Hypoglycemia-Caused Panic

In which we complain about bloodsugar induced panic attacks …

I doubt this is terribly important, but I want to at least reach out to those other people with type one diabetes and see if they, too, feel  panicky when their blood sugars are low.  Yesterday I had about fifteen of them.  This is a problem.

Granted, I have been feeling a lot of lows for the last few weeks.  Sometimes I do the wrong thing, and manufacture higher glucose (like in the 200s) reads in order to not have to deal with the lows, to not have to drink another juice (which I am growing to hate).  I’ve also been experiencing a lot of high energy and optimism which is causally pointable-outable to several factors.  Life is going well for me; I’m alive and hungry for more of it.

Yesterday morning I woke at 6:00 a.m., bouncing out of my skin as usual these days.  By about 8:00 I was ready to use the energy in a health-preserving way.  I checked my sugar and it was in the 180s (it was in the 90s when I woke up).  Not trusting it to stay stable simply by wishing it to be so,  I ate a half sandwich, lowered the basal rate on my insulin pump (to 25% for 2 hours) and headed out for a 3 mile walk at 9:00.   A half hour into the hike it was 146.  I drank a juice.  45 minutes into the hike it was, again 146ish (really close).  I considered another juice, but I was hoping that the half sandwich, the original 180 BG, the lowered basal, and the current juice would hold me through the rest of the hike.  It did.

But, despite my munching and no-schedule day, I had sugars in the 80s an 90s all day.  At one point it was in the 200s so I gave a correction bolus … which later resulted in another low.  Very uncomfortable.  Throughout the day I ate fruit, salads, cheese, nuts, french fries, and chips and salsa.  Granted, I didn’t eat as much as I should have, and i just snacked rather than having a proper breakfast, lunch an dinner (befitting of a single woman without children).  The exercise and the general high-energy status quo of my body-mind kept me in need of all of the sugar I could take, but I seldom have such constant need for juice.   I also find that I don’t necessarily need that much food, on days when I am working, at least*.  Stress seems to add about 50-100 to my glucose levels, but I haven’t tracked this exactly. Yet.

By evening I was fighting.  My heartrate was up and I could not get to sleep.  I cried several times and felt the kind of fear one feels in a panic attack.  I could barely control the worry thoughts relating not only to diabetes but also more social aspects of my life.  I checked my sugars two more times and drank more juice and lowered my basal to 15%, hoping to get the blood glucose level a little higher so I could actually sleep through the night.  When I woke the next morning it was 78.

More juice.

The funny part of this to me is that while on my bouncy-wonderful walk in the morning, I was drafting a letter  (in my head) to the CEO and President of the medical organization which employs my family doctor, my endocrinologist and my ophthalmologist  in order to express the gratitude I feel toward these people working so hard to help me get diabetes to a level of control I need and want.  I had a somewhat disappointing appointment with the endocrinologist recently. I  presented him with a handwritten account of day-to-day happenings with my glucose for about a week in the hope of understanding patterns better, but it didn’t seem to impact his thinking much (though I don’t really know).  Still, we’ve agreed to have me wear a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) for a week later in August to track the numbers more closely and go from there.  I also had a stunning annual physical with my family doctor and it looks like I am doing really well in all other health categories besides the one which concerns us all the most.  That morning, ironically, the nurse for that doctor had to fetch me a juice before the physical because I was low.


So, more science is needed.  In a way, I am grateful that I am feeling lower rather than higher.  I am happy that I have high energy rather than low.  I probably wouldn’t be publicly sharing about a day of high glucose, and there have certainly been those before too.  Those don’t seem as life-threatening in the moment, though, as any person with type one diabetes will agree.

As I was laying there in the night watching my mind run away with my heartbeat eating the little sugar I kept giving it, I couldn’t help feeling so alone.  I thought about texting a couple of friends, but didn’t want to make it their problem.  Plus, it doesn’t matter how much I try to explain myself when I am suffering in this way, it gets so confused because of the complexity.  Doctors like to look at the numbers, and derive conclusions from those.  I provided numbers to my Endo in narrative form, and when I expressed frustration with the phrase, “I feel like … ” he replied, of himself, “I don’t go off of feelings (presumably referring to his preference for numbers).”  So I picked up my sheets of paper and, once again, to show him the map of my daily experience.  But it’s just too exhausting … trying to explain to an outsider what I can only feel on the inside.  My friends and family would do their best, I know, and offer questions and support, but why burden them with an unending mystery I will be attempting to answer all of my life.  They risk my frustration at them, for not understanding —  but really, really wanting to — which causes me to not reach out to them. If I turn my inner experiences into a social enterprise, much is lost in the translation.  Especially regarding what it all means to the experiencer …

Phenomenology. Next chapter.

So I cry now, thinking of this particular breed of loneliness, and how it reminds me of other ways I feel alone.  I know I am not though.  I’m still optimistic.  Life is better than it was this time last year and the year before.  I am winning at health.  For today, at least.


