Low Blood Sugar: Harder on Those We Love


Low Blood SugarAs a diabetic I know that low blood sugar is difficult to deal with. But, for the people close to me, for the people who love me, it’s harder.

My cousin Daniel once told me what it’s like sometimes when my blood sugar goes very low. We were recounting what happened after he spent 15 minutes coercing two boxed fruit juices down my throat to bring me out of a particularly severe episode. I had no memory of it at all. “Just before you got really bad, I could tell,” he said. “Your eyes go dead. It’s like you’re not even there.”

It’s easier on me in many ways because I don’t remember. It’s easier because I’m not there.

The first time my blood sugar really crashed hard I was in college. It was during a class in which we sat in a circle and read what we were writing. In that class on this particular afternoon I took my glasses off and started chewing on them. I looked at my friend Ed Dumas and said to him, “Ed, I’m fucked,” before falling to the floor and flopping around like a con man in a revival meeting.

For reasons that, to this day, Ed doesn’t even understand, he jumped up, ripped a set of venetian blinds off the window, and yelled, “Nobody move! He’s a diabetic!”

Then he called an ambulance. I came to in an emergency room. When the doctor asked my name I didn’t know. “I’m sure it’s in my wallet.” I was unable to answer the doctor’s question about the day. I didn’t even know what year it was. It came back to me when Ed stepped up, put his hand on my shoulder, and asked if I was all right.

Once, at a new job, my sugar went so suddenly low at my desk that I could barely see or stand, much less think. My friend Jeremy noticed I was not myself. He tried to get me to drink a Coke. I, however, was in a total panic. I was certain my boss would see me in this condition, and that I would lose my job. I begged Jeremy, in a loud slur, to not tell. This attracted attention. I ran from our farm of cubicles into a hallway, then collapsed on the floor irrationally terrified over my impending termination.

The next thing I recall, my new boss and Jeremy were holding me as I drank some juice, then helping me to my feet. It turned out my boss’s wife was a diabetic. When I came back to my cubicle everyone gathered around me looking stricken and concerned. Then my boss relaxed everyone by joking that he needed to stop putting the fear of God in his employees like that.

Apparently, when I become inappropriately affectionate, it’s a sign of impending doom. I know this because the first time I told my girlfriend that I loved her we had only been dating two weeks.

“Well,” she said, “that’s nice.”

I then proceeded to insist to her that her mother’s birthday was December 14, which it is not. She realized something was not quite right, convinced me to drink some orange juice, and filled me in on the surreal drama that had just taken place.

Some weeks later I told her that I loved her. She asked me if I needed some juice. I said no, I didn’t.

“Good,” she said, “I love you, too.”

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Cathy Lynch
Cathy Lynch
8 years ago

Thanks for sharing your stories Alex.  I am the parent of a T1 child.  I am so sorry that you and people like my son must go through all of this.  Perhaps the title of this article should be “Hard on those we love too”, as although someone I love has T1, in my heart I know it is harder for him than it is for me, as no matter how hard I try, I cannot shoulder this burden for him.  Thanks again for a great post.

Scott K. Johnson
8 years ago

recently shared (about 6 mins in) the story of a bad low I had overnight and my wife still won’t talk about it. 

Thanks for sharing these stories, Alex, it takes a lot of courage to talk about them.

I think it’s one of the most unfair things about low blood sugars. They take out the one thing we need in order to safely get out of them – our brains!


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