I don’t openly share much about how diabetes has truly impacted my life. I tend to push all that down as a coping mechanism. However, this post has come about from lots of ponderings and conversations with my devoted husband over the last week on how diabetes has impacted my life, his life and questioning my levels of hypo awareness. And I had to write.
Before this week, I always believed I was acutely aware of my hypos except for during the night while sleeping which is why I got a continuous glucose sensor. I was 100% confident that I could feel every one of them most of the time. Now I’m not so sure!
I only discovered that I was sleeping through night time hypos when I accidentally came across something online about the symptoms of nocturnal hypos and I realized “WHAT!” For years, there were many mornings I woke up with blinding headaches and feeling like a boiled sh**e. The occasional headache didn’t seem like something to mention at clinics, after all having headaches and tiredness is common and not really much of an indication of a serious problem. If you don’t already know what the symptoms of nighttime hypos are please read this.
Husband commented on our belief that my hypo awareness seemed to be spot on and went on to recount the only scary hypo he ever witnessed which was 15 years ago, when we were living in America and taking one of those long road trips, 10 hours of driving or more. I’d only been at the wheel for a short time when he asked me if I was ok. I remember feeling just a little tired which wasn’t an alarm bell because we were coming from a weekend family wedding and “Hello” 10 hours of sitting in a car. He suggested we swop back so I could check my levels. Apparently, I had scared him enough with my erratic driving that he needed to get me out of there. I have no recollection of not driving well but I was in hypo with no additional symptoms. Imagine if there was no one in the car with me!!!!
When he reminded me of this, I thought about all the times I just happened to check my glucose and, WTFudge!! I’m hypo with no symptoms. Sometimes, this happened when I got home after collecting kids from school and it was my post meal check. Then, I thought about the fact that sometimes, I feel my hypos when I’m 4.5 mmols and sometimes I don’t until 2.8 mmols. I thought of all the times I just treated my hypos without checking on my meter - how low was I before symptoms started? I feel like I’ve gone down a very deep and very dark rabbit hole with these thoughts!
I’m beginning to wonder if my level of awareness is not always spot on and to question if I can really rely on my body to tell me? How would I know if I was hypo unaware if I didn’t know when to check my sugars???
I can’t believe I used to rely on my body alone to tell me and I’m damn glad I have a cgm now especially while driving.
I don’t take my driving privileges for granted and I always made sure to take all the precautions recommended to make sure I’m a responsible driver. But stopping every hour to check BGs may not coincide with a low bg and if you are already having symptoms of a hypo while driving it’s already too late.
Last week, The driving & vehicle license agency in the UK announced that it has included flash glucose monitors (we call it Flash) and continuous glucose monitors (CGM) as a way of monitoring sugar levels as an alternative to finger-prick testing while driving.
I think this is an important step forward to keep everyone safe on our roads and not just people with diabetes. Well done to all who made it happen.