While I Was Sleeping

One of the most absurdly frustrating things about diabetes is how much stuff happens when you’re sleeping. Or, you know, trying to.

Most of us don’t eat when we’re sleeping, or exercise, or take insulin. Mostly we just lie there and dream about cures and cupcakes and not being able to find our lockers. But those hours between 11:00 at night and 7-ish in the morning can be so damn volatile.

My Continuous Glucose Monitor, as much as I love it, can be part of the problem. Take Tuesday night — I went to bed relatively early, all nervous about a huge presentation I had the next day. It felt like a normal night’s sleep, until I woke up in the morning and checked my blood sugar. Four-fucking-hundred and 58 mg/dl. 458! The highest number I’d seen since, I don’t know, 2008?

Here’s the best part: the reason my blood sugar was so high was because I — or some naughty diabetes fairy — had suspended insulin delivery. I hit the escape button on my pump and there it was on the screen: “SUSPENDED AT 2:47 A.M.” I’d gone over 5 hours without a drop of insulin.

That's me and my diabetes, just trying to get through the night.

I scrambled through my head, trying to piece together the events that might have led to this nonsense. I didn’t remember being up at 2:47. I hadn’t gotten up to use the bathroom or anything. And my husband had been out of town, so there’s no chance he’d woken me up. Then I looked back at my CGM graph and my alarm history, and noticed that I’d been hovering around 78-82 in the hour before that mysterious suspension — right around my “low” alarm threshold. (I should mention that, at that moment, my CGM read 126 with two down arrows. Lovely.)

So here’s my theory: I’d been sleeping soundly, and my CGM had not. I must have reacted to meaningless alarm #17 by simply turning my pump off. Since I don’t even remember doing it, I’m sure it wasn’t intentional. My diabetes reptilian sleepy-time brain probably thought it was silencing the alarm, or adjusting the basal rate, or saving the world from a nuclear apocalypse.

Of course, I bolused immediately after I saw that 458. A few hours later, I was back down to 134 and feeling like someone had smacked me in the head with a duffel bag full of pig pancreases. But my big fat presentation was still looming, so I drank as much water as I could stomach and put my best “normal person” face on.

For so many of us with diabetes, sleeping is one of the scariest things we can do. And for me, the CGM serves as a security blanket. I’ve never had to consider the idea that the thing that’s supposed to help keep me alive and well could annoy me to self-destructive behavior.

As it turned out, that work presentation went swimmingly, and I’ve managed to make it through the past few nights without turning anything off or pulling anything out. I’m counting myself lucky, and sleeping in restraints for the rest of the week.

13 comments on “While I Was Sleeping

  1. Martin Wood says:

    Good grief, diabetes is fun! I’m becoming more and more convinced that we should all just sleep in straightjackets.

  2. FatCat Anna says:

    What pump do you use? I know with my Animas 2020 – it’s virtually impossible to do that – too many “do you really want to do this” questions come across the screen – before I can suspend it.

  3. Anna, I have a Minimed. Mine requires quite a sophisticated series of button-pushings to be suspended, too. I’m just way too good doing it, I guess.

  4. Jasmine says:

    It’s one thing or the other overnight, right? Last night was fine, but the night before? I think I had 7 low alerts? I got so sick of it (I didn’t test…because I felt fine) that I finally popped a few glucose tabs to get the stupid thing to shut up and let me rest.

    There is just no winning….

  5. Stacey D. says:

    Yikes. I’m so sorry that you had such a rough morning. But glad your BG responded well to your correction. I am guilty of shutting off my CGM after the alarms are disrupting my sleep. Or setting a temp basal without testing in hopes of stopping the alarms. It’s near impossible to act properly on said alarms while you’re half asleep. You’re not alone. You’re human.

  6. Lauren says:

    Something very similar just happened to me!! So weird!! I blogged about it too. GRRR

  7. shannon says:

    oh man, i was hoping this post would link to a youtube video of you doing a ‘sweded’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweded#.22Sweded.22) version of that movie with bill pullman and sandra bullock, with you playing the role of bill pullman. bummer.

    what you actually describe in this post is even more of a bummer, natch. but i’m glad your bg came down in a timely fashion. /silver lining

  8. Tina Kicklighter says:

    Scary stuff!

  9. yuck. hopefully the evil diabetes fairies will let you sleep soundly for a while.

  10. Mother of type 1 says:

    The art you chose for this post is just perfect.

  11. Sara says:

    That is crazy!

    My brand of sleep nonsense is just to keep silencing the alarms and not doing anything. I mean, even when I attempt a basal test and set alarms to wake up, I just turn them off and roll over to go back to sleep.

  12. Beth says:

    I sleep with my dexcom under my pillow, and last night it alarmed so many times (55 mg/dl!! Help! Help!) that I tried to smother it. Woke up this morning and found it under my husbands’ pillow!

  13. Jen says:

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tested, bolused, or ate something in the middle of the night without even remembering. It’s nice to have history buttons to explain when and what…but sometimes I never know WHY…and that freaks me out!

    I guess living with Diabetes for years has been so routine, that I literally do it in my sleep!

    Glad to know I’m not alone…but more glad that your #’s came down and your survived work!

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