Hypoglycemia Leads to HyperShopping

Whatever you do, don’t go to the grocery store when your blood glucose is in the toilet.


All I wanted were some ingredients needed to make paczki. Prunes, flour, oranges, cream, and oil. When I checked out, the tab came to $164 and change. No, I didn’t spend all of that on paczki ingredients.

To interject an explanation here, paczki (pronounced PUNCH-key) are, basically, filled doughnuts, traditionally eaten in Poland on Fat Tuesday. No, I’m not Polish. Being Jewish, I don’t “do” Fat Tuesday, either. My endocrinologist is Polish, but not Jewish, and I’ve come to be his diabetic Jewish Polish pastry chef, ever since I showed him a picture of a giant challah (a braided egg bread) I made for a wedding. Turns out his grandmother made a yellow, braided bread — the Polish version of challah is chalka — and so it began.

Anyway, my chauffeur (grandson) and I were out running errands and, while he was busy inside the wireless phone store, I felt the need to check my glucose. Thirty-nine. When he came out to the car to get something (the store is inaccessible), I told him I needed something to eat. In the meantime, I found a bottle of something with 8 grams of carbohydrate in my scooter basket and a stale cough drop in the car’s console to tide me over.

If I’d had my purse with me, I would have had glucose tablets and stuff. But I didn’t have my purse with me: I’d just thrown my wallet in my scooter basket. If I’d had control of my car lately, I would have had emergency sugar in my console. But I haven’t driven since early November because it’s too difficult for me to get into the driver’s seat.

Finally, my grandson finished his business and we continued on to the grocery store, where I grabbed a Mocha Frappuccino from the chiller just inside the door and took a healthy chug while Grandson looked on, horrified, because I hadn’t paid for it first.

“Don’t worry,” I told him. “It’ll be OK.” Stores have had people — including me — pay for empty wrappers and bottles before. Just don’t forget to put the empties in the bascart so you’ll remember to put them on the belt at checkout to pay for them. Besides, I know the owner.

Even with the sugar hit, my monitor still said my glucose was in the mid-40s. I should have waited before turning into the bakery section.

“Oh, my,” I said to myself. “Peach flips. And look! There’s a cherry flip, too!” as I motioned to my grandson to pack ’em up.

The rice cake popper was one bag shorter after I passed it.

The deli was lighter by some broccoli salad, brownberry salad, and roast beef. And some soup. And stuff from the salad bar.

We won’t even mention what the candy aisle was missing after I went through there. Let’s just say it pretty much obliterated the fresh fruits and vegetables I also piled in the bascart.

Ya know, there’s just something different about plain ol’ hunger and the type where your brain is yelling “DANGER! DANGER! EAT! EAT!” It’s dangerous to enter a grocery store at either time, but especially so (I’ve discovered) when it’s the latter.

After I got home, I did throw some glucose drinks and tablets in my scooter basket so that (hopefully) won’t happen again. Then I put the groceries away.

You think I should call my husband and tell him not to bring any groceries home that need to go into the refrigerator or freezer? There’s no room!

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  • Ashley

    Hello,i just wanted to say wow jane thats one crazy shopping experince .i was a cashier at meijer.the 6 years i work for them i had seen many sugar attacks and diabetics have really bad attacks.i have saved so many lives just by being a cashier .thx for the story again have a great day

  • Robinhood16

    For some strange reason I find myself feeling a bit shaky when my wife drags me to one of the big box stores(Costco etc). On many more than one occaision I have checked out with a box of their cocolate chip giant cookies with more than a couple missing from the package. Happily the packaging on these products is easy to open and reseal. The checker outer from time to time will ask if we are aware that the packages appears to be missing a few.

    I of course never have my meter with me on those occaisions but I am sure I am low and justify breaking into the packages.

    Type 2

  • Mike Romm

    I just got an email from Diabetes Self-managment that thought that taxing fast food was a good idea. What it doesn’t mention, and I thought was important, was what happens to that money. Also what is also important is that sales tax greatly affects the poor or near poor much more than the well to do. What your saying is it’s alright for rich people to get fat but if your not as rich you have to fisically suffer more if you want to eat out. The fairer method is to eliminate all fatty foods from the fair offered. Don’t let the lobbyists and the fast food industry put the bourdon they helped to create on others so they can increase their profits. If high calorie foods, that didn’t have to be so high, were universaly outlawed, then competition would be based on taste where it should be!

  • Diane Fennell

    Hi Mr. Romm,

    Thanks for your comment! I just wanted to mention that Diabetes Self-Management does not endorse taxing fast food — our intention in presenting this topic was simply to open the floor for debate. Please see the piece “Taxing Calories” for more information.

    Thank you for your interest in DiabetesSelfManagement.com!

    Diane Fennell
    Web Editor

  • Christine Richardson

    Honestly, Jan, that was hilarious!!!! I’m glad to know that I am not the only one who has turned into “Ms. Pac-Man” when the glucose tanks. I’ve also been known to knock on the neighbor’s door and beg for orange juice when I was out walking with the kids. I didn’t realize how the kids picked up on things until they started referring to Wheat Thins as “blood sugar crackers” because I carried them with me so often.

    Things can get erratic despite our best efforts. We do the best we can!

  • Jan

    Heh. My grandson used to call glucose tablets “sugar pills.” As in the day he waved his hand and said, “Oh, you can eat sugar pills” when I caught him chowing down on my emergency animal cookies in the car — little cheeks pooched out like a chipmunk’s filled with acorns.

    I greatly dislike “sugar pills.”


  • Becky

    I totally agree…going to the supermarket while your sugar’s crashing is a really bad idea. I have stood in the aisles, looking in my cart, completely confused about what I was buying and why I was buying it.