What goes through the mind
Of a Insulin Reaction Victim
Having Diabetes for almost 50 years has given me many experiences to share with you. I sometimes think this page will never be done.
As I was going over my page and others, I had noticed that there was nothing letting people know what goes through the mind of a person that is actually having the insulin reaction. When having an insulin reaction, (this is because of to much insulin and not enough food.) a person can become very confused and not know where they are or how they have gotten there. You also must know or be aware of the fact that a person in an insulin reaction can say things that might make you mad or hurt but they do not know what they are saying.
I can give you many instances of times that I have had reactions and that is what this page is about. Some are scary and some are funny but they are all serious.
As a child I cannot recall to many, there are a few I can tell you
All of my reactions as a child happened late at night so it soon became a ritual for mom to check in on me. I can remember one time when I was very little maybe 6 and I woke up one morning but was not able to move I was lying in my bed and I wanted to get up and my sister tried helping me up but I could not move at all. My mom came in and she pulled me up and sat me up (kind of like a puppet) and said there, you are up! Well I just kind of fell over. LOL I tried to walk but could not. Even after eating I was unable to function so we went to the hospital when we got there I had regained use of my legs and was able to walk for the doctors and after awhile we got to go home. I’m not sure if we ever knew at that time what was wrong but now I believe this was an insulin reaction, as I have had similar symptoms as an adult.
At about age 10, I can remember my family moving from our mobile home to our new house it was very big. I can assume that with all the excitement, this played a huge part in my night time reaction this day.
This night I remember waking up (or coming to) in the middle of my kitchen floor covered completely with sugar. (this was moms specialty) Now as I said I am not able to recall the exacts about most of childhood reactions but there is another that I can give more details.
This one started out as everyone thinking I was having a bad dream. My sister and I shared a room for many years (poor Shell) and I guess she had gone to get my mom, they got me up out of bed and I could not talk, not a single word. I just kept motioning like sign language or something but since I was alert they were still thinking a bad dream The calmed me down and put me back to bed and then I started seeing sharks shoot out from the corners of the ceiling (hallucinations) this is terrible side effect of a reaction. Well again, mom was up with the sugar can and I again was candy coated. Mom has always been there to save me. (Thanks mom)
Now I don’t recall having many reactions as a teen at least none to go into detail about. My teen years kind of lulled out and I didn’t have any serious reactions again until my pregnancy when I was 20 years old. This was like returning to childhood. While I don’t remember this as a child I am told that I had many seizure type reactions and this is what I had returned to during my pregnancy however as an adult, Those, I remember.
When in a reaction, your mind goes in and out of awareness. I use the word “awareness” because even though a person having a insulin reaction cannot talk to you or has their eyes closed, Does not mean they don’t know whats going on around them. You may slip into the reaction not knowing it ever hit you but then kind of come to and realize you are in a reaction but not be able to help your self or do anything about it. I have had many where I may start off knowing I am having a reaction and then have it progress so fast I didn’t have a chance to get myself straightened out and I may wonder around the house or sit down not knowing at all what I am doing but then there will be moments of awareness that I think to myself, I need to get something to eat and I may get half way there but fall back into the reaction and forget what I was going to do.
Its the adrenaline that bring you out but only for a minute (if that long) your body will do all it can to get you out of it.
Now as I said during my pregnancy was a very hard time. I had reactions that included seizures and included me hitting and beating paramedics and my then husband. This was/is not due to hatefulness, but the adrenaline trying to get your body to snap out of it. A person in an insulin reaction is very strong and can be very aware of what is going on around them even if they cannot talk to you or if there eyes are closed. Never under estimate the strength of a diabetic having an insulin reaction.
I have had people kind of slap my face or my arm to try and bring me around and I in return have sat up and punched them right in the face. not on purpose but because of the rush of adrenaline. You will fight so hard to make yourself talk and it is so frustrating not to be able to. To give you an idea of the strength I can have in a reaction, during my pregnancy I was maybe 5 months along and had a very bad reaction and the paramedics and police were called. (2 of each) I went into a seizure and had all of them plus my then husband and mother-in-law holding me down and I threw them all off of me. (I am 4’10 and at that time weighed 125)
Sadly, I have had 2 reactions that have caused me to have car accidents. The first one while I was pregnant. There was no warning and again, I was in and out of awareness the whole time. I drove a stretch of road about 5 miles bouncing on and off the guard rails occasionally becoming aware and thinking to myself, I have got to pull over but then out again, I went and on down the road. Once even thinking to myself if I can get on the highway and get to my moms, I will be okay. Finally I hit head on with a much larger
car and was taken to the ER. there were no serious injuries but I did not drive again during my pregnancy.
