The Lowdown on Blood Sugar Lows

Kerri learned the hard way about the impact of blood sugar lows. Here she shares how she stays on top of her health.

Health Monitor Staff
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Kerri Morrone Sparling

When Kerri Morrone Sparling woke up in the middle of the night in her hotel room in New York City, her forehead and arms covered in sweat, her first thought was: They must have put the heat on too high. A few seconds went by and she realized her hands were trembling—and then a lightbulb went on: Oh yeah, I have diabetes.

“I ran a quick test, and I got the scariest number I’ve ever seen: 24 mg/dL. It was a miracle I was even awake!

“Luckily, I always kept my glucose tablets on my nightstand, even while traveling,” says the Coventry, RI, resident. “I put about seven in my mouth, but I was so disoriented it took me a while to realize I had to chew.”

While Kerri avoided passing out, the experience had a lingering effect on her diabetes management. “I became afraid of letting my numbers stay near my target range of 100 [mg/dl] and began targeting high at 140-160.”

Worried about the effect her new target would have on her A1C levels, Kerri confided her fears to her endocrinologist. “I’m so glad I did. He told me it was okay to run a little more on the high side for a while—just a few weeks to retrain my body to recognize sugar lows. I felt reassured, and my confidence came back.”

Managing her blood sugar

Today, Kerri stays on top of her blood sugar lows by testing regularly, especially before and after exercising, before and after meals, before and after having anything alcoholic to drink, and definitely before bed.

She has this tip for other people who experience blood sugar lows: “There are things you can do as a patient to take control of the physical aspect of your condition—tools like glucose meters, insulin, even sugar pills. And there are tools, like talking to your doctor, for dealing with the emotional side as well. I won’t let diabetes keep me down. It’s okay to ask for help—I did, and I’ve never regretted it!” 

April 2013