We find that folks who can’t seem to wrap their mind around our current situation ask us, or more so Lowell, “Isn’t this preventable?”
First of all, I think it may be a bit of ignorance that brings this question up. I mean, most people’s understanding of diabetes is of Type 2 Diabetes. You control your blood sugars with diet, exercise, and maybe some pills or an occasional insulin injection.
But, the reason why it is maintained in that way is due to the fact that a person who has T2D still has an operating pancreas. It doesn’t work as well as it should be for one reason or another, but it still works just the same. And, the diet with exercise maintenance that is done with a functioning pancreas leaves room for very little error or negative effects.
I am a Type 1 Diabetic. My pancreas does not produce one drop of insulin. My health, my whole life!, depends on artificial insulin. In addition to insulin, that I receive via an insulin pump, I also need to eat well and exercise often.
Now, because I use an external pump, when my body under goes any type of physical stress, my blood sugar raises; when I eat more than I should, my blood sugar raises; when I get sick, my blood sugar raises; when I go through hormonal changes in pregnancy, postpartum, breastfeeding, and weaning, I go through blood sugars spikes.
I also go through periodic extreme lows. Usually, in my day to day activities, I can sense a low coming on, check my blood sugar, and fix it accordingly. But, much like the hormonal changes that cause spikes, they also play a part in serious drops.
These drops are unpredictable. As are spikes, which are dangerous in their own regard, but they happen. These situations of low, and high, blood sugars don’t happen on any type of schedule, they just happen.
My pancreas doesn’t work, so when my body has too little, or too much, insulin there is nothing to fix it besides my checking my blood and drinking some juice for a low, or administer more insulin for a high.
When I am extremely low, I become “checked out” and say or do things I wouldn’t normally say or do. But! If you don’t know me well, I can convince you I am well.
The night I had my seizure, we think I must’ve already been low and instead of getting up in the middle of the night to eat to fix it, I gave myself MORE insulin.
Isn’t this preventable?
Sure. During the day, when I am aware of what is happening. I can make sure I don’t exercise too much after taking some insulin because exercise assists in lowering blood sugar. I can make sure I take enough insulin at meal time, stay hydrated, and stay away from processed food in order to avoid high blood sugars.
But, in the middle of the night? When I probably was experiencing a hormonal change or … something? When that change sent me so low that I was “checked out” and made a bad problem worse because I took insulin instead of eating?
That is not preventable.
It is not preventable in the sense that I can’t control my actions when my blood sugar is too low.
And, it is not preventable when internal changes happen and my brain can’t tell my pancreas to adjust because I basically have an external pancreas on autopilot. It’s waiting for me to adjust it according to my findings, when I am aware of them on their rare occasions.
It is preventable when I am still aware and can make good decisions about correcting an extreme low blood sugar. Or, when someone who is with me and knows me well can read into my not being myself and take action.
So, isn’t this all preventable?
My answer is technically yes, but in reality, no.
This is why my sister-in-law started a gofundme for us to get a DAD, and why we are looking into getting a Continuous Glucose Monitor. We want to avoid such a tragic incident from happening to our family ever again.