I’ve been diabetic for 42 years. I left home for college at 17. I haven’t owned a glucagon shot since then. I see a lot of people post blogs, videos, tweets, about having a glucagon shot in their diabetes bag, but I’ve never had one as an adult. My parents kept them when I was a kid, and used them a few times, but I’ve never kept one as an adult. I wondered if I was the only one who didn’t keep one, so I tweeted about it, and got tons of responses immediately from other type 1′s who don’t have them either. So I guess I’m not alone.
What is glucagon? Why does a diabetic keep a shot of it? What does it do? Well it comes in a shot because it’s for those times when you’re blood sugar is so low that you’re unconscious, or sleepy, or otherwise unable to eat carbs. So it kinda needs someone else around to give you the shot. If you live alone like me, what’s the point, right? So back to what it does. I’ll bet you know what insulin is? Glucagon is the opposite of insulin. It’s insulin’s sister hormone. Insulin is a builder, and glucagon breaks things down. The 2 can’t co-exist in the blood stream at the same time. What glucagon does for a diabetic when it’s injected, is it places a high concentration of glucagon into the blood stream which quickly forces the liver to start converting (breaking down) glycogen into glucose, or converting protein (amino acids) into glucose via gluconeogenesis. This quickly raises blood sugar so you can recover from your hypoglycemia. So glucagon is for when you’re unable to help yourself out of hypoglycemia.
I can remember regularly. . . VIVIDLY . . . when I was a kid, having a diabetic seizure in my sleep from low blood sugar, and mom and dad trying to force different forms of sugar down my throat while I was seizing. When I say vividly, I mean I can still see mom and dads faces hovering over me while seizing and I can see the bright light of the hallway behind them, shadowing their heads. I can hear them yelling, urging me to eat what they were trying to force down my throat. Honey, sugar cubes, juice, etc. They didn’t believe me, but I was FULLY CONSCIOUS while I was seizing, and I always got furiously mad at them for trying to force that food my throat instead of letting me try to eat it myself. A few times they used a glucagon shot to bring me out of those seizures, but when I saw them coming with that shot, I’d get the strength of bigfoot and I’d fight them. (I used to have nightmares of bigfoot as a kid.) They never believed I’d be ok, unless they did these things. It’s ok mom and dad, I understand, BUT I WAS RIGHT!!! LOL!!!
When I went away to college, I was lucky that I never had a seizure with roommates in the apartment. Or did I? Crap! I don’t remember now. John, Mike, do you remember if I did? Anyway, after college, living alone, I did have seizures now and then. Mom and dad never understood until I moved away, that I would come out of those seizures on my own, and I could then get glucose into my system on my own. I was always 100% conscious, and aware of what was wrong, and what I needed, while seizing. There’s one night in particular that I remember like it was yesterday. It was probably 18 or so years ago. I was seizing in my waterbed, which is a horrifying experience by the way, because as you’re seizing you’re arms and legs are outstretched trying to stop you from falling every couple of seconds, even though you’re not falling, and the bed moves. *shivers* Yeah, horrifying. Anyway, as I was seizing, I was able to roll myself out of bed and onto the floor after many minutes. I then seized my way about 20 feet into my kitchen over who knows how many minutes. I knew I needed to get to the kitchen where the sugar was. When the seizure stopped. I calmly stood up, stepped over to the sugar container, took out the 1 cup scoop and started swallowing raw sugar. I knew I’d be fine, but the experience was definitely not fun. Now I keep glucose tabs on my nightstand.
Now, here’s the kicker. When I went on the pump, the seizures stopped. Haven’t had a seizure in over 6 years. It’s that damn long acting insulin dumping in the bloodstream all at once! All my life I had been on either NPH or Lantus, along with Regular, until I went on the pump when I changed to Humalog. I still have low blood sugars in my sleep, but they come on so slow, that I ALWAYS wake up. When I get any low blood sugar, it comes on way slower on fast acting insulin. Explain that?! I think I’m hypo right now actually, so I’m gonna sign off and get some glucose tabs.
********** Now ya know, and knowing is half the battle. Go Joe!!! **********
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