A Very Scary Low


I have a problem with beans. Or, rather, legumes in general. I know they’re supposed to be good for me. I know they have a low glycemic index and will break down slowly and, technically speaking, should not be that difficult to control. And yet, for some reason, when I look at a bowl of bean soup — as I did last night, when I made it for dinner — all I see are carbohydrates. Lots of them. It might as well be a bowl full of potatoes. As a result, I always overbolus. Always.

You’d think that since I know this about myself I would be smart enough to fight the urge, and to not, say, treat my bowl of bean soup and small piece of bread with the amount of insulin I would use for a large sandwich — especially if I had gone to an intense spin class just several hours earlier. But my blood sugar was slightly high to begin with and so I did just that — aware, even as I typed in the dual wave bolus, that this was probably too much.

I should also say that I am fortunate enough to rarely have severe lows. I’ve never passed out, or had to take glucagon, or ended up in the emergency room. I’ve had a few scary moments but nothing too serious — so it’s not like it’s a mistake I make frequently.

But last night was bad: several hours after we ate I noticed that a headache I’d had all afternoon just would not go away, despite the Tylenol I’d taken a half hour before. I felt grumpy and lethargic, slightly nauseated and just not right. (But no sweats or tingles yet — just a vague feeling that something was wrong.) My CGM said 70 but since I know it’s got a 15-minute lag time, I tested my blood as well. 56. Not a good sign.

By this point I was really not feeling well, and, convinced my level was still dropping, asked my husband if he’d bring me part of a yogurt smoothie he’d just made. I added some honey, took a few sips, waited a few minutes, and then started to get uncontrollably hot, despite the fact that it is quite chilly in our apartment. I could actually feel heat coming off of me, and my back began to sweat. I also couldn’t sit up in bed, and felt like the world was swirling. So I tested my blood sugar again.


My husband, understandably freaked out, had me open my mouth so he could pour some honey in it — and I noticed that while I do think I’ve actually seen a 28 once on my glucometer’s screen, I’d never felt this bad. I didn’t want to open my eyes, the entire top of my body was wet with sweat, and — by far the scariest thing that’s happened to me with diabetes — I felt my body convulse in one or two involuntary shakes. That was what I really found terrifying: the possibility that I might actually go into a seizure and pass out.

Luckily, this did not happen. I downed a Halloween packet of Skittles, ate some more honey, and my blood sugar began to rise. As quickly as it had happened, it was over (I was lucky this occurred long enough after I’d taken Symlin that my stomach was working normally). Exhausted, I promptly fell asleep — knowing full well that it was likely my blood sugar was going to go too high, but too tired to care. And indeed it did — I woke up this morning at 170, and when I looked at my overnight graph, it appears I was hovering somewhere around 230 for much of the night. I hate that — the idea that while I was sleeping, my blood sugar was out of control.

But while I wish I’d thought to set an alarm to see just how high it was getting — and correct it — I’m mostly just grateful that nothing worse happened. And I know that next time I eat bean soup, I’m not going to let my fear of legumes land me in the emergency room.

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Michelle S
Michelle S
12 years ago

So sorry to hear about your low.  I have been type 1 over ten years now (since i was 25) and could count the number of times i end up with seizure type activity on both hands…. in the first 5 years it only happened once i think.  I was alone, without sugar, on a walk and could barely find my way home i got so confused.  then my knees started buckling.  A very close call.  Often it is my arm that “seizes”: starts to tremor but a few months ago I was rushing around getting breakfast for my kids… Read more »

12 years ago

It is so inspiring to read story after story on the internet of a type I going way low and having their significant other step in to save them.  Thank goodness for all of the “others” out there.  I feel so sorry for people who have to do this alone.  Thanks for blogging.

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