Welcome to Hypolandia
I know you have never been here and I hope you never have to visit.
Hypolandia is not somewhere I would recommend on TripAdvisor, but I thought it worthwhile to give you a tour. So you can be less worried on my behalf but also to know when to go into “I’m in charge let’s get this sorted” mode. You’re so great at that.
But let’s get real. It may never happen, or not as badly as you imagine. I’m good at this. But knowing when you should take action may make all this less like a terrible rollercoaster. Although to be accurate, Hypolandia is like a rollercoaster. And I hate rollercoasters.
So here’s the science
The list of things that send me to Hypolandia is very, very long. I know you might think that after inputting food and insulin for years I would always get the balance right. I don’t disagree. But Dead Pancreas disagrees. What affects how my body reacts to the insulin? Everything.
The cold, the hot, stress, too much exercise, not enough exercise, getting it wrong in your calculations, Brexit, getting it right, what’s on telly. Dead Pancreas is an asshole.
So as we enter Hypolandia here’s the bottom line… Most of the time I will know I am low. Despite what the pamphlet says, I don’t need to test but I do need glucose tablets.
I have them everywhere in the house, and in the handbag, in the the car. But if it’s the morning, I like toast. I really do. When you are in Hypolandia, toast is not only effective it tastes lovely lovely lovely. But truthfully getting to the kitchen and waiting for the toaster is only for when it is sunny in Hypolandia. When it is not sunny, glucose tablets please.
By the way, they taste like shit. Like blackboard chalk that has been waived in front of a ’70s sweet no-one ever bought.
A quick note on toast
While visiting Hypolandia, my ability to gauge how much toast I need is utterly compromised. I have mentioned before that I think I could win one of those eating competitions when I have low blood sugars. I could totally win. I have no impulse control when I am low. The only thing that stops me eating the contents of the fridge, and the fridge itself, is fatigue.
Once I have fed the Toast Monster or swallowed some glucose, the fun starts. It can take (insert random number) minutes to start the crawl up the numbers. In that time I may get a bit squiffy.
Description follows: You’re dripping with sweat but freezing cold. You may be shaking, you will almost certainly not be able to speak or move your limbs. Sometimes I just lie there and moan like a big bloody fool. Some people get a bit shouty or stabby. Mostly I just want to crawl up and die. When I say that I just mean that when you are in Hypolandia, it feels like you will never get out. You are not really in control. You are insensible and very, very sad. Just so sad and sad and sad. Yeah, sad. In other words, not in control of your emotions.
Generally I have a strong desire to be very snappy and rude but my nearest and dearest are too lovely to allow me to do that, but I’m promising nothing. Here’s a link to someone who committed murder while low….Diabetics are allowed to murder.
Often when I am on the way up, I will be tired and snooze. I won’t snooze unless I know I am on the way up ‘cos I will be aware enough to know that’s not cool. As soon as the sweats and shaking and generally wanting to give up goes, then I know I’m on the way up.
As we are trying to be scientific, lol, forty minutes to get back up is about right.
This is why under-correcting (not putting enough carbs in to correct the Low) is unlikely for me. While in Hypolandia I could eat King Henry 8th under the effing table. Of course a loved one might feel that doing a prick test after about 4o minutes might be worthwhile, but in all honesty, if I’m not a bit more chipper, some Coke, or orange juice, is a good bet. (If you read up online, it will scare you, it will talk about not being able to swallow etc, but that’s for another day).
If you want me to show you how to do a prick test, I’m more than happy. It’s dead easy and while I may not be able to speak or move, you doing a test is not a biggie.
The fun part
Dead Pancreas is an asshole (did I mention that?)
After the shaking, headache, freezing cold and blazing heat comes when you know you are coming out of it but you have no strength at all. None. It’s like being weighed down with railway sleepers. It’s a heaviness beyond description. In this phase I’m just very, very sad and very, very weak. Talking to me, touching me, is just another fucking thing to deal with and frankly my brain hurts and I can’t cope with any outside stimulation. But that’s ok, you have to ask and it’s nice to be cared for, even when you have the mind of an axe murderer in control. Somewhere in the brain it registers.
So now we wait
Going to work when you have been in Hypolandia is a fucker. You have no energy, a headache and part of you just wants to lie in and bed and have a small, quiet cry. For a long, long time. Except it’s not really a long time, but when you are low you don’t think it will ever end. Even though you know it will.
You know that for the rest of the day your energy levels are going to be compromised and that you have lost a few brain cells and your calorie count is off the scale. Hey ho.
Worst case scenario, stick some Coke or orange juice down me. After 40 minutes I may well need it, but this is very very rare. If you don’t think I can swallow those, call an ambulance. But remember, do this more that once or so and I lose my driving licence so if you really don’t think I’m back in the land of the living, pick up the phone, but if I can swallow some juice or Coke, I’m getting there and you’re just doing a nice job of moving me along. This is very rare. It may never happen
If I’m giving you thumbs up, I’m on my way back. I may not have anything to say, but the thumb is up, so I am also. Thumbs up is good. It means I can hear you.
Oh, yes, every diabetic’s symptoms are different. Being a bit weird is not one of mine. I am, sometimes, just a bit weird. It’s not Dead Pancreas. It’s me. Other diabetics are available to purchase.
So what can you do to make this less of a pain in the ass? Make sure you know where the glucose is. I do too, but I want you to be less worried. Let’s be honest, if I’m in bed and you can’t wake me up, call an ambulance. But this is not going to happen. I’ve got this.
Most of the time the train to Hypolandia will wake me up, I’ll think I’m fine and then get up to feed the dog, which is when it all starts up.
Shakes fists at Dead Pancreas
I understand this is unsettling and a big old pain in the ass, but being able to see how it affects me could help you understand that the worst thing that will happen is unlikely, and that may change how it affects you.
I do know it’s shitty. If I were in your shoes, I’d be a basket case. I’d want to solve it, make it go away and want to run for the hills.
The food thing
So if you’ve ever wondered why I am such a bitch about what are we going to eat, and when, this is part of it.
Even if I fast during the day, it just means I am have a grand plan for the main meal and my numbers are on track (I have tested at least three times by dinner time). Not knowing what and when I am going to eat means the risk of having a hypo and eating like a pig is greater. I don’t want to do that. I want to eat nice food that is good for me and good for the long term. Eating on the fly is just no good.
The curveball (or hypo awareness)
Sometimes I have had a low in the day. Do you remember when I told you I’d been at work and felt like a baby I was so weak. Because I had none of the other symptoms it didn’t occur to me I was low. Dead Pancreas apparently makes you an interim idiot. Sometimes all the usual signs just don’t turn up.
Sometimes the symptoms of a low is not knowing you are low, ‘cos your brain is on a day trip to Wherethefuck and you aren’t invited.
Dead Pancreas is an asshole.