Thursday, August 9, 2012

Waiting For The Parachute.

 "So what do your lows feel like?"

It's a question I've been asked many times in the past 26 years. I've been asked this by nurses, doctors, family, friends, and strangers. While I don't think that my actual symptoms have changed that much, the words and images I use to describe them over time have.

As a child I associated hypoglycemia with feelings like "weak, shaky and tired". It was a very distinct feeling; one where I wanted to eat and eat and eat and then sleep until I felt better. I knew that feeling, but putting it in words was difficult. I used the words I had in my verbal arsenal. (A sentence which, as a child, would have been phrased "I used the words I knew." I love being a grown-up with a thesaurus.)

Fast forward to adulthood: descriptions and metaphors aplenty.

They come in stages, those lows. I might feel a little loopy, hyper, or energetic - which then transitions to feeling a bit like I'm swimming through the air around me. My body vibrates. As I continue to drop (and this ended up being my answer to the above question, the last time I was asked it), it begins to feel similar to being drunk, minus the fun part. In my mind, I know exactly what's going on and what I need to do, but I often can't get my body to follow through with those actions, or my mouth to form the words my mind intends. I'm lucky to get out a short, staccato sentence: "I need juice". My brain sounds the alarm, screaming "YOU NEED SUGAR RIGHT NOW!!!"; it pleads with me to go eat the kitchen, if only my motor skills would show up for duty.

I know what I need to do and say, but my physical self can't translate it.

And when my blood sugar continues to drop after I've already eaten what I need to? I imagine it's much like the freefall in skydiving, before you engage your parachute. It's a swift descent to a very hard landing, and you're doing everything you can to not reach full-scale panic mode. Adrenaline surges. My rational mind knows the chute will engage, but my primative self is scared out of its mind. Even my Dexcom CGM graph resembles that freefall, sometimes sending me deeper into panic. The tumbling seems to pick up speed with every passing second. I repeat to myself, "You're fine. You're fine. You're going to be fine."

And I know I will be fine - once that parachute catches some air.


  1. Huh! I was totally just wondering what the "adult version" of "what does a low feel like" would be yesterday. You read my mind. Great description. Wish I could stop your need for that parachute.

  2. This is most definitely how I feel during lows! And to think, a year or so ago, I didn't think anyone else understood how this felt. Thanks

  3. Precisely and accurately written.
    the waiting is the hardest part. " primitive self is scared out of it's mind..." yeah, EXACTLY.

  4. it's like being a little kid, dropped in a strange place, and not speaking the same language everyone around me speaks. and yeah, its scary as hell sometimes.
    and the waiting? it feels endless....i hate it.

  5. So, you know I've been skydiving. I was a little worried about that because I also have really bad motion sickness. The free fall did not bother me at all. The time I started to feel sick was after they pulled the 'chute. There's a hypo connection there somewhere. ;)


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