For years I’ve had a nasty habit that scares and un-nerves my closest relatives. At first they were completely baffled by it, then they came to understand it and have now developed some coping strategies.
I coped fine with my diabetes at university. My housemates were great about not eating my emergency food, they picked up the pieces on the odd occassion there was an alcohol/food/insulin/sleep miscalculation and I didn’t really have any serious problems. I just got on with it.
The problems started in the holidays. Every time I came home from uni I’d go hypo. Not just a bit low. Proper, need help hypo. I pondered insulin doses, changes in activity levels, sleeping patterns, diet etc but nothing really seemed to explain it. Then the parents spotted the problem. I wasn’t reacting to feeling low. I’d just ignore it. When I look back, I remember sitting in my parents house numerous times thinking “I feel low” but not doing anything about it. I was just waiting for someone else to deal with it.
And even now, if I’m at home with the husband my CGMS alarm always wakes him before me. I can ignore it for ages. Yet if I’m alone, I hear the alarm pretty much as soon as it goes off.
When I’m alone my self-preservation instinct is strong. I react to what my diabetes is telling me and ignoring a hypo wouldn’t even cross my mind. But put me somewhere I feel safe, surrounded by people who love me and know how to cope with a hypo and I take a break. It appears that I subconsciously relinquish diabetes responsibility to those that I trust.
At some point it appears my brain decided it couldn’t cope with the 24/7 nature of diabetes and would therefore take leave whenever the opportunity presented itself. Unfortunately my brain isn’t a very considerate co-worker. It doesn’t schedule the leave or brief the people who are meant to be covering while it relaxes for a while. It just wanders off leaving a trail of diabetes chaos behind it. Thankfully my habit has been spotted and the family keep a watchful eye for ignored lows.
We think controlling diabetes is all about insulin, but I think we underestimate the power of the mind.