What’s your Upper of Choice? – By Helen May


A few years before I had diabetes, I went on a walking holiday around the South East coast of Crete. The weather was great. The scenery was beautiful. The food was amazing. The walking was perfect. The company was American. I have nothing against our friends from across The Pond and I always try not to generalise on national characteristics. They were a good cross-section: from as far North as Washington state to as far South as Georgia; they were aged from their twenties to sixties. About all you could say they had in common was they liked walking.

However, I did notice one difference between this group of ramblers and others I have met. They all liked frequent discussion about illness and medication. This characteristic surprised me. Maybe it had nothing to do with our nationalities but just about our upbringing. I grew up in a household where, if we had a family motto, it would “Don’t make a fuss”. And my family have always been pretty fit: my parents who, now, are both in their seventies, include the gym and horse-riding as regular hobbies and take no medication.

Whatever the reason, I was surprised to listen to their drug comparisons for migraines and sciatica and… My experience has always been to take the drugs I am prescribed and ask for something stronger/different only if they don’t work or if you experience a nasty side-effect. Perhaps the US health-insurance system encourages more ownership of the problem and the prescription.

Until I was diagnosed with diabetes, I had nothing to compare medical notes with. Since being diagnosed, I still keep to the family motto and get on with it: the insulins I am on keep my sugar levels well controlled and I have no side-effects that I can attribute to them.

That is until I started blogging. I have had compared pens with pumps and gained a great insight thanks to readers of the Diabetes UK blogs. So, I thought it was time to find out about options for another component of my diabetes kit.

When I was diagnosed, the diabetes nurse told to keep dextrose with me to treat hypos. Once I found the blackcurrant ones (there is something about fake orange flavour I find difficult to stomach), they have worked for me: their size is easy to carry in my pocket or small bag and I can choose how many to take knowing, approximately, the affect one tablet has on my blood sugar. Unfortunately, my hypos come in waves: I can go for weeks with nothing and then my blood sugars bounce between 2.5 and 5.5 for a few days. Over these times, I have become bored with dextrose and I have been known to dabble in dried apricots but I always come back to my trusty dextrose. And at night, these are supplemented by a muesli bar to maintain my levels.

But I realised recently many people blog about Lucozade to treat their hypos. Olly wrote about his son’s school office looking after a supply, Jen wrote about searching for her bottle in the bottom of her bag and quite a few people suggested Lucozade to top up my blood sugars before going to bed. I can understand that a drink can be easier to swallow than tablets and not as filling. But is that true when it’s fizzy like Lucozade? Or do you mean the non-fizzy Lucozade Sport? And is the benefit of liquid worth the hassle of carrying around a bottle?

Is it time to change my “Upper of choice”? Are there other sweet delights out there to right my insulin wrongs?

You might also like


  1. Kate says

    There is nothing better than some chocolate to treat the hypos or 5 (could be a different amount for you) Jelly Babies/Haribos… I can’t stomach any Dextrose, I hate them, so I figured a treat that will up my sugars in my time of need, will satisfy every craving!

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.