What's It Really Feel Like to be High?

This is from my blog The Juice Box Diaries. See the original post to see the pictures that come along with it.

[Vegan BBQ Pizza Picture, see post]

Homemade Vegan BBQ Pizza, recipe later in post!

Sometimes I wonder what people might think when they overhear me saying, “God, I’m so high,” in public. Do they sneer, giggle, scoff, smile, or even feel jealous? Do they think about asking if I could ‘hook them up?’ It’s funny, really, accidentally misleading the waiter at a restaurant or runner at a park. But what that waiter or runner don’t realize, is that the ‘high’ I’m experiencing feels like having the stomach flu while insanely thirsty and emotional, not a full-body rhapsody of relaxation, laughter, and munchies.

Last night I tamed my third 500+ blood sugar in a week. As someone who prides herself on great blood sugar control and a kickass A1c, I’ve felt like punching myself in the face and yelling, “get it together!” These incidences weren’t my fault, just unfortunate combinations of events that resulted in my own agony. Last night, for instance, even though I meticulously calculated my dinner insulin dose, my blood sugar still soared well past 500 in a few short hours. At the time, I couldn’t figure out what I’d done wrong. My pump site hadn’t come out and I thought I’d counted my carbs correctly.

With a blood sugar that high, I decided I wouldn’t take the chance and give my correction dose via the pump. I thought an injection would be the safer choice. Turns out my instinct served me well because upon changing my pump site, I discovered a sneaky kink in the end of the cannula, the tubing that sits under the skin to deliver insulin into my body. That small bend in the tube was all it took to skyrocket my blood sugar into coma-worthy numbers.

Last night’s incident wouldn’t have rattled me as much had I not gone through a blood sugar mess just the night before. After an awesome night of homemade pizza and playing around in an indoor climbing gym, I returned home to a nasty 450 blood sugar. Ah!! I still can’t quite pinpoint the cause of that baby, but I’ve inferred that maybe I misjudged the amount of carbs in the pizza. Also, I took my pump off while climbing, which I always do and have never had a problem, but I guess this time my body didn’t agree with that choice. Diabetes is nothing if not unpredictable.

What even the people closest to me might not realize is that being high feels terrible. At the climbing gym, I didn’t necessarily feel sick, but I could tell that my body felt off. My limbs were sluggish, as though moving through glue, and my weight felt heavier. All moisture had dissipated from my tongue and behind my eyes. But even dehydrated, my mouth felt coated in a sticky substance, like simple syrup. My stomach ached as though I’d swallowed tar and I felt exhausted. You might wonder why I didn’t catch the high blood sugar before coming home with symptoms like that. Sometimes it’s tough to distinguish general fatigue from a long day or from a blood sugar catastrophe. Also the thirst could arise from the physical activity involved with climbing. Plus, I figured that even if I’d gone a bit high, the bolus from dinner would kick in and bring me back to a respectable level. Long story short, I never suspected that my sugar had gotten that far out of control.

[Climbing gym pictures, see post]

The hardest part of dealing with high blood sugars is that it takes so damn long to come back down. Thus, I’ve had to learn to go about my normal activities while simultaneously feeling crappy. I can’t hit a pause button and say, “Wait, I’m almost done climbing!” Sure, I can try to take it easy, like slowing my pace if I’m walking at a mall or by taking a break to drink some water, but I can’t choose to lay in bed for three hours watching TV if I have something important to accomplish that day. I’ve pretty much noticed that diabetes likes to strike at the most inconvenient times, like going low right before a kickboxing class or when your site rips out on the way to a dinner.

For over a decade, I’ve bottled up my real emotions towards diabetes. Each time I’ve gone high or low at an inconvenient time, I think bits of rage and sadness filed away in a piggy bank in my brain. I’d say that last night that piggy bank filled up and started to overflow. Let’s just say there were tears involved, which weren’t helped by the high blood sugar. My mom tried to comfort me, but all I could say was, “Nobody understands how hard this is for me.” I’m sick of feeling sick, plain and simple.

Now I know that I can’t let these past few nights beat me down. I cracked a little, letting vulnerability get the best of me, but I’m determined to keep fighting. I have to keep fighting because I want to be around for a long time. In other words, I don’t want to die or be stricken with complications. I want to feel great so I can go climbing and make homemade pizza like the one in the recipe below!

Vegan BBQ Pizza w/ Caramelized Onion

  • 1 cup beer, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons vegan margarine, room temp
  • 1.5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups white wheat flour (or pastry, or all purpose, or spelt combo)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
  • Barbecue sauce
  • 1 onion, cut in fourths and sliced
  • Broccoli and cauliflower, broken into tiny florets
  • Green pepper, diced
  • 3/4 package Daiya mozzarella cheese
  • Oil, for coating & sauteing
  • Salt, garlic powder & pepper to taste

Start by preparing the dough. Put beer and margarine in bottom of bread machine (Or of course you could make the dough by hand and do the kneading/rising process yourself). Add flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Make sure salt and yeast don’t mix. Turn to dough setting and press start.

