Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Diabetic Seizures

Throughout my early years as a diabetic I had no major health problems, and I coasted along rather easily. I was always very skinny, maybe slightly underweight, until many years later. I had high urine sugar during the day, and usually at night. There were, however, some nights that I had very bad hypos. My bedroom door was always left open at night, and my room was immediately across the hall from my parent's room. Mother was keyed in to my thrashing about, and the moans I would make when having a hypo. She would jump out of bed, and grab a glass containing several tablespoons of sugar. She stopped at the bathroom, partially filled the glass with water, stirred the mixture with a spoon, and entered my room. Daddy raised my body, sat on the bed behind me, and held me while Mother slowly poured bits of the sugar water into my mouth. This usually worked very well, but occasionally my mouth was shut so tightly that she could not get any of the liquid into my mouth. Some of these hypos were very bad, and they became seizures. It took a long time to get me to the stage that they could get me to drink some of the sugar water. She would rub some of the liquid on my lips, and I would lick my lips. This gave me just enough sugar so I would start to relax, and then she could get me to swallow some of the sugar water. I would come out of these seizures not remembering any part of what had happened. I would clinch my muscles while having a seizure, and there was much soreness for days afterwards. I ground my teeth together, and there was damage to those teeth that is still present today. I have read that some people have bitten off parts of their tongues during a seizure. I am glad that never happened to me. I was always so grateful that my parents took such good care of me at those times. Our family home back then was north of the city of Roanoke, Va. The nearest hospital was far away. An ambulance would have taken a very long time to reach us. That is why my parents needed to handle my seizures without additional help.
I have no idea how many of these seizures I had before I was an adult, but I know there were many of them. I attended local colleges, and lived at home during those years. I did not leave home until I was 23. My first full time job was teaching math at a college three hours from my home. I met a young lady named Anita there. She was a sophomore. Teachers were permitted to date students at that college back then. We dated during my first year of teaching. We were married in 1964 after only seven months of dating. Maybe that was too hasty, but it has worked perfectly. We have had a wonderful marriage for 52 years now. I had a few seizures after we were married. Maybe two per year. They were not as frequent as they were when I was still living at home. Mother had instructed Anita on how to care for me during a seizure. Anita handled my seizures perfectly. She remained calm, and used the sugar water treatment just like mother had done. I think it was in the mid 1980's that I had my last seizure. There was one that was very bad, and I was hospitalized. Anita had not been able to bring me out if that one. That was the only time that I was hospitalized with low blood sugar.
In 1980 I had my first A1c testing, and in the middle of that decade I had my first meter, Finally, I could measure my blood sugar at home. I learned about carbs and there effect on blood sugar, and my diabetes management improved. My seizures occurred during my first 40 years after diagnosis, before all this new knowledge, and having a meter. If we had a meter for testing, basal and bolus insulins, and carb counting during my earlier years, things would have been very different. There would have been less serious hypos, without the terrible lows that caused seizures.
I know that some of my Facebook friends have had seizures soon after diagnosis, while learning how to care for themselves. I have read about children having seizures, and their parents giving them the needed care. This results in trips to the ER on many occasions. I have joined several parents groups, and have read about the problems that occur with child care, with diabetes. I have been welcomed to those groups since I was diagnosed when I was 6, and have lived with type 1 for 71 years without any serious diabetes complications. When parents hear about my past, they realize how much better things are now. That gives them some calm, and peace of mind. It is still very difficult to manage a child's diabetes, especially soon after diagnosis. I am glad there is so much knowledge today, knowledge that was not available in the past. That knowledge, and the devices that are now available, makes diabetes management so much better.
There has been some speculation that seizures can cause brain damage. I have not had that problem. I had a college education, and became a math professor at the college level. I do not think seizures would cause brain damage, unless they were very severe. A seizure that resulted in a coma might cause brain damage.
Glucagon injections can be given at home in modern times. That is the best way to handle a seizure. You can get a prescription from your doctor for glucagon. This assumes that the seizures are due to diabetes, and very low blood sugar levels. Seizures can also be caused by other conditions such as epilepsy.
The following links give very good information about seizures. There are replies from some people at the end of the first link describing seizures that they have had. Interesting discussions.

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