Number 10 – by Helen Whitehouse


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Well, I think at the moment, I have literally never been busier. I got a job at my local branch of Primark, working Saturdays and some Sundays. I still work for my local newspaper, and I have full time college with exams that count towards 50% of my AS grade – so I am sitting here with my ring binder desperately trying to remember the difference between sense data and physical objects, and why exactly does Berkeley reject material substance (any Philosophy students willing to help here?). Anyway…

One of my major dreams in life is to have my own blog for The Guardian (anyone working for The Guardian willing to help here…?!). Seriously, one of my life goals. I want to work as a reporter for them – but first, a blog would be fantastic. And I always think that I would like to do a list of things I would change in modern day Britain if I could, obviously from a young persons point of view.

So then I started thinking, why don’t I give it a shot on my Diabetes UK blog? I can count down the list of things that if I could, I would alter about my life as a young diabetic and see if others agree with my top ten list of what are the most irritating and annoying thing. To be honest, when I go through the list in my own mind it isn’t so much the diabetes that annoys me, but how people react to it.

Anyway, I’m hoping I can count down ten in ten blogs, so keep reading!

Number 10 – Night Time Hypos

Night time hypos are one of the things I would eradicate just immediately. They cause so much angst and worry, endless nights of parents worrying that the glass of milk won’t quite be enough, the 3am testing which frankly exhausts everyone in the house – clattering around to find a blood testing meter before the bleeping then the testing. Then potentially more clattering downstairs in a dark kitchen, trying to find some glucose or a snack because even though you know there should be some upstairs, you forgot to fill up from the last hypo…

Frankly, no one in the house is going to be able to sleep. That can take up to an hour if you are re-testing, then suddenly before you know it it’s time to be up for work/school/college and all in all it seems you have missed 3 hours sleep.

It was definitely like this for me, especially in the early days. The thing is, I was terrified of going low at night, so for me, night time testing was a safety net which for about three months got me through. Then came the point where my lovely diabetic nurses and doctors said its fine, she is stable enough to not have to test. Well, I found it really difficult to re-adjust and because I was so anxious I never really got any proper sleep anyway.

Now I am still really, really meticulous about night time bloods. Experience has taught me exactly what I should have for what blood sugar, but it doesn’t always follow. I do wake up, albeit a little confused and shaky, but I always manage to go and get some food and a glass of milk before I am incapable of doing it myself.

I think the scariest time I had a low was Leedsfest – I tested my blood and did my glygene, then trailed through half a mile of shin deep mud to get to the silent disco, before coming back, attempting to go to sleep and realising that my blood sugar, was in fact, 2.6.

Then I had to scrabble through my bag to find Haribos in the dark- why I didn’t just have them out I do not know – before then dragging my friend out of her sleeping bag to walk to some form of food stand with me to buy chips because I didn’t think cereal bars would be adequate.

For me, it would be so much simpler if I didn’t have to worry about something while I was unconscious, and I know it would be something that my parents wouldn’t have to worry about either.

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I know exactly what Helen means about the anxiety of night time hypos. I have been an insulin dependent diabetic for just over 43 years but am always very careful about my bedtime blood sugar levels because ,with diabetes, you’re never 100% sure what is going to happen to your blood sugars during the night, no matter how careful you have been with the amount of carbohydrate you have eaten during the evening. Night time hypos are definitely much more scary than daytime ones because, whilst you are asleep, you have no control over your blood glucose level.

Only last night I woke up at 1.30 in the morning with a blood sugar of 2.8, having gone to bed with a perfectly normal blood sugar. Luckily, I always waken up when my blood sugar gets very low when I’m asleep, I think the body must have a built in safety mechanism and so I was able to bring myself back to a normal level.

However, as Helen said, it’s such a lengthy process because, having taken glucose and carbohydrate, you then have to wait 10-15 minutes and then test again and hopefully you have a rising blood sugar. You then have to wait another 10-15 minutes to check that it is still the same or rising and not decreasing. All in all it’s a very lengthy process and, once you are happy that your blood sugar has stabilized, you can then try and go back to sleep.

Another difficult thing to master is taking just enough carbohydrate and trying not to over eat. Whenever I have a hypo, I always feel ravenous and just want to keep eating, which always results in a very high blood sugar and feeling listless, sluggish and tired.

The important thing is to strike the right balance, which isn’t always easy.

Diabetes, if controlled well, isn’t a killer disease but is very “high maintenance” and can, at times, be very wearying.