First thing I hate about low blood sugars

“Hi, my name is Scott and I’m a compulsive overtreater”

This is where you say “Hi Scott, welcome”…

This topic has been darn near beat to death over the course of my lifetime, but I still have trouble with it.

See, our bodies have these intricate systems that drive us, instinctual urges for survival that fight to keep us alive and unharmed. These are the same systems that make us pull back when we touch something hot or when we experience pain, the same systems that make us thirsty when our bodies need water, or hungry when our bodies need food…

What happens to us when our blood sugar is lower than it should be? There are alarm bells ringing like mad, screaming at us to get some form of sugar into our system!! I am often overpowered by these urges. I find it terribly difficult to eat only what I need to raise my blood sugar back to normal.

Panic_buttonThese urges have driven me to do things like drink maple syrup, eat sugar (white or brown) by the spoonful, eat 4 or 5 bowls of cereal in record time, devour a stack of oreos taller than what my hand can hold, try to eat a napkin (?!) and just generally lose all rational thought processes I might claim to have under normal blood sugars.

Usually I know enough to know that I shouldn’t eat everything I can get my hands on, but that logical part of my brain is just not speaking loud enough to beat back those primal survival instincts. That is why it frustrates me so. I know better!

How do you do it though? How do you spend those 10-15 minutes it takes for you to start feeling “less low”? Every cell in your body is screaming bloody murder, and yet you are supposed to wait – to stop eating?!


I find that during the day this is manageable. If I am in a safe & stable environment, such as work, I am able to find something to pull my brain off the complete and total panic that my body is screaming about. The most troublesome time for me is when I wake up low at night. Is it because I’m tired and anxious to get back to bed? So I just shovel it in so I can go back to sleep? Is it because I’m lower than I would be had I been awake to feel the symptoms? Is it because I’m scared, and don’t want to go low again after I go back to sleep? Could it be all of the above?

In part, I am thankful that I am able to feel symptoms when I go low. There are many people that fight with hypoglycemic unawareness – they have no symptoms of low blood sugars. That is pretty scary considering what happens if you don’t treat a low blood sugar.

However on the other side of that coin, if they have reliable and consistent tools that help them to catch those lows (such as Wil and his CGMS), they do not fight the urges to overtreat. Does that make it easier to eat only what is needed?

Both scenarios are no good – but I sometimes wonder which is worse? The unawareness is clearly more dangerous, but that doesn’t make me like being able to feel the symptoms any more.

Don’t get me wrong – to a certain degree I appreciate that I can feel my symptoms. I’m just saying that I hate the fight to not overtreat. It’s a fight I often don’t win.

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11 thoughts on “First thing I hate about low blood sugars

  1. I just ate 4 graham crackers with peanut butter and nutella on them for DINNER, because there was nothing in the house and my sugar was plummeting. I topped it off with grapes. How is that for poor management? I couldn’t drive a car in that condition. I’m responsible for daughter who has Down syndrome. What should I have done???

  2. Hi Scott I’m Scott. I am 13 and have had diabetes since I was 2 I understand where u are Coming from about the eating more that you should to raise you blood sugars.

  3. For me? Practice. And a little bit of experimentation.

    The experimentation (as in, waiting till I hadn’t eaten for like, 4 hours, and consuming fixed amount of candy, and testing at regular intervals to figure out how much my blood sugar is affected, and then checking after every low I treated until I dialed down to the amount I actually needed) caused me to discover that it takes exactly 3 normal-sized tootsie rolls and 6 mini-tootsie rolls to correct all but the most insane of lows.

    After that, it’s all self-talk. I think of it like taking pills or medicine of some variety to treat a medical problem. I take 2 aspirin for a headache, I take 6 tootsie rolls for a low. It’s become automatic, through brutal repetition. I also keep them by my bed so I don’t have to get up if I’m low in the night, and while I still get those panicky 2 am lows where you think you need to go drink maple syrup (…so goooood, for the record), having my usual treatment right next to me usually nips it in the bud. And I lie there thinking “I need more. No you don’t. Yo u always eat that many. Give it a minute. You’ll be fine. I need more. No you don’t…”

    It takes practice, though. And as soon as I run out, I am so hosed. Two weeks ago I ate like, 2 pieces of cake and 3 hot dogs and a glass of juice because I was out of the candy. No joke.

