Ever since I got diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, hypos have probably been the thing that I’ve been struggling with the most – hypo unawareness which eventually led to hypo fear.
What I hate most about having a super low blood sugar is sometimes having the feeling of losing control over your body, feeling helpless and grumpy – the dizziness and shakiness.
I usually catch them in time, (especially since I started wearing a CGM, which also helped me a lot with my hypo fear and with reducing my amount of hypos – a huge thank you to technology!!!) however about 4 years ago on Easter Sunday…well let’s say it didn’t go that well.
But let’s start from the beginning!
It was during my last year of high school – I was about to graduate and had just broken my right arm’s scaphoid bone and torn a tendon which resulted in my blood glucose levels being aaall over the place because of the pain and stress.
In preparation for my A-levels, I was taking an intensive math course during the Easter holidays. I did not sleep much, got sick and literally ran on coffee and insulin.
So on Easter Sunday a few of my friends and I went to a party. I was super pumped for a fun-packed evening with lots of dancing and just having a good time to help get my mind off the stress and the past few weeks.
The thing is, I like pushing my body past my limits, but this time I went a bit too far. I did not listen to my body telling me to stop, to take a break, even though deep inside I knew that I should. So on this particular day I drank a lot of coffee because I was so tired, I hadn’t fully recovered from having really bad tonsillitis yet but decided to go to the party anyway.
I had a great time there and really enjoyed the evening but was super glad as soon as I got back home, finally took off my makeup, tested my blood sugar to make sure that everything was okay and went to sleep.
A few hours later I woke up again because I was sweating like crazy. I instantly assumed that my blood sugar was super low so I went straight to the kitchen to grab some juice as I do most of the time when I have a low blood sugar.
I normally always keep glucose tabs next to my bed in case of a really bad hypo but since I was not feeling that bad, I decided to go to the kitchen to grab something from the fridge.
I remember getting out of my bed, walking down the stairs, going into the kitchen. Then – Blackout.
The next think that I remember is laying on the ground, my head hurting like crazy and seeing a bunch of people around me talking, asking me a bunch of questions about my name, age, where I was and if I knew what had happened. I recall seeing my mom’s scared face, the taste of blood in my mouth (because I bit my tongue), the pain in my arms and legs and feeling super confused.
Another Blackout. Then I am back in an ambulance vehicle. Flashing blue lights. More noises. More questions that I cannot answer. To be honest, I do not remember that much besides feeling so much pain and not really knowing what was going on.
I remember getting admitted to the hospital – I could barely move my arms and feet and I still did not quite understand what was going on.
As it turned out a bit later, I lost consciousness, fell to the ground, hit my head and had a severe seizure due to a low blood sugar.
But what is a diabetic seizure?
Your brain needs sugar to function properly. So when the blood sugar drops very low (which is usually below 30 mg/dl), the actions of the neurons in the brain decrease – which causes the seizure.
Seizures can be caused for many different reasons. For people without epilepsy (a disorder where seizures can happen quite often) they are often called “provoked” seizures because they were brought on – or provoked – by something “abnormal” happening in the body. People with type 1 diabetes normally can have provoked seizures when their blood sugar levels drop too low.
So what happens during the seizure?
You can become unconscious, unable to respond, appear to be in trance, with your eyes blinking rapidly, fall and have convulsions (this is exactly what happened to me) that cause your muscles to contract involuntarily. This makes the body move and jerk out of control – which can be mild or severe.
What happened afterwards.
What was really confusing for me though was, that my blood sugar was around 70 mg/dl / 3.9 mmol/L when I fainted – which is not typical for a diabetic seizure. Later on my doctor told me that not sleeping enough, the stress and physical exhaustion as well as my blood sugar going down triggered my body’s reaction.
I had to stay in the hospital for two nights due to a slight concussion because I slammed my head against the ground pretty hard.
It took me quite some time to “get back to normal”. I was struggling with visual problems, dizziness, really bad headaches as well as with memory problems and panic attacks.
I was absolutely terrified of having hypos and going to sleep for several weeks after the seizure because I was so scared that it would happen all over again.
Having the seizure was absolutely one of the most terrifying moments that I have ever experienced. Despite this being a very traumatizing memory not only for myself but also for the people around me, I am so thankful that I was not alone when it happened.
Even though this absolutely sucked and I would never want anyone to experience this, it was also a wake-up call for me. It’s so important to take care of yourself. Listen to your body. Your body is your most priceless possession and you should treat him as such.