I have had reactive hypoglycemia for years. Of course, I didn’t have a name for it for a long time, I just knew that I had to graze all day in order to not be shaky. Is it a coincidence that this is one of the conditions that is associated with ME? I don’t know. My new doctor said it has to do with adrenal fatigue and it is absolutely likely that I was stressing my adrenals for a long time.
Hypoglycemia is yet another condition that is completely pooh-poohed by doctors and, in the grand scheme of things, I understand why. It is manageable for the most part and many patients have much worse things going on. But, that doesn’t mean it should be ignored and people shouldn’t be given constructive advice on how to stop their bodies from going through blood sugar roller coasters. That’s where I come in.
Just like (allopathic) doctors don’t discuss adrenal problems unless you have Addison’ s disease or Cushing’s syndrome, they don’t discuss hypoglycemia unless it is in the context of diabetes. Years ago, I talked to a doctor in Ireland about my blood sugar drops and I will never forget his response: “Ah, just eat a biscuit.” So, as usual, I had to do my own research. My fasting blood sugar is fine and, after lunch throughout the evening, it is usually stable around 80 or 90 mg/dL. But, after I eat breakfast, I have to beware. “Reactive” meaning my BS drops after eating a meal. I have a few rules: I know I have to eat a substantial breakfast and I always have to eat “elevensies” and I have to be wary of what I eat, using knowledge of the glycemic index. I’ve avoided almost all of my hypoglycemic episodes by switching from rice milk to almond milk (warning: rice has a very high score on the glycemic index, meaning it’ll cause your BS to soar and then crash).
But, still, there will always be days that I don’t manage it properly, like yesterday. I want to post about this because the physical effects from a BS crash are nothing to be scoffed at ~ especially when you have ME. It stresses your body just as an allergic drug reaction or a long conversation or a walk around the block stresses your body.
Yesterday, I ate oatmeal for breakfast with walnuts, pomegranate seeds, almond milk and flax meal. I thought that was pretty hearty and didn’t eat anything else for a few hours. Big mistake. My primary symptoms are extreme shakiness (worse than any caffeine or any other sort of tremors I have experienced) and blurry eyesight. And by “blurry eyesight” I mean it feels like my eyeballs are shaking as violently as my hands. It took me three tries to unzip my BS tester kit. It took me two tries to put the little testing strip in the reader (the first time I put it in backwards because I couldn’t see properly). While trying to load the wee needle, I stabbed myself deeply in the hand and just used that blood in the tester, which was good because I don’t think I would have managed the fine motor skills needed to load it anyway. My BS was 56 mg/dL. That’s low. I usually start shaking around 70. I poured the OJ all over the counter, trying to get it in the glass. I dropped my cracker with almond butter on the floor (sticky side down) while trying to navigate the distance from plate to mouth (okay, from counter to mouth ~ getting a plate from the cupboard would have taken too much time and put my feet in jeopardy from the likelihood of dropsies). The shakes didn’t subside quickly enough for my liking, so I ate half a Lara Bar and drank more OJ (this time without the glass, resulting in spilling down my shirt. Nope, not joking)… And then you get to deal with the symptoms of a BS spike: immediate headache, heart racing, exhaustion and a kind of extended vibration inside.
I was feeling pretty good yesterday morning and, after this episode, I was wiped out. It felt almost exactly like a hangover. I miss the days of a hangover caused by copious amounts of fun and whiskey, laughing and singing. I miss the days when a hangover was alleviated by a cheeseburger and Paul Newman’s lemonade. And I did this to myself! I KNOW that oatmeal often causes this to happen. I know I need to eat again an hour after breakfast. I knew I was feeling something off and ignored it, thinking, No, that hasn’t happened in ages. And I now know that my sick body doesn’t bounce back from these disruptions like my well body used to.
My advice: get acquainted with the glycemic index. Buy a BS tester kit and figure out whether you have fasting or reactive BS problems. Eat to minimise these episodes ~ even if you aren’t hungry. And do not underestimate how the roller coaster will affect your body. It’s exhausting.
Stay tuned for the next installment of Conditions Doctors Don’t Give A Shit About: Eyelashes That Drive You Crazy!