You’d think I’d be used to being on the razor’s edge but I’m not. Like a mother who forgets the pain of childbirth, I keep forgetting what a fine line it is to live with diabetes. Maybe it’s because my memory is selective, or that I still find myself going into denial. More likely it’s because I’m burnt out from all the nitty gritty stuff I have to do to stay alive.
Hypos are the worst. Every time a low comes on I think, “Sh…t I’m going low. What time is it? Can I wait 15 minutes and then eat lunch. Nope? Ok, just take ½ a tab. That’s probably not enough. Wait 15 min. Sh…t still going low take another ½… No, strike that, take 1 tab. Wait 15 more minutes (by now I actually feel low… sensation of ants crawling all over my body, mind like a wobbly wet piece of jelly). Ok, just take another tab and be done with it. (check my blood sugar 10 times in 15 minutes). Crap my fingers hurt.
After it comes back up I cry a lot. Later I think about adjusting my basal but worry that if I do I’ll go high. Eventually, I adjust my basal, wait to see what happens and tell myself, “Next time I’m going to take ¼ tab. Next time I’ll trust my body and my intuition. Next time I’ll take less insulin.”
My last big hypo happened right before I was supposed to teach a yoga workshop on mudras ( yogic hand gestures). I was sitting in front of 15 experienced yoga teachers while furiously checking my blood sugar. The trend arrow on my mySugr app wasn’t looking good.
I freaked out! I’d driven all that way, spent weeks preparing had gathered an awesome group of yogis, only to have the whole thing crumble because of my broken pancreas and stupid carb to insulin miscalculation. I kept telling myself, “Push through you’re stronger than this maybe it won’t keep plummeting. Start teaching you’ll be fine.” But no matter how strong I thought I was, I couldn’t fight reality. My body wasn’t going to kick in and save the day. I had to share through my vulnerability. It was either that or bale.
Stepping up meant sharing with the group that I was in the middle of a hypo, that I’d taken some glucose tabs and had to wait 15 minutes before I could teach. I felt awkward, my brain wasn’t clear enough to communicate, but the smiling and compassionate faces of the group gave me heart.
“Living yoga is about being with what is,” I continued, “and sometimes ‘what is’ sucks.”
Luckily within a few minutes, I could feel the glucose bringing my brain back online. The class flew by and was loads of fun, but later I felt drained, weak and really emotional.
Before my diagnosis, I would get tired after teaching, but it was a good tired. The kind where you knew you had worked hard enough to deserve a rest. Hypo fatigue is something else. 24 hours later I still find it hard to focus, my nervous system is overly sensitive and I’m prone to panic attacks. In a way, it’s akin to burning oneself accidentally. At contact, it burns sharp and hot, but that’s not the problem. It’s the lingering throbbing pain that’s tough to withstand. Plus Hypos aren’t always just a one-off thing. When a Hypo, builds on another Hypo it takes days to recover. It’s a challenge not to lose heart or worry that I’ll never get on top of things.
As I mention continuously in my blog posts I really have to take my hat off to yoga. The physical practices of posture and breathing definitely help. Lately, I have been using the deeper practices like mudra (gesture) and mantra (sound) too. Holding my hands in certain positions really calms my emotions and repeating a mantra like OM is soothing for all the systems in the body. In fact, so soothing that chanting lowers my blood sugar.
In honor of being a Hypo Hot Mess, this weeks offering is a simple 5 element mudra sequence. As you go through each mudra feel harmony coming into the body, relax and breathe. You can do this anywhere anytime, focusing on one element for your practice or including all five.
With great respect…
Last time I had a terrible low, I think I did 5 position mudra trying to open the corn flakes. Oh I do love corn flakes.
You are so funny and make me smile! Thanks so much for your presence here and everywhere!
Rachel, I also have Type 1 LADA; I was diagnosed 7 years ago. I have found that knowledge is power. I wear a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), and receive a BG reading every five minutes. A CGM means I wear a sensor that is inserted once a week into the interstitial fluid in my abdomen and connected to a transmitter. I also carry a receiver that shows my BG level and, more importantly, a trend arrow showing whether I’m going up or down. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER! I can head off most lows because I can react sooner based on the knowledge the CGM gives me. I do yoga three times per week, plus running or walking every day, and the CGM does not get in my way. You may want to consider if a CGM would be helpful for you. Good luck!
Hi Beckie, I love CGM tech and use the freestyle libre. Sadly here in Australia CGM tech is not subsidised by the government or insured for anyone over 21 so I simply can’t afford it. It was amazing to me how when I was touring the US for the book launch how everyone had CGM’s. Its simply a luxury here 😦
Rachel, I so appreciate your courage in talking about this and for being open to vulnerability. I’m a latent type 1, also a yoga teacher in Chicago and understand the challenges that hypos cause acutely. The impact on the nervous system is real and the anxiety in watching the steep decline is very difficult. I’ve found meditation and my daily Reiki practice to be helpful in bringing perspective and focus, and Yoga Nidra as a great assist in getting back to sleep after my pump alarm for a hypo alert sounds at 2 am. I enjoyed your book and refer to it often – thank you for sharing your journey!
Dear Susan, Thank you so much for your warm words and feedback and I love that you are a yoga teacher too and know the immense benefits of how profound all the different aspects of yoga are in helping us. So glad you have the book too. YAY!!!!