Treating Hypoglycemia: A Chance to Revert to Toddler Behavior


At something like 4:30 AM on this past Thursday morning, my CGMS woke me up with the “low” alarm.  Hypoglycemia. I always keep my receiver in bed with me so that I can check it in the middle of the night if needed.  This particular night, I was so completely exhausted that I subconsciously ignored the alarm twice before I gradually became cognizant of what was going on and I pulled myself up in bed to check my blood sugar.  62.  I wasn’t too worried, but then again it was 4:30 AM; the only thing I was worried about was getting back to sleep.  The CGMS receiver still shone brightly as I slowly collected my thoughts.  And thus, with the realization of the “unfair” circumstance that was before me, I quickly plummeted into the realm of early childhood.  


The basket of low supplies I keep on my nightstand, complete with glucose tablets, glucose gel, juice boxes, emergency numbers, and a hand-carved angel my parents gave me when I was diagnosed.



First, there was the whining:  I don’t wannnnnnt to get out of bed!  I don’t wannnnnnnt to treat this low!  I’m not even hunnnnnngry!  I had flashbacks to my own toddlerdom, where I would find myself drawing out words I knew were important in the sentence.  I was so tired!  I just wanted to sleep!  

Then, the irrational decision-making:  Maybe if I wait it out, it’ll go back up!  Maybe I should just lie back down and call a friend to discuss the situation.  At this point, I was willing to stay awake; I just didn’t want to get out of bed.  

Next, the sudden awareness of bodily functions:  I think I have to go to the bathroom.  Why the desire to remedy a full bladder trumps the need to treat hypoglycemia, I don’t know, but it got me out of bed nonetheless.  I stumbled toward my bedroom door, then realized I hadn’t done anything to treat the hypoglycemia yet.  

And this is where the toddler-like behavior comes to a climax:  Great idea!  I’ll treat the low while going to the bathroom!  Next thing I knew, I was sitting on the toilet, in the dark, slurping down a Clifford juice box.  I still had my eyes closed as I sipped through the bent straw–the envy of 29-year-olds everywhere, I’m sure–and finally reached some normal level of consciousness.  I opened my eyes and stared at myself in the mirror.  What am I doing?  If someone would have walked in on me in that moment, I’m not quite sure how I could’ve explained myself.  My thoughts immediately traveled to when I used to teach preschool and I would catch students doing the most ridiculous, albeit earnest, things.  Blindly carrying a juice box to the bathroom could certainly be considered creative problem solving… right?  

Grasping for any sense of dignity, I trudged back to my room, empty juice box in hand, hoping my roommates didn’t happen to wander out of their rooms while this half-delirious episode was taking place.  I replenished my little basket of low supplies that I keep next to my bed.  I tested.  I checked the time.  And then, as if nodding adieu to the Terrible Twos, I climbed back into bed, victorious.  Victorious because I had successfully taken care of my body’s immediate needs, yes, but more importantly because I did something no two-year-old gets to do:  I actively chose to not brush my teeth again before returning to bed.  Take that!  I winnnnnnn!


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Dr. Margaret A. Morris
11 years ago

Oh man. I’ve been there. Especially the, “Well, if I just ignore it, it will go away,” approach to treating lows. I’ve also been clearing alarms on my CGM in my sleep as of late– so I wake up an hour and a half after the first alarm, with the second alarm telling me I’m 50 :/

But! I always brush my teeth. I highly recommend that. I learned as a teenager that correcting lows at night without brushing leads to lots of cavities. Trust me. Brush ’em! 

11 years ago

Your low basket is so artful! My nighttime low supplies: a box of sugar cubes in a ziplock bag in my bedside table. I had to dip into it 3 times last night. I fell back asleep several times without action before reawaken later and realizing that I still needed to treat. My process: mouth guard out, munch 4-6 sugar cubes, drink some water, mouth guard in (you’ll notice, no teeth brushing). As always, thanks for sharing your experiences.

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