Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Oh so slightly OCD.

I didn’t always count the sips.

I used to treat low bloodsugar reactions by chugging cranberry juice until it spilled down my chin and choked me just a little bit. That panicked, adrenaline fueled consumption, rendering me unable to close my eyes while I drink, but instead leaving me focused on that part where the ceiling and the wall merge. Focus. Drink the juice. Sit on the floor. Wait.

Waiting is always the worst part. “Consume 15 grams of carbohydrate, wait 15 minutes, test again, treat if necessary.” I don’t know a single diabetic who has that kind of time. A Low, one that gnashes Its teeth in your belly and keeps Its hands at your throat, doesn’t wait 15 minutes with you. You drink the juice, It turns around in your stomach. You sit on the floor and It stands up beside you, a heavy hand on your head, just enough to roll your neck forward a bit. Fifteen minutes is a terrifying lifetime while you wait for the juice to start raising your bloodsugar.

Lurch forward 20 minutes, after you’ve tagged half the bottle of juice and maybe some crackers. Bloodsugar hitting a cruising altitude of close to 250 mg/dl. That sick to your stomach feeling from a deviation of more than 200 points in 20 minutes. And there’s the guilt of No Control, when you couldn’t just consume the 15 grams of carbs and wait it out.

It’s hard to wait when you’re afraid you’re going to pass out.

It’s been after many years of treating my own reactions that I’ve come to the Eight Sips Theory. If my bloodsugar is anywhere under 55 mg/dl, I fill a glass with juice and gulp down Eight Sips. Never more. But I’ll refill the glass if there isn’t enough for eight. It’s enough to bring me back. Every time.

“One … two … three … four…” I count in my head as I swallow. Reaching “…eight,” I promptly put the glass down and sit. It’s still within reach, but it’s not lying comfortingly in my hand. Eight Sips. They calm the panic enough for me to breathe evenly. My eyes languidly scope the room, but I know that I will come up enough from whatever the low is with Eight Sips. Seven is not enough. Ten is too many.


There’s a comfort found in this routine. It makes me feel safe. Protected.

And oh so slightly OCD.


At January 03, 2006 12:33 PM, Blogger Erica said...

Have you been watching too much MTV True Life?

LOL - during my slothly xmas vacation I think there was a marathon and one of them was True Life: I have OCD and they all had counting rituals.

At January 03, 2006 1:02 PM, Blogger Tekakwitha said...


I really liked this post and think I may borrow your 8 sips rule, or figure out a sip rule that will work for me. I also tend to go too high when I'm below 50, in the panic mode.


At January 03, 2006 1:07 PM, Blogger Kerri. said...

Erica - I haven't watched MTV True Life in a while, but I have seen it.

And I wish the OCD bit stopped with Eight Sips, but it doesn't. I also have to do at least "Larry Bird" on the treadmill at the gym. Yes, that's no less than 33 minutes. Extra points for Double Larry Bird-ing.


It's kind of sad, actually.

Tek - Eight works perfectly for me. For the under 50 rule. Let me know what you end up with - I'm curious if this would work for other people...

At January 03, 2006 1:19 PM, Blogger Kassie said...

I'm a Dr. J fan. Only 6 minutes :)

At January 03, 2006 1:34 PM, Anonymous Maura said...

What is Dr. J?

At January 03, 2006 1:43 PM, Blogger Kerri. said...

Julius "Dr. J" Erving. Played basketball, Jersey #6. He wore those ridiculous head and wrist bands. I think he earned 4 MVP awards. Couldn't tell you what team he played on if you paid me. I think the 76ers. Can someone confirm that for me?

Whatever the case, Double Dr. J's are way easier than Double Birds. Those are horrible. :)

At January 03, 2006 2:19 PM, Blogger Kassie said...

yes, Sixers, for all of his NBA playing career. Stats-wise, Larry Bird has the edge in most categories, but Dr. J's still my favorite (sorry Kerri)

At January 03, 2006 2:23 PM, Blogger Allison said...

I feel lost and clueless, and perhaps a bit young if this is due to my age (it wouldn't be the first time I didn't know something because I was born in the latter half of the 80s).

Who is Larry Bird? And what does he have to do with Diabetes?

At January 03, 2006 2:37 PM, Blogger Kerri. said...

