Highs vs. Lows.

Seems to me there’s a disparity in dealing with high glucose versus dealing with low glucose. Okay, maybe it’s not as serious as a disparity, but I’m trying to keep this light here, okay?

When my BG is low, I find that there are many things that I can use (read: ingest) to get myself back into a safe range. Among them:
– Juice

Glucolifts (Cherry… yum)

– Honey

Goetze’s Caramel Creams (addictive)

– Fruit

Level Life Glucose Gel (kinda like the Mandarin Orange)

– Smarties (which are Rockets north of the border)

– Rockets (which are Smarties here in the USA)

– Insert your favorite here (Nutella, Maple Syrup, etc.)

– And, as a last resort, Glucagon
That’s at least nine items that I can use to bring up my glucose from an unsafe level. Having low BG is no picnic, of course. But those options almost feel like a reward for suffering through hypoglycemia. Almost. But not quite.

But what if my glucose is high? What if my pump has an issue delivering insulin, or it’s a hot day and the insulin loses its effectiveness, or I under-bolus for lunch? Now, I’m hovering near 300 mg/dL and I only have three options available to combat the high BG:
– Insulin

– Drink lots of water

– Exercise (while drinking lots of water)
That’s not a lot of options. And they’re not very appealing either. Also, if you have Type 2, you may not be on insulin therapy, so you may be left with only two options. Woo-freakin’-hoo.

In a way, having fewer choices when you’re high takes a lot of the guesswork out of what you need to do. You’ve just gotta do it, right? Using one, or two, or three methods. And it’s likely that you’ll have to wait to get yourself back into range. I mean, when you’re low you drink some juice, pop some glucose-laden product, and you’re often back in range within minutes. When you’re high, you can give a correction bolus of insulin, drink lots of water, and go for a run, and you’ll still have to wait some time before your BG comes back down.

I think this disparity in available options and time needed to correct explain why I absolutely hate being high, and why I try to do everything I can to avoid it. That doesn’t mean that I’m doing everything I can to be low. It just means that I don’t worry about being low as much as I worry about being high, if you know what I mean. Plus, I’ve got to admit, I hate how it makes me feel.

I suppose I could use this discussion to push for development and approval of faster-acting insulin. But I’m not thinking about that right now. I’m thinking about how high BG makes me feel, physically and mentally. And how that’s completely different from how I feel about low BG.

What about you? Do you worry more about high BG than low BG? Do you still worry about low BG, but secretly like the fact that it allows you some seemingly guilt-free indulgence? I’d love to hear what you think about both ends of the glucose spectrum.

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  • Scott E  On May 23, 2013 at 9:37 am

    Letting my naivete shine through a bit here … does drinking water really help bring down a high blood sugar? I’ve heard of it in the Online Community, but never anywhere else. I know highs make me thirsty as heck, but I didn’t think that really helped anything other than to quench thirst.

    To answer your question, I don’t know if I’d say I WORRY more about highs than lows, but they are definitely more difficult and more unpleasant to treat. I guess that’s where the rage-bolus comes in. If I go low, I can bring myself back up rather quickly and tastily. But being high for hours is no fun at all.


    • StephenS  On May 23, 2013 at 12:31 pm

      Obviously, I’m not a medical professional…

      I first heard of drinking water from a local marathoner who told me it would help because I was having highs after triathlons. She said that being dehydrated was contributing to an unexpected high BG, and hydrating would help bring me down. I’ve heard of it in the online community too, but nowhere else. I’ll add it to my list of “things to ask the endo” in my next visit. Thanks!


  • xxlovelylizxx  On May 23, 2013 at 10:05 am

    For me personally I’d rather deal with a high bg. Despite the sparse amounts of treatments for a high, they typically don’t scare me as much as a low does. Now, is it nice to be able to have that tasty treat to get my bg up, sure, but normally I’m so focused on getting out of that low trench that I dont even get to enjoy it. Lol. So for me I’d rather have to take some insulin and maybe a nap then feel like I’m having some sort of out of body experience that comes with being low.


    • StephenS  On May 23, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      Out of body experience… I understand that. And fear it too. Thanks!


  • Liz of Welcome to my Diabetic Life  On May 23, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    I’ve just recently had a few days with unrelenting high bgs. It’s the worst! I’m so exhausted and the thought of exercising is almost intolerable.

    What I’ve found that works best is I do a correction bolus and give myself half that amount, in addition, as an injection. I drink a lot of water (dilutes the glucose in the system then flushes it out).

    After about a half hour I eat something high in protein and very low in carbs and do a meal bolus. This process will usually get me down from a bg of 300 in a few hours. Unless, as is sometimes the problem, the kinked canula…leaking luer lock… bad cartridge (you get the picture) is the actual problem.

    And, Nutella is my go-to when I am low! It’s my guilt free indulgence.


  • seejendance  On May 23, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Honestly, my lows eventually lead to highs because I “enjoy” too many of the options presented in the above list. 🙂 So – neither. 😛


  • theperfectd  On May 24, 2013 at 5:25 am

    When I’m a little low, it’s not a bother. When I’m a lot low, I’m in panic mode and fuzzy. I would rather be a little high and still have all of my faculties (what little there are) than be low and not thinking straight. Fear Factor: Diabetes Style.


  • surfacefine  On May 31, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Having just dealt with a string of highs that eventually culminated in bronchitis and took highs to a whole new level, man do I hate being high. You’re so right Stephen… the treatments for lows are just so much more exciting (and diverse). On a side note, I also plan on incorporating “woo-freakin’-hoo” into today’s vernacular.


  • Scott K. Johnson  On June 11, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    Great post, Stephen!

    I hate how long it takes to come back down from a high. And yes, I totally use lows to indulge. Guilty as charged! 🙂



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