Photo & Original
painting (1987)
by Gary Foreman 
© Gary Foreman

Photo & Original
painting (1987)
by Gary Foreman
© Gary Foreman

Diabetes Hypo -

The Night Hendrix Woke Me
by Paul Foreman

This is a short story written by Paul Foreman.

It describes a particularly bad
"Hypo" that Paul once experienced.

It happened at night - now thankfully a rare thing
since Paul has moved from 2 injections to 4.

To read about switching from 2 to 4 click here.

"Hey Joe" by Jimi Hendrix

2.38am, I suddenly wake in a daze, brain singing 'Hey Joe, where're you going, with that gun in your hand?' Still singing, I fumble for my glucose meter, only to confirm what I already know. It's a cruel joke - a sick joke. The night before, with a reading of 14.5 I went straight to bed without eating, thinking, as I lie asleep, idle, my level would slowly correct itself. To eat or not to eat - that was the question and last night I couldn't decide. Perhaps if I ate half, I'd catch myself on the way down and my level would stabilize. Eventually I convinced myself that I couldn't possibly eat when this high. But I remember thinking - I bet I wake up low!

Sure enough, four hours later, Hendrix woke me and I knew immediately that something was wrong. Having listened to Classical Music for nearly two years, it was so unusual to once again be reciting the words and song of the legendary Hendrix. Obviously, all was not well. 'Hey Joe', Hendrix sang again, as I waited for the meter to beep. The last time I felt like this was about two years ago, self-inflicted, after drinking heavily, but this time seemed unfair - as it wasn't entirely down to me. Insulin is fantastic - but not an exact science. It doesn't always work in exactly the same way and consequently you can only do your best to achieve near normal levels. Straining to see, eyes rolling, head heavy, five seconds seemed like an age. The meter beeped - my level read 2.3. Disorientated, I grabbed the small bar of chocolate fudge that I keep by my bedside light for such emergencies and began to chew with a smile. The only good part of a low - the temporary fix of something nice! Next up would be a cup of coffee. Why not? My sleep has been disrupted and I deserve at least half an hour or so to myself, before making sure that I am safe by testing again before I go back to sleep.

After the small chocolate bar, my left eye starts to wake and I reach for the little round lunch box of biscuits that my mother cleverly suggested would be a good idea. A good idea and a practical idea, much more sensible than negotiating the stairs! I munch a couple of custard creams, purring like a new born kitten, eyes still full of sleep and still nodding to Hendrix. Right eye awake - time to move. The chocolate should help me walk despite still feeling rough. The next big adventure is to get downstairs. I mime two bars on the guitar and head for the bedroom door. Wobbling against the wall, I make my way, largely on instinct down the stairs and through to the kitchen. On the way, a lovely stomach settling banana jumps off the sideboard to my rescue and a couple of grapes which we don't normally have sitting there, but they look so inviting, and - no, I better not. This is the hard part. Too much will be overkill and my level could easily soar the other way. Mind and stomach say food - the temptation boils like a frenzied craving - but somehow you have to resist, in the knowledge that you will start to feel better once the sugar gets into your system.

Brain starved of oxygen; it is very difficult to remain rational. I sheepishly lift the lid on the biscuit tin and eye the forbidden goodies with a grin. After a few of my favourite gingers, I start to concede. Battling against the hunger, I slam the lid down in frustration. Lifesavers on board, sweat trickles down my brow, I shake and frown at the kettle. Perhaps if I fill it with water and switch it on - it will boil. Luckily, we have a turbo model, which is incredibly quick but noisy - I stand, swaying and shushing at it like a stern librarian. I giggle and snigger, remembering what it is like to be drunk and find everything hilarious.

Coffee made; I sneak back to the biscuit tin, pick half a biscuit and head back upstairs to read. Despite trying to remain quiet, I have stirred the rest of the family. I feel guilty, but at least they can just turn over and go back to sleep. I slip back into bed munching a final 'one for luck' biscuit. They probably know I am okay, they can hear me sipping coffee and rustling the pages of a book. After my coffee, I'll test again. Sitting up in bed, I feel my senses gradually returning. Warmth gently soaks up my body from my tingling toes to my heavy head. 'Hey Joe' is still ringing loud and raw in my mind, it hasn't left me since I woke and my brain still throbs with a headache.

I recall that I was really tired last night, before this added disruption. Tomorrow's plans distract my train of thought momentarily, but I insist on giving myself time to relax, time to recoup, time to free my mind and so I shut my eyes in an attempt to rest. Unable to concentrate on the book - Hendrix reaches his solo. The light blinds my over-sensitive eyes even when shut. I pick up my coffee and cuddle it affectionately.

Another chord change, another cold shiver - I must be on the way up now surely. I test again at 3.05am. Level now 10.0. That should see me through to breakfast, about four hours away. As I flick off the light, I lie there and think to myself - what has this episode taught me? Not to trust a high at night? Maybe. Perhaps next time, I'll eat something at least! Maybe I'll have half of my usual amount of cereals. One thing is for certain, if I ever hear Hendrix again, I shall know what to do!

© Paul Foreman

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