I am only 6 (Dr. J) years older than you and I know who Larry Bird is. Get yourself on Google, woman. NOW! Basketball. Boston Celtics. Oh dear lord.

At January 03, 2006 2:48 PM, Anonymous Kevin said...

There used to be an old-school video game called One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird. I haven't thought about that game in a very long time, but this post has certainly reminded me of it! Although I don't watch any sports what-so-ever, (which puts me in an often awkward situation when meeting new folks - men in particular), as a kid from Philly, I was always a Dr. J fan. And a Bobby Clarke fan, too (He was a diabetic hockey player for the Flyers in the '70s).

But hitting panic mode on the low front is dead on. OJ (the juice, not the Simpson) is my prefered vehicle to higher bloodsugar. Grape flavored glucose tabs, too. Man, what a bad combo of tastes sometimes! Another habit I have is pausing my pump when I go low -- particularly if I'm alone. The trick to cutting the highs on the other end is remembering to turn the darn thing back on afterwards.

At January 03, 2006 2:52 PM, Blogger Kerri. said...

Kevin -- Well done. That game was almost as excellent as the NHl games for Old School Nintendo. Nothing like smacking down the backboard to get the cleaning crew out.


Almost as classic as grape tabs and orange juice. If that doesn't startle a low diabetic tastebud, I don't know what will.

At January 03, 2006 2:55 PM, Blogger J said...

Kerri that was great you have my lows LOL god at time I wonder what I ate after coming out of the endless 15 min thanks for that... how do you post pics like the cranberry? I posted my pic but really wanted it in my profile instead there is the HUGE picture of me HELLO world I have arrived lol not my purpose. J

At January 03, 2006 3:05 PM, Blogger Kerri. said...

J -

In blogger, when you are composing a post there is an icon to insert a picture (it's a little blue box with what Blogger thinks looks like a tree). It brings up a hard drive browser that you use to attach the picture. Once you load it up and hit "Done," the picture pops up amongst your text and you can fiddle it about until it's sitting where you want it.

If you need a more detailed explanation, let me know and I'll email one to you.

Allison -- Larry Bird was No. 33 for the Boston Celtics (basketball). He was tremendous. I couldn't stand to leave you in the dark for more than 10 minutes. So doing "at least Larry Bird on the treadmill" means doing 33 minutes. "Double Bird" is upwards of an hour. Dr. J (No. 6) would only be 6 minutes. You with me now? But this lesson doesn't excuse you from Googling "Larry Bird" and then subsequently practicing your fade away.

At January 03, 2006 3:06 PM, Blogger Nicole P said...

Kassie, do you remember the summer Bill Cowins (sp?) came to the Joslin Camp and we Barton Girls went over there to listen to him talk? For those who don't know, he was a Celtics player... I'm still not sure if he *had* diabetes or if he just felt like coming to a summer camp for kids with diabetes.... It was sort of cool because my dad thought he it was excellent that I got to see him. I had no clue... Still really don't... Was he significant in terms of Celtics B-ball?

Kerri, I have curbed my eating sprees through the use of straws. I fill one glass and drink it from a straw or use a juicebox or two (depending on bloodsugar)... Somehow, the time it takes to suck the juice through the straw distracts me enough to curb eating sprees... Or so it seems.

At January 03, 2006 3:19 PM, Blogger Kerri. said...

Nicole, wasn't it Dave Cowens?

And on the straw front, I don't know if Low Kerri could navigate the whole straw thing. I'd probably poke my eye out.

At January 03, 2006 3:25 PM, Blogger Nicole P said...

I think it was. See, I'm retarded when it comes to Basketball...

Re: the straws. To clarify, if my bloodsugar is above 50, it can be a wrapped straw, because typically, even if I'm shaking and sweating and little out of my mind, I can still, at above 50 get the wrapper off. At below 50, I can't unwrap myself, let alone a straw... So, I keep the boxed unwrapped kind around, always. Thankfully, my eyes have never felt the wrath of a low me poking them with one.

At January 03, 2006 3:27 PM, Blogger Allison said...


Yeah, well, I'm culturally disenfranchised. I don't know anything about sports. Well, a little. Most of it revolves around college sports, and even then, very minimal.

I did not grow up in a Sport Crazy household, so I know nothing and am expected by everyone to know nothing. So far, I have been able to meet those expectations with flying colors.

