What’s my insulin to emotion factor?

I’ve always been aware of emotions and stress affecting blood sugars.  I’ve always thought to watch for it and try to “do something”, but it’s always been a very vague thing.  Vague things are hard to deal with on an action level.  Vague things are… vague.  Action things are very specific.

Picture my great-uncle drew of my mom next to her photoYesterday we celebrated my mom.  Cancer took her in April of 2005.  She would have been 60 years old today.  My dad wanted to throw a celebration of the wonderful person she was.  I can’t imagine how hard it was for him to push through all of the hurt involved, but the party was incredibly healing, happy, and full of love.  My sister and I are so proud of dad, and so thankful for all of the family that came.

My great-uncle, Father Jim Schoenberger, used colored pencils to draw this incredible picture of my mom. 

I woke up yesterday morning with a nearly perfect blood sugar of 99 mg/dl.  Mornings are stubborn for me, so I hit my (modest 15g carb, 24g protein) breakfast with a full dose of symlin and a little extra insulin.  It held me pretty steady until the celebration started.

I didn’t feel stressed or emotional, but one glance at my CGM, showing 198 mg/dl with double “UP” arrows, proved that I was feeling it.  I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast, but my CGM was showing a line straight up, and rising, with matching finger-sticks to back it up.

I hit that upward trend with with every weapon in my diabetes arsenal (short of exercise).  Multiple doses of symlin, couple with aggressive doses of insulin, typically a recipe for a nasty low blood sugar, seemed to do nothing.

It was a hard afternoon for me.  Both emotionally and physically.  By early evening I was drained.  I went to bed for the night around 8:00 PM, and except for the two lows I had to treat, didn’t wake up until about 9:30 AM this morning.

The celebration for mom was really a beautiful thing, and I’m glad dad thought of it, and that so many people could come to celebrate the wonderful person she was.  There was a lot of healing that happened, and it was good for everyone.

It was also a very strong example of how stress and emotion can have a drastic effect on our bodies, and how hard that can make managing blood sugars.  There’s no mathematical formula for that.

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13 thoughts on “What’s my insulin to emotion factor?

  1. How not fun to even have to deal with diabetes on a day when you really shouldn’t have to think about it. It sounds like it was a beautiful tribute to her. I’m so sorry you lost her.

  2. That’s great that you were able to celebrate her life. That’s an amazing drawing! A shame that stress/emotions ruined the BG’s part of the day, esp. since you didn’t feel particularly stressed. I think that’s the worst part. If I feel stressed and my BG goes up, fine. But when I feel fine in a stressful situation and it goes up, it’s very stressful. Almost like the chicken and the egg – what came first, the BG or the stress?

  3. Thanks Scott for posting this. Like George, I must admit it was hard to read initially.
    Indeed though, when strong emotions (of any kind) arise for me, all bets are off. I tend to be fairly emotional in general, which is why the freelance, backyard “meteorologist” has a better chance of predicting the weather with his weather kit (box of wine, cracker jack box, and toothpick) then I do effectively determining the outcomes of my decisions.
    Certainly a lovely tribute to your mom, and a wonderful reminder of all the things parents do (without hesitation) for us after diagnosis.

  4. A great post, and point. So many things play into this d-game, and some days you just have to forgive yourself when you don’t win. Tomorrow’s a new day, and we’re all here supporting you. Type 1 is a team sport, right?
    Sending you positive thoughts.

  5. Scott,
    Sounds like a beautiful way to honor the memory of your mom.
    Crappy that the big D had to be challenging. It is so true that stress (both positive and negative) can make blood glucose hard to manage.
    Thinking of you.
    Peace.
    Molly

  6. Oh how true, it doesn’t even matter what the stress is from. I cut into my finger and my bg shot up like you wouldn’t believe. Stress just sucks!
    Take care Scott and know that your OC family cares immensly about you.

  7. Sorry to hear about these kind of stress-related highs.
    Never having been through losing a parent, I cannot imagine the reminders that pop up even years later. My cousins still struggle with my uncle’s (mom’s brother) death from cancer 13, almost 14 years later.

  8. this is very close to my moms passing day.they are very hard
    bless you scott and thanks for finding a way to write about it
    take care man.

  9. I think part of the difficulty in dealing with a stress related or emotion related high is that both Stress and Emotion make it difficult to even deal with Diabetes. Since we know that diabetes in itself can cause emotions and stress. If you already high because of something how much harder is it to want to check your sugar and go through all that BS just to get your sugar in gear?
    I see another one of those cycles happening. that snowball effect that we all know and hate so much.
    P.S. It was hard for me to even read this at first. You know how hard I still take my dad’s death and you also know that I am the kind of person that tries my best to empathize with people. I am sending you hugs from the Simmons family to the Johnson. We love all of you very much.

  10. What a wonderful drawing. You know, God love them but when my mom died my family members were absolutely freaked out I would have some kind of low blood sugar ‘attack’ and asked the hospital to bring me lunch. I could not eat anything of course 🙁 My blood sugars tend to drop over time with stress but the initial shock made it go high. I guess there are logical explanations but really, at a time like that who can think straight, much less test & correct…?
    Hugs and thoughts for you.

  11. You are so not alone. Stress does such a number on my bg! I could increase my basal by 40-50% and I’ll still linger in the 200’s at times. And I think that makes it so much harder to deal with a stressful situation because not only are you coping with emotions but then you have that bg mess to try & manage with on top of it. I hope that today is better for you, bg wise. And big hugs to you for the sad day that it is for you and your family.

  12. Your mom’s beautiful! And what a wonderful tribute to her. Your blood sugar even saluted her with a stubborn high. Yes, it seems like different types of emotion affect us differently too. Any form of sadness, or “holding it in” seems to really do a number.