The hypo portfolio

By | 17 February, 2011
Impractical for treating hypos, but oh so delicious

Impractical for treating hypos, but oh so delicious

A hypo is a hypo is a hypo. Low blood sugar, sweaty, fuzzy head, confused, weak, dizzy, argumentative (yes, even more so than usual) etc etc. But even with all those similarities I think there is a virtual smorgasbord of hypo types.

  • The nice hypo – you feel yourself going low, you eat, you rise. Job done, move along please people, there’s nothing to see here.
  • The thieving hypo – you’re in a shop, you’re low, and you have no food. Theft by eating produce before paying for it is the only option. A mid hypo altercation with an overzealous security guard can turn this into a full on criminal hypo.
  • The embarrassing hypo – any low that involves crying, arguing, falling over, spouting rubbish or generally humiliating yourself in public fits into this category.
  • The “why now?” hypo – you’re in a rush, you need to drive, you’re in an important meeting where gobbling fruit pastilles like a secret sugar addict isn’t really an option and a hypo comes along. Perfect timing.
  • The sporting hypo – your swim times have slipped from near Olympic standard to something a toddler would be ashamed off. You’ve missed 7 out of the last 10 shots in a game of tennis. Your sporting prowess has evaporated along with all the sugar in your body. Something a little stronger than half time oranges is required here.
  • The middle of the night hypo – this species normally turns up on nights when you’re sound asleep with a full day ahead of you. Bonus points are awarded for treating the low without getting juice or glucogel all over the sheets.
  • The “I knew it was coming but was hoping for a miracle” hypo – you’re sitting watching TV, you’ve been feeling a bit low for a while but going to get some food seems like such an effort, so you give it another 20 minutes in the hope that your body is going to discover a bit of sugar down the back of its virtual sofa and you won’t have to bother moving.
  • The “I’m cured!” hypo – you’ve been chasing lows all day and three juice boxes and a tube of glucogel have just raised you to the blistering heights of 4.1. The only logical explanation for this is that your body must have started making its own insulin again – you’re cured! Of course there could be a more boring answer, like your basal rate is too high or you over bolused for breakfast, but where’s the fun in that?

There must be more, which hypos have I missed?

25 thoughts on “The hypo portfolio

  1. Annette A

    How about the ‘any port in a storm’ hypo – you’re in the middle of nowhere (or at least, no shops), and you realise you didnt pick up a new pack of glucose/pastilles/whatever to replace the last lot. So you end up scrabbling through the bottom of your bag to find something (anything!) to eat just to allow yourself enough energy to get somewhere that does have food available – packets of sugar from Starbucks, months old (very flattened)chewybars, one single solitary glucose tablet at the end of a pack that now is irrevocably covered in the foil stuff they pack them in…

    1. Cecile

      @annette: At least you had a bag – I was in hospital and sent to xrays with bare hands & bum (dressed in one of those rude frocks); the radiographer had no port, but she dug a yellow sweetie out of a drawer at last…

  2. Annette A

    Oh, and the ‘best laid plans’ hypo – you’re all geared up to do a basal test (usually happens on an overnight for me) and have moved and missed meals to give a good run at it, only to have the first (or second) test be so low you have to stop the test to eat.
    And it’s usually not low because of your basals, it’s just a one off trying to trick you…

  3. Tim

    “Dream hypo” – quite a rare one, but sometimes during the night I dream that I’m having and treating a hypo. Occasionally I am actually having one.

  4. Tim

    “Embarrassing hypo” – you complete balls up your glucose control while in the presence of a group of other diabetics. Frequently seen at Shoot Up nights out and when meeting with co-writer. Also cf. “Embarrassing hyper” – soon to be be seen on YouTube!

  5. Cecile

    A “to the loo” hypo, usually when you’re conked out in bed, and you puke or pee right there (remember to add “plastc sheet” to Fruit Pastilles on shopping list)

  6. Alison Post author

    @Annette I shudder to think of all the virtually inedible things I’ve retrieved from the bottom of my bag over the years. I’m sure I’ve ingested more fluff and silver foil than is safe for any human.
    @Tim How could I have forgotten the embarrassing hypo/hyper that we both seem equally skilled at.

  7. Stephen

    You missed the obvious one out – the “OMG where have the last five hours gone” hypo!

    Case in point, out playing poker one night, walked out the door of the venue …… and came too 5 hours later safe at home.

    Those are not fun, thankfully I haven’t had one of those since I was 18.

  8. Faith

    Hehe I like this. How about the “WTF Hypo” – post-Christmas dinner/a massive feast when you think to yourself “How can I possibly be in any way hungry”…oh wait, bolusing error!

  9. lizz

    Oh, all of those @Alison!