(*Still trying to map out my needs based on day-off and working day phenomena.  A lot more consistency is what the doc orders, which is difficult in my line of work, but I’ll try.  Also, I can’t easily obtain the exact numbers written here, so these are pretty fair recollections instead.)



Too Noisy

In which Carrie thinks about reasons for giving students referrals …

One has to wonder about the state of mind of teachers who give referrals to students.  I was putting some copies away for a secretary and read some of the notes on the forms.  One student received one for “being off task and distracting his classmates.  Also, he was making Donald Duck noises in class.”  I saw this student later in the day and took a good look at him, laughing about what we would laugh about if we could be truly earnest about the personality gap between people giving and taking education.  How to handle Donald Duck noises doesn’t show up in the Classroom Management Manual for Teachers.  It’s up to us, then, to make distinctions.

I remember writing referrals for students who were lying in order to get out of work.  They claimed that since the fifth grade they had learned that the x-axis and the y-axis were reversed from the standard representation.  This evoked great fear and trembling within myself. Our world would tip if “x” was longitudinal; we’d need to remake humanity if “y” was on the horizon.  Do I want our children to enter the world inspired to relativize math?  No.  Give them a referral for lying.  Let admin teach them bliss is mathematical truth.  You don’t just get to rewrite the rules, not at thirteen.  Fear Truth’s wrath.

The commitments of teachers is different from individual to individual.  All of us have bought into standardization, either out of fear or because it is convenient to codify learning with formulaic writing and multiple-choice-only-one-answer-is-true.  Or we don’t buy it, like Ken Robinson. In his new book Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education he writes that in our attempts to reform education so no child is left behind, we’ve created more problems, and that what’s down the road will bring a great deal more.

“… the standards movement favors direct instruction of factual information and skills and whole-class teaching rather than group activities.  It is skeptical about creativity, personal expression, and nonverbal, non-mathematical modes of work and of learning by discovery and imaginative play, even in preschool.”

When I was in high school, my most frequent self-report of my state of mind was “hyper.”  I would often burst into laughter, loud laughter, bottled up, uncorked and eruptive. My brother could probably say the same about himself, and some people urged my parents to put him on medication.  He still has so much energy and uses it in work and play.  I’m not hyper anymore.  One of his former teachers asked me to tell him how proud he was of Bret’s accomplishments.  My former teachers would say the same about me, but would notice how subdued I am.  I worry.  All.  The.  Time.

I’ve lately been trying a new exercise in the classrooms I work in.  When it is quiet, when students are busy being silent and taking an assessment which they have been warned is very important, I have time to sit and watch them.  I began asking myself, who am I not noticing?  Within the student bodies I frequently teach, I remember the names or characters of those who are hyper, especially those I am prepared to remind to stay on task.  They make me smile, or laugh, and challenge my inexplicable urge to send them to the office if if they are being too noisy.

When everyone is quiet, I start to look around at the others, the ones I never notice.  Where did she come from?  Was he here last time I was?  Do I know how many people are even in this room?  The quiet ones just getting through the day.  Some might be genuinely interested in the work and their own achievements.  Some might be miserable or hungry or lacking adequate sleep.  Others have totally fallen off the x-axis, the cliff, and seem to be beyond help.  When it becomes the last five minutes of class, the hyper ones who have been wiggling in their seats for the last twenty minutes or darting provocative looks at their peers throughout the assessment, bounce out of their chair and start moving with the agitation of a caged chimpanzee believing it is time to be fed.


Close to my body

In which Carrie appreciates her body …


All of these naked bodies, remarked myself

in the dressing room of a spa, glistening with oil

or to be oiled and roiled with emotions suppressed.

You deposit your clothing and your big bucket purse to the safety locker

and move to rooms of your resolve.


Some of you are certain this is your right.

Others take persuading; Is it my body?  Can I afford this symbol of self-affection?

Confusion infused at the hard place in your neck: am I?

Today you give yourself up to one who needs nothing from you.


Enter the hero of the hour: Massage Therapist.

I love you.

Your identity becomes mine and this becomes care.

I lay prone on the heated table with my face in a hole watching your human feet go by.

At first I don’t trust and try to map your movements.

I note the amount of oil you use, the grace with which you pull the cover from my back.

I advise myself: stop.

Just exist on a planet in kind feeling room.

Detach from the attachment to trust.

Demand not control but embrace the giving up,

agreed upon, this safety place,

between you and those of the professional.

She needs nothing from you

Except to tell her if the pressure is too much.








Linda Ferguson, Rainer Maria Rilke

In which Carrie works on her identity . . .


This is the week for writing practice, vocabulary building, study and worship.  I have before me two slim books to help.  One belongs to a friend, the other to someone I might have had as a friend.  Rilke speaks to me as one in his Letters to a Young Poet.  There are nine total.  I will read one or two a day as advice on ways to approach poetry.

