There are a lot of things we learn to live with as a result of having diabetes. Hypos are just one of many things that we people with diabetes have to face.
I remember when I was diagnosed that the specialist nurse I saw at the time tried to explain to me what it would feel like when I had a hypo. (There’s no “if” in these cases – you’re bound to have a hypo eventually). I don’t remember how she described it at the time, although in fairness I was too busy trying to work out how to carry all the stuff I’d been given and desperately trying to remember what doses of insulin I needed to take.
What I do vividly remember is having my first hypo.
I was working in a pub kitchen when that feeling we’re all familiar with started to wash over me. I could feel my heart pounding and my hands were starting to shake. I remember feeling quite disoriented – it was as if thinking had become something to concentrate on rather than being a reflex action. I think the best analogy you can give someone who isn’t diabetic is that it’s like being in an induced state of panic. I’m not sure it’s possible to convey to someone who doesn’t get hypos how it actually feels. Of course your close friends and family will learn the signs and can see what it looks like (reports of me being grumpy in such situations are wide of the mark), but you can’t articulate the way it feels.
I’d been given a number to call the first time I went low so that a nurse could make sure I was OK. I remember stepping outside and making that call, trying to explain what was happening as if I was the first person that this had ever happened to. Of course that’s not true, but when it’s happening to you for the first time, you’re convinced that you’re the only person in the world that feels that way.
Of course the nurse talked me through what I needed to do. I’m fairly sure I actually carried proper Dextrose tablets back then so having had a couple of those and a sit down I felt ready to go back to work. The added bonus of working in a kitchen meant a free sandwich was fairly easy to come by.
There are so many hurdles we have to jump with this condition and whilst they get easier with time, the first time you go over one, it feels like a mountain.
Remember that you’re not on your own with your diabetes – there are a lot of people out there who understand what you’re going through and will help if you need it. You can always contact us as peer supporters and we’ll help in whatever way possible.
Until next time, take care