WHAT TO EXPECT: After a gastrectomy, food can move too quickly through your digestive system, i.e., “dump.” One result is extremely low blood sugar an hour or so after eating. This is referred to as late dumping syndrome.
In this situation, the body “overreacts” to a high-sugar meal or snack which enters the blood stream too quickly. Too much insulin is then produced which in turn leads to a rapid fall in blood sugar.
Words of encouragement: Fortunately, Gary is limited to an occasional episode of low blood sugar/late dumping syndrome and knows what to do about it. If you experience this challenge, you will quickly learn how to prevent it and what to do about it if it happens.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
Know the symptoms: The symptoms of late dumping syndrome occur an hour or so after eating and generally occur only after eating a high-sugar meal or snack. Symptoms include fatigue, shakiness, sweating, and mental confusion. It is helpful to listen to your body so you can learn to recognize low blood sugar/late dumping syndrome in its early phase.
The first time this happened to Gary, he was unaware it was happening. Fortunately, Anne noticed because Gary became confused about where he was going. Now, he can generally tell when an episode of low blood sugar is coming on and do something about it long before he gets confused.
Learn your sugar tolerance: Avoid lists for gastrectomy patients sometime list most sweet and high carb foods. However, you probably aren’t really limited to diabetic cookies for the rest of your life. Gary finds he can eat sweets in moderation.
His first episode of late dumping syndrome occurred after having a piece of chocolate cake and a cup of coffee in the middle of the afternoon. We now know not to do that again. But he doesn’t have any problem with a couple of small, moderately-sweet cookies and a glass of milk as an evening snack.
We’ve gotten to the point where we can almost tell when there will be a problem because the meal or snack will taste too sweet or seem like way too much sugar for both of us.
Eat frequently throughout the day: Gary has also learned that he sometimes has a low blood sugar episode if he has gone too long without eating. This happens to many of us, but his symptoms can be more noticeable. He has learned to time his eating, particularly during the afternoon, so that he does not start feeling the effects of low blood sugar.
Keep an emergency kit handy: It is important to be prepared. If Gary knows he may need to go a while between meals/snacks, he takes a baggie of nuts in his pocket so he can eat if need be. We keep nuts or crackers in the car.
He also carries lifesavers so that if he feels the symptoms of extremely low blood sugar coming on, he can suck a lifesaver or two. At home, he finds that eating an orange works.