Posted by on Monday 16 April 2012

The diabetic half hour

Just having to rattle this one down. I've got several other 'proper' posts jostling in my head, but this one has just emerged and rudely pushed its way to the front...

Is it just me or do many other diabetics seem to spend an interminable amout of time just waiting around? I'm not talking those charming hours spent in the cosy nooks of a doctor's surgery or the peace and tranquility of a clinic waiting room - I just mean the day to day business of pretending to be a pancreas. The waits I am talking about always seem to last about 'another half an hour'.

Wake up, test BG, bolus, pour coffee. Look at watch and think, "Better wait about half an hour for that insulin to realise it's meant to be doing something useful before I take the rash action of eating something."

Lunchtime, test BG, bolus, see above...

48 minutes after lunch. Hmmmm I wonder if I guessed that dollop of whatever right. Bit early yet, better wait about half an hour before testing to allow for the dose/food to get going.

Oops, got that wrong. 9.something... If I walk to the shops that'll sort that out. Back from the shops. Wonder if that worked. Better leave it about half an hour for that sort of low-level exercise to have any effect I suppose.

Evening meal (inexplicably spared the need for a pre-meal half hour wait). Look at watch, 56 minutes since finishing. Bit early yet. Better leave it about half an hour before seeing how things are going.

Bedtime. Dual wave finished some time ago but there are still a fair few units (and some takeaway) doing their thing. Better leave it a while before turning in. There... was that long enough? Ah no... that was only 27 minutes, better leave it about another half an hour.

I'm sure if I had all those back and added them together I'd have about twice as many hours in the day! And half an hour is not quite enough time to do any one thing, but slightly too long to do nothing. It's a time period where it's easy to get distracted and forget what you were supposed to be doing (waiting to eat after bolusing is a nightmare for this).

And a lot can happen in half an hour, diabetically speaking. You can be waiting to give it long enough to check and all the while your BGs can be rocketing skyward. 30 minutes of rapid climb meaning it'll take even longer to resolve.

Case in point yesterday: I had tested to find a couple of low level dips in the morning where I'd underestimated the level of activity and not sufficiently reduced basal. In the afternoon I feared the same was happening again, but rather than testing I just topped up here and there with a sip of Lucozade or a fruit pastille. Before evening meal I was an entirely self-inflicted 12.2 (220). Not ideal. In an attempt to speed the return to better levels I left Jane washing up (sorry about that) and went for a brisk 40 minute walk. Once back I waited for things to settle (about half an hour, of course) but then found that rather than improving things I was up to a wince-inducing 24.8 (446). Frustratingly I rarely feel any symptoms with quick rises into kidney-frying territory so I had waited none-the-wiser while my liver had decided that my BG was far too high to be walking about and what I really needed was an additional surge of glucose. Great. Thanks for that.

On the other hand I had changed set just before evening meal so maybe it was nothing to do with the walk and it was just a set failure?

A full 5 unit correction administered there was nothing to do but wait and see if thigs got better or worse. Ready yet? Nope, not long enough. Another half hour should do it... (I always seem at least twice as eager for a correction to start working as it is able to start reducing BGs).

Thankfully I did come down overnight, and very smoothly too. Artoo earning back my trust with a 6.5 (117) at 2am, followed by another 6.5 (117) on waking this morning.

Yet another day when I would *love* the immediacy of feedback that a Continuous Glucose Monitor offers. Ah well, without a lottery-win (unlikely as we don't do it) that isn't going to happen with the current pricing structure.


  1. Mike, really enjoyed your post. You have captured my sentiment perfectly, we're always waiting for that next action whether it's the proper time after eating to test, or the right time to take a walk. I feel like each time you dare to eat it's another adventure, and the fact that you might have done okay on the last one often bears no relationship to the next one. You need to take it seriously, but at the same time not so seriously that you get frustrated when all the plans eventually go wrong for a time. Humbling, challenging, never ending. It's truly a disease for a philosopher.

  2. Thanks for your comment. 'A disease for a philosopher.' Hehe! I really like that.