When Diabetes Doesn’t Make Sense

Well, I have to say, after 4 plus years of dealing with glyburide, I thought I was beginning to understand how my kids’ bodies work.  I didn’t think anything could catch me off guard.  However, Diabetes in general does things to a body that even doctors still can’t explain.

Let me backtrack and tell you that the kids have been relatively healthy throughout the winter and were so normal with their blood sugars that I was going days without checking them because they had become so predictable.  Mornings, they would awake between 90-110.  Lunchtime numbers would be predictably in the 80-90 range.  Nighttime blood sugars were almost always 80-120.  It had gotten to the point where I could give their dose of glyburide, they would eat and go play.  It was like I had “normal” children (with the exception of a few non-sugar related tantrums thrown in for excitement).  Andy was even beginning to get up in the morning and tell me he had to go potty.  He was successfully going days and sometimes weeks without having any accidents during the day.

Then I decided to spend a day visiting day cares, just in case I got a job in the near future.  I believe that is where Katie picked up the dreaded germs that threw our house into a frenzy.  The crud hit our house fast and hard.  First Katie started waking up twice every night because she couldn’t breathe due to congestion.  Then Andy started sneezing and coughing which turned into a runny nose.  All of the hallmarks of the classic cold.  It made the rounds as I got sick and then Dan caught it too.  Complete with fevers, steam showers, and many tissues, we dealt with the colds for two weeks.  Not one blood sugar was a problem.  Neither child was higher than 150.  No lows lower than 70.  Everyone seemed to be getting better.  Alas, I was mistaken.  The runny nose came back with a vengeance last Tuesday, but the kids kept eating their normal meals, so I didn’t even worry about dosing their medicine the same as always.

Thursday night, Katie woke up at 1AM with a blood sugar of 28.  It wouldn’t have bothered me so much, except that I remembered that she ate every single meal that day and then some.  She had her standard 24 oz of whole milk throughout the day.  I even checked her when she woke up around 11PM and she was at 142.  I was astounded.  I decided to take the kids to the doctor Friday just to get things checked out.  Both of them had a sinus infection so they were prescribed an antibiotic.  Nothing new.  Both of them have had antibiotics before without any adverse reactions.  Katie was back up to 143 before lunch so I gave her a 1/2 pill.  I also gave Andy his normal dose since his blood sugars seemed on track.  By dinner both of them were in the 60’s.  They ate a normal dinner and for the first time in three weeks, Katie slept through the night.

Saturday morning, the kids got their first dose of antibiotics.  Katie did not get any glyburide but Andy got his normal dose at breakfast.  By 10AM, Andy hit a low of 43.  It was a bad low.  He was thrashing around and screaming.  It took me at least 10 minutes to calm him down.  After finally getting some soda and a banana in him, he came back up to the 70’s.  Lunch was a normal affair except that nobody had any medicine, just for safety’s sake.

By that afternoon, we were all stir-crazy.  We were having one of those beautiful winter days that is rarely seen here in the rainy Northwest.  The sky was a gorgeous, cerulean blue that you only see on a crisp, cold winter day.  It  was so beautiful and the kids seemed so happy and well that we decided to take a drive.  That was a mistake.  Driving around the curvy, hilly, beautiful neighborhoods of Mukilteo, Washington, both kids lost their lunch.  Whether it was the antibiotics, the wild blood sugars of the last couple of days, the sway of the car, or a combination of it all, we will never know.

Since then, the kids have gotten better.  I have obviously been checking their blood sugars a lot more closely.  For the most part, they have been eating normally.  But Katie hasn’t had any glyburide since Friday at noon.  Andy only had a 1/2 pill at breakfast and lunch yesterday.  The highest Katie has been since Friday was 117 and this morning woke up at 89.  Andy was down to 71 this morning which is making me think the 1/2 pill at dinner last night might have been too much. 

I did turn to my Neonatal Diabetes “Family” for advice and found that several others reported similar experiences.  I even talked to one of the wonderful doctors in Chicago who deals with all of these cases and he said the same thing.  For some unexplained reason, some people have lower blood sugars when they are sick instead of higher blood sugars like most would expect.  I had come to expect the higher blood sugars with Andy and even Katie when they had fevers.  Although Andy did go through an entire week of fevers with the flu last year and not once did he go over 140 (my definition of high for them).  But this is a first for me so it threw me for a loop.  I just didn’t expect it, but when did Diabetes ever make sense?  There are just too many factors in play inside our bodies to ever make sense all the time.  What happens during one illness doesn’t necessarily happen in the next.  Bodies (especially children’s bodies) are constantly growing and changing.  Hormones, level of activity, amount and even types of food make the body react in different ways.  I’m hoping all of this craziness will end when they are done taking the antibiotics or maybe it will end when their bodies stop fighting the infection.  Only time will tell.  I can only hope to document our crazy journey so that others may learn from us some day.

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About Christy

Christy Vacchio is a former teacher and now Science Instructional Coach in Cincinnati. She is an avid reader and researcher. While she has her bachelor's and master's degrees in education, she plans to get her PhD in Neuroscience in the future. She hopes to participate in research on Neonatal Diabetes and Developmental Delays one day.

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