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Battle With Diabetes
 
 
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Hypoglycemia/Hyperglycemia
 
 
 
Hypoglycemia/Hyperglycemia
 
     One thing I feel I need to explain is how hypoglycemic shock affected me.  I had several people ask me, after I recovered from a shock episode, why I didn't get help sooner.  I am hoping this page helps people understand what happens from the view of a person who has dealt with several forms of hypoglycemic shock.  I am not a doctor, so everything I am writing about in this section is based on my understanding of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.  If anything I have written is incorrect, I welcome emails from professionals with an explanation of any information on this page I need to correct.

    The body needs a certain amount of glucose (the simplest form of sugar used by the body) in the blood stream at all times. This is a reserve which provides energy to all cells in the body.  Glucose is a large molecule and cannot penetrate the cell walls.  The cells, however, need this glucose for energy to function.  Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, allows the glucose to get into the cells for use.  In the normal body, the pancreas monitors the blood constantly, producing just enough insulin to keep the reserves in the blood stream at normal levels.  When a person is no longer producing enough insulin (Type II Diabetes), then they need to regulate their diet or take medicine to help their insulin work better or shots (if they no longer produce enough for diet and medicine alone) to regulate the levels.  In Type I Diabetics they must take insulin shots daily.  This becomes a delicate balancing act.

     With hypoglycemic shock, the body does not have enough reserves to provide energy for all the cells in the body to function properly.  The cells in the body start fighting to obtain enough energy.  Because everybody is different, everyone reacts differently.  Different parts of the brain fight for the energy supply.  That is why some people have a hard time telling that a person is in shock.  Some may just be a little disoriented.  Others may have trouble speaking or controlling their movements.  If the glucose level gets too low the body will shut down and possibly lapse into a coma. 

     Hyperglycemia is where there is way too much glucose in the blood.  This can cause buildup of the glucose in very small blood vessels. Many of the small ones are in the eyes, kidneys, and extremities.  Levels high for too long can lead to damage of various organs in the body.  In a normal healthy person, the kidneys remove over 200 toxins in the body.  Imagine the toll it takes on the kidneys when they need to try and remove excess glucose while that excess is also slowly destroying the blood vessels to the kidneys that feed it and keep it alive.  Too much glucose will also cause the body to shut down, which may eventually lead to a coma.

     In my case, the shock episodes varied.  If I felt myself going into shock, I could usually acquire something to eat or drink to raise my levels enough and bring me out of shock.  Sometimes the shock came on so quickly (especially with very heavy physical activity) that I never realized I was going into shock and I would wake up to people feeding me something with sugar in it.  I would not remember anything that happened or anything I might have done.  This was always a scary and uncomfortable feeling to not remember.  The most frustrating were the times where I felt the shock come on but was not able to get help in time.  In these cases, I could not walk or talk correctly but I was able to think clearly.  I would try to say something, and knew what I need to say, but my mouth would not properly form the words.  I usually did not have enough muscle control to walk correctly to where I needed to for help.  I believe many people who witnessed these episodes probably thought I was drunk at the time or having a seizure.  Imagine knowing exactly what you need to say and do and screaming inside your head "PLEASE LISTEN" but you have lost control of your body and cannot get others around you to understand what you need to tell them.  In a few incidences, I was told that I'd close my mouth tight and fight all attempts to get anything into me to bring me out of shock.  In every one of these cases, I did not remember going into shock.  My best guess on these incidents would be that my glucose dropped so fast I could not communicate, barely think (especially since I never remembered any of the incidents), and probably not able to see properly, so my body would go into defensive mode.  Not being able to determine anything that was going on around me, I mistook any stimulus as an assault.  It would be like being in a room with no light and being bumped.  The instinctive reaction would be that it must be an attack and you attempt to defend yourself.

     This is one reason why I recommend EVERY person with Diabetes should have a Medic Alert bracelet, necklace, or eHealthKey thumb(flash) drive that contains software to hold all your medical information.  Many emergency medical professionals and hospitals can access all the medical information they need to help a person by plugging the drive into any USB port of a computer.  These drives attach easily to key chains.



 
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