While bread machine is working, prepare the veggies. Caramelize onions over med-low heat until soft and golden, about 30 min. Lightly coat broccoli, cauliflower, and pepper in oil (I just sprayed with canola oil from a non-stick can) and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Roast in preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Set veggies aside until ready to top pizza.

When bread machine finishes, place dough in oiled bowl and allow to continue rising for 30 min. Spread onto pizza pan and brush with oil. Top with barbecue sauce, Daiya cheese, & veggies. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and bake at 425 for 15 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is melted.

[Caramelized onion collage, see post] Caramelized onions make everything taste gourmet!

hi..one thing i would like to suggest is...
Before exercising or for that sort doing any hard physical activity check you BG prior because physical activity too raises BG levels...the reason is glucagon release during stress...if your sugar is higher than 250 dont do hard physical work or even in low BG below 70.
You can have pizza whenever you want ...but avoid it in dinner time..as no physical activity follows after that..try to have boiled veggies, plate of salad and soup along in the dinner time. you can have bread but reduce it at night.
Dont worry of high BGs its part of the disease...this is not your fault.,
Other things which could check your BGs is
Take Cinnamon powder after meals one spoon, which could avoid raise in post meal high BGs.
Try to dring luke warm water after meals, this will help your cholestrol level in control
Try to eat more of protein diet..
Rest i think you know
Good luck

High BGs do NOT have to be part of the disease! I totally agree with Dr. Bernstein et al who suggest that normalized BG should be our goal and that it's attainable. If you start with a presumption that elevated BG are "normal" or "part of the disease," you are giving up and I am certain that it is critical to not give up!!

I've exercised through a variety of BG conditions, including getting stuck on the trail with no pump from pullouts. It's not fun but if you've practiced, I think that exercise can be a useful weapon with which to attack some elevated BGs, although I have to admit I haven't run into 400+ that I can recall and that may be counterindicated? Usually for higher BG, I don't do anything nutso but will bolus and take the dog for a walk and see if it gets things moving in the right direction. If I have a planned workout or activity, I spend time getting my BG where it needs to be ahead of time but I will figure out a workaround if I run into issues. I haven't done rock climbing but I would expect that it's a got a good mix of anaerobic activity, from pulling yourself up the wall, plus adrenaline, since you are climbing up, heights (not my thing!), etc., both of which might elevate BG? I'd be nervous but I might nudge my basal up were I to try something like that.

Re pizza/ beer/ etc., I find the Blue Moons to be pretty carby. The pizza looks awesome in the pics but the fluffy crust was also pretty carby. I dunno what to say about that but maybe reevaluate the counts for that. I usually overbolus for the carbs and make up any deficit with carby beer on the back end?

@acidrock...it can sometimes can happen that you have high BGs..it may be due to several factors like if your thyroid is not in controll or other reasons..thats why its part of the disease ...goal is always too have normalised BGs and normal HB1Ac....but sugars do at times raise when it is time for you to take next dosage...thats why we are diabetic...increasing insulin according to carb count is no fun...we have to take insulin for all our lives..after all its a drug...in longer run it may cause insulin insensitivity and some features of type 2 diabetes may induce in...no doubt exercise helps in increasing sensitivity to insulin but it has its own limitations for type 1 diabetics...

I can relate all too well to your struggles. This story is my story. After reading this article, and I admit I rarely read many diabetes related stories, I had tears in my eyes. The thought that there is someone out there with the same issue and finally voicing it rather than keeping this disease silent. I have struggled for 38 years and everyday is unpredictable. Thank you for sharing.

I have to admit that the comment made about different kinds of activites either lowering or adding to a blood sugar is totally legit. I've found that anything that is cardio (for me) lowers it quickly while something like weights does hardly anything. Also it may affect you right away or in 3 hours from when you stopped, it just depends. I've also had it happen, that an activity that normally lowers it all of a sudden it spikes it, unexpectedly. Often it is, just as you said, a complication with the insulin getting in but not always. It can be unpredictable and yes often when it's the worst timing. I've found that situations where I am really concentrating will sometimes give me a low or when I am really upset/stressed it will rocket. Obviously you are very well controlled but remember you don't always have all the answers or why something is happening the way it is. Your body is always changing as well with hormones etc. You can only deal with the info you have at the time of the incident and do what you know to do to get things back on track. It can be a real struggle but most of the time, from what you have written, you've got it together just fine. I've had it for 34 year and thankfully have no complications and I am just so grateful. Don't beat yourself up, you've done a great job and your body is thankful. Have a rant once in awhile b/c it is annoying and then let it go. If you think about it on a % level, for example you might have a total of 330/365 days on track and some off track, so your doing 90.4% which might help your perspective. Maybe there is room to improve or maybe not, depends on your personal goals. Thanks for your blog keep posting and for keeping it real! ;0)

My highs are nasty as well. When I try to explain it to people, I often tell them about a little boy who would drink water out of mud puddles bc he was so thristy.

amen my friend. expecting the unexpected...too bad i cannot stand cinnamon. i would try it if i did!!

Thanks for commenting everyone. I'm happy to report that the highs I experienced in this post turned out to be from a bad bottle of insulin. So glad I wasn't doing anything wrong, just unlucky I guess!