OurDiabetes Tweetchat – Hypos

I’ve been stupidly busy over the past month or so, meaning I’ve missed out on a few of the live tweetchats. No fear, I’ve answered most of the questions that have been asked! The first tweetchat that I’m catching up with, was the one hosted by Sue Gregson – covering the topic of hypos…

Question 1 – Do you get warnings or does someone else notice before you?
I suffer from hypo unawareness. I say suffer, because it is one big pain in the butt! Right from diagnosis in 2011, 90%, I don’t feel when I am low. There are times when I can be sitting at home, watching tv, and I am low. On one occasion, I checked my sugar levels, as I was due to inject my Levemir. Taking into consideration that I felt fine, I was 2.2.
As a result, I check my levels around 6 or 7 times a day. I check before driving, and during long journeys. I check before every meal, before and after exercise. Without checking, there is a 90% chance that I wouldn’t know if I were low. Luckily, I’ve never needed assistance for a hypo, and I’ve never passed out. From this respect, I am very lucky. At the same time, this makes me even more careful. I don’t want to be caught out.
Question 2 – Have you been moved on to a pump because of hypos and did it help?
At the moment, I am on MDI. I have spoken to the pump consultant at my clinic, who thinks I could benefit from having a pump. However, I think it would be more useful to me, to have a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). It would be nice to have some warning of low sugar levels!
Question 3 – Why do you think some people get warnings and some don’t?
Running constantly low, could obviously contribute to lack of warning for a hypo. I ran 6 weeks without a hypo, and the first time I had a hypo, I had two in one day, and felt neither. I wish I knew why I don’t get any warnings when I am low.
Question 4 – When do you think the worst time is for hypos?
I hate the thought of having a hypo during the night. I live at home with my parents, in my own bedroom. Most nights, I am on my own. As far as I know, no one comes in my room to check on me, unless I am unwell. Therefore, if I did pass out because of a hypo, no one would find me until they realised I was late for work…
Question 5 – What’s the worst feeling for you when hypo?
As I have already said, I don’t often feel when I am low. To be honest, any feeling during a hypo, would be better than none.
The bits that don’t fit in with the questions…
I think I need to reiterate one thing about my hypo unawareness. Because I know 90% of the time, I don’t know if I am low, I am especially careful when it comes to driving. Everyday, I check my levels, 40 minutes before driving. This gives me time to get my sugar levels up, if they are too low to drive. As a rule of thumb, I don’t like to drive if I am below 7. On the other hand, I don’t like to drive if I am in the teens.
Last Christmas, my sister bought me the best present ever. A lunch box. In this lunch box, was a bag of jelly babies, a bottle of lucozade, a carton of orange juice, dextrose tablets and some cream crackers. This meant that wherever I am, if I get stuck in traffic, or break down on the motorway, I will have supplies to treat a hypo. I keep this lunch box filled to the brim, and replace anything that goes past its use by date. I keep the dextrose tablets right in front of me.
I rarely go on long journeys. Last weekend, was one of those rare occasions, where I knew I had a 2 hour journey (to visit Vicki). Before I set off, my levels were at an acceptable 8.7. I stopped off at a service station, after an hour’s drive. I checked again. 7.8. Doing well. An hour later, I was 6.8. I’d survived my journey!
I don’t take any risks when it comes to driving. I know how much my mum worries, my dad worries, and Paul worries. The least I can do is look after myself.

3 thoughts on “OurDiabetes Tweetchat – Hypos

  1. I am usually aware of mine but I think this is because my BGs are running quite high atm so even when I’m 4-5 I can feel it. Good in some ways, but bad because of the reason! I have had hypos in the night but have very luckily always woken up, apart from one time which is my worst hypo experience ever. Luckily it was when I was younger and still lived at home. It was actually my cat who woke my parents!! But I was having a fit and hallucinating and even bit my mam in the process of her trying to put jam/syrup inside my gums! Thankfully this was years ago and I’ve never experienced such a bad hypo since but it’s always something to worry about in the back of your mind (as with most aspects of diabetes!!)

  2. Hi Louise,
    I did some time abroad (with my job, not in prison!) back in 1997 when I was on insulin but not on MDI which resulted in me having some low’s to the point of confusion while I was away and several severe low’s when I returned. One severe low had me collapse on a golf course, to be taken back to the club house for several full sugar coke’s and the second time I was in work and then I was in hospital, coming round when the nurse was trying to get me to drink the sugary drink. Consequently I lost my hypo awareness. I don’t think I spoke to my diabetes health care team about it at the time, essentially I was in a “dark time” up to 2008 where I did not properly check and control my BG. It wasn’t until I moved to Bristol and changed to my current hospital and diabetic health care team in 2008 that we talked about hypo unawareness. I was told that it can take several months, possibly more, for hypo awareness to return and that it is the low BGs that decrease your threshold for hypo awareness. The more lows you have the lower your threshold gradually drops.
    On a positive note I am now able to detect and feel a hypo when I start getting into the 4.0 – 4.5 range and get very few that I pick up lower than about 3.2. I certainly got this feeling back in 2008 (maybe before but I don’t know) after seeing my new diabetic healthcare team and have ben able to maintain it ever since.
    I follow a similar routine to you but my driving threshold is 5.0 and I also have bottle’s of lucozade and glucose tablets with me where ever I go (I now have man bag for this stuff) as well as my meter. I have not has a serious low since 1998 and have gained my hypo awareness back again. Hopefully you will be able to do he same.

    Chris Tall.

    PS. Obviously I am reading your blog backwards so sorry about the two comments I have left but I hope they are of use to you.

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