I think by definition of having Type 1, wide swings in blood sugar are fairly normal. EVERYTHING affects our BGs, so it makes sense that we can be sensitive one day to one thing, only to have everything change the next. And we all have those WTF? moments where you swear the number on the meter can’t be correct, and it’s just diabetes doing that unpredictable thing it does.
But lately, I’ve clocked some wicked fluctuations. Like double arrows pointing up after a not-so-carby meal followed by double arrows pointing down an hour later as I plummet low after bolusing. I’m quick to blame the odd schedule I’ve had for the past few months – irregular workouts, vacation travel, strange foods in unfamiliar places, lots of unknowns. But I’m back in my usual patterns this week, and still it seems my blood sugars are sensitive to everything right now.
Which got me thinking: can someone become more brittle the longer they’ve had diabetes? And then after I thought about that, I started to think about the term “brittle diabetes” in general. There’s whole sections of the medical and diabetes communities that swear by this. The term “brittle diabetic” is used to describe a patient who is extremely sensitive to insulin, carbs, and other BG contributors. E.g. one unit can send them to a crazy low while a half unit leaves them high.
But there’s a whole other crew of both the medical and diabetes communites that think the term “brittle” is a bunch of BS. The rationalization is much like what I described above: everything affects this disease, so we’re all more and less sensitive to contributing factors at different times of the day, month, or our lives for that mattter. “Brittle,” those of that camp would argue, actually describes everyone with Type 1 since we’re all a bunch of hyper-sensitive folks by nature of having this disease. Some folks take the argument a step further saying that “brittle” is just code for “uncontrolled” diabetes.
When I look back on the times I’ve heard folks use this term, I have to admit it was often used to describe a person who, with a little more help, could actually get things more under control. Then again, going through this weird sensitivity issue I’m having right now seems like it has to have a name and a reason like “brittle,” because I can’t seem to root out a cause otherwise.
What’s your take on the concept of brittle? Is it just an excuse for the general ups and downs we all experience with Type 1? Or is it truly rooted in scientific evidence, and not just peanuts? (Get it? Peanut brittle…..Nevermind….)