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My Hypoglycemic Day

December 15, 2011
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I know, I know. I’ve only been talking about doctors and my health lately.  But, since it’s a quickly-changing story, and one that I wish I could have read about in plain language somewhere over the last seven years, I’m going to make one more post on the same subject.

I went to the doctor for immunizations (required for me to take classes in the spring), and while I was there she took a health history and ordered some blood tests. Most of them pretty routine panel tests, but also thyroid and some other tests that are designed to test for PCOS.

I got a call from a doctor who was on call with my doctor’s practice about three days after I went in for the tests.  He wanted to know if I was aware that my blood sugar was alarmingly low when I went in for the blood test. I wasn’t, of course. My blood sugar isn’t something I have at the forefront of my mind. He assumed that I was diabetic and had taken too much insulin. I’m not. He asked some questions about how I was feeling right at that moment, and then told me to call my doctor on Monday.

Right.

So, I spent the weekend researching hypoglycemia. I talked for two hours to a friend who is hypoglycemic. I read the Wikipedia page. You know, the basic obsessive researcher-girl stuff. And here’s the thing: everything that I have been begging doctors all over Nevada to help me with is explained by low blood sugar.

The constant hunger. Not regular hunger. FEED ME, SEYMOUR hunger. Crazy-making hunger. The intense fatigue. Mood swings. Unexplained weight gain. Disorientation. Upset stomach. Bloating. Not ever, ever being able to sleep through the night. Waking up so tired that I burst into tears.

On Monday, I was able to get the full blood test results, and also my doctor ordered another blood glucose test. That one came out on the very low edge of normal, with 11 hours of fasting. I’d fasted 17 hours before the very low test. She marked on the lab result that my thyroid function is borderline low, and it was obvious from the tests that despite taking iron daily, I’m still quite anemic.

I’m going to share with you what today was like for me. I think it’s important to get it out there because I was not able to find a straightforward description of a hypoglycemic moment.

I went to my son’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting at 10 a.m. I’d eaten breakfast and expected to be home by 11, and then have time for lunch before I went to a work meeting at 1. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the IEP meeting went long and I didn’t have time to go home. I left there with food on my mind, but still feeling pretty sane.

I got paid for a job through Paypal while I was in the meeting, so I thought I’d go to a grocery store, buy something to eat and get cash back to withdraw the money. Sane, right? This is what normal people do. Only I couldn’t find a grocery store. In my own neighborhood. I was almost in tears.  The grocery stores were not where I thought they should be. I finally went into a CVS. I knew that I needed real food, so I just got my money and left.

Then I couldn’t find a restaurant. I finally stopped at a gas station. I went inside, and there was nothing there that seemed familiar to me. No cheap little hotdogs or pre-packaged sandwiches. For some reason this gas station had a full-service deli inside. Like a mash-up between an AM/PM and a Jimmy Johns. The sandwiches cost $10 and I couldn’t pay that much. I couldn’t decide on anything else to buy, either. I just stood there for at least 10 minutes, close to tears.

Then  I saw a 7-Eleven across the street. Oh thank Heaven! I drove there, bought some juice and a chicken salad sandwich, and within minutes everything inside me had snapped back into shape. I went to my work meeting. About an hour later I was so exhausted I was barely able to drive home. I stumbled inside, sat on my bed and fell asleep sitting straight up. Two hours later, I woke up with a raging headache and an almost desperate need to eat again.

What this afternoon was like? It’s been so normal for me the last seven years, since my youngest daughter was born, that I had started to accept that some days, I’m incapacitated. Even after a lot of work toward accepting myself and my body, and raising awareness of Fat Acceptance, until today, having such an intense need for food meant only one thing: a lack of discipline. As in, no wonder I’m so fat, I can’t even eat lunch a couple of hours late without breaking down.

I guess the moral of this story is to listen to your body. If you don’t feel good, it’s almost a guarantee that it’s trying to tell you something other than “lose some weight, lard ass.” In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say that the human body doesn’t even have that signal.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 15, 2011 9:48 am

    First and foremost, I love Jimmy Johns.

    But, man, what a shitty day/great day to finally find the answer to your health issues. But what the hell is up with that doctor assuming you were diabetic. Wouldn’t he look into that before making an assumption?

    Anyway, at least there are steps you can take to alleviate your symptoms and to treat the hypoglycemia, right? That should help take the edge off.

    Good luck, Shaunta!

    Peace,
    Shannon

  2. December 15, 2011 11:29 am

    “I guess the moral of this story is to listen to your body. If you don’t feel good, it’s almost a guarantee that it’s trying to tell you something other than “lose some weight, lard ass.” In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say that the human body doesn’t even have that signal.”

    If nothing else, I wish the fucking doctors would just get this!

  3. Mulberry permalink
    December 15, 2011 6:11 pm

    When health isn’t good, sometimes that’s all you can think about. I’ve been finding this out myself in the last few years. Life gets circumscribed until you find out what’s wrong and figure out a way to fix it or live with it.
    And it’s one thing to say, listen to your body, but another to find out just what it’s trying to tell you. So many different problems can have similar symptoms! I’m very happy for you that you’re finding out what ‘s going on with yours and hopefully you’ll be feeling much better soon. Would carrying around some kind of snack help?

  4. December 15, 2011 8:01 pm

    I recently had a drawn-out, horrible meltdown at work that lasted several weeks and almost got me booted off the island, so to speak. It turned out that I was so hyperthyroid that I could have had a stroke during the operation that I was supposed to have less than 48 hours after meeting with the endocrinologist and my psychological meltdown was in great part due to the hormonal somersaults my thyroid was doing. I dodged a double bullet (death, both literal and professional). Yep, a serious hormonal imbalance was literally making me go insane. Since I’ve gotten on meds, I feel incredibly better and look back on those days of craziness with shuddering amazement.

    I’m really glad that you got some much needed answers and hopefully a plan to help you regain your health.

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