I have been a diabetic for 19 years, the last 17 being dependent on insulin. I discovered some disturbing news the other day.
At least 5 to 10 percent of insulin-dependent diabetics will die of low blood sugar. Some experts say that the figure is much higher than that. Most of those insulin deaths occur during sleep at night, our most vulnerable time. Most of those are easily preventable. This is something that is not talked about enough in public.
Blood sugars can drop unexpectedly with no apparent reason. A friend of mine in his 40’s recently died in his sleep that way. I have had some close calls myself.
One time during the day at home my blood sugar dropped without my realizing it until it was too late for me to treat it. My mind became foggy, I was confused, and I was experiencing hallucinations. My son recognized those symptoms, sat me down, and gave me a bowl of applesauce. That took care of it. That was the only hallucination that I had ever had.
Another time, I had stayed up all night at home, then laid down during the day to get some sleep. When my wife noticed that I was having a seizure, she called 911. The paramedic gave me something to raise my blood sugar and that took care of it. That was the only seizure that I have ever had.
Blood sugars can be very difficult to control. They can drop without us being aware of it and for no apparent reason. So, what can hypoglycemics and insulin dependent diabetics do?
1) Eat well. Eat a healthy diabetic diet, one that stabilizes blood sugars.
2) Make sure that your blood sugar stays a little high especially during the night. Aim for a morning blood sugar that is a good amount higher than normal to serve as a buffer. Since my blood sugar fluctuates rapidly, I aim for a morning blood sugar of 200.
3) If your blood sugar was unstable that day, get up in the middle of the night to check it. My daughter, when working at a treatment facility, was having trouble one day stabilizing a young woman hypoglycemic’s blood sugar. After going to bed, my daughter woke the resident up in the middle of the night to check her blood sugar. It was 41. My daughter handled it well and probably saved that resident’s life.
4) Get a Glucagon emergency kit. It is a syringe and it can be used by somebody else to revive the diabetic in case the diabetic loses consciousness.
5) Get an insulin pump or a continuous glucose monitor. These automatically and constantly monitor your blood sugar every five minutes. If it detects that your blood sugar fell below a pre-determined level, it sets off a loud alarm alerting everyone of that danger.
There is a significant danger of hypoglycemics and insulin-dependent diabetics dying of low blood sugar during the night. This problem is easily preventable and needs more public awareness.
Greg Taylor, Alton
We would like to thank the Southern Illinois Miners and the many people who attended the special reception and baseball game on Aug. 8 at Rent One Park on behalf of our Foundation for Abused Children.
The donations we received that night have been designated to increase the number of professionals who will provide mental health services to traumatized children in our area. Southern Illinois is woefully short of these certified clinicians. Your contribution will assist in reaching the goal of providing abused children the help they need to heal.
Although circumstances didn’t allow us to see all of you in attendance the night of the game, we want you to know we are very grateful you were there. Thank you again for your friendship and support.
Jo and Glenn Poshard, Carbondale