Hunger does not Indicate Low Blood Glucose, A1c, but Helps A Diabetic's Schedule

Kerri Sparling Health Guide
  • We went arrived at the film festival around 4 o’clock, after driving for a bit and then a quick ride on the shuttle.  Hours later, I felt the churning, swirling ache in my stomach.  That irritability and emptiness, making the railing of the theater’s chair look almost ... chewy.  Tasty, even.

    “When did we eat last?”  I whispered to Chris as the fifteenth short film started.

    “At 3 o’clock.”

    My stomach rumbled.

    “And what time is it now?”

    “I don’t know.  Check your pump.”  (It is our watch, apparently.)  Quick hit of the button to illuminate the screen.  “It’s 9:30.”

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    A little bit shaky.  Kind of weak.  What was going on?  I must be like 50 mg/dl. I’m absolutely low, but figured I’d check to make sure, just in case I was lower than I thought.  I pulled my meter from my purse and, by the backlight of my pump and meter, watched the countdown from 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

    174 mg/dl.

    Okay, not even close to low.  What’s this all about?  I bolused a unit and a half to bring me back towards 100 mg/dl and sat back in my seat to watch the rest of the film.  My stomach ached in protest.  “Hey lady.  Go eat something.  It’s been like seven hours.  I’m empty.  Whahh.”

    Is this what hungry feels like?

    Before I went on an insulin pump, I never really knew how “being hungry” felt.  Back when I was using NPH and Lente and Ultra Lente insulins, I kept to an eating schedule that protected me from the peaks and valleys of my insulin.  Even transitioning to Lantus had me eating on a scheduled basis, as the insulin seemed to peak a bit in my body.  Going more than three hours without a little snack was unheard of, and five hours was enough to make my blood sugar start literally plummeting. 

    Flash forward 17 years to the insulin pump.  At the age of 25, I started using my Minimed pump and it allowed me, for the first time in my life as a diabetic, to eat when I felt like it instead of chasing the peaks and valleys of my insulin doses.  I could sleep until noon and not have to worry about blood sugar fluctuations.  I could go to bed at 3 in the morning and my A1C didn’t suffer the consequences.  (Though the bags under my eyes were impressive.)  And I didn’t have to eat every three hours to ensure that my sugars would remain range-ish.

    For the first time that I could remember, I felt “hungry”.  And the feeling was so new and startling yet familiar and uncomfortable that I couldn’t help but associate it with being low.

    We finally left the film festival and wandered towards the car.  “Eat something,” Stomach pleaded, lurching and trying to turn itself inside out. 

    "Let's eat," said Chris, almost in answer to my hungry belly.

    “One quick thing,” I murmured, reaching for my kit again.  144 mg/dl. 

    Oooh, you tricky hunger!  I would have bet money that I was low.   

Published On: February 12, 2010