Monthly Archives: July 2011

Things I Wish People Would STOP Telling me about Diabetes

I started writing this: Things I Wish People Would Have Told Me When I Got Diagnosed post and then I stopped.  

People told me SO much stuff when I first got diagnosed, and so much stuff throughout all 20+ years of doctors appointments, support group meetings, nutritionist talks, and diabetic counselor discussions  that I just stopped listening.

Changing gears then, here’s a short list of the topics or phrases I wish lay people (not doctors or nutritionists) would STOP trying to tell me:

1. You can’t eat that!

Excuse me? I’m 24. As long as it’s not poisoned please refrain from shouting “you shouldn’t be eating that!” at me while I’m trying to enjoy my tiramisu. I am fully aware that my body cannot handle copious amounts of sugar, that’s what my insulin pump and carb book are for.

2. Diabetes is chronic.

Thanks, I claim that on my taxes every year.

3. Diabetes is nothing to joke about!

Yes it is. However, the absence of your sense of humor is nothing to joke about.

4. You’re just like everyone else! (Not to be confused with: You’re normal!)

Oh give me a break. This isn’t the hour of Barney I used to enjoy on Saturday mornings, this is real life. That statement implies a commonness.

If you were to say to me, “Abbi you have brown eyes, you’re very common!”

I’d say, “You’re right good sir! Please continue to share your wisdom!” But you didn’t. You’re generalizing things and pissing me off.

Last I heard all people didn’t check their blood sugars, carry around glucose tabs, wear insulin pumps, take insulin injections, etc etc.

I LIKE being different. Don’t take that away from me because it makes YOU feel better.

5. You’re normal!

I know.

6. They’re going to cut your feet off!

Oh really? I wasn’t aware you could predict the future. I guess if you COULD, you’d know I’m planning on dying waaaaaaay before they cut my feet off.

7. Diabetes is a serious disease.

In the words of James Woods:

“I get it. I got the concept.”

8. Maybe they’ll be a cure in your lifetime…

Maybe. I’d feel more confident about it if you didn’t say it with those big stupid puppy dog eyes which tell me you don’t believe it. And honestly, stop getting my hopes up. I feel like that’s just another one of those things people say to make themselves feel better, especially if they aren’t personally involved in some type of diabetic research.

9. You should really be doing that this way. (Or some variance)

I don’t walk around changing your “your”s to “you’re”s and “to”s to “too”s so please don’t think because your pancreas works properly that it makes you an authority on how many times I should check my blood sugar.

10. It’s so great how well you’re doing!

What? Did I just get dumped? Am I a recovering alcoholic? I’m not saying I don’t appreciate the good feelings, but be aware how condescending this can sound depending on your tone of voice.

11. Check your blood sugars.

Check yours.

12. What’s your AIC?

Do you even know what that is? If you can’t tell me the word that precedes those letters/number, you don’t need to know and you certainly don’t need to judge.

As childish as some may seem, these are my top least-favorite things to hear about or surrounding diabetes.

Any to add?

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Filed under List Posts-Diabetiquette, Random Extras

Blame it on the Alcohol

We are doing this.

We are sitting down and having the talk.

“Ok, so I know we’ve been hanging out a lot lately… and I mean, like, and if not that’s totally cool but, I wondered what you thought about us, like, dating…”

No, no not THAT talk.

This talk:

People drink. Adults should be the only ones (according to USA laws) but that’s not always the case. And people, whether legal or not, drink irresponsibly.

I think I’ve mentioned that I’m not here to tell you what to do so drink or don’t drink, just don’t be an asshole about it.

Coincidentally that is also my life philosophy: Do it or don’t, just don’t be an asshole about it.

For the sake of argument, let’s say you’re 21 years of age or older. Let’s also say that you have diabetes. Fantasy over right?

Tell me about it.

So, you’re of age and a TOD and you’re either out with friends or sitting alone in your room, in the dark watching Breaking Bad or playing Soul Calibur (the GameCube version because it’s the best) and you have a couple. By “a couple” I mean alcoholic drinks.

Your body starts to digest it shortly there after.

First, where does it go?

Mouth, Pharynx, Trachea, Esophagus, Stomach, Small Intestine (where the Pancreas, Liver, and Gall Bladder help out), Ileocecal Valve, Large Intestine/Colon, and Rectum?–damn near killed ’em!

Now, what happens?

Your saliva actually starts breaking down the sugar to start. And loved ones, that’s what alcohol is when you get right down to it, sugar, and not the useful kind. That’s why Dietitians call it “empty calories”. Protein and Carbohydrates hold 4 calories per gram, Fat holds 9 calories, and Alcohol holds 7. It’s less than fat that’s true but think of how many drinks you suck down in an hour versus how many Volcano Tacos you can eat and you’ll see their point.

A series of muscles and magic pushes your food around but what breaks down the sugar?

Enzymes. Enzymes are catalysts. They break your fat into fatty acids, your proteins into amino acids and your carbs into sugar.

In “normal” people, when their bodies encounter glucose their pancre-i secrete insulin. In TODs, well nothing happens. If you have a partially functioning pancreas you’ll get some insulin but it won’t cover everything you’ve eaten.

