By: Scott M. King
I have been taking the new insulin Humalog for almost a year now. It took plenty of getting used to – I had to increase my basal insulin and completely relearn when to take my meal shot. But it’s been working great.
My metabolism is fairly fast, so beef/pork Lente is the long acting insulin that works best for me. (The other long acting insulins don’t last long enough, and the peaks I experience are too sharp.)
Because Humalog controls my after meal BGs so well, my sugar levels have been better than ever. Just yesterday I got the lab results from my last HbA1c test – 6.2% (the non-diabetic range for my lab is 3.8% – 6.5%). This is the first time I’ve ever been this low. My readings had hovered around 7.4% for several years.
The same day I received these results I had two very low BGs.
I was standing in the hall at work talking to my editor when I felt a subtle drifting sensation, confusion that could be the signal of an approaching hypo. Though it was a conversation I wanted to continue, I excused myself to go test. My meter read 33 mg/dl. I can’t ever remember being that low. Later that night I was awakened with a 35! Fortunately for me and my family, I woke up, stumbled into the kitchen and found treatment.
I had checked my BGs before going to bed, like everyone on insulin should. My reading was fine, but if it had been below 100 mg/dl, I would have eaten a snack before closing my eyes.
The hypo earlier in the day had probably used up stored sugar in my body causing my nighttime low. (Studies show that one hypo often leads to another with in a 24 hour period.)
This is not the first time I have gone low during the night. I used to blame myself for doing something wrong. But now I thank my lucky stars for being able to wake up and get to the kitchen on my own legs.
As you’ll read in the story on hypoglycemia, studies show that people with better BG control have to experience lower BGs before they get feelings of hypoglycemia. Now, for the first time in my diabetic life, I have to ask if my control is too good.
Since I know I am not alone, I have identified a few solutions to this mammoth problem:
- Test, test, test your BGs. This is especially important before bed and before driving.
- Get all the information and education you can about the things that can affect your blood sugar. These include, but are not limited to: food choice, physical activity and stress.
- If severe hypoglycemia (i.e. needing assistance to recover) is a problem, you may want to consider discussing switching to a beef/pork insulin with your doctor. Even if it only prevents one serious hypo it’s worth trying.
- Get active and lobby for change. More research dollars need to be funneled into new treatments that will make our lives better and more comfortable. We need a better way to continuously monitor BGs with an alarm for lows. We also need improved insulins, ones that do a better job of mimicking the body’s natural insulin secretion.
Recent surveys show that the general public, and many in the diabetes community, falsely believe that diabetes is a controlled disease. Nothing could be further from the truth. We really don’t have the medical treatments necessary live a totally “normal” life until the possibility of severe hypoglycemia becomes a memory rather than a daily reality.