For a person with diabetes, memory is a tricky thing. Out of control blood sugar levels interfere with not just memory but how we view the world. When blood sugar is high or conversely too low, a diabetic will have distorted perceptions and feelings.
When blood sugar levels return to normal, reality tends to kick us right between the eyes.
What then? Every situation is different. Sometimes we have to apologize regarding our behavior, when high blood sugars (the stranger) comes along.
In the song “The Stranger,” Billy Joel talks about the stranger in ourselves and how we hide parts of ourselves to our partner, until one day our best behavior disappears and our true self emerges.
As human beings, our defense mechanism prevents us from being 100% honest with our self and others. We hide a portion of our personality. It is truly for the protection of our self and our relationships with others. Some things are best left unsaid.
So, when blood sugars go high, these defense mechanisms tend to fall apart. The voice that says, “don’t say that” or “do that” because you will hurt the one you love goes away.
When the stranger comes along and our thought process gets distorted, we start acting on impulse instead of maintaining our well thought-out behavior. There are ways to reduce the personal damage that occurs.
How the Stranger Almost Ruined My Relationship
Several years ago, I had just started dating a girl I was crazy about. I had been thinking about seeing her for days.
It was on a Saturday and she was to come over in the early afternoon. My fasting blood sugar was 98 mg/dL that morning. At the time, it seemed my day was off to a great day start.
I had gone on the Internet for a while and lost track of time. I hadn’t eaten yet and it was now 1 pm. Unknowingly, my blood glucose (BG) level had risen to 250mg/dL. I felt tired and I was very hungry. I was angry with myself for not paying attention to my blood sugar levels. Feeling depressed and not wanting to talk to anyone, I called to confirm my date.
Before I got a chance to say anything, she told me that she was not going to get to my house until 8 or 9 pm. Instead of being grateful that I had more time to get myself together, I said that she had some nerve and the rest of the fight was a blur. By the end of it, our relationship was almost over. I hung up the phone and said, “What else could go wrong?” But I didn’t want to find out.
So, I gave myself a huge shot of insulin to compensate and ate something. Still confused and not realizing that my girlfriend may not be coming over I started to clean for her arrival but I didn't have the energy to clean my apartment. Against my better judgment, I went back to sleep. The pain was over. I was lucky that I didn’t go into a hypoglycemic reaction.
It was 5 pm and I had just woken back up and realized what I had done. I was still physically and mentally exhausted when I called my girlfriend back and informed her that my blood sugar was high and I wasn’t thinking clearly. We talked about how to reduce the emotional impact this situation had on both of us and how she could help me when I am in that state of mind.
Monitoring Blood Glucose: Rules to Live By
Here are the rules of engagement we came up with during that conversation:
Feel it! Check it! Tell it!
See it! Say it! Do it!
If it’s high, let it fly! If it’s low, let it go!
It’s not your fault!
It’s your fault! (without this, the above won’t work)
My vow to her: “I will always do my best to take care of me and get help for my diabetes when needed.” I wish I could say that wonderful woman and me were still together, but I am happy to say that diabetes played no role in why it ended.
In the future, I started telling those around me when my BG was high or low. I found most people to be supportive and understanding. Those people who care about me now point out when I look or seem off, and when they do I go test my BG level because you never know.
All the advice included in this blog is therapeutic in nature and should not be considered medical advice. Prior to making any changes to your diabetes maintenance program, please consult with your primary physician or endocrinologist.