I like to shop the day-old bread display at my supermarket. You can usually get about half off whatever it is, whether it’s something sweet like pastries or something savory like an “asiago sun-dried tomato torpedo” (a long piece of bread shaped like…a torpedo). We never bought that kind of fresh-baked stuff at the supermarket when I was a kid, so buying it not-at-full-price as an adult is a nice middle ground between what’s normal to me and what seems like total decadence.
This past week I bought blueberry bread, which has been much more delicious than I expected. BF has taken to grabbing a piece before he goes to work. I usually eat some as a little afterword to my dinner, not quite dessert. But this morning it just looked so good that I took a piece to eat after I was done with my turkey sausage/egg croissant, managing to convince myself that it wasn’t sweet enough for anything averse – anything like what always happens – to happen.
And then, around 9:45, two hours (almost on the dot) after I’d eaten that blueberry bread, it happens. The shakes. The lack of concentration. The floaty feeling, the hot/cold/hot, the sweating. The instinct to stuff something, anything in my mouth, anything with substance. Hamburgers. Pasta with cream sauce. Something.
But years ago a doctor had told me that the way to cope with hypoglycemia is not to give in to that urge that tells you your body is completely empty, you have to fill it up, you have to fix this, put something in your pie-hole NOW, but just to infuse sugar into your bloodstream in the most efficient way possible. Apple juice is the best way I’ve found, but any other kind of fruit juice will do, or you can eat crackers or something else that converts easily to glucose in the body.
I look in my drawer: no apple juice box, where I usually keep one. I must’ve forgotten to replenish after the last time. There’s a box in my glove compartment, but that’s across the street and in the parking lot, which might as well be on Mars for how horrible I am starting to feel. My half-working brain feebly reminds me that I can go across to the hotel and buy some orange juice, probably, but I don’t want to go into the cold and I’m starting to feel like standing and walking a distance isn’t going to be very easy.
I go to the fridge. Somebody’s giant bottle of cranberry juice cocktail, half-empty, stands in the corner, surrounded by bottles of salad dressing that appear not to have been touched in months. The cranberry juice looks abandoned, as well. (I think it’s been there without a change in its liquid level since I started here in March.) I mentally apologize to whoever, get a glass, and drink some. And then some more.
Ah. There it goes. The shakes subside; my head clears; I feel capable of doing whatever’s necessary to get through the day, when minutes ago it all seemed insurmountable. The hunger fades, bit by bit. Last thing to go is the hot/cold/hot, but that disappears too, soon enough. I mentally thank the cranberry juice cocktail owner, whoever he or she may be. I doubt that this person would have begrudged me six ounces of juice in my moment of need, but I still feel a little bad taking what doesn’t belong to me without permission.
This is life with hypoglycemia. I always feel like an idiot telling people that I have limitations with it, like not eating sweet items in the morning (because this always happens, I always get sick a couple of hours later, no matter what), or like having to eat at certain times of day, or whatever. Hypoglycemia is obscure enough that it seems like a silly problem, and having to eat when I have to eat just makes me feel like a spoiled American. Plus, some of the time, if I don’t eat for a longer period of time, I’m fine; other times, I have to eat earlier or I’ll have an attack. It’s unpredictable, which makes it seem fake.
But unpredictable and minor as it may seem, it leads me to episodes like this morning, during which I felt totally horrible, and nothing could have kept me from drinking that cranberry juice once I’d discovered it. That’s an illness. It’s not my imagination, it’s not something I can only accommodate when it suits me. I just have to get better at standing up for myself, and for what the illness forces on me.
And at remembering to keep juice boxes in my desk.