Disclaimer : Please remember while you are reading this, nothing you read on the blog americanwife.blog should be considered an advice medical or otherwise. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. This blog is just my experience on living with Type 1 Diabetes for the last 3 years.
Before I begin diving into these 7 incredible ways, let me explain who this blog is most suited for –
- Someone newly diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (If that’s you: I love you and remember you are braver than you think and I am here if you need to talk )
- Someone living with a diagnosed Type 1 Diabetic (You got this!)
- A dia-bestie who wants to spread the love (yeahhh)
- Anyone who is interested in reading about the Life & Struggles of living with Type 1 Diabetes (You are awesome)
- My friends / family who want to know more about my life (Thank you)
- My husband who wants to check my grammar (Thank you a lot)
- So basically, YOU!
If you are new to the world of Type 1 Diabetes then let’s first break the ice with this Lifelong disorder.
What is Type 1 Diabetes (Brief)?
For those who don’t know, Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune
disorder where for unknown reasons to mankind, your immune system starts attacking the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas: a silly
mistake (pun intended).
This condition causes the pancreas to die slowly,
making the person living with Type 1 Diabetes dependent on Insulin for the rest of their life. It is a lifelong condition with no cure at the moment, however my fingers are crossed. It usually happens in kids but it can also happen later in life like it happened for me. Medically speaking, my condition has a new name and that is LADA (Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults). It’s a fancy name, right?
What do I mean by bad days?
By bad days, I mean the episodes of Hyperglycemia, or like it’s famously known as – Highs, which means that our blood sugar sometimes shoots above normal (Lows mean the opposite and that is no fun either).
Even though there is no cure at the moment, managing Type 1 Diabetes is fairly straightforward. You check your blood sugar, count your carbs, inject the right dose of insulin, and voila. Yes, it is straight forward but by now means I am saying that it is easy though things do get better with time.
Personal Story that proves the point: when I was diagnosed 3 years ago, I had no idea how to even go for a walk without worrying about going low or high and now I travel freely, have been on hikes, and can even run-on treadmill. By the way, each time I run on the treadmill, even when it is for 5 minutes, I am looking at everyone with an expression like I just ran a New York City Marathon.
Even when I am taking care of it with 100% diligence, I make mistakes or life happens that makes my blood sugar readings go crazy.
Over the last three years, I have found that these seven methods work for me.
Before I get into “How I Manage days With High Blood Sugar as a Type I Diabetic”, a small disclaimer: Everyone who has type 1 Diabetes has different underlying sub-conditions and their bodies react in different ways. By no means am I saying these seven methods will work for everyone. These are entirely based on my learnings, experiences, experiments with my body over the last three years of living with the condition.
Having said that, if Hyperglycemia is something you struggle with then I hope you can find something that is helpful for you.
Without further ado, lets jump right into the 7 ways I manage high blood sugar in Type 1 Diabetic days aka my highs-
Diabetes isn’t a crutch or an anchor. It’s just another obstacle to manage and work around – Jay Cutler
1) I learned the common causes of getting high blood sugar
The main objective of anyone living with Type 1 Diabetes is to avoid going low or high. The process is systematic but your bodies are complex machines. No two days are the same and having an episode of Highs is very normal. There are many reasons you can go high and figuring those out is the most crucial step. Some common ones for me are –
- Eating too many carbs and injecting less insulin : It is a classy reason which I am sure is inevitable as let’s face it, you have Type 1 Diabetes but you also have a life which sometimes has occasions to celebrate, a binge worthy night or an emotional carb load day. Type 1 Diabetes will not make you a saint and if you are someone who has 100% control over every morsal of food then there is no one who is more powerful than you. I respect you so very much.
- Monthly menstruation cycles : This one is crazy for me. I still do not understand the rise and fall in my blood sugar levels during my periods (cycles/ menses/ down/ whatever word you fancy).
Some days I am struggling with constant Lows which by the way, I secretly love as then I can fulfill my period ritual of eating Maggi (Indian instant noodle) during the first day with chai. I had briefly stopped this decade-old ritual during the first 3 months after my diagnosis. And then from the 4th month, I realized that Type 1 Diabetes is not going anywhere so for how long can I stay unhappy on the first painful day of my periods. Now I say, this is my ritual and I am doing it.
Life is not all fun and games during these days are there are these other times when I am simply High (High Blood Sugar and not high on something) even when I eat NOTHING and I HATE those days. Everyone who lives with me also hates those days as let’s face it, hormones induced bad mood plus high blood sugar is equal to a disaster.
- Injecting in the same spot which may have caused less insulin absorption: The first and only thing doctor told me while putting me on Insulin therapy was to rotate the injection sites which I forgot as soon as I got into the rhythm until one day when I saw a bump on my stomach. If you see a bump then that means you injected in the same area multiple times and that has caused the fat tissue below the skin to swell. When that happens then the insulin does not get absorbed the way it should leading to a high blood sugar.
