Understanding Hypoglycemia, One Man's War
Hypoglycemia. This word can never be equated with fun or enjoyment. It's a very painful and disabling condition that can appear suddenly, and can be amazingly hard to diagnose.
I am a 30 year old male, never drank, never smoked, exercise, never used any sort of drugs, and I have been sick with a mysterious illness since I was 11 years old. The biggest culprit behind my sickness was hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. It took me 7 years of going from doctor to doctor to even get a diagnosis of hypoglycemia.
Why is it so hard to diagnose? Wouldn't a blood test just simply show up that you have it? Unfortunately the answer to that is no. Hypoglycemia often can be a drop in blood sugar that is very temporary. You may be thinking, "Well if it's temporary how is it harmful?", and the answer to that is, it's like cutting of oxygen to your brain. Glucose, or sugar is the primary fuel source used by the human body. When we get low or high amounts of it in our bloodstream, our bodies cry out for help, but I would dare say that low blood sugar is even more dangerous than high blood sugar. Just a few minutes of a very low blood sugar could cause someone to lose their vision, faint, go into a coma, or even die.
When I was a teen I would read health books about my condition, swearing that was what I had, but a doctor would do a random blood glucose test and say everything was fine. No sir, it was not. Finally 7 years after trying to be diagnosed, I was having random routine blood work done and my stomach doctor decided to do a glucose test just for awareness. It came back low. He ordered me to another endocrinologist who put me through a 3 hour glucose tolerance test. The test came back positive for "Reactive Hypogclyemia."
The endocrinologist said, "Don't worry about this type of low blood sugar, it will go away with age, nothing serious whatsoever." That gave me hope, but did not explain how I felt. So I go a few more years trying to change my diet, and control my symptoms. My blood sugars that I was having at the time, low 80s, 70s and mid 60s, transformed into the 50s. I would drop into the 50s many times a day. I started questing again for endocrinologists, only to find that doctor after doctor told me since I didn't have low blood sugar in their office, that I didn't have low blood sugar!
"Low blood sugar will come with a high insulin level", said the doctor. "I understand sometimes that is true, but you NEVER draw my blood when I am having low blood sugar." The doctor simply responded, "Well if you have another drop, call 911 and have them draw a vial of blood and test your insulin level." Well suprise, but hospitals won't test insulin levels on an emergency setting where the patient is released.
I took me 8 years from the day I was diagnosed with low blood sugar, to get a hospital to pull a vial of my insulin levels, which read over 2x the maximum allowed value. Finally my 6th endocrinologist diagnosed me with "Nesidioblastosis", a rare low blood sugar disease that only happens in a few hundred people.
My treatment option? Pancreas removal at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. This surgery almost guarantees you will have permanent diabetes, but honestly it is a very helpful surgery for some people.
In my case, I cannot afford the time away from work, and the travelling, so I am giving this disorder to God, He is my everything, and he has kept me strong for so many years. Even though my sugar drops down as low as 31, and I now suffer from brain scarring from the many drops, God's keeping me able to function, and living with this condition for 19 years. Anyone who is suffering from this, I feel your pain, do not give up, and feel free to write to me with any advice or help you may need.
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