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December 6, 2001


Question from New York, USA:

In the past few months, my 28 year old friend, who has had type 1 diabetes since he was 12, has had more episodes of low blood sugar which usually changes his mood dramatically. There have been a few times he has passed out or started to have convulsions before the sugar kicked in. He doesn't seem to really monitor his diet, and I know he does not check his blood sugar anymore, but he takes his insulin before he usually has a big meal. He has caught himself a few times getting low, but it seems more and more when he comes out with our group of friends that he has been getting low. The problem I see is that my friend is not really taking any responsibility towards making himself more aware of getting low or that he doesn't really care that much about it because he knows we can take care of him if he gets really bad. However, I feel that he has a problem and psychologically might be using his low sugar spells for attention. Can he really be that unaware of his low blood sugars and be unable to anything about it? Any suggestions or advice would be helpful.


Your friend may be suffering from hypoglycemia unawareness, which can be a very dangerous complication of diabetes. He may also be completely burned out with the demands of diabetes care, and may not have the energy or interest to monitor blood sugars closely any more.

Either way, he needs to seek diabetes professionals (both medical and psychosocial) to help him through this rough time. Any support you can give to get him to find a diabetes team that will listen to him and help him learn new ways of managing his blood sugars will be extremely important. You may wish to contact your local affiliate of the American Diabetes Association for a list of multidisciplinary diabetes teams in your community. Good luck in helping your friend seek the advice and care he needs.