Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sugar Crash

I biked down to the local Walmart to get out of the house and wander around looking for a bike headlamp and backlight, since I'll be biking home from MA class in the dark. I stopped by a cheap local diner for lunch (yes, I'm poor, and here I am spending $8 on lunch. Anyway).

I ended up eating an omelette with a side of buttermilk pancakes. I tested at 90 and took three units to cover the number and then another 5 units so I could eat a pancake and a half of the three next to me. I figured if I ate more than that, I'd get a headache from the sugar rush.

So, underwhelmed by what was supposed to be "the best breakfast place in Dayton," I walked across the street to Walmart.

I pricechecked a couple of bike lights, decided on the one I wanted, and started wandering up another aisle, looking around for various and sundry things that I can't get at the grocery store.

I started feeling a bit woozy, like there was this strange pressure in my head. Not a headache, exactly, but something that felt similiar to a high-sugar headache. Weird, I thought. I guess those pancakes *did* go straight to my head... but shit, I was at 90 before I ate them. I shouldn't feel this way unless I'm winging over 250. What the fuck did they put in those pancakes?

I checked the time. It had only been about a half hour since I'd eaten. It *had* to be a high. If I'm going to have a low, it's generally an hour and a half after I shoot up. That's generally the time it takes for the insulin to peak in my system.

So I kept walking, and started to feel increasingly anxious and disoriented. Why was this person in front of me? Why was everyone in my way? What the hell was wrong with everyone? I needed everyone to get away from me. Bloody fuckers.

I was having trouble deciding where I was going. Did I want to look down this aisle? What was down this aisle? Why was I hear again?

I turned back around and went down an aisle I'd already been down, completely clueless as to why I'd have any interest in going down there. Maybe I had *missed* something. SOMETHING WAS MISSING. AND WHO THE HELL WAS THIS OTHER PERSON IN MY WAY GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY WHY IS EVERYONE LOOKING AT ME WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME I JUST NEED TO SIT DOWN.

Yes, I just need to sit down. Some small part of me was aware of the fact that I was hallucinating things (I think I only passed, like, two people) and was becoming increasingly paranoid.

I found an employee step stool and sat down. I wanted my head to stop feeling so stuffy. I wanted everything to stop. I wanted EVERYONE TO STAY AWAY FROM ME.

I pulled out my glucose monitor and tested my sugar, expecting to see some bizarrely high number like 310 or something. What the hell had they put in those pancakes?

I blinked a couple of times at the face of the monitor. It read:


How the fucking hell??

Wow, I thought. I just took a massive crash 30 minutes after eating. After eating *pancakes.*

The suddeness of the crash is probably what resulted in the severe disorientation, and, of course, my complete denial of the fact that it was the result of a low sugar episode. I believed it was physically impossible for me to experience a low like that half an hour after eating.

I ate a couple of lifesavers, and sat on the stool hunkered up into myself hoping nobody bugged me for five or six minutes until my head started to clear.

After eating the candy, I started to sweat and shake, which are usual low sugar symptoms. I think the low just came on so fast that my body didn't have time to react that way. What I felt first, instead, was the massive disorientation that resulted from my brain not getting enough sugar.

While I recovered, I thought about how I'd felt walking up and down the aisles, how I got that feeling of intense claustrophobia and that panicky, crazy-ass paranoia about how everybody around me was out to get me, and above all, my desperate need to GET AWAY from them.

One of the things I've been coming to grips with the last year is just how bizarrely fucking wacked out I was during the year before I woke up in the hospital. Mostly, I was exhausted, but when I wasn't exhausted, I was often paranoid and panicky. I'd go from anxiousness to panic really quickly, and because I was so used to living my life by "feeling," it meant I did and said a lot of hurtful things to people that felt absolutely correct and proper.

I've never been an easy person to live with, but being crazy and sick didn't make me any easier to live with, either.

Once I felt comfortable walking again, I got up and headed over to the Subway and got myself one of those big pretzels - I still had to bike all the way home and I had another hour of wandering around.

I ate half the pretzel and felt myself even out. My head cleared. Everything cleared. Things were a lot simpler. Less closed-in. I didn't feel like the whole world wanted to crush me, that everybody was out to crush and control me.

I tried to sort out what had happened. It was possible - I'd heard of it happening - that I'd hit a blood vessel when I'd taken my insulin shot, meaning the insulin went straight into my system before the carbs from the pancake had a chance to get absorbed, forcing me into a tailspin of a crash.

One of the reasons I try so hard to keep a tight rein on my sugar isn't just so I'll live longer, feel better, and be healthier. Yes, those are all great reasons, but I have my self-destructive days, and during those self-destructive days, I just don't give a fuck about my body. I hate it quite a lot, and I'll go into "fuck it" mode. Problem is, I do that now and it's not just me and my body's health that's hurt. It means I'll say and do hurtful things to the people around me.

And you know, I've already brutally hurt two people I cared very much about that way, and I'd rather not repeat that. There are a lot of people in my life still who I care deeply about and who care about me, and I'd like to make sure that I do whatever it is I need to do in order to spare them from this sort of behavior as much as possible.

It helps, I think, that people now are more aware of what this behavior is. There was some interaction Stephanie and I had when I was having a low, and she asked me a few minutes later if I was upset with her, and I told her no, I was just being short and bitchy because I was having a low, and I'd already taken something and would be OK in a few minutes.

At least there's something I can point to now. At least I can talk myself down from some of the anxiousness and the panic.

But I'd prefer to have as few instances of sugar-related paranoia as possible.

5 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Jackie M. said...

Um, scary? I'd say "hey, don't do that anymore." But isn't obvious to me that you did anything you shouldn't have.

... yeah. Don't do that anymore.

(and be careful riding your bike in the dark)

Kameron Hurley said...

Yeah, I stick to the sidewalks (you can do that here), but I want a light for when I cross intersections and driveways. I figure the lights sure won't hurt.

And yeah, not sure what I could have done better in this instance (except not hit a blood vessel! But, well, um, not sure how to ensure that). I checked the time first thing; it shouldn't have been possible for me to have a low half an hour after eating so many carbs.

David Moles said...


Bad Decision Maker said...

Great writing - being able to articulate exactly how it feels to be really low like that.

Sometimes pancakes sneak up on me. Don't get me wrong, they can make me real high sometimes, but I've had several instances of them being way less carbs than I expected. Also that omlette probably made yours absorb slow.

With exercise sometimes I reduce not just before/after general dose, but also my correction ratio for carbs because I get more insulin sensitivity.

Shopping often makes me low. I used to not understand - It's not all that much walking for someone that exercises a lot. But I recently read that hyper-stimulating places, like for example walmart, or intense social situations, can lower sugar cuz your brain is working hard.

Glad you bottomed out in Walmart and not biking home.

Anonymous said...

The mom of my best friend in 7-th ad 8th grade was diabetic and I very clearly remember how you could tell if her sugar was too low. She'd start swearing. Then her partner would say, "honey, have some life savers", or bring her a glass of orange juice. If we think of her low blood sugar sign as the 'fuck' factor, what would you call yours?