Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Symptom Game

Okay, folks...how's it going in guessing your BGLs based on your symptoms? Learned anything? And yes, if you found it proved to be a worthless exercise, and you learned I'm nothing but a dweeb, that counts.

I have two topics to discuss today related to diabetes. The first is regarding yet another symptom to watch out for.

In general, going high for a short while is no biggie. But staying high can be dangerous. So, what symptoms can you look for? There are the usuals, such as extreme thirst, frequent urination, feeling a big sluggish. But how about feeling full?

I realized this past week that I've never mentioned this one. Well, at least I don't remember mentioning it. If I have, consider this a refresher. Because when your BGL goes high, your body attempts to halt the digestion process. It doesn't need any more food, since there is already a backlog in your bloodstream.

Generally, if you eat, within an hour or two, you tend to feel normal again...as in, not full. But if you are high, an hour or two later, you may feel like you just finished Thankgiving dinner. For me, this is a sure sign that I'm high. It means my digestive system has shut down for the time being, and usually, I'm pretty safe to give myself a large bolus...first, to cover the already high BGL, and second, to cover the food that remains undigested in my stomach.

And the second topic is in response to a news item I read today where a diabetic man, 35 years old, was confronted by police. The man was hallucinating and experienced seizures. The police weren't aware of his diabetes, however, and they had to use a tazer to get him under control. Problem is, the tazer ultimately killed him.

It is sad, but not altogether unusual. (Well, the tazering and dying might be unusual, but I'm talking about the fact that the police misjudged the man's actions.) This is a danger diabetics face...that if they experience a particularly bad low, the symptoms that result could be mistaken by others for improper behave, such as being drunk or violent. And, in some cases, the response taken by others to protect themselves could be dangerous or downright deadly.

I don't blame the police. How are they supposed to know the difference unless diabetics wear bright read tattoos across their forehead with the Medic Alert symbol or something? They can't. Which means it becomes our responsibility as diabetics to do what we can to prevent these situations.

As much as we work to keep ourselves from being high...being low is worse. I've mentioned it before, but the reason my doctor ultimately put me on the pump was not because my A1c levels were horrible (since I was managing about a 7.1 while on 4-5 shots a day). It was because in order to achieve that level, I was experiencing frequent lows. Lows are dangerous, sometimes from external sources.

So if you could do anything to improve your life as a diabetic, the first and foremost place to start is keeping your BGLs up and not down.


Val said...

The fun with "knowing your symptoms" is that sometimes they are uniquely yours. My symptoms are reversed. I can be high for 10-12 hours before my bladder notices, but if I hit 55 I need to pee. Immediately. As in, before I drink that juice or immediately after. And if my BG is high, I'm starving.

One thing I've noticed using a continous monitor is, sometimes I can tell when my BG peaks and starts heading downward...When I'm low, I talk a lot. I'm cranky when I'm high, but I think that's only when I know I'm high and the corrections aren't working as they should, not from the BG level itself...

Minnesota Nice said...

Ryan, I am still working on a conclusion from "my observations" and it's gonna take awhile.
Interesting how Scott recently posted on feeling very hungry when high, and you now say you feel full. I think I've experienced both and it probably relates to how high, how long it took to get up there, and how long I've been at that level.
I also get extreme brain fog, and these weird muscle aches in my thighs, and a feeling that I'm carrying a sack of stones in my chest (yes, I've had a cardiac workup). And I don't sleep well. It's as if the body is so out of balance that it can't get in sync to rest properly.

Paying attention to the subtle cues that come with body awareness is a whole new adventure for me, but I think it improves with practice.

Thanks for suggesting it.

MileMasterSarah said...

I have never felt full while my blood sugar was high! (Not unless it was high after a dose of symlin and I'd gravely miscalculated insulin dosage!) I will, however, feel very bloated while my blood sugar is high. I will also get a nasty headache, centered around my eyes, and I will have muscle pain in my legs. Lows for me I don't have too many symptoms that I notice right away. In retrospect I'll realize while low that I was arbitrary, fly off the handle crabby, and excesssively annoyed with EVERYTHING. One tip off at night if I am low or dropping fast is I wake up. I don't feel weird, but I can't sleep.

RyanBruner said...

I should point out that not everytime I'm high will I feel full...only, if I feel full several hours after I eat, it generally means I'm high.

As Minnesota Nice suggests, there are certain circumstances that lead to it. In my case, it generally happens if I'm already somewhat high when I eat, and the amount of insulin I give to cover my meal isn't enough, causing my body to never fully start the digestion process. Instead, my body is using that insulin to attempt to lower the already high BGL.

It can definitely happen that a high causes hunger...although, for a completely different reason. If your BGL is high, and your body doesn't have any "nutrition", because it can't breakdown the carbs, the body will actually crave more food. Yet, without the insulin, of course, it still can't break down the food.

In my case, though, that is rare. It is only when I go low that I get ravishingly hungry, since my body is trying to get carbs into the bloodstream. That, too, is usually when I overtreat!

Bad lows. Bad bad!

MileMasterSarah said...

haha, I've never met a "good" low