Note: its not necessary that you see a bump. Sometimes when I keep getting Highs for no reason, I just change my site and it works.
- Reduced level of activity but injecting the same amount of insulin: Again, a very common one for me. The days I go to gym, I know how much carbs I should eat and how much Insulin I should Inject. But if I miss a day or two then the reduction in activity level makes my body not burn enough calories making me go high with the same dose of Insulin and same amount of carbs. This article from Mayo Clinic explains it well.
Basically, everything you do impacts your blood sugar levels and if you start some form of workout then that usually makes your body need little less insulin than before.
Once I know my reason, I know what went wrong and how long it will take to start feeling better. Its not an easy process and even now, I sometimes have no idea why I go high on certain occasions but the next steps help me during that time.
2) Take a moderate walk
Note: This helps when there is insulin on board and walking helps to mobilize that more easily & rapidly to other body parts
Let’s face it, when you are High, you won’t feel like getting up from bed let alone go for a walk. But staying in bed and doing nothing, almost always works against me. Instead, if I go for a long slow walk then 90% of the time, I start to feel better.
The other 10% of the time, instead of feeling better, my blood sugar goes even higher. Then I know that I just have to wait for the next meal and pre bolus.
Pre-Bolus means you give yourself insulin 15 minutes before your meal. For me, I know that when I have high blood sugar, I must inject before I eat and only have my meal when my blood sugar is in the stable range.
3) Workout as long as my Blood Sugar is under 240 mg/dL
Healthline says – If your blood sugar is higher than 250 mg/dL (13.9 mmol/L) before you start your workout, test your urine or blood for ketones. If you have a high level of ketones in your urine or blood, it’s not safe to exercise. Contact your doctor and follow their instructions to treat the elevated ketones. (https://www.healthline.com/health/severe-hypoglycemia/working-out)
I have never tested ketones because the strips were not available in India. So I did my own R&D and now I know that whenever I am in the range 180 to 230, then I know that it’s the best time to work out. In many ways its even better to have this range for having a good workout as then I don’t have to fear going Low.
4) Drink more and more water
It’s not rocket science – the more water you drink the more you will pee and the more blood sugar you will flush out. Diabetes.co.uk says something similar: The bodies of people with diabetes require more fluid when blood glucose levels are high. This can lead to the kidneys attempting to excrete excess sugar through urine. (https://www.diabetes.co.uk/food/water-and-diabetes.html)
For me, the thought itself of drinking or eating when I am high makes me nauseous but I know this will help. So, chugging water gets really important when lowering blood sugar is the aim.
This is not a one stop solution as this does not radically change my blood sugar levels but combined with other methods, it helps in accelerating the recovery process.
5) Planning the next meal with utmost importance
During my initial days I used to think that if I am high then injecting more Insulin is the solution but that would result in either becoming more insulin sensitive for the next few days or will result in episodes of hypoglycemia (hypo) which then would lead to eating more carbs and then hyperglycemia(hyper).
The best thing to do for me is to follow this method: –
- Pre-Bolus before the next meal
- Wait for the blood sugar to come in range
- Eat usual carb intake which I usually would in that range and with that insulin count (yeah, I know, my math after diagnoses is pretty solid)
- Sometimes when I am ridiculously high like above 370 mg/dL then I would try and consume light meal along with pre bolus. The important thing to do then is monitor my blood sugar so I am not low after a few hours (which happens sometimes)
- Check for ketones – I never did
6) Chill and avoid all sorts of stress
This is one of the best and perhaps a very difficult thing to do. A fun story – The day I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was crying uncontrollably. I went to the medical store which was next to the doctor’s clinic to inquire about the insulin prices. My eyes were swollen from all the tears and the guy behind the counter saw my sadness. He quickly jumped to my rescue and said “don’t take stress, your blood sugar will rise another 20 points” and he smiled which made me smile.
The lesson was valuable. Later I got to digging deep on internet and found that stress will cause the blood sugar to rise so isn’t it important to not take it when you are already high?
A bonus point before the big reveal – The medical advice says that you should check for ketones in our body. If you have ketones & you are not feeling like you are getting better then it’s good to check with a medical professional. KDA is fatal and we don’t want that, ever. Seriously!
7) Lastly, sometimes the best thing to do is to have some patience
Somedays or some weeks are just bad, no matter what. Period. The important I tell myself is to not take stress (of course after ruling out the possibility of KDA). What I do during these times is eat light, inject accordingly, not change anything drastically, walk if I can and just have patience. Thank God for Netflix or maybe thank Reed Hastings & Marc Randolph (I literally just googled this, smart right?)
If I had a placard about Type 1 Diabetes in my house then one of those would say – “The day will end and I know I can start over with small steps once again”
How was your time reading about my world? How do you manage your bad days living with your condition?
Chalk it up in comments below!