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January 25, 2003

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Question from Boston, Massachusetts, USA:

My brother has type 1 diabetes, and it is not uncommon for him to have low blood sugar and need to drink orange juice. Sometimes he does become a little disoriented, and there have been times when he has had a seizure (he also has epilepsy) when his sugars have gone low. Other relatives have commented that he must be doing something wrong as they know other people with diabetes who don't have the problems he has with low blood sugars. He does test himself many times a day (five to six, maybe more), he does have snacks, he eats his meals, and he watches how many carbohydrates he has. He will test himself a couple of hours later in the evening when he is going to have a snack to determine what if anything he can eat and at bedtime. I think he does try to keep his sugar as close to normal as possible with the hope of avoiding complications. I feel annoyed when other relatives comment on how he must be doing something wrong when his sugars go low. He does take very good care of himself. Is it true that some people have a harder time regulating their sugar than others?

Answer:

It sounds like your brother is doing a great job monitoring his diabetes and that the friends and relatives who are making such comments are not so wise. It is true that some folks have a harder time managing their diabetes than others even when they are doing everything recommended. This includes following a meal plan as well as frequent blood glucose testing and analysis coupled with self-adjusting insulin based upon activity, food and blood glucose levels.

SB