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Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in April of 1980. I recognize the incredible mental struggle of living with diabetes. I hope to share my struggles, my successes, and everything in between.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Basal Rate Test (a story about a spider...)

Basal rate testing is a pain in the butt.

The concept is to fast for a chunk of time so that you can see if your blood sugar remains steady.

Ideally you eliminate as many variables as possible so that you are 100% certain pretty sure that any change in your blood sugar is a result of your basal insulin.

Eliminating variables is much easier said than done. There's just no two ways about it, life is full of variables. Many of those variables affect our blood sugars, and we only know about some of them.

I fasted for the last part of the day, exercising miraculous feats of self-discipline and will-power to avoid the sometimes unconscious "hand-to-mouth" action. I like what G-Money said about "fasting" - that it should instead be called "slowing"!

I ran high most of the day, but by bedtime I was all set. No residual insulin on board, steady blood sugar - good to go. Until Midnight anyway...

So I woke up every couple of hours and tested my blood sugar. At Midnight the alarm goes off and I am so stupidly tired that I can hardly figure out whether to turn off the alarm or answer the phone (which was NOT ringing...).

Blood sugar = 82 mg/dl - awesome!

I stumble to the bathroom to relieve myself, and when I turned to the sink to wash my hands I was scared half to death by a HUGE spider on the edge of the sink!!

Let me explain.

I live in the city. We don't do big creatures around here. Spiders that are the size of my thumbnail (from leg #1 to leg #8) are considered big in my book. This one was four times that size. Scared me like I was a little girl. I almost screamed out loud.

Whoosh!! I felt the adrenaline surge hit my system. The fight or flight reaction system was in full flight mode. Yes, that's right, I said flight mode...

But I realized that I would not be able to sleep knowing a big ass spider was in the bathroom! What if it crawled its way into the bedroom and ate me?! Couldn't have that. I knew I'd have to "dispose" of it somehow.

Thinking I would just wash it down the drain, I cupped some water in my hand and threw it at the spider, knocking it down into the sink. It wouldn't go down the drain. It was too big. Able to latch its big spidey-legs onto the edges and keep itself from being sucked down.

I tried rapidly switching the water from full-blast to off, thinking I might be able to knock it off balance. When that wasn't working I thought I could turn on the hot water and cook it into submission. Nothing.

I finally overcame my wussness and balled up a BUNCH of toilet paper to smash-n-grab it into the toilet and send it on its swirly way.

Breathing hard, beads of adrenaline invoked sweat on my brow - I was nowhere near tired anymore.

I eventually calmed down and fell back asleep. I woke up again at 3:30 AM and tested again.

This time I was up to 131 mg/dl (about a 50 mg/dl increase from my last test).

Now here's the thing that is bugging me.

Overall I am very satisfied that my overnight basal rates are pretty good. But was it the spider induced adrenaline rush that caused the spike at 3:30 AM, or would that have happened anyway?

The only way to find out is to repeat the test. Hopefully without any damn spiders. Or at least not anymore big giant spiders.

Don't laugh - it would have scared you too...


Blogger Allison said...

I just read in John Walsh's book today that you should do basal rate tests at least twice to make sure things like spiders aren't influencing your reading. I mean, could you imagine if you did get a spike because of a spider and then decided to up your basal?! You'd go low! Hate say it, but you should probably do the test again.

7:42 PM  
Blogger George said...

I am sorry...

ROFLMAO!!! Dude, I can totally see that scene. Damn Spiders! That sucks because of the spike but man that was entertaining.

Spiders is to Scott as Clowns are to George.

8:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I have been basal testing too, based on John Walsh's book. You'd think after pumping for 3 years I would not be learning things I should be doing from a book!

You should definitely do it again, what if you would have gone low without the spider? :)

8:25 PM  
Blogger Vivian said...

Scott, my brother, I nearly wet my pants over this post. That is the funniest thing I have read in a really long time. That poor spider. "cook him into submission" Dude that is funny, I don't care who you are. At least in the end you were able to "Git'R'Done". Were you on the phone with the bug guy this morning? I hope you are able to figure out the basal thing with less trauma next time.

8:40 PM  
Anonymous Scott M said...

I'm not laughing, I sware... But grinning really wide. Good story. Frustrating however, as it looks like another night of fasting and late night testing.
ooooh, did someone say clowns? Now they are terrifying for sure!

9:17 PM  
Blogger travis said...

Did you ever think of smashing the spider and testing its blood sugar? Then maybe at least you'd get some entertainment out of it ruining your basal test.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Zazzy said...

