What diabetes FEELS like. It was the idea of a very close friend who asked me to write about it. Let’s start at that useless organ itself, well it feels no pain – thankfully – because it’s a stupid no-good useless organ. (mine, not yours)
I stab myself every day with sharp objects. On average 10 BG
checks. I often have to poke myself more than once to get blood these days. I
don’t really feel it anymore though, honest. My fingertips are calloused and
numb. I inject insulin on average 5 times a day. 10+5=15. 15 stabs. The needles
do hurt sometimes but there’s no rhyme or reason as to WHEN it hurts. It
doesn’t bother me too much. Lantus injections (which I do twice a day) burn
like a motherfucker! It’s not the needle but the insulin itself just… fucking…
STINGS! I cringe and hold my breath usually. Often it leaves marks but perhaps
that just because I’m lazy at changing out my needles. I don't care AT ALL about the poking and injecting.
You can’t really see the havoc my body is wrecking from the
outside. I don’t mean like, xray vision kind of see I mean you can’t see how
I’m feeling. We’ve all had the flu or a cold I’m sure. Someone says, what are
your symptoms? Well, my nose is a dripping hose and this cough is dry. I have a
fever and a headache. We can all relate to that to some degree. High and low
blood sugar? Fuck me!
.....I’ve written and deleted shit tons already because I don’t
know where to start... this is harder than I thought it would be!
This one time, during a bike race, I went low within the
first few laps and I was struggling more than usual. My heart rate was
too high and my legs were moving but they didn’t feel like my own. I started to
question if it was adrenaline and nerves or diabetes related? I
tried to do a couple quick self assessments (while racing, an effort in itself
futile). After a couple more laps, I couldn’t hang on anymore and my energy
dropped off suddenly so I knew I was low. Now what? I knew the race was over
for me but could I still finish? The answer was “not a chance”. I was starting
to see stars. I had dates in my pocket but it was too late for that. I tried to
eat one any way with a totally numb mouth and tongue. The colours were bright
and sounds sharp. I’m going to faint. Panic sets in, what do I do? I should at
least co-ordinate my collapse at the start/finish line. I rolled up and found a
patch of grass, dragged my bike up the curb and slumped over. Why was the sun
so fucking bright? Did they turn up the speakers or something? I can’t hold my
own body up, it’s like my skeleton has turned to slush. I sit there with my
head in my hands and plugging my ears with my palms over my eyes. I can’t think
or speak and the world around me is overwhelming. Words are there but I can’t make my mouth work. If I continue without
sugar I’ll have a seizure and go into insulin shock. It’s quick to get my sugar
up. Maybe only 10-15 minutes but it feels like A LIFETIME. I am panicking.
Adrenaline from the fight or flight response kicks in.
Then the post low treatment sugar consumption leaves me sick and nauseated.
Or this one time on holidays in South Carolina I got sand
stuck in my…… infusion set! So it was hours later when I realized that it
jammed the site. My Beeg crept up and I was like a robot slowly dying. Highs
are, in reality, a build up of glucose in the blood stream. It turns my blood
into pudding. Sludge pudding. Of course it’s not going to move through my body.
It feels like my eyelids are weights and I’m in the Saraha desert. My eyeballs
are dusty, my mouth cottony. Most people get the urge to drink a lake but not
me. I get terrible nausea and cramps. The nausea rolls and undulates
threateningly. My head pounds. I can’t think, I can’t function. Why is there a
moose sitting on my chest? Everything is irritating me and I feel like I’m
going to kill someone if they look at me the wrong way. I’m not normally a
short-tempered person. If I continue without insulin I’ll go into diabetic
ketoacidosis and fall into a coma. It takes a long time (into the hours) for my
beeg to start coming down but when the fog begins to lift I feel renewed and human again. I won't feel right for the rest of the day.
Those are really the two majors in diabetesland and since this disease is impossible to manage I probably spend a lot of my life on either side of the spectrum. It leaves me constantly wondering. Yesterday I was driving and I got a decent sleep the night before. It was the afternoon and I was feeling especially drowsy. I got the heavy eyelids and cursed. I'm like, "I'm fucking high. Great. I'm on my way to do a speaking event for diabetes and I'm HIGH!". I tested and my beeg was... wait for it... PERFECTLY NORMAL! I was just "regular person drowsy".
I automatically assume any time I am feeling "off" it's gotta be blood sugar related. It doesn't seem to matter how many times my beeg tanks or soars it feels just as bad every single time. Even though I know intelligently I will get it back in line (eventually) it's not enough to cease the inherent panic.
For more readings on FEELING diabetes, here are a few other posts from friends:
Diabetes: What It's Like On The Inside
That Diabetes Feeling
An Open Letter to Diabetes
This is Diabetes
This is Life