Linda has seventeen poems in her chapbook, Baila Conmigo.  One poem has this title.  Others are “Mama Gets Some Road Rage,” “The Speacialists,” and a particular favorite, “Dancing to Mendelssohn’s ‘Venetian Gondola.'”  Her poems here, unlike the ones she shared during the time I took a writing workshop from her, are more elusive and sharp.  I get the feeling the poet has given her all here, not holding back from her reader’s probable judgment, and the fact of that is inspiring.  We all want to cut loose sometimes, like a child at an outdoor fountain on a blistering summer day.  I’d like to do that myself.

So I leave for a week armed with these two friends and a vow to say “I love you” thirty times a day to mirrors I happen upon.  I plan to read one or two from each book every day while I, with aggressive love, cut loose from an old set of debasing practices.  I will write, and create something I like.

Perhaps by Wednesday or Thursday I will know more and care more about what is vital in me.

Zadie Smith, Lifevest

In which Carrie goes back to college . . . . 

This itch.  Once at the height of my intellectual stamina.  The time when the person starved of morality sees the world through literature, and begins, anew, on a quest for purpose.

Zadie Smith will save me.

Memories of dead philosophy professors, still living and some actually deceased.  Byron, vanilla-flavored pipe at the lips.  Simple-minded me telling you I will take a trip to Bhutan where they believe in Gross National Happiness.  You said, Professor, with a keen moral philosopher’s mind, are you sure it follows from the social structures availible?  Me, in my naivete, thinking surely this other culture has it figured out, why wouldn’t I believe this catchy abandonment of Gross National Product.

Fast forward to the decision of a profession.  The requisite undergrad initiation into literature proper.  E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End.  Followed by On Beauty.  Modern British Authors or something number 400 level course for English majors. An inspired body reaction stemming from a mind well-used in the recognition that symmetry is possible and two books side by side will yield the same message: social injustice.  Amazing to behold, one in each hand.

One may as well begin with letters and emails sent between characters . . .” start Forster and Smith, signaling the conflict which invariably arise from relations with others.  Zadie says I will tell a modern day version of a brilliant commentary on upper class warfare on the less fortunate.  Forster, one in a setting favoring the genteel persons who are obliged to pretend concern for the state of the world.

“He [Leonard Bast] was not in the abyss, but he could see it, and at times people whom he knew had dropped in, and counted no more.  He knew that he was poor, and would have died sooner than confess any inferiority to the rich … But he was inferior to most rich people, there is not the least doubt of it.  He was not as courteous as the average rich man, nor as intelligent, nor as healthy, nor as lovable.  His mind and his body had been alike underfed, because he was poor …” (Chapter 6, HE)

Bast is on his way home from a concert where the classes mixed, and where he almost lost his precious umbrella to Helen, a stranger-to-him, of the upper classes.  He then goes home to his stuffy flat,  umbrella retrieved, which he shares with a desperate woman who won’t understand his dreams, and cracks open his copy of Ruskin’s Stones of Venice.  He reads it slowly and with the performance of one separate from those who take Literature and Art for granted, struggling to understand it and integrate it somehow into his relations with people he wishes to rise above.


Smith, post-Modern British author, writes a similar scene centering on a middle to upper class, mixed race family.  They too have been to a concert, a free one featuring Mozart’s Requiem.  A mix-up occurs between the proprietership of similar discmans (not umbrellas): one belonging to Zora, the daughter in love with those in her father’s collegiate cohort yet able to mix with those in the hood, and a Leonard Bast look-a-like (except, in Beauty, a six foot something black man) named Carl.  Carl wishes to improve his mind through free concerts and lectures and poetry performances, and thereby his standing in the world of Art and Literature.

“‘You at college or . . .?’

“‘Nah . . . I’m not an educated brother, although . . . ‘ He had a theatrical, old-fashioned way of speaking which involved his long, pretty fingers turning in circles in the air.  His whole manner reminded Levi of his grandfather on his mother’s side and his tendency to speechify, as Kiki called it.  ‘I guess you could say I hit my own books in my own way.‘”  (Chapter 7, OB)

Like in 2007 when I first studied the British Moderns, I felt a sympathy for these characters, the poor wishing to improve themselves.  These who valued something which they were excluded from by birth, yet craving it for its intrinsic nourishment commanded by the elite. I, too, felt this craving to shed the skin of a confused past where I never learned to properly write or appreciate beauty in the way of scholars, and gain it through higher learning.

And so I return.  To the past of my betterment and the post-modern exploration of the same material. I now read these two novels in tandem – an exciting rejuvenation of a self slightly successful – and study the possibility of developing my own Art and Beauty.




Ghost Vision

In which Carrie was startled and nostalgic …


Ghost Vision

The light

Or the memory of light

Or her brain reaching

Outward toward

The light

Entered a subjective field of vision

Populated with



Players of Poker

Time and spatial curves

Even things of light and joy:

flowers, children, summits of mountains, books

Which once made the seeing

blind eye

Grasp at the infinite


The Universe holds no color.



In which Carrie writes a poem …

Horse photo Sisters



When the rider is green

and keeps falling of

the old cowhands say:

She’s got too much horse.

But she always learned

To get right back up.