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World Diabetes Day: Dealing With the Highs and Lows of Diabetes This Month

November 13, 2014

It’s been a little while since I’ve written, and I had been planning on posting something since the month of November started, as it’s American Diabetes Month. However, November has not been terribly kind to me, diabetes-wise. In honor of World Diabetes Day 2014, which is Nov. 14, I felt like I had to recount what I’ve been dealing with.

You see, I made a big mistake again, and then compounded it by making an even bigger, bone-head-ier move right on top of it: I got comfortable, thinking my dosage was great and would not change for the foreseeable future; then I thought “daylight savings coming to an end won’t bother me.” Boy. I never seem to learn.

The end to daylight savings this year in America (with the exception of parts of Indiana, Alaska, Arizona and some other areas) was Nov. 2. This is the first year Meg and I have convinced our son, Boy Wonder, to stay asleep until his ready-to-wake alarm went off at 7:15 a.m. (which was really 8:15 a.m. to his young 3-year-old body). We did this by keeping him up an extra hour to watch “The Muppet Movie,” and repeatedly telling him “Don’t wake Mommy and Daddy until your clock turns green.”

He was in. I thought everything would be fine. I’d just set the clock on my insulin pump back before going to bed.

I did. I woke up and my sugar was fine. Then all hell broke loose.

My sugars started going nuts right off the bat. (I attribute this to the “Dawn Phenomenon.” Damn you, liver and overactive hormones!)

My basal rates (pre-daylight savings end) were pretty steady and not too high, going from 1.5 units per hour from midnight to 2:30 a.m., then dropping to 1.45 units from 2:30-6:30 a.m. Then they went up to 2.3 units. At 9:30 a.m., apparently, my liver would pretty much stop producing glucose, as my basal rate went down to 0.25 units per hour until 11:30 a.m., when it would go up to 2:75 units. At 3 p.m. I’d cut back to 1.3 units, then back down to 0.55 units at 4:30. At 9 my rate would go up to 1.5 units, and at 10 p.m. up to 1.55 units. Then, at midnight, it would drop back to 1.5 units per hour again. I’d had this rate for a few weeks, with only slight adjustments needed.

My sugars on Nov. 2 and for the next couple weeks started going apeshit bananas. Alarms started going off overnight, so I had to cut back my midnight and 2:30 a.m. doses pretty dramatically. Then, starting at 6:30 a.m., my liver must have started working overtime. Where, before, I was receiving 2.3 units per hour, this dose caused my sugar to keep going up and up and up and up, going well past 300. It took several days until I settled on my current dose, of 2.95 units per hour. Then, strangely, my 9:30 a.m. bottom-out went away. In fact, my sugar started to spike again, aggressively, until I was able to figure out I had to adjust to 3.2 units, and this dose had to start at 8:30 a.m. (Those were fun days at work, dealing with spiking sugars while trying to get things done in my job.) After 10 a.m., my doses seemed to settle down again, with slight adjustments at 11:30 a.m. and again at 1. In fact, things seemed to be going pretty well with fairly balanced doses throughout the afternoon.

Then came the evenings. From 7 p.m. on, my sugar would spike again. Up and up and up my sugars went; blood sugars of 200, 220, 250, 280, 300, 350, 380. Higher and higher my sugars went. I kept trying to self-adjust and figure out what the hell was going on. Corrective doses of insulin, as well as raising my basal rates, and my sugars kept rising.

Finally, after a few days of frustration and discomfort, my body and I have reached a tenuous peace. (By the way, if you’re wondering what the big deal is about having high blood sugar, they are really uncomfortable for me; I’m not sure if other diabetics experience this, too, but I feel real physical discomfort when my sugar is high. Not just the dehydration, but also back pain and a burning sensation in my nostrils. I remember once, when I was dealing with some hypoglycemic unawareness issues years ago, when someone suggested I just let my sugars go high, and why that would be so bad. “Because it hurts,” I said to this person who had never had a high blood sugar in their life.)

Anyway, after lots of trial and raising basal rates, I finally found what appears to be the correct rate: 5.0 units per hour from 7 p.m. until 10:30 p.m., when it drops down to 1.4 units per hour. (Over the past couple days, there’s been a slight correction, so my 7 p.m. dose has dropped down to 4.9 units per hour, and the 10:30 p.m. dose to 1.3 units.

Still, it’s been a fairly exhausting few weeks.

These are the trials and tribulations that most people who don’t have diabetes (with the exception of my wonderful wife, Megan, who’s been my savior on many, many occasions) don’t know about.

But the real moral of this story is this: I’ve learned my lesson. I promise not to get comfortable or think I know too much. I promise to be a good boy and respect my faulty pancreas, and know that, if I don’t, it could really royally screw up my days.

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