the A1c is the only measurement for diabetes control so we’re stuck with people talking about it constantly. 

Yes a diabetic’s HbA1c is very important. Yes it should be a low number for their future and I have my insulin pump and CGM that’s helping me achieve this. 

But I’m more concerned about other equally as important aspects!

Nighttime hypos, long term effects of hypos, eventually pregnancy (because yeah! I do think about that already and how impossible it sounds for a diabetic!) food and weight and last but not least the emotional side and coping with living with T1 day in day out. 

Yes my A1c is important to me, but that’s not the only thing I think about.

Here’s an interesting graph I was once shown that helped me understand my A1c and a conversions able of the old % to the new mmol/l. The graph is potentially a little scary but it’s actually relative risk on the y axis and it put things into perspective for me.