Low blood sugar always seems to strike at the worst times and can be hard to pick up on at first, especially when you’re busy. Below is a brief scene that I have experienced many times, going back to when I was a waitress for a few years. A typical incident in the life of a diabetic. A lot of people can experience lows differently. Here is my experience, maybe it can give you some insight to reflect on your own experience with it, or even if you have a friend who’s diabetic. Hell, even non-diabetics can have low blood sugar at times.
Personally, I like to compare it to dementors. Yes, from Harry Potter. I’ve realized Harry Potter references can be used for almost anything, including my diabetes. I may be a little obsessed, but that’s ok with me!
The truth is, dementors are probably easier to understand than low blood sugar, because it happens in the outside world, not restricted inside the world of your mind and body, yet they have similar effects. Dementors, for those who do not know, are terrible creatures that feed on human happiness, leaving the soul empty and dark. With diabetes, low blood sugar indicates the absence of sugar in the blood, your fuel is running on empty.
When facing either of these, it comes on slowly and then all at once. You don’t notice it at first, but soon happiness and good feelings disparate in their presence. The temperature changes. You are left with feelings of dread and confusion. You may faint. And my last point, sugar helps both! It relieves low blood sugar, and Professor Lupin informs us that chocolate helps after a confrontation with a dementor.
The night is starting to get busy. It’s Friday at 6pm, the rush is expected. The hostess is trying to not double seat anyone and cause them stress, but I can see the frustration behind her smile while she talks to the impatient new customers. She grabs another couple and brings them over to my section, table 32. It’s a young man and woman, probably on a date.
Soon after they sit I head over and greet them with a warm smile. They are all ready to order. Things have been good so far and now I have a nice easy table. As soon as I finish taking table 32’s order, I race over to the terminal. I start plugging in their requests that I copied on my little notepad. I didn’t even write that much, because most of it sticks in my head and I recite it to myself.
For some reason, I am having trouble remembering. I dismiss it, and refer to my notes. I hear the usual buzzing of the bar terminal receiving my request. I finish up and grab their drinks from the bar as soon as they are ready. When I drop them off, the couple wants to add something to their order and I happily oblige.
I go back to my usual terminal and begin to plug in, but again my head gets in the way. This time I know it’s not just my brain dis-functioning, its the tell-tale confusion I’ve learned to identify over the past two years, its Stage One. Figures! Diabetes had terrible timing. I ignore it because I have a job to do, and quite a few tables that need assistance, besides my lovely new couple.
Stage Two comes quickly. My fingers hover over the keys to the terminal, but I notice they are shaking. I know I need to take care of it, but first I need to do my job and I plug in their order.
Stage Three always comes too quickly. A heat settles over my body and I begin to feel faint, my heart racing. I run to the back kitchen and find the soda machine. I know my tables will be fine for a moment, I am on top of everything. I take a large glass, skip the ice, and go right to the iced tea. It’s not for a customer, it’s for me. The iced tea is cold and refreshing, but more importantly, its packed with sugar. I sit for a minute in the back and a co-worker asks if I’m OK. I tell them I’m fine, even though I’m not. I know it’ll pass and I refuse to be the person to complain and bother other people.
I pick up my pace again, but it’s only been five minutes and I’m still feeling confused, shaky, hot, and now fatigued. I go talk to the bartender, because I know I can sit there for a minute and gather myself together. It always seems to get worse before it gets better, and always at extremely inconvenient times.
Chocolate! I spy some that the bartender left at the server spot and I shove some in my mouth, I want to eat everything in sight. She gives me a curious look. I tell the bartender I just need a second and she smiles, telling me about the annoying guy on the other side of the bar who’s always too loud. I smile and nod, but I am not really listening. After about 20 minutes or so I am starting to feel okay again and I go back about my business. Just another low to make my day a little more crazy.