A thought came to me yesterday and I reveled in its simplicity and directness. This is probably how I'll choose to explain low blood sugar and high blood sugar to people who don't understand their differences and their levels on the scale of emergency.
Low blood sugars are akin to Tornado Warnings.
When there's a tornado warning, take shelter immediately. A tornado has been spotted in your area. Things can progress quickly to an emergency status. Take cover. Do whatever you need to do to protect yourself and your family from the imminent danger. This is real. It's now. Don't hesitate. Don't keep sitting on the couch. Run to the hall bathroom and cling to the toilet (for in most instances these days, the toilet remains bolted to the ground while bathtubs are aqua-glass and are formed from one piece of plastic which can be detached and blown away). Bring your babies and your dog with you and take immediate cover!
When a low blood sugar occurs, correct it. Right now. This instant. Don't keep sitting on the couch. Get up! Run to your hall closet or kitchen cabinet and grab the Smarties or juice boxes. Or in our case, run to the fridge and grab the jelly and fumble around in the drawer for a tablespoon. Set the timer. In 15 minutes, do a recheck. Blood sugar not up into normal range? Run back to your hall closet, grab more Smarties. Get another juice box. Grab some regular soda. Or spoon some more jelly or cake decorating icing gel into your kid's mouth. Set the timer for 15 minutes. Do a recheck. If blood sugar isn't in normal range, repeat the steps until normal range is acquired.
Low blood sugars can happen quickly. They can decrease rapidly. They can bring on an emergency situation in a matter of seconds. When you run into a low blood sugar, take action and do not hesitate. Just like with tornado warnings. That tornado is in the area. Take cover until that warning expires. Keep treating that low blood sugar until the blood sugar is back into normal range.
High blood sugars are akin to Tornado Watches.
When there's a tornado watch, things have the potential to get worse, but it'll take some time. The situation is progressing in a way that could eventually lead to an emergency status, but we've got some wiggle room. Be prepared to take action, but for now, diligently monitor the situation. Have your plan in place.
When a high blood sugar occurs, correct it with insulin if needed. Check for ketones. Drink lots of water. Lower the intake of carbs. Monitor the situation. High blood sugars rise over time. Ketones build up over time accompanied by high blood sugar that doesn't decrease due to lack of insulin. If left untreated, this could lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). This is what happened with Michael when we found out he had Type 1. We didn't know his pancreas stopped working. Over time, his blood sugars keep rising since he wasn't producing enough insulin to combat these high blood sugars. Ketones began to build up in his bloodstream-- slowly turning his blood acidic. His body wasn't able to use carbs for energy and it began to use fat instead. Upon diagnosis, he was in DKA. For weeks and months after diagnosis, I shook with fear every time his blood sugar meter showed a high number. My kid had been in DKA. He almost died. It was extremely rare for him to get diagnosed without first being in a coma or having a seizure. I didn't want my child to ever be in DKA again. I trembled at all high-blood sugar readings. And then I was told, "it takes time." High blood sugars don't instantaneously cause an emergency status. They can be corrected, and blood sugar can be rechecked in a few hours. Now that we were aware of his diagnosis, we would have tools to help us combat high blood sugars. I still feared them, but that was partly due to the fact that at that time, Michael hadn't had a low blood sugar reading since we received his diagnosis. And the first time he did show a low blood sugar reading, I realized how much faster things could go from bad to worse and how much more of an emergency a low blood sugar is than a high blood sugar.
High blood sugars happen over time. The potential for an emergency is there and could develop overtime, just like with a tornado watch. The weather situation has all the necessary aspects to become a tornado warning and require more instant action, but at the moment, the situation just requires careful monitoring.
Tornado warning v. tornado watch.
Seems simple enough to grasp.
I'll try it out the next time I'm explaining the emergency status of lows versus highs.
Until Next Time,
Much love, Reba
*I don't give medical advice. Information related to Type 1 Diabetes found on this blog is what worked for us in our own experience. Please ask a medical professional for the best path for you before undergoing treatments of lows and highs in your own experience.