My second car accident was a many years later. I had eaten lunch and had to go to the store, but while in the store, a reaction hit me. Now, while I was in the store, I remember clips of shopping and picking out things even talking to a friend but I don’t remember paying for whatever it was I bought or getting into the car and driving down the highway and eventually driving off the highway and down a large hill into the forest. Keep in mind, I had conversation with people in the store and they didn’t know any different, They let me leave the store without a second thought. (this is not their fault) But so you know that these things are possible with a person having a reaction. Its not always just shakiness and sweats. Aside from a few scraped and bumps I was again spared any major harm. God has been very good to me.
I had another reaction I remember at the store. I had gone shopping (again) and finished when I realized I was having a reaction. It again came on very fast but I was aware of it and tried to get a soda from the machine but sadly the machine did not take pennies, (LOL) which is what I was putting in. Luckily for me then husband thought I had been gone to long and came looking for me and found me trying to put pennies in the machine. He ran in the store and grabbed candy off the shelf and brought it out to me.
I have had many reactions as an adult that I can tell you everything that was going on around me. What was said, who said it. and I have so many times wanted to try and help the people trying to help me. It can be very much like being behind a 2 way mirror in the aspect that you can see and hear everything but no one can hear you. In your mind you might be screaming but your brain doesn’t allow you to be heard.
(here’s a funny one)
I had my parents staying over one time and I had a reaction in the middle of the night. I had also got a new meter to check my blood and they did not know how to use it. Now all the while I am in this reaction, I can hear them trying to figure out how to make it work they are reading the box and the the bottles and all the while I am thinking in my head “just put in the strip and it will turn it on” I wanted so bad to be able to get up and grab the thing and show them how to use it. But I was unable to move. so while I know all that is going on I cant communicate to tell you anything. Mom has now gone from sugar to honey so I now wake up like a glazed doughnut.
It is very frustrating not being able to help the people that are trying to help you. and it is awful to come in and out of awareness and think you know what you are doing and how you got there but not remember all of what has gone on. It sometimes is like you are watching a movie and you just keep watching wondering when its going to be over.
I cant say that all diabetics have these same affects during an insulin reaction this is what I go through, and the older you get the more that the reactions will change. This is due to your body physically changing and your lifestyle.
Your best bet? Become aware of how your body becomes more or less sensitive to situations. check and recheck your blood sugar when driving. Yes I know its a pain but it is worth it. I speak from experience. Its not only your life when your diabetic and you get behind the wheel of a car.
Since living on my own, I have had some reactions that I have had to take care of on my own. I always keep glucose tablets on the table next to my bed. I don’t always remember they are there though if I wake up with a reaction, so I have put things I like to eat at different places throughout my house, remember there are moments of awareness so if I lose thought on my way to get something to help, when I am aware again I know where to go. I have also placed things at different levels in my house in case I cant get up and walk to what I need. There have been times that I have had to crawl to get to something so I keep sugared soda in my pantry on the floor. It can be hard living on your own, you have to figure out a method that works for you.
This is not to scare you, I do drive, and precautions have to be taken. I live on my own and have safety measures in place. I have never let my diabetes get the best of me or keep me from doing the things I want to do. If there is an extra step to keep my life “normal” then I take it.
If I sound to you like I am laughing at all of these reactions, I am. If I didn’t I would worry myself to death and have no life. Don’t get me wrong I do realize the seriousness of them. I have had to make a lot of changes in the last few years, I have to check my blood a lot more eat a lot more small meals through the day but I will not let this get the best of me. I intend to live my life like everyone else, and so far I have.
Never give up because you have a setback. You will have many but, you can control your life and your diabetes. So live it up but live it safe.
If you have had a similar type of reaction or some other kind of experience during a reaction email it to me maybe we will share it with others. It doesn’t matter how silly or serious, this is how we learn and teach.
I just read your web page which concludes, “If you have had a
similar type of reaction or some other kind of experience during a
reaction email it to me maybe we will share it with others. It doesnt
matter how silly or serious, this is how we learn and teach.”
