Untamed Voices

This is You at 39

IMG_5660I should tell you now that the title is misleading, as titles so often are. This article isn’t about you at 39. But, it could be.

It’s about me at 39. Chances are you won’t ever know what it feels like to be 39.

And, while I’m envious of you, I think you should know what 39 feels like, should you ever find yourself curious.

Milligrams of glucose per deciliter of blood is actually a measure of density. I say ‘actually,’ because when I see 39 or 390 or any concentration of sugar in between, the mg/dl part seems negligible, arbitrary even. I just see a value on a screen, a number informs a state, a state that is a summary of how close I can feel to normal.

The number on the screen is just a snapshot, though, of an ever-fluctuating pendulum of blood-glucose level, affected by everything, affecting everything.

Being “low”, being 39 for example, is:

Chilled molasses replacing hot blood as the currency of your brain

Numb lips

Parts of your body, for me its my knees,  on pins and needles

Cold sweats in a warm room

Waking up in the middle of the night, not remembering when or why you awoke

Your body as drenched as the sheets you sweat through

Clumsy, jerky movement


A thick fog, like waking up from a deep sleep


The inability to coherently connect your actions to their consequences

Your brain running slower than half speed

You are emotional. So emotional. One of the symptoms of a low blood sugar is “crying for no apparent reason.” That happens.


Pale face. Some times people around you might think you’re low because you are shockingly pale. Awkward when it’s just because you need some sun.

The paleness is different than just being fair because you look sick, slightly translucent. It isn’t a natural base-color.

Super shaky, everything quivers (see Trembling)




(Sometimes intense) hunger

Paranoia, mostly because of the heightened emotional state


Hopefully not a seizure


I’m not sure if that was a poem. But being “low” is sort of incoherent. When I am low I process the world in fragments. Writing it like that made more sense than trying to put it in a paragraph.

To me, this is 39. But ask someone else who has hypoglycemia, or type 1 diabetes. I think of my parents yelling at me because I am eating to fix it, or not eating fast enough to fit it. I think of that time I had a seizure down the stairs, the same time my younger brother propped my head up, thinking it could stay on its own, or how I could never sleep “in” during high school after that episode, how textbooks dropping to the floor would send a panic through the house of me falling. I think of passing out in 2nd grade into a row of desks, Ms. Stanton screaming my name. I think of nurse’s offices and orange-flavored sugar tablets, juice boxes, too much insulin and regret, guilt and overcorrection. A lot of fear.

And coming back to bed after a close call, surprised at sheets, still soaked cold with sweat.

This is not actually you at 39 mg/dl, this is me. Chances are you won’t ever know what it feels like to be 39. I’m thankful for that.

~Lucy Gibson, Untamed Voices Staff Writer 

Image Source:

Featured Image (Lucy G.)

http://www.suzannesutton.com/math_anxiety.htm (Kimberly P.)


One thought on “This is You at 39

  1. This is a very informative piece. I was diagnosed with type one last week and have not experienced a “low” yet. The thought of a low has my parents totally freaking out about it. I am a very heavy sleeper and they are very worried i will get low and not wake up from it. Would you say it is common to wake up from getting too low? I am sorry about the 39, it sounds awful!

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