    (Tootsie rolls are good because I don’t like them, which means that they’re pretty tasty when I’m low but never at any other time, and they’re hella cheap, and can be bought in ten-pound bags at Sam’s club.)

    In any case, I’ve all but eliminated rebound highs. It’s one of the best measures I’ve ever taken in improving my diabetes health and care, honestly.

  4. I recognize the urge to just eat until the symptoms have disappeared too! Fortunately, I usually don’t have night time lows. The few times I have had, my boyfriend has forced me to eat some glucose tabs, while I fight him for disturbing my sleep. This will typically mean a high BG in the morning though because my boyfriend is obviously worried about another low, but that is okay.
    Like Kevin said, the key for me when low, regardless the time of the day, is to stay out of the kitchen, or if I have to go to the kitchen, then only fetch what is needed to bring the BG back up and leave the kitchen again. If I stay in the kitchen, I will most likely not stop eating until every symptom has disappeared.

  5. Mostly do OK and stick to glucose tabs, but not always. If I’ve had a string of lows, I get sick of glucose tabs and decide to eat something else instead, which is where the trouble begins! After sucking down the carbs, it’s straight peanut butter for me (no reason except I want it). When my husband sees me eating PB off the spoon, he always asks if I’m low. Noticed a peanut butter theme in some other comments. Veddy interesting!

  6. I hear ya loud and clear. And it seems like a lot of other do too, huh? I used to over-treat my lows like a madman. (And still do occasionally). For a while I used lows as an excuse to binge on sweets. Three Musketeers Bar? Yup. OJ? Yep. Cake Frosting? Yep. Raisins? Yup. That should do the trick, right? Oh, hell yeah. High blood sugar and a sick stomach? Check that. It’s vicious.

    One trick that has helped me tremendously lately is this: stay out of the kitchen in the middle of the night, in the middle of a low!

    Every night next to where-ever I lay my head are my glasses, my glucometer, a roll of glucose tabs, and a granola bar. I don’t even leave my bed during a low anymore. If it’s a bad one, I’ll wake my wife and she’ll be kind enough to bring me back a half-glass of OJ.

    But staying out of the kitchen is key for me.

  7. I can generally handle treating lows successfully during the day. I have just enough rational thought to stop and wait….Middle of the night, though, phew…Can’t do it.

    DH just shakes his head in the morning when he sees the path of destruction. For some reason in the middle of the night I NEED cereal and peanutbutter. I can easily pack away 2 bowls of cereal while I wait for my eggos to toast, then slather those with pb&j and eat it sandwich like.

    I can’t stop, and I know I’ll be sick to my stomach once the bs comes back up, but until the shaking, brain screaming “EAT!” stops, I keep shoveling it in.

  8. Scott, it doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of the night, before or after lunch, right after dinner… if I get a low, I get ravenously hungry! I just want to eat everything in sight. My boyfriend stops me sometimes. But he’s not here all the time.

    He’s like “Just drink your juice, or eat your glucose tabs and wait.” Well, what he is not aware of is the feeling that accompanies that. I hate over correcting.

    Then I hear about the people who cannot feel a low. And how they sometimes are driving. It’s scary!

    We just have to keep in mind that we’re not perfect. Sometimes it happens and we over correct and go high. But it’s not the end of the world.

  9. I had this same problem last night and to tell you the truth, i couldn’t tell you what I ate at 3 something in the morning when i awoke in a pool of my own sweat. Shaking and scared. I freaked.

    In the morning I awoke to a BG of 417! Needless to say I feel terrible now even though my BG is back to normal.

    I totally agree. At work, i can do what i need to and thats it. In the middle of the night i freak out and over do it!

  10. Amen, Scott.

    Last night, I did not win my fight with the urge to eat when low. It was somewhere near 3 a.m. and I awoke low. Making my way to the kitchen I was promising that I would only have juice. The juice never made it into a glass and the promise was never kept. My urge to eat is so strong that I feel like I will pass out if I do not stuff myself. Last night wasn’t too bad: a Rice Krispy Treat, some crackers with peanut butter, and milk. I knew that I had eaten way too much and attempted to bolus for it but the pump would only allow me to giv ea few units. I was 268 this morning. Not great, but not as bad as previous times.

    The knowing is what gets me too, Scott. I know I do not need all that food and that I should dirnk my juice & wait but I just can’t do it. The physical hunger is too great.