It was the spider. Spiders are evil. We had wolf spiders in my house in Wyoming I know just what you mean. Once I see one, if it gets away I might as well move 'cause I'm never sleeping in that house again.

But seriously, that much adrenaline has got to do something to your blood sugar.

10:39 PM  
Blogger AmyT said...

I agree with Zazzy. Spiders are evil. Imagine showing up to spike you after all that death-defying willpower you presented. What nerve!

Please, please promise you'll basal test again -- just so we can read about it :)

11:24 PM  
Blogger Val said...

I don't know, Scott, maybe the spider was a good thing. Think about it: you were 82, and on a gentle downward slope - maybe without the spider-related adrenalin you would have wound up at 56? It could've saved you, and look how you repaid it ;)


5:31 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Good story.

I've been procrastinating in the worst way about redoing my basal rate tests.

I'm gonna get to 'em one of these days!

Kudos for putting in the effort!

6:22 AM  
Blogger Kendra said...

Oh god. Just reading that caused my blood sugar to go up, I swear. UGGGGGHHHH.

And I haven't done basal rate testing yet because they are a huge PITA. I feel like a whiny kid but it's truuuueeee...! Even without the 8 legged friends helping!

1:00 PM  
Blogger Penny said...


I am not afraid of much. Snakes and mice, eh, they are not my favorite, but I'm not really scared of them. But, I am terrified of a spider. I don't know why, but I am. I refuse to get close enough to them to kill them. I have to call Michael for that.

So, big pat on the back for difusing the situation yourself. Sorry about having to fast again.

And, this post had me laughing. I could just see you turning the tap off and on and the spider clinging to the drain for dear life. Ha!

1:57 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

OMG, if I could've been a, I mean, a fly on the wall when this was happening. LMAO at the image of you trying to drown a spider.

Who knew a spider could put a "damper" on your basal test? ;)

6:46 AM  
Blogger Carey said...

Too late. Already laughing. Very entertaining post.

7:28 AM  
Blogger Kelsey said...

You're so funny Scott!

When I started this post, I thought the "spider" was a metaphor for something, like your graph looking like the legs of a spider, or something.

I was so tickled when I learned that, no, there's actually a spider in your story!

I agree with everyone, you'll probably have to repeat the basal test... but at least you had some good numbers overnight :)

10:33 AM  
Blogger Michko said...

OMG that is too funny!

I was on the phone the other day trying to do some work and I saw a small fuzzy spider that reminded me of a tarantula crawling up the side of the window about a foot from my face. It was fuzzy! And then it jumped!! Yes, it jumped! Fortunately, I'm not all that freaked out by spiders, but my God I don't think I've ever seen a spider jump!! I was telling the guy I was on the phone with all about the jumping, fuzzy spider. He wanted me to pick it up and examine it. Um, no.

8:27 AM  
Blogger mollyjade said...

Do you find it hard getting up in the middle of the night to test? I've been basal rate testing and adjusting my insulin for a bit now, and I just can't make myself wake up in the middle of the night anymore.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Scott K. Johnson said...

I am planning on repeating the basal rate test again. Mondays are good for me, so that's what I'm shooting for (although it's Memorial Day weekend coming up...).

I've got small(ish) kids at home, so waking in the middle of the night is not too tough. I didn't say easy - just not prohibitively tough...

3:25 PM  
Anonymous the incapacitated flexed gripper said...

I don't like spiders. Well, the little ones are okay, but once I can start seeing hair on the legs, they've gone beyond the boundaries of good taste and sensibility.

I also hate overnight basal testing. There have been nights when my alarm clock goes off, and I briefly think, "Screw it!" roll over and go back to snooze land. It's the stuff like that which irks me immensely at times -- we're supposed to use these crude tools and implements to make inductive conclusions which have level of uncertainty so as to make them at times stressful and nearly useless. And yet useful enough that if we want to live mostly complication free it is what we must do.

Aye yi yi. Good luck and fewer spiders.

8:46 AM  
Blogger ..M.. said...

Scott! It's been weeks... I need you, POST something, darnit!

7:07 PM  
Blogger Cara said...

Okay, you are better than me! I have a horrible time with testing my basal rates. I don't think I have successfully done it all the way through since I started the pump a year ago. However, I think I would have had a stroke if I had seen a spider than big in my home! And since I live alone, there would be no one for me to ask for help from! Yikes! Hope the new basal test went okay.

11:56 AM  

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