Thursday, December 2, 2010

Things I hate about high blood sugars - A Re-Post of a Guest Post from Ninjabetic

I wanted to re-post this post from Scott Johnson who was guest posting on Ninjabetic's blog (got all that?) for many reasons - - - 

The 1st reason being that it was a great guest post on a great blog.  George Simmons has a great blog with a kick-butt name and Scott Johnson did an awesome job discussing high blood sugars. The 2nd reason being that my son, Nate is 2 years old (dx @ 14m) has never been able to tell me what a high blood sugar feels like.  The 3rd reason is that I want people to understand how Nate and others are feeling when they are experiencing high blood sugars. The 4th and final reason is because I think it is SO very important for EVERYONE to know the damage that high blood sugars are doing inside the body.

So without further ado here is the post I want everyone to read, please!

Things I hate about high blood sugars


The hours. When I find myself with a really high blood sugar I know I am in for hours of fighting.  Hours of waiting for my blood sugar to come down, while trying to go on with my day like nothing is wrong.  Don’t forget that I’m also trying to figure out why I’m high in the first place.

Slow Motion. I feel like I’m reacting to everything in slow motion.  My mind is slow.  My reflexes are slow. My body is slow.  Everything is slow.  It is hard because life itself doesn’t slow down.  I think this is most noticeable while I’m playing basketball, but certainly also affects trying to work, think, or write. This brings up an interesting question though – is it possible that driving while high is dangerous too?

Urge to eat.  Sometimes my strongest urges to eat are when my blood sugar is high.  My theory is that my body feels yucky (and slow?), and my brain is looking for a quick “feel good” boost of carbs.  I hate it because the last thing I need when my blood sugar is high is more food.  

Sleepy. Wearing a CGM device has helped me see that when my blood sugar is high, or rising quickly, I get very sleepy.  It is debilitating.  I can’t focus on anything except trying to find a nap.  It’s torture when I can’t nap.  Torture.  This touches on the first couple of points.  Life does not slow down just because my blood sugar is high and I want a nap.  

Pain. I have been playing a lot of basketball lately.  Minimum of three days a week, often four days, sometimes five days.  I used to think that my body had trouble coping with all of that vigorous and impact-filled exercise.  But then I had a couple of awesome weeks where my blood sugar was right where I wanted it during basketball, and I felt great.  I felt great during basketball, but I also felt great after basketball, and the next day too.  It is the days where my blood sugar is high during basketball that I hurt afterward. 

Damage. We all know that high blood sugars damage us over time, but it has always been a very vague concept for me.  I couldn’t visualize what that actually looked like, or how I was being damaged.  Visualizations are powerful, and my friend Wil painted a picture for me in his book “The Born-Again Diabetic” (which I highly recommend).  The quote may be a bit long, but I hope you’ll bear with me.

“Quick biology lesson: you remember the red blood cell, right?  Looks like a Martian flying saucer?  Red blood cells are the FedEx trucks of your body, moving oxygen from the lungs to the cells and carrying out the trash.  Well, Ok, I guess I’ve never actually seen the FedEx guy taking out the trash, but…

Your blood travels through miles and miles and miles of tubing inside your body: the circulatory system.  To be exact, if you took the average human’s circulatory system and stretched it out you’d have 60,000 miles of highway for your blood cells to travel on…well, in.  Everyone’s heard of the big players.  Aorta.  Jugular.  Let me introduce you to the pawn on the chessboard.  The capillary.  Smallest part of this network.  Hey, every cell needs food and oxygen, right?  So red blood cells need a way to get to all of the trillions of cells that make up you.  At the far end of your own personal universe live the distal capillaries.  They are the smallest of the small, and logically enough are at the far ends of your body…your toes and fingertips.

There are two, well, four actually, other places where we find lots, and lots, and lots of capillaries.  More on that in a minute.

Some of these capillaries are soooo small that they are actually smaller in diameter than the cells that pump through them.  Remember our little red Martian flying saucers?  Well, now you need to think of them as pancakes.  Under normal circumstances they are flexible.  They can hunch their little shoulders and wriggle through the capillary.

Unless they are encrusted in sugar.  Then the pancakes become Frisbees.

I’ll leave it to your imagination as to what happens when a rigid object forces itself through a slightly too small soft-tissue space.  Uh huh.  I think you got the visual I wanted you to have.”

Powerful stuff, right?  The other two (four) places Wil mentions are the eyes and kidneys.  It is a scary thought to imagine your blood slicing and dicing all of these things inside our bodies.  

If you live with type 1 diabetes, high blood sugars are impossible to avoid.  Impossible.  Our pancreas is broken, and the tools we have today are slow, imprecise, dangerous, and sometimes crude and barbaric.  

I’m thankful for every single one of them.


And I am thankful to both George and Scott for allowing me to re-post this here at HWHAP and helping me understand exactly what is going on with those pancakes when they turn into Frisbees.  It is indeed a scary thought to imagine.

For those that do not know George Simmons aka Ninjabetic here is a little information about him taken from his blog:

I am a husband, father, writer, musician, type 1 diabetic, and Ninjabetic.
I was diagnosed with Type 1 when I was 17 years old. It was October 2nd 1990 and my life has never been the same. 

After years of neglect and denial I got my act together. After finding "Diabetic Feed," an awesome diabetes podcast, and finding the online community, my health became a priority.

I call myself a Born Again Diabetic because I felt like I was starting over, but I also call myself Ninjabetic because it takes being a ninja to live successfully with diabetes.  <--- I love that!

And for those not familiar with Scott Johnson here is a little information taken from his online journal: 

Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in April of 1980. I recognize the incredible mental struggle of living with diabetes. I hope to share my struggles, my successes, and everything in between. Please read more about Scott Johnson on his online Diabetes Journal.

And last but not least don't forget to purchase Not By Choice by George Simmons from any of the iTunes stores.  100% of the proceeds from the sales of the song from November 14th, 2010 until the end of the year go to the International Diabetes Foundation, the founders of World Diabetes Day.


Unknown said...

This post really struck me too. I appreciated the downright obvious description...and it kind of yanked at the heartstrings thinking about Sugar's precious eyes and kidneys with their little capillaries!!!!

Unknown said...

Love the pancake/frisbee analogy that he used. I too wonder what the "highs" and the "lows" feel like Laura. Joe is just now starting to verbalize how he feels during different blood sugar ranges.

Great re-post of some uber-awesome DOC Blog-Stars! Thank you for sharing.

Meri said...

I read this on Georges blog, and it was an a ha moment for me. I hate highs more than I ever did...and I REALLY hated them before.

Deanna said...

Thank you for sharing this. The analogy helps make things much clearer to me. Scary realization. :(

Best explanation of how high BG causes damage. Thanks for re-posting.

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Just a Mom

I am NOT a doctor, nor do I play one on this blog.

I AM a wife.
I AM the mom of 3 wonderful children.
I AM my son's pancreas.

The information provided on this blog is from our personal experiences with Type 1 diabetes. Because something works for us does not mean it will work for you.

Please consult your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your health care options.

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