February 2013 – Hypoglycemia: A Nurse’s Inside View

On January 1, 2013, I received the following e-mail from Kate Purcell. I was so touched by what she wrote that I e-mailed her immediately asking if I could share it in my February blog. Kate replied …

“I just about cried when I read your response to my letter. Yes, you may share my letter on your blog, as long as you use the term ‘Functional Hypoglycemia.’ The word ‘Hypoglycemia’ by itself is misleading and makes people think of Diabetes. We need to educate people that ‘Functional Hypoglycemia’ is a disease and NOT a Diabetic symptom.

“I founded the Self-Help Lupus Living Support Group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LupusLiving) in 1996 to answer people’s questions on Lupus, Sjogren’s, Fibromyalgia, and Lab Values. Through my internet researches, many people with Fibromyalgia have problems with low blood sugar. Not sure if it is a true Functional Hypoglycemia since most do not get tested

“Thank you so much for wanting to share my story!!! You may use my full name below.”


Kate Purcell, RN

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


Kate’s message is loud, clear and powerful! After you read her story, please read the postscript…you won’t believe what happened to Kate right after we connected.



Finally, a website that describes the Functional Hypoglycemia Diet correctly! The only two things I would suggest adding to your website is for Functional Hypoglycemics to be very careful with Spices, especially Cinnamon, which is known to lower blood sugar. And beware of condiments such as Ketchup, which has sugar as an ingredient. One packet of Ketchup can trigger low blood sugar symptoms, even if they eat protein with it.

I am a retired, disabled RN, 61 yrs old, and I have had Functional Hypoglycemia since my mid 20’s. Yes, I did a six hour Glucose Tolerance Test, passed out the 3rd hour for 45 minutes. When I woke up, the Lab Techs told me to eat a candy bar, which I knew was wrong. Somehow, I managed to drive across the street to a hamburger place, went through the Drive-Thru, sat in the car, and ate a meal. My inner and outer tremors lasted for an hour before I could drive home. I will NEVER do another Glucose Tolerance Test! Long story short, it took me one year of trial and error, keeping a Food Diary, to eliminate foods my body was unable to tolerate. Over the years, some of these foods have changed. Could be due to being diagnosed with Systemic Lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome, Raynaud’s, and Fibromyalgia at age 40 years old.

I am very picky about my Diet and keep my blood sugar fairly regular, eating something every 3 hours. As you know, it is a constant battle of eating correctly and eating on time every day.

My biggest complaint is uneducated ER Doctors and Nurses (RN’s), who know nothing about Functional Hypoglycemia or Raynaud’s!! Four years ago, my Rheumatologist instructed me to visit the ER when my inflamed Gall Bladder pain increased. I was at the Baptist Hospital ER for eight hours, fasting the entire time, going through CT Scans, Ultrasounds, etc… They were unable to see if I had Gall Stones since my Gallbladder was hiding behind another organ. About 30 minutes after the Dextrose IV ran out, my blood sugar crashed too low. I called the Nurse, and she brought me Low Fat Milk and Graham Crackers. I had outer shakes and inner trembles so bad, I was unable to open them, so she did it for me. After I ate that, my low blood sugar symptoms grew even worse. When I asked them for some protein snacks, with no sugar, they did NOT have any. Nothing! None of the Nurses, and not even the ER Doctor, understood that once the Dextrose IV ran out, my blood sugar was going to crash soon after. I was told they were unable to accommodate my request to turn off the air conditioning vents in my room and provide me with protein snacks; then the ER Doctor acted like it was nothing! This never should have happened! I felt the ER should be ready to treat Functional Hypoglycemia with a variety of protein snacks and make my room warmer.

I was very upset when ER Nurses wanted to treat me like a Diabetic. After spending eight hours in the ER, my Gallbladder pain had decreased, so I felt that I had no choice but to leave that ER immediately, get warmed up in my car, and eat the correct foods before I passed out. So I finally informed the ER Doctor that I was going home before they killed me and refused to be admitted for observation. I had Whole Milk with some cheese and soda crackers in my car ice chest that got me home safely. My Gallbladder eventually healed itself.

My second concern is when Doctors and Nurses try to tell me how wrong I am about Functional Hypoglycemic’s needing protein instead of sugar. They do not understand that Sugar is basically poison to a Functional Hypoglycemic. I just want to scream when they ask me where I went to RN school! Like the old saying goes … until you walk in my shoes … until you have personally experienced Functional Hypoglycemia, you really do not understand what sugar does to our system. Looking back, RN school did not teach about Functional Hypoglycemia; they only taught us about a Diabetic experiencing a Hypoglycemia episode. So the entire world needs education about this Functional Hypoglycemia disease.

Functional Hypoglycemia runs in my family, so it can be inherited, and there are no Diabetics in my family history that I know of. This Functional Hypoglycemia can also skip some family members, just like any other diseases.

Anyway, I certainly pray your organization can help educate all the ER Doctors and Nurses that a true Functional Hypoglycemic cannot be treated like a Diabetic. A Diabetic is someone who has little or no Insulin, and a Functional Hypoglycemic has too much Insulin, so they each need a different diet. Those low Blood Sugar symptoms, with all the inner tremors, outer shakes, blurred vision and headaches, are no fun and very stressful to feel … very miserable! So I avoid hospitals and ER’s as much as possible. I would rather die at home than be treated by uneducated ER Doctors and Nurses that are unwilling to listen to patients and have no means of treating my Functional Hypoglycemia symptoms correctly.

Thank you for explaining to people the proper Functional Hypoglycemia Diet! The few websites I have found about Functional Hypoglycemia do not know the true Functional Hypoglycemia Diet and are telling people to eat Sugar or a Diabetic Diet! If they only knew that Sugar makes our blood sugar yo-yo like a roller coaster.

Keep up the good work! No need to respond unless you feel it is necessary. I just wanted to tell my story, hoping it will help others.




On January 3rd, two days after Kate contacted me, her house went up in flames due to a natural gas explosion. It took Oklahoma City firefighters several hours to extinguish the fire. The blast damaged nearby homes and blew out windows. Residents in the area also had to be evacuated until ONG crews made sure the gas leak was capped.

ONG says the 2-inch, medium-pressure gas line was likely cut by contractors working in the area. Even though Kate’s house was run on electricity, Purcell’s daughter says her mother smelled the gas and went outside to ask the workers if she should be concerned. Purcell was told there was nothing to worry about, so she returned to her home. The explosion occurred around 5:00 p.m., while she was inside the house. Two ONG workers and a neighbor rushed inside and pulled her out of the burning home.

Kate has lost everything! It will take her years to replace her home and personal belongings. Her health too has suffered, and only professional medical care, the support of family and friends, and time will help her heal. If you would like to help, just mention your desire to contribute to the “Kate Purcell Recovery Fund” at any MidFirst Bank located in Oklahoma. Thank you!


Here’s to your health,





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