Riding the Roller Coaster

To the general public, the mood swings of a teenager are the wildest personal roller coaster around. But there’s another roller coaster out there that puts that kiddie ride to shame: the mood swings of a diabetic person like me. In an average teenager, hormones cause mood swings.

In my experience, hormones cause mood swings, and mood swings cause blood sugar changes. Blood sugar changes cause mood swings, which cause stress, which can cause overreactions in treating blood sugar, which cause… but at this point, who cares about mere hormone fluctuations – the roller coaster has taken off, and I’ve got other problems.

Stopping the roller coaster is no simple matter. Since it’s the blood glucose monitor that delivers the bad news about my blood sugar, sometimes I end up taking my aggression out on the messenger. The monitor is the foe that I must conquer. With my left hand holding a three-tenths CC caliber syringe packed to the gills with Humalog and my right hand packing a few hundred grams of wickedly efficient sugar, there is nothing I’m not ready for. Or so I’d like to think.

This method of blood sugar control is rather like using a leaf blower to dust your house. Sure, you’ve got the kitchen well dusted, but have you seen what happened to the living room? No problem, you go work in the living room for a while. Then take a good guess as to what has happened to the kitchen. And so you go, back and forth.

The monitor starts the game with a display of 200 mg/dl. I quickly counter with a conservative 2 units. Impatiently, I check again too soon and am dissatisfied with the results. I want to be normal NOW. Perhaps a little more Humalog will speed things along.

Lo and behold, a few minutes later, a little food has to be administered (that is, enthusiastically devoured) in order to stabilize things. No worries: expert judge of carbohydrates that I am, I have obviously eaten the correct amount and am now back on track. Just to be fair though, I later challenge my monitor again to see what pitiful rebuttal it can conjure in response to my brilliant defense. 250? Obviously that was a bad test strip. These things happen, you know, so it’s always best to double check. 270! Man the syringe and back into the fray!

Since I am now nursing a blow to my diabetic professionalism as well as feeling like crud, it’s safe to assume that my next move in this tactical battle will not be subtle. And so the war rages on, albeit increasingly hampered by a bulging stomach and waning energies.

Considerable technology has been invested to ensure that amusement park rides do not end up on the moon, despite what their names may imply. The goal is that the ride will roll gently to a stop. In order to come to that gentle stop with our roller coaster, it’s crucial not to declare war on the monitor when it spits back an unpleasant number (curse its electronic guts).

Remember that this is not a problem that’s meant be solved immediately. Regulating blood sugar is like going down a mountain. There are two ways to do it. One of them is very fast. If you’re impatient and decide to take the fast route, you will indeed arrive at the bottom, but there is a good chance that you will hit pretty hard. The other option is a slow and steady descent, confident in the knowledge that you will get there safe, sound, and fully functional.

By following the second route, dealing with the dietary-induced, diabolically difficult diabetic swings becomes a short side project rather than a series of battles complete with misguided attacks and weary retreats. Life may have its ups and downs, but there is no need for us to add to them by creating yet another roller coaster.

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