There are 42 factors that can affect blood sugar levels. 42 factors to narrow down when your sugar levels are double or half of what they should be. Usually, you can simply pin it down to taking too much or too little insulin with a meal, or maybe the exercise you did that morning is kicking in. This is easily solved and really no big deal. However, what about those times when your routine hasn't changed, yet your blood sugars are twice their normal level by lunch?
After a desperately long week of roller-coaster sugar levels, I'd felt like I had tried everything. I'd wake up at 7am with a high and take correction insulin. By 11am, I would still be high, so take more correction insulin. As this was 4 hours later, I assumed that the insulin I had taken that morning had run out. Then, within an hour I would have a hypo. Eat a banana to correct the hypo, then, return with a high. Does this exhausting, frustrating situation sound familiar to you? I think every type 1 diabetic has been through those days where the situation simply is out of your control. However, these unpredictable levels were ongoing for a good seven days. During which, I had a look at the main factors that affect blood sugar levels.
So, what did I try?
I regrettably gave excuses to my friends to avoid going out for dinner and drinks, as the alcohol and restaurant meal (sugary sauces, extra carbs etc) could play a part. I ran 5K in the gym, as I thought it could be down to lack of activity. I skipped the gym, as I considered exhaustion. On the most dragged out working day of my life, I didn't drink any coffee. Perhaps I somehow had become very sensitive to caffeine? Lastly, I tried in vain to do some meditation in the morning as I thought I had it sussed with the stress factor. (It wasn't stress, I'm an intern.)
And what worked?
None of the above.
About to give up and accept this as my new life with type one diabetes, my mum mentioned something over the phone. “Maybe your insulin has gone off.” I shrugged it off because I knew the pack was in date and I hadn't been anywhere abroad for the heat to have affected it. However, that night I decided to give it a try anyways, and replaced my half-full Levemir (long-acting) insulin capsule with one that was being stored in the fridge. The next morning, and the days that followed, my sugar levels were perfect.
I did some research into it, and turns out you should change your insulin 42 days after taking it out of the fridge. Yes, this was probably told to me when I was first diagnosed by the lovely doctors in the hospital. However, when you first get diagnosed you're bombarded with so much information that it can be easy to let this one slip. Also, my insulin going 'stale' had never been an issue for me before, so why now, after ten years of living with type 1? Well, as I've recently lowered my long acting insulin dosage, the capsules are lasting me longer than they were previously.
Some of you may consider this to be very obvious and no, it certainly isn't rocket science. Having said this, with the many complicated factors that affect diabetes to take into account, it's easy to overlook what could be the simple solution that's staring right at you! If you're struggling with sugar level control for no apparent reason, try changing your insulin to one that's stored at a refrigerated temperature. It's certainly worth a shot before you start over-analysing the long list of the other 41 factors. Hope this helps! X