Because I have been wanting to write and share my diabetes
experience I will do just that. Often I sense that some activity that
is easy for me is now extremely difficult. So difficult that I can’t
do the usually simple activity of office work or phisical
coordination. Once I stood by the window for hours at my friends house
until my friend came home, told me it looked like I had a problem,
“What are you doing?”. To which I responded, “Thats right, I’ve got to
eat something.” Finaly making the mental connection.
I believe it is a requirement, diabetics must continuously monitor
through quiet, thoughtful observation of how they are feeling and
For many years that was how I controlled my diabetes without
testing sugar. Even before diabetes as a pre-teen when I was woken up
to do something I would jump out of bed fully alert racing off to
whatever chore. After diabetes insulin reactions in the night awaken
me and I race to the food. If I don’t know where a fast acting food
source is the insulin reaction will stick around for a while.
Sometimes reactions are uncomfortable with the push of adrenaline. If
not then I’m lulled into, “If I think long enough and rest my brain
for a while the activity I am pursuing will become clear again.”
My worst insulin reaction was on a high school camping trip. I was
running out of Snickers bars, my chocolate wrapped medicine kit in those
days. My group decided we would climb the mountain and spend the night
up there so a few of us would first go food shopping. I insisted but
was not allowed on the food run. My request for candy bars was
dishonored. They told me after the insulin reaction they hadn’t known
how serious my condition was. I did have squeeze tubes of jelly jam. I
felt low blood sugar at bed time and I ate as much of the jelly, by
itself as I could.
That night “in my mind” we endured a blizzard with such bone
numbing chill I marveled at my compatriots brawn for not crying out,
fortifying our shelter or abandoning camp. I snuggled as close to the
leader as I could, thinking the entire camp would soon be sardine
packed for warmth. But oh the brawn, I was not allowed to draw warmth
from those around me. I soon fell asleep and felt something on the
side of my face like a spoon and in my mouth and people holding me.
They said my eyes were open with a blank look. To one leader I had
carefully explained how to care for me in an emergency. So I started to
say, “I told you what to do just in time.” But first I asked, “Did you
know what to do from our conversation last night?” He said no, we
asked your twin sister what to do. She didn’t know but she said maybe
giving him sugar will bring him out of it. My single parent family had
as much interest in diabetes as in moon rocks.
I fly to friends house. There’s only time for a bowl of cereal for
breakfast before second friend’s wedding. I haven’t eaten cold cereal
in a decade because I feel sick after eating it. So I take a heavy
insulin dose to cover it. Soon I get this constant “battling the
insulin reaction”, eating whatever I’ve got, ancious for enjoyable
food to become available. I drive us over to the reception early to
help set up. As soon as my friend says, “Why are you driving so slow.”
I know and respond, “I’ve got to stop driving now and get my glucose
from the trunk.”
One other time driving alone on familiar streets I thought it felt
remarkably like a carnival thrill ride and then I realized, ” ‘ground
control’, we have a problem.”
I get a tired, anxious, don’t want to continuing what I’m doing
feeling even with something as fun as talking with friends. Then I
wonder how coeherent was my conversation. Before I started testing
sugar I’d eat never really knowing if it was a reaction. Insulin
reactions are like bad dreams, easily shaken off “big if” if you know
it was a dream. Aaron
My name is Mark, I’m 19 years old and I’ve been a Type 1
diabetic for 5 years now. I have a story that I’d like to share about
a strange and scary low blood sugar experience: One time in high
school my sugar had dropped to around 21, and the nurse was at a
meeting so I couldn’t go down there to test my sugar. It was my lunch
period, but my mind was working properly…the lunch line seemed miles
long so I thought “I’m not waiting in this long line” and I walked out
of the cafeteria. The halls seemed like they also went on forever. I
would pass by someone in the hall, and even if I knew them they
appeared to be a blob or a blur. I sat down in the main lobby, and my
grandfather showed up. Apparently I had called him, but I didn’t
remember doing so. I didn’t even recognize my grandfather as we got
into his car and went to my grandparents house. When I got there, I
curled up on the couch and only wanted to go to sleep but my
grandmother had my drink a can of ginger ale which brought me back to
Remember to email me with any questions or problems or
experience. I look forward to hearing from you.