Battling Blood Sugar and Exhaustion

Six tips for managing time and bouncing blood sugar levels.

DeannaBy Deanna Glick

 Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!

April 2008 — Have you ever sang "The Wheels on the Bus" when your blood sugar is over 300 mg/dl (16.6 mmol/l)? Exhausting. But it's the book my daughter happened to want read to her before bed tonight, and bedtime routines go on regardless of blood sugar status.

The odd thing is, this particular blood sugar resulted in an attempt to adhere to my exercise routine. Well, my road is definitely paved with good intentions. I started out fine, with a reading right around 200 mg/dl (11.1 mmol/l), which is what I prefer at the beginning of a good workout combining cardio and core strength training. However, I kept my pump unplugged a little too long as dinnertime beckoned, so the serotonin high vanished as my blood turned to molasses and the pasta boiled on the stove.

Everyone knows fatigue and motherhood go together like milk and cereal or Dora and Diego. But when diabetes becomes the proverbial third wheel, exhaustion often takes over the mix. If you're not exhausted as a symptom of uncontrolled blood sugar, you're exhausted from doing all that's required to keep things in check, from healthy meal planning, appropriate insulin dosing and carbohydrate counting to finding time for exercise. Plus the mothering part.

Sometimes, running out of steam is inevitable. See previous example. But I've discovered a few tricks for keeping my energy up while battling my blood sugar:

Get good at kid-friendly exercise. I am always more tired if I haven't stuck to my exercise routine. If moms wait for time alone to exercise, they'll never get it. So get to know your sidewalk and stroller. If your kids are beyond that stage, get them to go with you. (Bribe them with ice cream if you have to.)

Don't make more than one dinner. I happen to be blessed with a good eater, but making different dinners for different family members is a habit you don't want to start and a real energy zapper. If you've got picky eaters, come up with a few meals that everyone likes and rotate. Or make sure each person likes at least a couple of items on the table that they can load up on.

Go to bed. Life's responsibilities mean most of us have to get up early in the morning, but there's no excuse for not getting enough rest on the front end. It's tempting to take advantage of those late-night hours after the kids are in bed to watch what we want on TV or catch up on reading and chores, but make it a point to get to bed at a decent hour.

Dora is your friend. I'm not a TV fan, so I limit my daughter's viewing. But boy do I take advantage of the TV time I allow her. Relax with a magazine or use the time to change your pump site. Or just stop to breath and rest your brain while sipping some tea.

Your kid(s) can wait. I've noticed mothers tend to treat their kids' requests as emergencies. But sippy cups of milk are not that and it's OK to tell your children so. I know the feeling of wanting to cease the whining ASAP, but try to tune it out and teach your kids patience instead of anxiety by slowing down.

Pick up as you go and forget the rest. I know this sounds tiring, but honestly it's more work to have huge messes to clean up at the end of the day or deal with the anguish of sitting or sleeping amongst clutter because you are too exhausted to clean - just keep things picked up. A box or basket in each room to throw toys in helps. And of course, if clutter doesn't stress you out like it does me, ignore this one altogether.

So, there they are. A happy little half-dozen gems of advice you may or may not have already discovered on your own that may or may not work for you from a tired but determined mom with diabetes that's learning as she goes.

dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.

Last Modified Date: May 31, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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