I Hate the Nightlife

It would make sense that low blood sugar and sleep deprivation share some of the same symptoms: confusion, a vague sense of instability, lethargy, hunger, uncontrollable rage unfairly aimed at the family dog. Sleep and sugar are both things our bodies and brains run on, and when they’re in short supply, everything feels . . . wrong.

The difference between sleep deprivation and low blood sugar? One of these problems is easily fixable.

I know it sounds trite and ungrateful and cliché to complain about the lack of sleep that comes with a new baby. But I’ve got diabetes, too, and between those two factors, I honestly don’t believe I’ll get a solid night of sleep any time before 2024.

As much as people assure me that, at six months, little Magpie should be sleeping through the night, she’s just not. Old girl will go three to four hours, tops, but then she’s up for a midnight — or early morning — snack. And during those three to four hours, when I should be clinging desperately to every minute of sleep I can possibly get, I can often be found in the kitchen, draining a juice box or filling my face with Easter candy. Or I’m in the bathroom, rage-bolusing a high blood sugar from a low I overtreated earlier in the night, or changing my infusion set because the rage boluses aren’t working.

Somewhere along the line, my record of almost-perfect overnight blood sugars went off the rails. Now, it seems, I’m either climbing, or crashing, or it’s time to calibrate the sensor, or there’s a weak signal that needs my attention, or my CGM beeps and wails and screams just for its own amusement. Last Thursday I awoke to find that, in my sleep, I’d given myself a 5-hour square bolus of 10 units of insulin. I can’t be sure, but I’m guessing it happened while I was trying to silence an alarm. Thankfully, I caught it a couple of hours in — only 3.5 units had been delivered.

It’s a cycle. The breastfeeding affects my blood sugars, which keeps me from sleeping, which (I swear) affects my blood sugars, which causes me to overtreat a high or low, which sends me in the opposite direction, which wakes me up or makes me more tired . . . you get the idea.

The most tragic part of all of this is that sleeping has always been one of my favorite hobbies. Even when it seemed there was nothing else to look forward to, there was always a nap to be had. I collected pajamas and sheets and pillows the way cyclists hoard bike accessories.

Now I look at the smiling people on mattress commercials and want to throw things at the TV. I’ve got this weird perma-bag that hangs out under my right eye, fluctuating in puffiness according to how much salt and caffeine I’ve consumed in the form of microwave popcorn and Diet Coke.

I’m losing my damn mind, and even if there was something I could do about it, I’m too tired to try.

No insight to this blog post — nothing to learn or appreciate. Just me, complaining about the same stuff millions of other people soldier through every day.  And really, I don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for me, and that’s okay. I’ve got enough self-pity to last a thousand sleepless nights.

One Great Thing: A Blood Sugar Check Before My Feet Hit the Floor

Here’s today’s Diabetes Blog Week prompt:

Living with diabetes (or caring for someone who lives with it) sure does take a lot of work, and it’s easy to be hard on ourselves if we aren’t “perfect”. But today it’s time to give ourselves some much deserved credit. Tell us about just one diabetes thing you (or your loved one) does spectacularly! Fasting blood sugar checks, oral meds sorted and ready, something always on hand to treat a low, or anything that you do for diabetes. Nothing is too big or too small to celebrate doing well!

It only takes a second (or 5, to be more precise), but the one thing I’m good at has made a huge difference in the way I take care of myself and my friend Diabetes.

I am so damned good at checking my blood sugar first thing in the morning.

I know there were great spans of time when I was not so dedicated to the morning check, and looking back, it’s hard for me to imagine how I functioned. These days, I don’t check my blood sugar first thing in the morning because it’s something I should do, I check it because it’s a compulsion, a habit that I can’t stop.

“Your blood sugar is two-seventy-what?!”

First-thing blood sugar checks are a little easier to take than others, I think, because they tend to come with a lot less baggage than checks at other times of the day. After all, all you’ve been doing is sleeping, right? If I wake up to a high number, it’s almost certainly not because I miscalculated the carbohydrates in the pizza I had a few hours before, or because I’ve forgotten to bolus for a midnight snack (nocturnal hypoglycemia notwithstanding). More so than at any other time of day, I’m able to look at my morning number and think, “Well, there it is.” (I should admit that it doesn’t hurt that my morning blood sugars are usually pretty nice to look at. But it took a lot of tweaking to get there.)

Checking my blood sugar before the day begins is almost like checking my horoscope for the day: neither are sure-fire predictors of whether or not my day will be frustrating or wonderful, but they offer little glimpses — tiny reassurances.

Let me add, too, that since I’ve been pregnant, my wonderful husband has perfected the art of waking my semi-comatose ass out of whatever super-deep sleep stage I’m in at 2:00 a.m. for a blood sugar check. And not only does he make sure I’m coherent enough to insert the strip into the meter right-side-in, he’s also kind enough to illuminate the process with the flashlight function on his iPhone. Those numbers are rarely perfect, but they’re informative, and I like being able to correct in the middle of the night without relying on my CGM.

So, yes: it only took 20+ years, but I finally mastered one of the basic tenets of diabetes care. Now, on to that lancet-changing thing.