Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

I’m fifty-one. I”ve been married twenty years. It’s been a while since I broke up with somebody.

Once upon a time I did a bit of work for a big computer company. In fact, that was how I came to be living in this part of the world. Of course, while I was working with them, I met several of their employees. One guy in particular had some relation to the project I was there to deliver, so I had almost daily contact with him.

Their structure back then, they had two tiers of programmers. Some were the glory boys, whose job was to develop new products. Then there was another tier of plodders, whose job was to support existing products. It was a demarkation that I’ve never really seen with other clients.

This guy was one of the plodders. I speak as somebody who was strong enough that I was able to sell my skills per-day as a consultant, very comfortable that I would pick up more work someplace when the assignment ended. He definitely existed at a slower pace of life. Furthermore, very different to me.

For a start, family money. His job wasn’t particularly important to him, not the way mine was to me. I always had a passion for what I did, that people paid me to do it was a bonus! In politics, too, this guy was very different – more recently he has argued why it is a good thing that people (and companies) avoid paying tax, and also why his children’s private school should be classed as a charity, when the only people who benefit are…his children! In a nutshell, not at all my cup of tea. Sure, I could work with the guy, I could work with anyone, but we never became friends.

So that was that. I worked a six-month stint with this company, then decided to move on. It wasn’t a brilliant contract and I easily found better clients. However, I lived probably only ten miles from this guy, so we exchanged phone numbers and kept in touch from time to time. We were kind-of bonded by the fact that we had our kids very close to each other, just a few months apart, and as they grew we would meet at the local play-zone or McDonalds. But still, an acquaintance rather than a friend. In fact, he must have irritated me at some point such that I didn’t call him, and stopped returning his calls. Even my wife agreed that he was weird – an example being how he would walk, uninvited, into the bedrooms when he visited my house. Judge for yourself – was I wrong to object?

So I was happy to consign this guy to my past.

Fast forward ten years. About a year after the stroke. This guy turns up on my doorstep. With my eyes, I can now barely recognise him, but wanting to be polite, I invite him in. It turns out that he had left this computer company. They had a round of voluntary redundancies, he put himself forward and, guess what? He’d tried to go the same way that I had gone, as a consultant, but had struggled to find work – in contrast I worked for twenty years and was without work about a month in total. In that time, I only had six clients – they used to like having me around.

However during the course of the conversation, he asked if I wanted to arrange a pub lunch. It was not long after the stroke, I wasn’t getting out much, and a pub meal every now and again is more appealing than a cheese sandwich.

And that became a pattern, every four months or so. Still, only really as an acquaintance – when we talked politics, I realised just how different we still were. When we talked about his interests (we seldom talked about my interests), I realised just how different we still were. At the last count, he had decided that he had now retired, to live completely off his investment income.

Our last meeting was back in March. As I have previously mentioned I work on home-based projects now, and this guy took me on a four-hour lunch. Even if I am enjoying myself, four hours is too long by far. And I couldn’t just come home – we were in a village that was too far away to just walk home. I mentioned halfway through that I had better get back home to work, but this went ignored. It wouldn’t be so bad if we’d had something common to talk about, but no. So I basically decided that that was the last lunch. I get out frequently enough nowadays to not get over-excited about a visit to the pub.

Fast forward again, to now. No phone call since March, I thought that this guy was finally as fed up with me as I was with him. No matter. But now, three phone calls in the last week. So far, I’ve just let them go to voicemail and deleted them, because I’m not interested in going out to eat, or even in speaking to this guy. I don’t partucularly want to be confrontational here, although I realise I have probably already been rude by ignoring the calls.

Any ideas what I should do????

Anatomy of a Hypo

What is a hypo?

A hypo is hypoglycaemia. hypo = low, glycaemi* = blood sugar. Stick the two together, and, hey presto!

My body is not much good at regulating my sugar, and when I measure it, it can easily vary 300% during the course of a single day. Ideally, it should be a low value anyhow, and shouldn’t vary much beyond that.

