Peered closely at the digital clock simultaneously reaching for the 30 year old glass Moccona coffee jar that still contains my handy store of jelly beans. I had that feeling. Vague; light-headed; spacy; heart pounding. I grabbed a handful, stuffed them into my mouth and started chewing as if my life depended on it. Worried then that the chewing motion was further depleting what little glucose was in my blood, exacerbating the hypo.
That was the reading on my blood glucose meter.. I'd checked my BG while still lying on my side ( - thanks, Accuchek Mobile, for inventing a meter that doesn't require me to mess with test strips.) Al had already woken at the tell-tale sound of my jellybeans rattling in the jar.
'I'll get you a juice,' he said.
'I may not be here when you get back,' I murmured, but he'd already darted off to the other end of the house. I thought I might lose consciousness, as in general anaesthetic black-out
I tried to relax; reduce the palpitations that had increased since I'd seen how low I was. I breathed through the fear of losing consciousness which has only happened three times in 31 years.
Somehow the horror of that first time hasn't left me. That was back in 1985. We'd just flown to England; my first time dealing with the change in time zones with my relatively recently diagnosed diabetes. I was on three injections a day - two fast-acting insulin and one fast-acting protaphane combo - and somehow the exhaustion of the trip had me waking out of a deep sleep and jamming a couple of complimentary hotel toffees into my mouth before passing out.
Props to Al. He managed to call for help and get my 28 year old body into undies and tee-shirt before the ambulance arrived. All while I was seizing. Al says I was out to it for about twenty minutes. I was conscious when they put me into the ambulance and took me to Emergency at London University hospital, where of course, I was discharged within an hour or so. I didn't need an ambulance, I needed a shot of Glucagen. But I didn't know that. I didn't know that the n-th degree of a hypo was losing consciousness. Just part of a steep learning curve on a lifetime journey.
I recovered quickly from that hypo, as I usually do. It took a bit longer for the cuts on the palms of both hands to heal. I used to have long nails back then. While I'd been seizing I'd clenched my fists, my nails consequently digging into my palms. I'd also bitten chunks out of the insides of my cheeks. No doubt the mother of all cold sores that plagued me for the next six weeks was a result of that hypo fear too.
I didn't think all this today as I was breathing through that hypo, but I was mindful of the same pre-losing consciousness symptoms. When my blood sugar is that low it seems to get me in the eyes. Hard to describe. They 'burr' and feel like they're turning in my skull. It's a terrifying feeling, as if my eyes are being pressed with wads of cotton wool. Why cotton wool? It sounds so benign and fluffy. Soft, thick pressure? Feel like I'm back in France searching for the right words. The other feeling that I get when I'm this low? Imagine having your eyes pressed into your skull as you're pushed backwards off a cliff with no safety harness.
Then there's the heat and drenching perspiration and no energy to throw the doona off.
But I got over it. And this has only ever happened to me when I've been sleeping. When I'm awake I test frequently to avoid being stricken unawares.
Glad today, as I frequently am, that I'm working part-time and today's a day off. I struggled out of a deep sleep at 8.47.
Damn you, digital clock.
Thanks for reading.
* That's a.m.
** Normal blood sugar ranges between 4 and 8 mmol. Yeah. I wish.