When I move to NYC, I fully expect to be hazed and inducted in the Sport Crazy Club.

At January 03, 2006 3:33 PM, Blogger Kerri. said...

Allison - When are you moving to NYC??

And watch out for those New York sports fans. They'll immerse you in their world of overpaid Yankees and Knicks. Stick with the Red Sox and the Celtics and it'll be okay.

You might often be disappointed with the performance of the teams, but you'll never be alone at a bar. :)

At January 03, 2006 3:39 PM, Blogger Allison said...

I don't graduate until June 2007. So sometime after that.

Oh, and as a side-note, ya'll should be happy I knew the Boston Celtics are a basketball team and not a minority group.

As of right now, I'm totally impartial to all sports teams. I know nothing about everyone. Except the Portland Trailblazers (my hometown team). Despite being my hometown team, they suck and I know it.

At January 03, 2006 4:53 PM, Blogger Kassie said...

Allison: yeah, celts aren't exactly a minority in the Boston area anyway.

Kevin: love Bobby Clarke. Loved the Flyers. Can remember exactly what I was doing when I heard that Pele Lindburgh died.

Nicole: I don't remember that - but I'm sure John does :)I know when he worked on the Joslin Alumni Auction they had all kinds of sports connections they were workin'

At January 03, 2006 6:50 PM, Anonymous Tiffany said...

Waiting is always the worst part. “Consume 15 grams of carbohydrate, wait 15 minutes, test again, treat if necessary.” I don’t know a single diabetic who has that kind of time.

You know one now! I'm way OCD about my Diabetes (and other facets of my life); not to mention, I hate the rebound feeling of having overtreated. So it's test, 15g CHO, wait 15 minutes, and test again for me everytime. Except I don't go for juice...ick!

One time I woke up from a nap at 1.5 mmol/L (27mg/dL) and ate an apple. Tested again in fifteen minutes, and I was spot on target. Where there's a will, there's a woman... ;)

Allison, I had no idea who Larry Bird was either; then again, I'm more of a Hockey girl...

At January 03, 2006 7:22 PM, Blogger Megan said...

Lol, I had no clue who Larry Bird was either.

I can be OCDish, but with lows, I tend to do the rule of 15s, only I altered it to 20 grams. I can do it because I don't usually feel lows. When I used to feel lows I did the chugging thing too. Even altering it to 20 grams though, I don't think I ever treat a low less than twice, and usually three or four times.

At January 04, 2006 12:44 AM, Blogger d double e said...


I actually get work done at the office and look what I miss.

I can only add this:

I get mistaken for Larry Bird ALL THE TIME.

At January 04, 2006 10:47 AM, Blogger Rachel said...

I am now convinced you just become OCD with diabetes care.

I have a morning routine now - get up, go to the bathroom, weigh myself, take my thyroid replacement, test blood sugar (same time as husband, usually), wait an hour before I can eat breakfast due to thyroid replacement. I can't let anything interrupt that pattern.

But sometimes even the routine things get messed up - while on "winter break", my husband started forgetting whether he had taken his morning Lantus because of lack of work routine.

At January 04, 2006 11:18 AM, Anonymous Elizabeth said...

When I'm low, I go for my huge supply of small Juicy Juice boxes. They are exactly 15 grams of carbs and seem to do the trick... unless I decide to eat whatever is in my fridge.

I always keep them somewhere near me- in my car, night stand, desk, purse- anywhere I might be.

And Larry Bird is awesome! When I was little, I had a Larry Bird basketball and hoop. I loved him.

At January 04, 2006 11:26 AM, Blogger E said...

1. I am a Kevin McHale # 32 girl myself. (but my heart belongs to Bobby Orr # 4 unfortunately that wouldn’t do much on the treadmill)

2. Barton question- Does anyone remember the guy who won the Ironman Triathlon (in Hawaii) that came to speak to us (late 1980’s)? I have been trying to figure out who he was for the past couple of years now.

3. Lows in the middle of the night kill me. I had to start keeping glucose tabs next the bed so I don't end up in front of the fridge with a bottle of OJ in one hand and a pint of ice cream in the other. I seem to be so sleepy at that point that I am thinking it's eat for 15 minutes instead of eat, wait 15 minutes, test.

4. Kerri- I know I’ve been tagged. I promise I’ll update today.

At January 04, 2006 11:33 AM, Blogger Kerri. said...


