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Brittle Diabetes

A female family member, age late 60s early 70s, has had diabetes for over 20 years.  It was controlled with pills, diet and exercise until several years ago, when insulin injections were started.  Within the past 2 or 3 years, she began have having mild seizures, usually preceeded by a sign, such as tingling, and she would know to medicate.  Within the past year or so, she has had more dramatic seizures with no warning - sometimes waking her husband in the middle of the night thrashing; or wandering in a trance-like state; usually an ambulence must be dispatched to help him.  The episodes are now occurring several times a week.  She went to a specialist, but apparently was told there is not much that can be done about this type of diabetes.  Is this correct?  She is in otherwise excellent health; is fanatical about diet and exercise, yet it gets worse and worse and we are desperately worried.  She can no longer drive due to the sporadic nature of the disease.  Is there anything that can be done to help regulate this, before she does serious damage to other organs or through falling?  Also, we are frightened by the amount of time that lapses before medical help arrives - I'm sure any amount of time with blood levels severely out of whack is not good . . . but at what point will there be permanent damage?  Usually help arrives within 15-20 minutes.  Any advice and/or information will be greatly appreciated.  Thank you.
6 Responses
Avatar universal
Hello Tying2Help,
I'm so sorry it has taken a few days for you get an answer to your questions.  We're all volunteers here, and sometimes life gets in the way of our volunteer hours.  We are also not physicians, so do make sure the physician of your "female family member" hears about the situation and any suggestions you take from the Internet.

After a severe low blood sugar episode, we are at risk for additional low blood sugars since it takes a while for system to get back into balance.  Ask the physician about a Continuous Glucose Monitor that can help IN ADDITION to regular finger-stick tests.  If you "Google" that phrase, you'll be able to read the products currently approved by the FDA & available in the US.

Also, it is NOT usual that our insulin requirements change over time.  It would be a good idea for your family member to meet with a Certified Diabetes Educator and her endocrinologist to be sure she's taking the right doses and that her techniques for correction are up to date.

If forgetfullness is at all an issue, perhaps she can get into the habit of writing down all insulin doses.  Severe lows will occur, of course, if we take a needed dose insulin twice (or more!) times because we forget what we've done.  

I hope this helps a bit, and again, I apologize for the delay.
Avatar universal
Thank you for your response.  She has been to her doctor, as well as a specialist in Phila. to no avail.   But I will definitely ask her if she knows of/has tried the continuous glucous monitor which you mentioned - that sounds like something that could be a helpful too.  Again, thanks for your help.
Avatar universal
My son is only 23, and has diabetes for 10 years.
He is considered 'brittle'.
Even when in the hospital, the staff cannot keep him under
control, this occured about 5 years ago,
after a tragic emotional incident.

He continues to have seizures, sometimes daily, at least
weekly, he will never drive, his self esteem is at a low,
he has attempted to take his life on many occasions.
IF someone is truely 'brittle' they need constant assistance
...the seizures will affect their thinking, memory and
their willing to cooperate.
again my experience only with my son...good luck to you.
(yes my son is on many meds, many drs, many everything)
Avatar universal
I'm sorry to hear your story, Paris47.  As difficult as it has been to watch adults in my family afflicted with this disease, I can only imaging the pain of watching a child suffer. New breakthroughs are found every day; I hope one comes soon for your family, mine, and others that suffer with this erratic, dibilitating disease.
Avatar universal
Please take this right,
I hear about these 'break throughs'
every day....what are they?
I know when my brother first was diabetic
in the 1960's is was bad, but I guess I am
wondering just what is going on....
why isn't there a pancrease transplant?
why isn't can't people get the meds they need
or the supplies they need?
I have to go to different pharmacies for insulin
then other one for supplies, (due to medical coverage)
I am terrified that one day they will figure out I'm
doing something wrong, when actually I just discovered
different pharmacies have different policies.
I appreciate your response I really do, so I am so afraid
you will feel affended that I am attaching your response,
I am not...I am also on the Hep C site forum as that is my
illness, and the tx and sx of that is awful...
I have found such supportive wonderful friends, my goal would be to help others, everyone seems to help me, I want to do for others, and feel good.
I guess I'm getting emotional, sorry, but my son is so (sometimes) resentful of me. I have even said to myself, I don't care if he hates me , as long as he is alive!
well so much for now, I am debating whether or not to hit send. just please don't disregard my thanks to you and to everyone, I certainly appreciate the responses. I just want my son to have a 'quicker fix' or I don't see him making it....know what I mean.
I hope that I can get him set up with a computer at his place, and maybe he will get connected to you all here!!
how cool would that be.
love to you all, and thanks for letting me get it out!!
You who have diabetes, are the real survivors!
Avatar universal
please let me know I offended anyone.
I'm so insecure at this point of my life,
the emotions run totally wild.
I couldn't stand it, if I offended anyone.
I would never mean to do that to anyone.
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