Monday, October 24, 2011

Symptoms of high versus low

I remember when I was first diagnosed as diabetic, about nine and a half years ago, someone (a nurse at the hospital when I was there, I think) telling me that high and low symptoms can be very similar — enough so that you may not know the difference.

Obviously she wasn't diabetic, because while there are some similarities, I've never thought it difficult at all to tell which I am.

Crashing, to me, is perfectly obvious.  I get tunnel vision.  I get shaky.  I can't concentrate.  In short, I feel like shit.

Going high can feel like shit too, but in a different way.  I often get heartburn, a stomach ache, and/or a headache.  Sometimes I feel dizzy (hence the minor similarity to crashing) but it's in a different way than when I'm low.  And if I'm high for a long time, of course, I get dehydrated.  My hands and even my eyes start feeling dry, which is a perfectly miserable experience.

One other symptom of going high that I've noticed is irritability.  It's not like the second my blood sugar goes up, I get grouchy.  It's more like if I'm high over an extended period of time — for instance, if I'm struggling with highs for several days in a row — I start feeling illogically angry about everything.  I've gotten irritable when I've crashed before, but it's rare.  Usually I know I'm crashing right away, whereas I don't always realize I'm high unless I check my blood sugar, so I think that makes a difference.  If I know I'm cranky because I'm crashing, for instance, it's much easier to stop being cranky once I realize the cause.  When I'm high that's a much more difficult attitude adjustment to make.

In fact, that was one of my unknown symptoms in the months leading up to my diagnosis: I was much more easily provoked to anger.  I worked at a preschool at the time, and I had noticed that I was getting angry at the kids more easily when they didn't listen or misbehaved.  I didn't know why it was happening at the time, but I definitely noticed that I was having to work harder to control my temper.

What about you?  What symptoms do you have when you're crashing, and what are your symptoms when your blood sugar is high?