For those of you who suffer from chronic conditions – diabetes, high blood pressure, HIV, what have you – that require you to regularly monitor your vital signs, what are the extremes you’ve experienced? What symptoms did you have at either end of the spectrum? Do you test as often as you should? If not, why not? Also, if you don’t mind, tell us what the normal or desired range is for whatever metric you give, as well as what your average measurement is.
I’ll start, of course. I have type-2 diabetes (that is, the non-insulin dependent version, managed by diet, exercise, and oral medications). This requires me to keep track of my blood glucose level: that is, the amount of sugar in my blood, which can derive not merely from eating sugary foods but also anything which the body can use for fuel; sugar is the most dangerous food ingredient for me, but not the only peril. I test six times a day, as I am on tight control – that is, I try to keep my blood glucose level close to the normal range for a person without diabetes, as this course of action is supposed to forestall complications, and perhaps prevent them entirely. The average blood glucose reading for a non-diabetic is 90-110 mg/DL.
My highest reading ever: somewhere around 750. This was when I was first diagnosed. I’d gone the doctor complaining of fatigue, constant urination, and reduced visual acuity. When the nurse tested me she reacted visibly, took a reading again, and immediately went to get the doctor. The doctor came back into the room and asked me when I’d last eaten; when I told her it was four hours previous she said she was going to give me an insulin shot immediately and if my reading didn’t come down I’d likely need to go to the hospital. I told her I wanted to avoid that if possible, but a few minutes later the point became moot as I passed out. They let me out two days later.
My lowest reading ever: 42. This was a hypoglycemic reaction, which means my sugar was dangerously low. I woke one morning dizzy, weak, confused and could not figure out what was wrong or what to do; I only knew that I needed to do something, but because my brain was starved of sugar I hadn’t the . The girl I was with had a diabetic brother, fortunately, and she knew how to use a meter; she tested me and got the above reading, then got a couple of glasses of orange juice into me until I was strong enough to eat something. This was probably the one time in my life being reckless had worked out for me; if I’d been sleeping alone I suspect I’d be dead now.
My current average score: 109 (my thirty day average).
Anybody else want to share? (And please don’t restrict yourself to diabetes stories; let’s fight all sorts of medical ignorance.)