Diabetes: Where “Getting High” Has a Different Meaning

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“You people are really lucky,” an endocrinologist friend said to me several years ago: “You know when you’re getting sick.”

The “you people” he was talking about were those of us who have diabetes. And we know when we’re getting sick because our blood glucose goes up.

“I just wake up one morning and feel rotten,” he continued. “At least you know when it’s coming.”

Maybe. Truthfully, however, it’s the last thing I think about. Take the last time, for example.

“What did I eat?” I muttered to myself when my BGs rose and stayed up. Well, there was the spaghetti, but I skipped the bread and put a minimal amount of low-fat dressing on my salad. Also, the sauce was Bolognese, not Alfredo.

Nope. I don’t believe it was the spaghetti. Then I thought of something else.

“Oh, here we go again,” I grumbled when my BGs rose and I couldn’t get them to go below 160-ish. Even if I’d glitched on adjusting for the spaghetti, my glucose would have been back to normal by then. This time, they were still high. Like in the 200s for the most part. I even hit close to 400 mg/dl once, and I NEVER do that!

Since I have this annoying habit of running low and having to adjust my basal rates down – only to start running high and having to adjust my basal rates UP – I figured it was time for my glucose to start going squirrelly again. So I upped my basal rates.

While I came down, it wasn’t by much and wasn’t nearly as much as it should have.

What else could it be? Carbs and dietary fat can be a problem, but the effects of the spaghetti should have been long over (and don’t smack my hand – spaghetti as a main dish is a treat for me). I hadn’t cut back on exercise. Raging hormones are no longer an issue.

All of this was swirling through my head as I checked my foot one night. And then I found it: The nail on my big toe looked a bit “off,” so I gently pushed on it. The nail was a bit loose…and the nail bed was infected.

Did you know an infection can cause your blood glucose to rise? Yep. Little more than a day after I cleaned my toe really well and put some antibiotic cream and a bandage over it, my glucose began to drop. It’s nearly back to the ranges I’m used to now.

That was last Wednesday night. I needed to see my podiatrist, whose office is about 90 miles from where I live. However, school and work schedules, Yom Kippur, and the hours kept by the clinic he works in were combining to make an immediate visit impossible.

So I left a message at his office Thursday and, after not receiving a response, called his house that evening. He was at a meeting, but his wife and I had a delightful conversation and he called me back Friday morning, apologizing that nobody had given him my message at the office, then giving me the number for his private line. The one with the voice mail he listens to himself.

We went over what I’d been doing, he suggested some changes and called in a prescription for me. So far it’s better, and I’ll be going to see him on Wednesday.

There are some lessons here; lessons that I sometimes forget. When my glucose goes up and stays there, I need to examine myself to determine if I’m “getting sick” one way or another. Am I stressed? Depressed? Getting a stuffy head? Have a scratchy throat? Any areas that feel warm, indicating the possibility of an infection?

It’s also great to have wonderful health-care providers. My podiatrist is one of them. He understands how important it is to me that my foot be taken care of. After all, I only have one and don’t want to lose it. I feel comfortable calling him at home. I like that he was willing to give me his private number at the office. He’s a good doctor, too.

My toe is getting better and my glucose has gotten better. Next? It appears to be flu-shot season. Don’t forget to get yours. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October. That’s in a couple of weeks.

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