Low Glucose Alert

I stretch my legs and sprint down the paved path along the four-lane highway in Silver Spring, Maryland. The sun sets behind me, and the bugs eat at my exposed calves, but I relish this 70-degree temperature. After 5 miles of gravel pathways, wooden bridges, and cracked sidewalks, I only have one more uphill battle of this last mile to conquer.

And then my speed starts to wane. I can’t seem to muster the strength to push myself harder even on this decline. Something feels off. My muscles are tired and weak, and my heart rate is accelerated past the point of normal. I stop at the next intersection, and as the stoplight turns red, I look down at the phone strapped to my right bicep.

Low glucose alert – my Dexcom app reads. Continue reading

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My Life With Diabetes: Am I in Control?

I walk down the cracked sidewalk along Wisconsin Avenue, past the Starbucks and Regal movie theater in Bethesda. My fingers start to tingle, and my heart rate increases. Suddenly I feel extremely weak. Each step is an effort, and I feel a steel box closing in around my heart. I am out of breath. My limbs start to shake, and my vision is less reliable. I can’t read the street sign in front of me. I stop at the next intersection and look for the glucose tablets in my purse.

I scramble to chew four of these tablets quickly, leaving a powdery residue on the tips of my fingers. I lean against the side of a brick building and call my supervisor. I’m supposed to be in a meeting in two minutes but until I get my blood sugar back up, there’s no way I’m making it back to the office without help. I’m only a five-minute walk away, but right now my vision is blurry and my hands are shaking.

My supervisor doesn’t answer his phone so I call my work colleague and let her know of the situation. I usually don’t tell people when I’m having a low blood sugar, but in this case, I realize it’s the safest thing I can do in case I do have a seizure in the middle of the street. My work colleague has severe allergies so we’ve both agreed to be each other’s medical back-up. I know where her EpiPen is, and she knows what to do if I pass out from low or high blood sugar. Continue reading

Basal and Bolus

Basal and Bolus are my lifeline, but they’ve recently hit puberty, and their hormones and emotions are all over the place. This does not make life easier for me, and no matter what I do, they don’t listen. I guess I should respect their independence, but sometimes I miss the obedient rates that never questioned me.

I try to be the healthiest person I can be, but there are days when the diabetes takes over. It’s not necessarily a result of anything wrong I’ve done in managing it, but whether it’s stress or hormones, sometimes my blood sugar levels have a mind of their own.

In a State of Flux

Blacktip Reef with wavy blue lineYesterday was one of those days. Since I went off birth control six months ago, I’ve struggled to balance my basal and bolus rates (basal is the long-lasting insulin I take continuously throughout the day; bolus is the fast-acting insulin I take before meals). My insulin sensitivity is constantly fluctuating. Continue reading

The Ups and Downs of Lows

I’m driving my grandma’s formerly owned 1993 Geo Prizm down Taylorsville Road in the suburbs of Louisville, KY. My boyfriend at the time sits in the passenger seat rocking out to Blue October. We’ve seen them twice in concert, once at Louisville’s Fourth Street Live. We’re visiting my family for the weekend, just a few weeks after I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I will be the first in my family to graduate from college in Cincinnati in a few weeks.

I start to feel shaky and weak, but I don’t tell Reed. He recently shaved his head to mask his receding hairline at 22. His former football player fingers tap on his torn jeans. I focus on the yellow lines of the road. We’re only a mile from home – no reason to pull over. I can beat this. Come on Tracy, focus.

My peripheral vision goes fuzzy. Only half a mile now. I stop at the red light at the four-lane intersection of Taylorsville and Hurstbourne Lane. One moment of reprieve.

“Are you okay?” Reed asks, no longer whistling.

“I’m fine,” I say, still focused on the hazy yellow lines.

“You just seem really tense.”

“Let’s get back to my parents’ house, and I’ll explain.”

I pull into the three-car driveway, off to the side, in front of the rose bushes. I run into the one-level brick house. I am as much curious about the state of my blood sugar as I am worried. Reed finds me in my old bedroom, painted a faded blue.

“Whoa, 51,” I say, more out of amazement than concern.

“I don’t think I should have been driving,” I add, heading down the black and white tile hallway to the kitchen for some juice. I’m almost proud that I didn’t have an accident rather than regretful.

“Probably not,” Reed says, his eyebrows raised. Continue reading