Scary, Scary High

There aren't many times that diabetes shakes my confidence in my ability to manage it or overwhelm me to the point where I just can’t think. But a couple of weeks ago, I had such an experience and it was quite scary. My blood sugars levels were so high that I could feel the nausea of DKA.

Before I go any further into my story I want to reassure any of my family members who might be reading this that I’m fine but I have to share this story so that others know that managing diabetes is not as simple as taking medication and eating healthy. It is a lot more responsibility and a hell of a lot more serious.

Back to Scary High Story:

About two hours after eating my dinner my glucose sensor alarmed to announce a high blood sugar. This was not unexpected as it was a carb-y dinner but I expected this number to fall afterwards.

Another couple of hours later, my alarm went off again but this time my sugars levels had more than doubled and this is extremely unusual. Now, I had to try and figure out why and fix it quickly. It takes about an hour for insulin to start to bring sugar levels down, this was going to be a game of patience and very little sleep. I would have to take insulin and wait an hour-90 minutes to see if it was working. So that’s what I did.

The extra insulin didn’t work. So I went looking in my fridge for Insulin pens, hoping that my emergency stash was still in date and tried to remember where my pen needles were. At this point, it was 11pm and I was absolutely shattered from the acupuncture session I had that afternoon for tendinitis in my shoulder and I was in a great deal of pain. I really wanted to go to bed.

I took more insulin using my insulin pens and noticed that my glucose sensor which at this point which was reading “Hi” meaning that my levels were higher than it could register had lost its signal completely, so I set an alarm on my phone to wake up in an hour to do another finger check.

The “What-ifs”

As I w eat to bed, I had to talk myself out of  the “what if’s” and into calm, I told myself that I was doing everything that a healthcare professional would recommend and that I should reserve my panic for when I was all out of options in one hour.

I haven’t mentioned that my husband was not at home on Friday night, so I was also trying not to contemplate the possibility that DKA would render me unconscious and my children would be the ones to find me in the morning.

The Relief

Thankfully at my 1am check, my sugar levels had dropped by 8 mmols to 20 mmols (364 mg/l) and my CGM was picking up the signal again. I keep my fingers crossed that this would continue but I did still need a little more insulin so I gave myself another shot with my insulin pen and set the alarm again just in case my sensor lost signal again.

Thankfully, again, on the next alarm my numbers had dropped again significantly and I switched back on my closed loop system to make sure I wouldn’t have a low episode as a rebound and tried to sleep the rest of the night through the shoulder pain.

Saturday everything was relatively fine with my sugar levels, however they were just a smidge higher than usual I had put this down to complete exhaustion until I had a similar experience again on Sunday afternoon.


The Cause

While I was trying to fix my glucose levels and not panic, I was also trying to figure out what caused these highs to prevent it happening again. I was trying to consider all the possibilities. Was it the large number of carbs for dinner even though it had never happened before? Was it a reaction to acupuncture? Was it a bad site where the needle sits?

In the end, I’ve determined that the cause of these high sugars was my pump failing to deliver the insulin it said it was delivering. I have since switched to a different pump and I’m using a lot less insulin.

I rely so much on my insulin pump and my glucose sensor to help me manage my diabetes but I also have to make sure that I have as much knowledge as possible about diabetes management and about how my devices work because nothing is full proof.