Someone asked me the other day what it feels like when I have high blood sugar. I usually talk about the effects of low blood sugar because the symptoms are more drastic and cause an immediate threat. However, high blood sugars over long periods of time have a very serious effect as well. 
I think talking about this gives me a great opportunity to reflect and celebrate how far I’ve come and how much I appreciate feeling “well”! 

Ketoacidosis occurred when I became dehydrated due to excessively high blood sugar levels. The symptoms I felt were; excessive thirst, feeling “weak”(like it was hard to lift my legs up out of bed in the morning), getting physically ill, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, dry mouth, and increased/abnormal heart rate.  

I personally feel high blood sugar when I begin to have excessive thirst (also called polydipsia). I am talking about feeling like you are constantly severely dehydrated and you can’t get enough water no matter how much you drink. On vacation with my family, I literally cried at one point because I was so thirsty and had to wait to get something to drink. While
hanging out with my sister Mere one night, I made her stop at a gas station ten minutes from our house because I couldn’t wait any longer to get something to drink.  I remember being worried when I would be anywhere that I couldn’t have easy access to water if I needed it.  It sounds dramatic but at the
time, all I could think about was chugging as much water as I could. 

I also have what’s called polyphagia when my blood sugars reach excessively high levels. It is when you have frequent and pronounced hunger even though you have just eaten. Do you know the feeling you have when you have had a busy day and you realize at about 7:00pm that you haven’t really eaten anything all day? I hope you don’t ever have this happen, but sometimes when you get caught up in your day it does. I used to have that feeling all day. I would feel an overwhelming feeling of being so hungry that I needed to eat something immediately or I would pass out. I remember once, I was walking home from class at The University of Denver. I had eaten a large breakfast and it was only an hour class. I started to feel so hungry and weak that I remember getting frantic that I was going to pass out, and I got to a gas station and bought mints because I felt like I was going to faint. I thought it was the feeling of having a low blood sugar, maybe due to exercise. After that a lot of my friends would laugh that I would always have mints with me and I would eat them all the time, but this was why.

Blurred vision. I would get this when I would be reading or trying to see signs far away. I have always had 20/20 vision so it was the effects of high blood sugar that was causing the issue. 

Fatigue. VERY tired all of the time. I would feel like I had done
an all-nighter and had that out of sorts feeling all day. I could sleep for 12 hours and still feel like I had not gotten a bit of sleep. The worst part about this is that you become depressed that you are wasting your days away in bed. I also used to hate that I couldn’t enjoy being out with friends because all I wanted to do was go home and sleep and I would hate that I couldn't go more than a few hours out with my Mom shopping because I would fall asleep in the car. Work was hard, especially while managing a restaurant. I would try to wake up and my legs would feel so heavy and I didn’t know how I was going to get through the day. 

Itchy skin. I would feel like I had mosquito bites all over my
body, all of the time. No thank you!

Cardiac arrhythmia. I would have irregular heartbeats that would scare me. They had me on a heart monitor for a while to check if it was an issue related to diabetes or something else. I was really upset when I went into the Clinic with my Mom because I was supposed to go out to dinner with a guy I really liked that night. I felt like Frankenstein. I had an insulin pump on my left side, a sensor on my right side, and eight wires around my chest attached to a heart monitor. We went shopping to find a dress that covered it all, but I felt embarrassed and didn’t want to be there. I called my friend Mike and told him how I was feeling and met up with him after dinner, and like Mike always does, he made me feel totally comfortable with it and even made me laugh about it. You really realize who your true friends are when you have moments in your life that make you feel insecure and they help you to feel confident again.
There are other symptoms, but the ones I just mentioned are the reactions that I personally had.  Long term, vision impairment and recurrent infections are possible. 

Chronic glucose levels are measured by an A1C test. As I’ve
mentioned before, my 15.0 results were off the chart. A normal A1C is usually a 6.0 or below. The scale is between 5.0 and 12.0. I was averaging a 385-413 blood sugar range over an extended period of time. A normal range would be between 100-152.

I’ve come a long way since all of this and I am so happy that I
am learning how to manage by Diabetes, to avoid these symptoms so I can now feel like I am living a normal life. I always think though, that I am so fortunate that I have something that I can manage and that I have wonderful support to do so!

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    Kris Fergus is training to run Red White and Blue 26.2 in Findlay, Ohio on October 7th, 2012. Though this is not her first marathon, it is the first race in which she will run after being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Training began on Monday, June 18th, and Kris will be keeping a blog to bring you with her on her journey and she will be raising money for Lakewood Hospital during the process.

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