Blood Sugars, Highs & Lows

A poster for the old movie "Fantastic Voyage"I would love to learn about exactly what is going on inside my body when my blood sugars are not in range.

I have really started trying to tune into what I feel like when things are not exactly where I want them to be. Most of this is due to a study I’ve been doing at the University of MN regarding type 1 diabetes & weight loss. Nothing magic about the study, but by doing the study I have been able to meet weekly with a dietician.

I have been able to ask questions, get tips & advice, etc. I’ve also been motivated to stick with it because I actually go to the U and weigh in three times per week. It’s very basic stuff. Calories in vs. Calories out. You have to burn more than you eat – bottom line. Over the past three months, I have lost a little over 30 pounds. Simply by watching my calorie intake, and doing a bit of exercise. Making smarter food choices to help me fill up and feel satisfied while still not consuming a huge amount of calories.

I have learned that my trouble spots are when my blood sugar is out of range. When I’m low, of course my body is SCREAMING at me to eat as much sugar as I can get my hands on, and when I’m high, there is something going on that makes me want to eat. I’ve commented a bit on this before. In addition to wanting to eat, depending on how high I am, I get sleepy and tired – I’ve commented on this too. I’m one of those who wants to eat when I’m sleepy and tired.

I figure that there must be a bunch of stuff going on in terms of signals to the brain, hormones, etc. when I’m out of ideal range. I know that when you have a low blood sugar your body responds to the “emergency” by dumping out a bunch of hormones. Two of the hormones are quick acting, and if I remember correctly they are adrenaline and glucagon, and the other two are longer lasting, cortisol and growth hormone. I can’t remember if those are the correct ones or not, but I plan to do some research and post something a little more accurate sometime in the future.

What happens with those last two hormones, is they screw with your blood sugars, driving them high for many many hours afterwards. Somebody once said that the goal of controlling diabetes is to maintain target blood sugars AND AVOID LOWS (which will help you avoid highs…).

So, I start feeling low at about 70, which is pretty normal. I start feeling symptoms of highs around 180, which I guess is also pretty normal. So, I try to stay within 80-180 as much as I can. I’d say my success rate is about 25%. Which means I’m looking for extra calories 75% of the time… 🙂

Diabetes, especially after almost 25 years, is 99.9% mental discipline. However, with blood sugars that are out of range, your brain doesn’t always work right – throwing a big giant monkey wrench into that mental discipline thing.

I wish there was a place that had easily digestible information regarding all of the things that goes on with blood sugars that are not in target. I don’t have the time nor money to become an MD, but I sure would like that level of knowledge on this stuff.

The point I intended to get across in this big brain dump of a blog entry, is that no matter what you are trying to do, good blood sugars are helpful.

Boy, what a scattered post – I better go check my blood sugar…

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Scott K. Johnson

Patient voice, speaker, writer, advocate, and Senior Community Manager at Blue Circle Health. Living life with diabetes and telling my story. All opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent my employer’s position. Read more…

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