When first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, we are told how we will feel. Doctors and nurses come in and tell us what we may experience when we are faced with a low or a high blood sugar, but that’s about it. Mind you most of these medical professionals are NOT Diabetic, which means that they don’t truly know what Diabetes “feels” like. Not only are we not able to fully know what symptoms of T1D feel like until we experience them on our own, but we are never actually mentally prepared for how life is going to feel like from now on, from the good times, to the not so good moments. How we know how Diabetes is exactly like is by simply living with it and experiencing all the possible situations on our own time.
For example, in the hospital, a doctor would typically educate you on low and high symptoms (shakiness, headache, fast heartbeat, etc.), but that doctor doesn’t actually know what it genuinely feels like. When we are faced with our first low blood sugar as a Type 1 Diabetic, it can be a real shocker in the sense that we are not expecting it to feel the way it actually does.
I can remember my very first low when I was essentially “on my own”. I had just gone back to school (6th grade) two weeks after being diagnosed and hadn’t fully understood how important carbohydrates were when on Insulin. I went to lunch that day and didn’t like the bread on the sandwich I was eating, so I decided to not eat the bread and eat the protein inside the sandwich instead, as I thought I was being healthy. Of course, shortly after lunch and having not eaten the carbs I took Insulin for, I had a very bad low. The sweats, shaking, and fast heart beat were so prominent in that low of mine and I needed a friend to walk me to the nurse’s office, where I was given some apple juice to quickly bring my sugar levels back up. Scary, I know, but that was necessary as I then learned why this happened and how to prevent it from happening again.
Trusting your gut is key in living with T1D. You may have just checked your blood sugar minutes before and had a good number. Minutes later, you feel a bit funny but don’t think you could have gone low (or high) in such a short amount of time, but then, you do. You listen to your gut and trust your feelings and, you guessed it, a low. Had you not trusted your own gut, you could have been in for a really bad experience. This can happen in a variety of different situations as a Type 1 Diabetic. You can feel low symptoms when you are actually just fine. You can feel as though your blood sugar is high, when actually, you’re low. Knowing your body and how you feel when certain situations arise can be the thing that saves your life.
Nowadays, we have Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) that tell us what our blood sugars are and where they’re headed, which can give us peace of mind as we go about our day, but can also create anxiety as we can see when we may be going severely low or high at a bad time (work, school, meetings, etc.). Though we can see our blood sugar readings being updated every few minutes, we should not rely on the level of accuracy 100% of the time. Often times, the readings on our CGMs can be way off. That is why we must trust our gut and know our bodies. Every now and then, I may find my CGM readings to be about 100 points off of what my actual blood sugar is, which is extremely dangerous. That just comes to show, always be the one in control of your body and your feelings. You can only depend on yourself to determine how you are truly feeling, and when you do, there is a level of peace in knowing that you were able to catch a bad Diabetic feeling before it caused an emergency.
So always remember, YOU are in control of how you feel. Not your CGM, not your Doctor, but you.