Just after I started using the DIY hybrid closed loop system, OpenAPS, for my type 1 diabetes, a lot of old memories started bubbling to the surface. Memories of my life with diabetes. I guess possibly these were what is referred to as ‘suppressed memories’, but it seems a bit melodramatic to say so.
One of the earliest memories was about my first hypo.
I was in hospital for two weeks for stabilisation after my diabetes was diagnosed. On my own. Apart from my mother’s visits. But she had three other children to manage at home.
In a white gown tied at the back, nil by mouth, for the first few days while I was hooked up to a drip. Then one morning the drip came out and I had my first shot of insulin.
The hypo seemed to come out of nowhere. It was night time on the second or third day of insulin injections and I was 12 years old.
I started shaking and sweating.. My heart pounded in my chest and I was confused. It was like a rug had been pulled out from under me and I felt like I was falling through air.
Was this what I’d been reading about in my “How to Manage Diabetes” book…hypoglycemia?
It was hard to find my voice. I was not used to speaking up. Eventually I called for the nurse. I waited… and waited … and eventually the nurse came. “I think I need to eat some barley sugar” I said. “I think I’m having a hypo.”
The nurse told me to wait. She wanted to clear this with my paediatrician first. This was 1980 so there was no blood glucose meter.
I did what I was told. I waited for what felt like a very long time, shaking and sweating and thinking “I really should be eating some barley sugar.” The nurse couldn’t reach the doctor. The packet of barley sugars my mother had left with me were in a drawer next to me. Eventually the nurse returned and told me I could eat some barley sugar.
Eventually my body calmed and I started thinking clearly again.
I wondered what tomorrow would bring.