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  • Writer's pictureErin Spineto

There's Always a Way

With so many limitations placed on diabetics by doctors ("You'll never drive a big-rig for a living"), the media (in that news-casterly fake empathy, "Diabetics must watch and measure every thing that goes in their mouth"), and the general public ("Should you really be eating that cookie with your sugar disease and all?"), I sometimes surprise myself but setting up my own barriers.

A few weeks ago, I concluded and posted a blog stating that I should never (a word our pre-marital pastor told us should never be uttered in marriage) take a sleeping pill because it makes waking up and treating low blood sugar very difficulty and could lead to a very dangerous and even life threatening situation. I was certain it was now on the list of things I will never do, right next to eat a scorpion, hike Antiacrtica (I hate the cold), and drive big-rig for a living (I really didn't want to do it, even before the doc told me I shouldn't). The thyroid problems I have been having lately have made it so that it is very difficult to get any sleep of good quality. Its like trying to sleep after consuming 30 cups of espresso and downing a bottle of no-dose. Your mind never really slows down enough to get good sleep. Vivid, anxious, haunt my dreams all night and my body is constantly tossing and turning trying to calm down enough to get comfortable.

After a particularly bad stretch of horrible nights, I revisited the thought of a sleeping pill. I started playing around with how it might be possible. What if I had someone wake me up every hour to test my blood sugars. But, that kind of defeats the purpose of getting a good nights sleep.

O.K. So what do I have? I have a Minimed Continuous Blood Sugar Monitor, Johnny, but, he sometimes won't catch a low until I have been in the 30's or 40's for about a half hour. (For reference, the docs tell you you'll pass out at 30 and if nothing is done, you'll die.)

But I can change the range for which he alarms me. So I tell him to buzz me when I get to 100. One hundred is in the normal range, but I find if my sugars drop, I can feel them going low while Johnny still says I am 100.

And I recently have fixed a series of nighttime lows by reducing my basal rates in the first part of the night. I haven't had a low overnight in 4 days. I can also purposely run my blood sugars a little high, not high enough that I will wake up the next morning feeling hung over, just high enough to guarantee no lows. So I indulge in an extra mother's day cupcake that my daughter made all by herself (yes, I am a little proud that my seven year old can already bake). The evening becomes all about getting everything in order before I take the pill. Sensor in at 6. Calibrate it at 8. Check to make sure it is accurate and trending along with my regular blood sugar monitor which requires a stick every half hour.

At 9, I pop a pill and eat my cupcake. 9:30 and 10 come with more checks of the blood and at 10:07 while watching another episode of my dumb T.V. shows (as Tony calls them), I can feel the pill take hold and get the distinct feeling that I should get into bed rather quickly before I pass out for the night on the hard wood floors of our living room. I wake up the next morning.

I wake up the next morning. It's a funny world when you are appreciative that you actually wake up, when death at night is a constant possibility and every night you lay down could be one that ends up with you coming to while staring at a ceiling that has become so familiar you can recognize which room in the ER they have wheeled you into by the pattern of the roof tiles and lights.

But it is also a life where sleeping through the night is a huge accomplishment. Another battle you have fought valiantly and won. One more notch in your belt of all of the ways you have never let the disease win. My Junior High math teacher always said one day when I grew up I would use all of the skills I learned while solving one stupid word problem after another. I can tell you I do it every day with almost every decision I make to get a leg up on this disease.

So fight on, and make sure you are not adding barriers to the ones the world has already placed for us.

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