Low in Public

I’m lucky enough to have never been super-duper dangerously hypoglycemic in public. I’ve never passed out, never had a seizure or other loss of consciousness (although I have made Mr. Glucagon’s acquaintance), never had to have a stranger force-feed me a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

That’s not to say, though, that every time I experience a low I’m in the comfort of my own home. Usually I can play it cool: eat some candy and continue with whatever conversation or activity I’d been participating in. But sometimes, it’s impossible to hide a low — even when it’s a relatively mild one. It’s hard enough trying to explain what’s wrong (“My diabetes are attacking.” “I just need to eat something.” “I probably won’t die.”) without drawing undue attention to the situation. It’s even harder when you’re convinced that everyone’s wondering why you’ve suddenly turned shaky, gray and kind of shiny.

Last weekend, I cut my Saturday night short after being pummeled with a low that just would not go away. It was totally my fault, too. I was out with friends and coworkers, drinking cocktails at a fancy-pants museum party, and, after eating a huge (and kind of late) lunch, had forgone dinner. I had plans to stop off for some fish and chips at a pub down the street, but the low couldn’t wait. Right around 8:30, as I was talking and laughing and pretending to be normal, the low plopped down in my lap and totally interrupted my evening. My trusty husband retrieved a Coke for me, and I tried to down it nonchalantly. But then I needed another Coke, and that one didn’t go down quite as easily. A friend graciously handed me a granola bar from her purse, and I ate that, too. Now I was full of 24 ounces of carbonated High Fructose Corn Syrup and strawberry-flavored cereal bits. And I was still cruising in the 60s.

"Jacquie! Drink your Coke!"

I felt terrible — tired, full, clammy — so we left early, and when I woke up the next morning I couldn’t shake this residual sense of embarrassment. I like to look like I’m (mostly) in charge of my diabetes, and I’m usually good at creating that illusion. I may zone out for 25 minutes of a meeting while I’m waiting for my 15g of fast-acting carbs to kick in, but that’s different. Those lows generally don’t take much explanation, and I’d rather miss out on a PowerPoint presentation than a Saturday-night shindig.

I know it’s one of those things I just can’t avoid. As long as I have diabetes (and, you know, keep myself alive with insulin), I’ll experience low blood sugars. And as long as I try to function as a human being, some of those lows will occur while I’m at the grocery store, or at a restaurant, or — God forbid — at a karaoke joint.

I’ve got plans to see a friend’s band this Saturday night, and I’m looking forward to redeeming myself. This week, I’m leaving the low at home.

8 comments on “Low in Public

  1. Trevor says:

    I can so relate. Some are easier to hide then others. I love your style of writing it makes me grin. Like zoning out at work vs in a high profile public setting. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Karen says:

    Sigh. I’m dealing with this right now – an insane few days of 4 or 5 lows a day, and I just feel wiped out. I want to go to the gym tonight, but I don’t think I can bear having to deal with another low there. And then I get all mad because I don’t like my life being dictated by the D. So frakking aggravating.

  3. shiv says:

    Sometimes I’m amazing at hiding lows – and sometimes they are so obvious it’s ridiculous!

  4. I hate that movie. I really do. But I appreciate this post, as someone who has been low many a time in public (not Steel-Magnolias bad but definitely “hey, I need to eat bad”). I’m so using the “my diabetes are attacking” line.

  5. Reyna says:

    This is helpful for me to read. I don’t know why…well I do…it kind of goes with a kind of “public” low that my son Joe had this w/e.

    Thank you for writing about it from your point of view. I felt somewhat similar as Joe’s mom during his low.

  6. nici says:

    LOL! I love the graphic! Seriuosly, this just happened to me at Walmart the other day. Two packs of lifesavers and a half bottle of orange soda later, I felt steady enough to drive home. Ugh!

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I’m much more bothered by the idea of being low alone. I’ve never had the kind of low where I somehow couldn’t treat myself, not so far, but I know it happens… And if I had that kind of low alone? In my house where no one could see that I’m in need of help? It makes me nervous.

    So far, being bothersomly low in public hasn’t been bad. It’s either been at the store, where no one’s going to take notice if I’m putting a little extra weight on my cart and eating glucose tabs, or with a group of friends who are close enough that I’m not embarrassed. I guess there was the time when I had no glucose tabs and opened a package of juice boxes while still in line and got a funny look from an old lady. *shrug*

  8. 1littleprick says:

    I love your blog because you share your experiences so openly. As someone still adjusting to diabetes, I really appreciate that. Good luck with the BGs this Saturday!

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