Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lows, lows, lows...

Well, it happened again today. One of those scary low blood sugars in my husband when I least expected it. This was a bad one - I am lucky to say that in our 12 years of dealing with his diabetes (since he was diagnosed), I've only really dealt with a handful of "serious" lows... the kind that make your stomach knot and your knees weaken, when you realize the place your loved one is in and you don't know exactly how much time you have to intervene before it gets to the calling-the-paramedics kind of low. I'm sure you all know what I mean.

Luckily we were in a stable place when this happened - at home, the kids happily engrossed in a movie - so that we were able to move through it and come out the other side quickly. Funny thing, because of the kind of low this was - i.e., my husband got so low that he was not making sense, lost his judgement of things, and was becoming combative at my attempts to get him to test or drink some juice - and because we sat together as he was coming back up and out of it, we had a chance to talk about what had happened (once he was relatively normal again) and to figure out what we could do differently next time. It was a real learning for me, and I wanted to share with you my thoughts, in case it might help you in the same situation.

Learning Point #1: Back off, way off
As I realized how low my husband was (even though he refused to test or let me help him test in that state, which just validated how low he was), my anxiety kicked into gear. My hands started to shake. I tried to stay calm and "convince" him to have some juice simply because I wanted some too ... and I placed it on the table in front of him. However, the more I asked him to drink it, the more he rebuffed it and pushed it away. The more I gave his meter to him at the table, the more he refused to do it, saying "I didn't get it!" (whatever that meant at that time, I'm still not sure). Luckily, finally, he gave in and tested his blood and drank the juice - and then almost immediately started showing signs of coming back up and out of the low. In the same minute he went from fighting me to a sudden awareness of what was going on - when he looked over at me and said "I'm acting stupid, aren't I?", the relief that flooded over me was palpable.

As he was coming up though, he told me something interesting - and important. He said that when I talk to him, or try to give him juice when he's like that, it's like 20 people being in the room talking to him at the same time. He said what he really needs at that time is less stimulation, because being that low is like "sensory overload" for him. It is too hard for him to process anything, and he said the best thing I could have done is left the room. Of course I said I couldn't do that, not when he's like that ... and then he agreed but said that I could have just left the immediate space, maybe sat further away and given him the time and space he needed to do it himself. It is difficult to think about doing this, but something I will think about and try to do appropriately in the future. Takes a leap of faith on my part though, I tell you!

Learning Point #2: TRUST
Something interesting that came out of this today too, was that before I knew about his situation, my husband was trying to wait until I left the room before treating his low - one of the reasons he got so low I think! Once he was back up again I asked him why? It became the same answer - he didn't want me to "freak out" or pressure him. However, we were able to have a discussion around it again that reinforced the fact that diabetes is a "team effort", and it takes trust. He needs to trust that I have his best interests at heart when my guidance during his lows becomes "intense" (as he perceives it), and I need to trust that he will be able to take care of things before they progress to that point. And I need to give him the space he needs to be able to do just that.

And I'll try, I really will.

Anyone else know what I mean?