Renewing My Diabetic Vows: a Second Honeymoon
Author: Oliver Shane
Over the past few days, I’ve noticed something odd happening with my levels. I’m not quite sure what to call it, but the closest thing is a second honeymoon. I have had type 1 diabetes for one and a half years and have already gone through my first honeymoon, which lasted three months. For those of you who don’t know what a honeymoon is, it’s when a type 1 diabetic starts to produce beta cells, which in turn produce insulin. The body absorbs this insulin. The amount of artificial insulin a type 1 diabetic has to inject is significantly reduced when there is some natural production of insulin. I believe for the second time, almost one year after my first honeymoon, my body started to produce insulin. And just like most second honeymoons, it was a confusing romp that messed with my pre-established relationship with my diabetes.
My second honeymoon began on Friday, October 15th. I checked my Dexcom levels and noticed that my blood glucose had been flat for over three hours. I thought nothing of it, “oh, I worked out, so my levels are stable.” After enjoying a popsicle and just a pinch of candy without bolusing, I checked again an hour later. I noticed that my level was still stable at 80. It was then I started to see something was weird but still pushed it aside. After all, I should be happy my diabetes was cooperating with me, for once.
Nighttime hit and kept my regular basal levels on. Since I was on the Omnipod (more on that in a later article), I’ve had near-perfect control over my levels during the nighttime. I was in range, but I still hovered a bit from time to time. That night, though, I went low in the middle of the night for the first time in months. At 4 AM, I got that oh-too-familiar blaring alarm that told me, “hey chum, go shove your face with gummies and struggle to fall asleep for the next two hours.” I awoke, treated my low, turned off my basal “injections“ and eventually battled myself back asleep.
The following day, I woke up and checked my levels. I noticed that the lowest level that night was 70 and the highest was 85 even though I turned off my basal completely. It was odd that my highest level that night was only 85. Keep in mind, I feasted on a whole pack of gummy snacks. At that point, I was almost freaking out. Still, there wasn’t exactly anything I could do, and this weird second honeymoon wasn’t harming me as long as I reduced my insulin intake. Over the next 24 hours, my level remained in the range of 75-85, despite turning off most of my basal (kept my basal off most of the time or set at 25% of normal basal if I rose above 85) and taking no boluses.
During my dinner on day two (Saturday, October 16th), I researched what was happening. I couldn’t find what was going on, though I did manage to craft a hypothesis. This hypothesis is built on the belief that diabetes is not a singular attack on the pancreatic cells but a continuous battle between the cells producing the insulin and the system attacking them. What I think happened is that my pancreas had made new working cells. At the same time, something was affecting my immune system to the point where the cells could operate without being attacked. This theory is not conclusive and I’m not a scientist. Still, it gives some justification for why I randomly started producing insulin.
On the dawn of the fourth day, my magic talent seemingly disappeared, as I woke up with a bg/l of about 130. This reading was the beginning of the end of this incredibly brief second honeymoon. It only lasted three days. Usually, I would only take about 80 units a day (including both basal and bolus). On day one, I had only taken about 40 units of insulin (as I didn’t bolus once). By the second day, I had only given myself about ten units of insulin, if not less (as I turned off my basal halfway through the day). By the third day, I wasn’t giving myself a drop of insulin. By the fourth day, I noticed I was starting to trend a bit upwards, so I slowly worked my way back to my usual insulin dosage (increasing my basal rate and boluses). By the seventh day, I was back to my pre-second honeymoon injections of 80 units again.
A second honeymoon is probably rare. However, it was still an exciting experience that taught me about my disease. I’m curious to see if anyone else has had a similar experience as me.