When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was told about hypos. I was told about a whole heap of things, and hypos was just one of them. To be honest, I can’t really remember the exact way hypoglycaemia was described to me, other than it being a very matter of fact part of my overall introduction to type 1 diabetes.

There was other stuff that terrified me. If I close my eyes, I can still picture the images I was shown about diabetes-related complications. That discussion has had a long-lasting effect and I am still haunted by those photos.

But hypoglycaemia was explained as something that is likely to happen, that must be treated immediately and that there were certain things that increase the chance of it happening.

Diabetes-related complications sounded as though they had the potential to limit my life forever. Hypos on the other hand sounded just like a huge inconvenience. And an excuse to eat Nutella. (I was never advised to treat lows with Nutella. I just decided that myself.)

So with that introduction to it all, when did I start to fear hypos?

It certainly wasn’t after the first one. In fact, that was a just a little episode of curiosity. ‘Ah…so this is what that hypo thing is all about,’ I thought as I live commentated it for my poor mother.

For at least the first ten of living with diabetes, I had all my hypo symptoms. I’d woken at night time when I was low, treated and went back to sleep. Sure there were some lows that seemed to take longer to manage and to get over, but I always did so without any real issues. I worked out that there were different types of hypos with different personalities. When I was pregnant with our daughter I passed out from a hypo, and another time had a seizure in my sleep. But there was a direct line I could draw from pregnancy to low glucose level, so I just moved on.

So when did I get to the point of fear?

I don’t have any answers for this, and I can only speak of my own diagnosis experience. Hypoglycaemia was not presented to me as something that should terrify me.

Night time lows were also never presented as something scary. There were times I was advised to check overnight, but there were always reasons for that: when I started pumping, I was asked to do a 2am check for the first week. When I was pregnant I was told that if I woke up to go to the loo, it may be a good idea to check and bolus if I was high (not because there was concern about being low). When I have been playing around with basal checking, I might set an alarm to check overnight.

Where did the fear come from? I have no idea.

There are so many What if…?’questions woven into the tapestry of diabetes. With hypos, especially after a nasty one, I would spend a lot of time asking those questions. I have read posts I wrote after one of those lows and the terror is palpable, even though it’s been so long since I last actually had one. But despite the current absence of those difficult hypos, there is still a part of me that feels terrified.

Anxiety and fear about hypoglycaemia is obviously not only an issue for the person likely to experience the lows. (I wrote here about fear of lows from people with diabetes and how that can impact on us.) Perhaps that goes some of the way to fuel the fear, but it doesn’t explain where their fear comes from.

There are other aspects of diabetes that I don’t fear. I don’t fear highs even though I know they can be dangerous. I’ve had DKA and it was honestly one of the most awful experiences I’ve had. Yet I don’t fear it.

Somewhere, somehow, at some point I leant to fear lows. I moved from hypoglycaemia being an inconvenience to being something to fear. I don’t know when or how. But it happened.

Full disclosure: here I am eating Nutella to celebrate World Nutella Day earlier this week. Not because I was low.

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