Diabetes Australia is currently running a campaign called ‘The Diabetes Lowdown’. They are asking us to give them #thelowdown on lows. To let people know what it feels like to have a ‘hypo’. People who have followed my story know that it’s not me with Type 1 Diabetes but my son, Isaac. He has had Type 1 for 8 years now and will be 10 next month; we have lived through many hypos together. So, how do I talk about how a hypo feels? I can talk about what has gone through my mind when Isaac has hypos.
When he was younger, it was extremely stressful. Was he asleep or was he low? Watching him playing and asking myself- what is his BG? He could be as happy as Larry but as low as could be without passing out. Countless finger pricks have happened due to me believing he was low. How can a two year old convey the way they feel?
Isaac has had a couple of hypos, as low as 1.1, still standing, still coherent. Another time, I recall, he said he felt hypo and so did a BG he said it was 4.1. Yep, still in the ‘normal’ range but he didn’t want to do anything but tell me he was low, he felt so low and that he needed some sugar. I checked the number on the meter and he was actually 1.4, he had read the number the wrong way. My feeling to that number, after being casual about a 4.1, was of anxiety and alarm. I grabbed some juice and helped him drink it. Isaac seems to be able to endure very low hypos without too many outward symptoms. On saying that we have had some, not so low hypos, that have seen his arms and legs in spasm. It’s scary to watch. There are times we’ve had to give him mini dose glucagon as he hasn’t been able to come back up from an hour low, even after numerous treatments.
I have seen him turn from a nice rosy colour to grey in an instant. I have seen him running around the footy field only to come off because he’s low. I’ve heard him yelling out from the middle of the cricket pitch – “I’M LOW!!” with my reply of – “Throw some frogs from your pocket in your mouth”, I then sit and wonder if he’s coming back up. I feel concerned and anxious. I feel that this impacts his life and I feel he has to cope with so many problems when it comes to having a hypo and sometimes it saddens me that he may have to miss out on lunch time or sports due to him having a hypo. But, I also feel grateful, grateful Isaac can feel the symptoms.
Isaac is pretty clued on with what he has to do to live with his Type 1 Diabetes. He has explained to me that a hypo makes him feel like he’s a big blob. His whole body feels like it’s made of jelly. I will never understand exactly what a hypo feels like. I can only understand what it’s like to watch my child go through them. Everything about Type 1 is repetitive and tedious but for me, as an outsider and parent, hypos are what I make sure everyone around him knows how to treat just in case he can’t.