I was at camp the year that guy came to talk to us. Was his name Bill or something? He was extermely fit. And there was that poster of him, which was interesting. I was randomly thinking about him the other day, too.

Oh yeah, it was during a Double Bird session and I was so whipped that I couldn't imagine completing a triatholon. Ever.

At January 04, 2006 11:47 AM, Blogger E said...

Speaking of OCD. I am spending today sitting in my office stuffing invitations. (Hate this part of the year when all our college interns are on break.) To pass the time I am watching reruns of Monk on my computer. Quite possibly one of the funniest shows ever. New season is starting next week on USA if you haven't seen it.

Kerri- you could do tri- really anybody can. There are tons of races in RI and the Cape (short manageable distances). I have been thinking of starting a diabetic running club in Boston- ohhhh- maybe it could be a diabetic tri club. Need to ponder that some more.

At January 04, 2006 1:02 PM, Blogger Val said...

OJ doesn't work for me - I go up for 15 minutes and just crash again 5 minutes later.

Like Elizabeth I carry around the little Juicy Juice boxes -- 15g on the button, plus it has pictures of Arthur and DW from PBS.

If I'm above 45 I open the straw myself, otherwise it's either whack my husband in the head with the box until he wakes up and opens it for me, or poke a pen through the little foil circle and slurp it down without the straw...

At January 04, 2006 10:00 PM, Blogger Keith said...

Love what e said about the orange juice and ice cream. Trouble is I forget the OJ and go straight to the ice cream... when I'm done it's never a pretty sight. I'd be better off if I'd stay upstairs and eat the glucose tabs, but some nights I do believe the ice cream just calls to me.

At January 05, 2006 9:29 AM, Anonymous Maura said...

I put a temporary basal on for 30 minutes at the rate of .10 (my usual is around .90). I was told that if you suspend the pump it can get clogged when you try to start it again. The temp basal always greatly reduces the anxiety I feel while waiting for my sugar to come up. I also treat with glucose tabs. I don't always do a snack.
Lately, since I'm really striving for better A1C's, i'll cancel the temp basal after 20 minutes.

At January 05, 2006 4:43 PM, Anonymous Heather said...

Hi Kerri, I've just discovered your blog and thank you so much. My boyfriend of three years is Type 1. Reading about your experience really helps me feel like we are not alone. Your writing is eloquent and a pleasure to read - I'll visit again for sure.

At January 05, 2006 8:41 PM, Anonymous mary ellen said...

Hi - I am a new reader and I am blown away by your writing style.
Especially's today - It made tears spill on my keyboard, as you described how it felt as your blood sugar rised 200 mg's in 20 minutes.
Now I know how my little boy - 4 years old - feels when he says my tummy hurts. :( He's had type one almost 2 years now -

Thanks for your honesty about diabetes. Keep on writing, and I'll be reading.

At January 05, 2006 11:42 PM, Blogger Kerri. said...

Mary Ellen and Heather,

Thanks for your comments. I'm always happy to see responses from new readers.

If there is anything I can do to help you out, please feel free to email me at WWW sixuntilme at yahoo dot com. (Damn those spammers and their email infiltration! I thwart them at every chance.)

Friend of Larry Joe Bird

At January 06, 2006 8:47 AM, Anonymous beth said...

I dont have a problem with lows,save for the times i wake at 3:00 in the morning and dont know where i am.... thats when i drink a whole cup of juice, and eat some sorta carb, like cerial, and usually end up wiht over 50 grams of carb for one low!! its terrible. then i go back to sleep and my bg in the morning is usually around 300! its bad. its as if i cant stop myself. oh well. maybe soon i lear control. thanks for the OCD tips. im definately OCD...;-)

At January 08, 2006 1:22 PM, Anonymous gina said...

a little OCD never hurt anyone! lol

umm as far as allison moving to NY dont worry if you move to NY i will take you under my wing and i will teach you alllllllll about what teams to root for and umm boston is not one of them lol

At January 29, 2006 8:12 PM, Anonymous birdie said...

I loved this entry. You've captured the experience of dealing with lows so well. It comforted me greatly to have someone articulate this surreal aspect of my life so eloquently. I hope it was cool to quote (and of course, credit) you on my (newish) blog; you just framed it all up so beautifully. Thanks for that!


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