Hypoglycemic-Hallucinations

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Photo Credit: Julie Meilicke

When I was three to around five years old, I would have horrific night terrors of ghouls, ghosts and monsters. When I would wake up, the monsters didn’t go away! I had what they call hypo-hallucinations. This is when your blood sugar goes so low your brain starts to freak out and you hallucinate (similar to having near death experiences)!

In the middle of the night I would wake up screaming and try to run away from these nightmarish creatures.

My Dad would have to chase and hold me down, so that my Mom could force orange juice (that had loads of sugar in it) down my throat.

When I was first diagnosed with T1D, I would have extremely low blood sugars, like blood sugars of 12 (no joke)! It’s been almost 20 years since I last had a hallucination, and I credit this to my body being mature enough to handle my diabetes.

What didn’t help my situation out was that my parents were fine with having scary movies and television on that I probably shouldn’t have been watching. The R-rated movie “Blade” stands out in my mind.

This is a very scary situation to think about being in, especially, considering that many t1d’s are already terrified of dying in their sleep from a low blood sugar.

Hypo-hallucinations are something that many people including diabetics haven’t heard of until they’ve experienced them for them self.

Personally, I try to avoid going low while I’m asleep by having a snack before I go to sleep (ex. a small packet of Famous Amos Cookies with a spoonful of peanut butter) and never correct a blood sugar below 200 at night, but do what you think is best for you!

I can’t really remember much about my personal experiences with the hallucinations occurring; but I do happen to remember the last time it happened.

I woke up in my bed at our old house and saw a skeleton wave at me. I didn’t scream. I closed my eyes and went under my covers. I kept telling myself, “It’s not real!” because that’s what my Dad always told me to tell myself. I finally got enough courage and ran out of my room.

To this day, I’m still terrified when I wake up in the dark when I’m low.

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A Diabetic for Halloween: My guide to Halloween

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Right: Grant Stevens (My Dad), Left: Me. Photo Credit: Julie Meilicke (My Mom)

My Story

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes two weeks before I turned three years old (my birthday is on November 5). When I was diagnosed, I had ketoacidosis, a blood sugar over 600 and was in a diabetic coma. I finally got out of the hospital right before Halloween. My parents didn’t really know how I should be eating, so, for Halloween they didn’t take me trick-or-treating they let me dress-up and eat spaghetti. At the time it was the right thing to do because my blood sugar was uncontrolled.

Here is my personal guide for t1ds and or parents of t1ds who are afraid of Halloween.

TIP #1: Use common sense

  • If your diabetes is currently uncontrolled don’t start eating candy!             
  • Always check your blood sugar before you eat anything… including candy!
  • If your blood sugar is high don’t eat candy!
  • Check your ketone levels and if you have any ketones… don’t eat candy!

TIP #2: Do what makes sense to you!

T1Ds all have different ways of managing their diabetes. I personally won’t drink anything that has sugar in it unless my blood sugar is low, but I’ve known other diabetics who will drink a Coca-Cola when their blood sugar is normal and give themselves the correct carb-to-insulin-ratio amount as needed. So, if at the moment, as a newbie, you feel weird about eating candy don’t do it!

TIP #3: Hoard your candy

A great and easy thing to do is to save all of your candy and just give it to yourself when you need to correct low blood sugars.

TIP #4: Use your snack times to your advantage

If you’re like me, your blood sugar tends to go low at night. I always like to have a snack before I go to bed to help prevent this from happening. On Halloween, I usually will have one Reese’s peanut butter cup and an extra spoonful of peanut butter (because protein helps stabilize your blood sugar).

TIP #5: Find out how “fun size” candy bars impact you

If you’re new to the T1D life try having one small “fun size” candy bar and see how it works out for you, and try to get more of a feel for it from there. Just take it slow. No one needs to eat three giant candy bars a day.

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Left: Julie Meilicke, Right: Me. Photo Credit: Grant Stevens

Personally

I eat a few pieces of candy throughout the day on Halloween, but my diabetes is controlled for the most part. I’ve also had it for over 20 years, so, I have a very good understanding of how food, candy, exercise, stress, and schedule impact my body. You have to learn that for yourself for the most part because we’re all different. For instance, some T1D’s are strongly impacted by stress and caffeine, and others are not. Either way, I hope this was somewhat helpful! Please feel free to share your personal tips and comments down below.