    I have never puked or weed (thank goodness!) right there… in fact have never puked at all. I thought my body was so scared of throwing up that it never does. I presumed all diabetics were like this. Perhaps I have very strong stomach valves!!!

    I hate having to scrabble in my bag in public when we are at a dinner party or somewhere social where people know I’m diabetic – there are 40 Drs living in our village and you can’t go to an event without there being several there and I HATE the thought that they are looking at me and… knowing. Even worse, looking at me eating a desert that perhaps I shouldn’t be. But even worse than that, much, much worse, being somewhere … say book group, where we are all sitting round for an evening discussing books and chatting in a circle in someone’s front room, and my BS is very high. Oh, the agony of whether to get up and got to the loo a gazillion times like I want to! I usually stay in my seat and suffer rather than go to the loo more than once, then go again just before leaving…

  10. Donald Thomson

    This is one I raised recently on another thread. The ‘ghost’ or psychosomatic hypo. You’re doing something which usually gives you a hypo – start feeling the symptoms and scrabbling around for your meter in a panic. Only to find a perfectly stable readout. This happens to me occasionally at night – if I’ve had a string of night-time hypos my body wakes me at the usual time (3am-ish) with the usual symptoms and I test and all is fine. Apart from a livid wife who has had her sleep disturbed for the 4th night in a row. Also known as the ‘cry wolf’ hypo.

  11. lizz

    Oooh, what about the prescient hypo? You feel hypo, do a test, it’s fine, 6 or 10, quarter of an hour, half an hour later you’re 2.1?

  12. Carrie

    My personal favourite is the “I hate mornings hypo.” Dragging myself out of bed is hard enough without the added benefit of realising I am hypo and have literally no energy to properly wake up. Normal functionality usually resumes somewhere around 11:00. (After much grumbling about how I hate diabetes.)

    @Tim – Side note, look at me commenting! 😛

  13. Tim

    @carrie87 – one comment does not make a summer 😉 I’ll stop nagging you at meet ups only when you’ve posted on every article for a 6 month stretch 😉

  14. Clara

    You forgot the ‘I’m so hypo that later I will forget how much I have had to eat, attempt to guess and get it completely wrong’ hypo leading to the 5am realisation of why you have a dry mouth and a blood sugar of 25.

  15. lizz

    Oooo-er, or the ‘I’m so hypo I have to eat and eat and eat and when my limbs become able to get to more sugar eat and eat some more, and perhaps some toast and marmalade as well and lots of tea until my brain clicks in’ hypo leading to very high blood sugar very soon after. Which after a correction falls to very low.

  16. Mike

    Can’t claim authorship for this (it’s one of Alan Eastwood’s creations) but I’m sure we’ve all had a Schroedinger’s Hypo every now and then. You feel completely fine, just do a quick ‘see how things are getting on test’ which comes back at 2.something… Suddenly, on seeing the result of the test, you are awash with hypo warning signs…

  17. Lesley

    What about the “angry hypo”? This happens in the middle of a heated debate with a loved one who is being completely unreasonable. Loved one suggests you might be hypo and gets a strongly worded response. Hypo-ite does a test just to show loved one how mistaken he is, and is humiliated by the result. The rescue strategy of asserting “ok but I’m still angry with you” doesn’t really help.

    Oh, and the “obscure focus” hypo, where you suddenly become manically obsessed by something which didn’t interest you before. “Why won’t my *&%$ radio let me listen to the news? I have to know what’s happening in Afghanistan!”

  18. lizz

    Hmmm, what about the terribly sad hypo, where something slightly sad or even not terribly sad at all makes you burst into tears – like the time we got back from Christmas shopping, I was VERY hypo, OH found no sugar anywhere in house, in panic, so family got out the Christmas cake and gave me fruit cake and icing. It tasted horrible (ever had that? hypo bitterness even though it’s sweet?) and I burst into hysterical sobs as I was so upset that everyone who had bought the cake would be devastated on Christmas day to find how horrible their Christmas cake tasted. Came round to find family in unsympathetic hysterics.

    Or unreasonable irritation at concerned relatives hypo? When OH called ambulance as I wasn’t coming round after half an hour after glucagon, children woken up by disturbance in room, I surfaced a little and demanded the ambulance be canceled, and then insisted OH stand outside with a sign round his neck saying ‘It’s all my fault’. Came round to family in hysterics…

  19. Hairy Gnome

    I’ll bet nobody watches the telly at your house @lizz, they just sit around waiting for you to go hypo and provide the evening’s entertainment! Rofl! 😀

  20. Riva Greenberg

    Hi Allison, great post. Fun way to think of hypos. My most irritating is when I’m 2/3rds through my power-walk and I know I’m low and don’t want to treat it because if I can just make it home I’ll cover it with lunch. But usually my logic succumbs to the awful fatigue-producing low.


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