I remember when I was first diagnosed, the doctor said to me, you’re going to know your body extremely well, better than a lot of people who don’t have diabetes know their own bodies. She was referring to the fact that diabetics are constantly attuned to how they’re feeling, and noticing if anything feels different or off. Not to say that other people aren’t also aware of how their body feels and reacts. But over time, you get to know yourself and your body so well that you can pretty accurately guess what your blood sugar will be before checking.
Most of the time, I’m pretty in sync with my body and how I’m feeling. “I think I’m dropping low” usually is followed by the buzzing of my pump telling me that this is in fact true. But there are occasions when this balance gets out of whack. And when it does, it’s definitely a disorienting experience, when how you’re feeling doesn’t match to what you’re used to. This has happened to me a few times recently.
The most recent example happened this week. I was on my way to speak on an alumni panel for the undergrad psych department for students interested in the field of public health, talking about my career path and how I use my psych degree in my work. Although I’ve done some public speaking arrangements, I still get anxious before hand. As I walked towards the building, I could feel my heart pounding, my hands sweating. “Am I nervous or am I low?” It’s a question I was used to asking, I remember having the same feeling before job interviews or big presentations. I checked my CGM, it was right around 100. Just nerves.
I’ve learned that any time I use my inhaler, after about 10-15 minutes, my body starts to feel like it’s low. My hands get shaky, my heart beats faster. The first few times it happened I was convinced I had low blood sugar, it was the only time I had experienced the same symptoms so suddenly. But when I checked my blood sugar, it wasn’t low. Now I know to expect this, but even so, it’s still a confusing feeling.
Sometimes in my bootcamp exercise class, when the workout is extra intense, there’s this moment where I have to ask myself, am I struggling because I’m tired and this is a difficult workout or am I low and lacking the energy I need for this? I always stop and check my blood sugar. Usually I am in fact low, or dropping low, but sometimes my blood sugar is fine, and it’s just an exhausting and challenging workout. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
Finally, usually a tip off that my blood sugar is high is when I have to go to the bathroom more often than usual. So when this happens for other reasons like too much coffee or staying extra hydrated, the thought always crosses my mind: Is this normal or is my blood sugar high?
I definitely think that being familiar with how your body typically feels and reacts is beneficial for anyone. It can help you know when something is wrong sooner if you’re paying attention and it can help you make adjustments if you notice that your body is reacting poorly to something you’re doing or eating, for example. But it’s impossible to be correct 100% of the time, which is why I’ve learned to anticipate situations like the ones above where what I feel might not reflect my actual blood sugar. Then at least if I am wrong, I’m not caught completely off-guard.