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Understanding Hypoglycemia, One Man's War

Updated on December 22, 2010

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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    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      Oh you are most welcome. I'll be praying for you, too.

    • slurpies profile imageAUTHOR

      slurpies 

      7 years ago from Vale, NC

      At one point, we had enough money for me to go, and I was jobless so I could have went, but the options of getting on a plane, and keep in mind my sugar could plummet from 120 to 37 in seconds, was not really something I wanted to try, nor was taking a 23 hour car ride to the only Mayo that did the pancreas removals. I will also mention my nerves are definitely not the best after all of these health issues, so I rarely travel very far any more. I'm actually quite homebound these days. God has luckily helped my blood sugar out quite a lot, on the positive side I rarely get below 70. On the negative side, me getting in the low 80s now is like my 50s a few years ago, has the same effects. But God sustains my health, as He is the ultimate physician, and I have a LOT more health issues than my blood sugar, I truly believe every day of life is such a blessing. :) Thank you so much for you kind words I will pray about them of course and see what course of action God lays out for me, trying my best to be obedient. Thank you again for your kind heart. :)

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      Thank you for your heartfelt reply. Unfortunately our medical community has become very commercialized and even when one has health insurance, the other expenses you mentioned - lost wages, cost of travel, can make it seem impossible to afford surgery. Sometimes God removes financial obstacles so that medical treatments can be obtained as needed. And sometimes God brings the right people into our lives to point the way to available worldly assistance. I spent many years working with the Chronic Renal Disease Program in Delaware helping patients get linked up with transportation services, medication coverage and being able to find secondary insurance coverage to afford expensive transplant surgeries. I worked with excellent medical social workers who also assisted the patients in finding financial and transportation services. There may be social workers at the Mayo Clinic or through your state's Dept. of Health and Social Services that can help you. Also if you work for a large company, their human resources dept. may be able to help you. Or if you belong to a church, the minister and/or church members may be able to help. If you continue having debilitating symptoms please reach out for help.

      God Bless. I'll be praying that you consider all options. I don't think it was just chance that I saw your hub today.

    • slurpies profile imageAUTHOR

      slurpies 

      7 years ago from Vale, NC

      Thank you very much for your response, and yes I have lost very much faith in the medical community that I had growing up. I have realized it's very much financial instead of personal, most doctors wouldn't waste a minute past the time you leave their office to try to figure out what's going on. I do realize this isn't the case with every person in the medical industry, it's just the rarity of a person that cares, but then again, that is what Jesus told us, that people's hearts would be cold. And that is our job to show them the love of Christ. And yes I'm trying to not put my faith in a surgery or a medication, but instead in the almighty God who has every aspect of our lives in His hands. Thanks for the comment and concern! :)

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      So sorry that the medical community has let you down time and again. It is frustrating that you finally have a diagnosis and treatment option but are unable to afford time off from work. I pray that through your faith in God, things will work out for you.

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