How to Deal When your Glucose levels are high
Because managing diabetes is a balancing act between insulin, food and exercise, there are many reasons someone’s numbers will go to either extreme. Our attitude is to treat it almost like a science question at school: we form a “hypothesis” of sorts and then set about proving it true or not. “Maybe you’re high because you just made cookies,” I’ll say. Annie will reply, “But Mom, I didn’t eat any of the dough!” “Did you wash your hands before you checked your blood? Maybe there’s sugar on your fingers.” Sure enough, she’ll wash her hands and try again, 75 points lower than the first time.
One thing our doctors taught us when she was first diagnosed was NOT to assign “good” and “bad” attitudes toward specific numbers. For example, we never say, “You’re 275? That’s awful! What on earth have you been eating?!” We try to be non-plussed by numbers in the normal range -- as if that’s the way they’re supposed to be, so what’s the big deal? “You’re 105. That means we don’t have to do a correction dose.” Of course I try to reinforce with Annie that having numbers in her target range is hard work and that she’s doing a great job, but I don’t say that when she’s actually checking her blood. I usually say that when we’re looking at a few days’ worth of numbers or downloading from her meter.
Occasionally, Annie will start to cry when her numbers are high. It was as if she’s disappointed in herself or worried we’d be angry. So my response when that happens is: “Don’t worry, that’s what insulin is for. We’ll just fix it with a shot. It’ll be better in no time.” Same with being too low. She’ll say, “I feel shaky, Mom, I’m sorry.” Maybe she’s sorry it’s a hassle, or sorry that we gave the wrong amount of insulin. But there’s nothing to be sorry about. I tell her to have a seat (in case she passes out, but she doesn’t know that’s why I do it) and I’ll just get her a snack. Then I’ll sit with her and we’ll try to figure it out – swimming right before, or not enough to eat at lunch, or carb counting that was off, or, as my friend Kim calls it, “Reason #42.” To Annie, Reason #42 means “We don’t know.”
To me, Reason #42 means diabetes is a complicated disease and no one truly can understand what it’s going to do, especially in a child. You can do everything right and things still go wrong. It’s true of her numbers this afternoon, and it’s true of devastating complications ten or twenty years from now. It’s unpredictable. It’s unfair. And as a parent, Reason #42 can break your heart.
Published On: October 05, 2005