I take insulin to lower my sugar, and it works brilliantly, except if I’m not careful it works too well! I can dip too low. So, I also need to stay high enough – which means I need to eat regularly, to keep my sugar above that lower-limit. Not, like, every 10 minutes, but I can’t afford to skip meals. Insulin is quite powerful stuff, because if I our sugar does go too low, we go kaput. Too much is fatal, too little is fatal. So if I suddenly stop posting one day, that’s why! (unless I was really pissed with someone the day before 🙂).

Over the years I have spotted trends. If you’re diabetic, I really can’t recommend that enough – to measure your sugar, learn how your body responds to different foods. A few times, I have measured myself every hour, all day, just to build a picture of how my body regulates (or not) itself. My lowest points tend to be in mid-afternoon (so I can’t leave lunch too late) or the middle of the night. I’m highest around six o’clock – just before my evening insulin – especially if I eat a larger lunch than I ought. I tend not to get lows very often, because I like my sugar to run at maybe 25% higher than a non-diabetic. I can tweak my insulin to take account of what my sugar is, and what I want it to be, but it’s not an exact science.

Foods which I consider good (i.e. they don’t much raise my sugar) are things like nuts and cheese. I enjoy tofu and stir-fried vegetables, this is also good. Foods which are bad are things like bread (white bread in particular), pasta and potatoes. Basically, carbohydrates. Ironically, chocolate or candy don’t make much of a difference – I guess that’s because (a) I’m very aware of eating them, and (b) when I do eat them (and who can resist a bit of chocolate now and again?), it is just a few grams, so it doesn’t make a big difference. Crisps (chips) although generally not sugary, are potato and therefore quite bad. In case you’re wondering, corn chips tend to be just as bad as potato – I’m not too sure why this is. But there is this impression, fuelled by the media, that links sugary food to diabetes, and that’s way too simple a model, although there is a passing resemblance.

So, a hypo. Despite not having them often (at least that’s the plan!) there have been two times recently, and several in the past, where I thought I could feel a hypo coming on. You can feel them coming on – you recognise the feeling, it’s like the rumble of distant thunder. If you’re asleep, you can wake for no apparent reason, and then you feel the rumble. In fact, two distinct feelings inter-mingle.

First, there is that feeling of exhaustion. That you just want to drop, to rest. Yep, even if you just woke up. You have to fight this feeling like crazy, because if you give in to it and don’t take any action, you’ll just continue to go lower.

Second, you feel ravenous. As in, eat everything in the house ravenous. It really is an effort not to eat everything in the house! And, bear in mind that when you do eat something, there is a lead-time before it gets absorbed into your body. For that lead-time (which varies depending on the food you eat, but most people on insulin will keep jelly babies – a fast hit – to hand) your sugar is still low, so you have to train yourself to eat, then to stop eating.

When you mix these two effects, it gets interesting. Imagine being really hungry, but being too tired to eat. I know, it’s perverse, but that is what happens. Do you know sometimes when you eat a meal which involves lots of chewing, and you sometimes just need to stop chomping and give your jawbone a break? Again, it is mind over matter. You tell yourself that you have to eat something before you crash out.

One other effect of a hypo is loss of co-ordination. The food you eat needs to be ready-prepared, or at least quick to prepare. You don’t want to bake a soufflé here! You can’t be doing intricate things with your hands, and sometimes even walking is difficult. The closest I can think of, ironically, is drunkenness, where that straight line is oh so elusive.

Hypos are not limited to insulin. With any med that actively lower your sugar, you run the risk. It gets complicated because not all diabetes meds are aimed at lowering sugar – some are aimed at promoting your body’s natural sugar-combatting abilities. If you don’t combat sugar much anyway, these meds are pretty ineffective, but they won’t cause a hypo.

And, it is possible to have phantom hypos. All the feelings are there, but you measure your sugar, and there is no need to worry – it’s not gonna be fatal. I suppose your body gets used to a certain sugar level, and if it dips below that, these feelings start to kick in. Withdrawal.

In fact, the medical advice is, as soon as you feel a hypo coming on, to measure yourself and check. With respect, bullshit. That’s fine for the text books, but when you feel one coming on, you have one urge, to eat. You can worry about the numbers later.

All of this is a very long-winded attempt to explain why I was eating jelly beans at four o’clock the other morning 🙂.