Let’s get back to the alcohol.

When your body metabolizes things, it’s really converting it to another substance. When your body metabolizes alcohol, it’s making it non-toxic. I don’t know if any of you have ever played around in a lab or have peeled your own skin off and put it under a microscope “just to see”, but adding alcohol to cells destroys their integrity.

Same with drinkable alcohol, that’s why your body converts it, else you would die upon drinking.

Enjoy the dead wombat to your left.

Depending on your nationality (not kidding) and/or weight and body composition, your body gets good feelings for a while from breaking down the ethanol.

Of course, then that ethanol starts to feel like poison and you want to die a little.

Luckily (and I mean that sarcastically) diabetics already have trouble with metabolism.

The thing about alcohol is, is that it’s really easy to drink.  The more you drink, the easier it is to forget about things like carb counting and you can end up either not taking any insulin or taking too much.

I have done both.

If you like to drink to the ridiculously unhealthy point of passing out, you better make sure you have a friend around who ISN’T intoxicated and can watch you for alcohol poisoning AND low blood sugar.

On the flip side, you can also fall into a coma because your blood sugar is too high. If you’ve had enough that you’re falling down drunk and haven’t taken any insulin, chances are pretty good your sugars will shoot up and you actually could “take a coma” instead of that nap you wanted.

 Actually, click this link and look under the Diabetes heading. It sums up what I just said, but better.

So how do you drink responsibly with diabetes?

Well you can just not.

Or, you can make sure you’re checking your sugars before you start and that you have a Designated Diabetes Watcher with you while you do. Or, you can promise yourself not to have too much and actually keep that promise. (That’s what I usually do because then I don’t have to depend on anyone else which means EVERYONE has fun… usually. Unless EVERYONE shares drinks that night and then two weeks later EVERYONE has strep throat.)

Make sure your DDW knows how to use your glucose meter, knows where your Glucagon is if you have one, knows how to give injections or use your pump, and is dependable in general.

If you can’t find a good one, be prepared to look out for yourself.

There are certain types of alcohol that are “better” for you than others, as far as carbohydrates go.

Examples: dry red wine has less sugar than a sweet white.

Vodka and light beers are usually safest. Liquors are usually the riskiest. Amaretto, for instance,  has 25 grams of carbs in 1.5 ounces. That is NOT a lot of Amaretto and almost 2 carb exchanges. This is fine if you know what to count for, but if you don’t your blood sugar can jump up really quickly.

Similarly to greek yogurt thing, additives are what you have to watch out for. The vodka is good but the orange juice and Amaretto you mixed it with adds tons of carbs.

So, moral of the story: keep your wits about you! (If not your wits, at the very least a liquid scale so you know how much you’re drinking.)

That is kind of the anti-alcohol mantra, but you were one of the chosen ones. And with great power comes great responsibility.

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Filed under Random Extras

Get ‘Em to the Greek

Lately, my All-Potato-Chip diet has started to fail me.

I know what you’re thinking, “But Abbi, your steady diet of  Taco Bell and processed foods is a failsafe plan!”

To you I say, “You’re right! I lost seven pounds this month!”

And I’m not kidding. I went to the doctor on June 1st, got weighed, went back to the doctor June 27th, got weighed, and there was a seven pound difference!

But, what I didn’t add into that sequence of events was the horrific stomach flu I got that lasted almost 3 days. What I also didn’t add was that my oh-so-nutrient-deficient diet was mostly to blame.

I also got an A1C done, but we aren’t talking about that today. Or tomorrow. The same adjective applies to both my stomach flu and my A1C. Sorry doc.

Anywhoo, I took a vacation and when I came back to work I decided to make a change for the better! Instead of my fallback Egg and Cheese McMuffin or Strawberry Creamcheese Croissant, I went for the Greek Yogurt:

Again, I know what you’re thinking:

“Abbi, that looks like someone vomited into a bowl, gave you a spoon, and told your diabetes to take a hike.”

Well, you’re right again! But it isn’t vomit.

I swear.

People go on and on about Greek Yogurt, to the point where I want to start stabbing jugulars, but they’re mostly right.

And if you’re thinking, “But Abbi, I don’t like eating things that don’t TASTE like anything.” Then I’d tell you, “Hey. Stop complaining and add stuff to it.”

E.G. Nuts, Granola, Cherries, Grapes, Strawberries… blah blah blah

The fact is, Greek Yogurt is good for you. Not only does it have the normal benefits of yogurt (calcium, aids digestion, etc) but it’s lower sodium, lower carb, higher protein, AND you can use it in recipes to substitute for fattier things like mayonnaise.

God, I love mayo.

Right, back to the point: if you can get around the fact that it doesn’t really taste like anything, it’s a good diabetic snack. With fewer carbs than regular yogurt you can either eat twice as much (therefore getting twice as full on yogurt and less full on T-Bell) or eat the regular amount with more nutritional benefit and less insulin to take!

Be aware though, I always forget this, if you ADD to the yogurt (damn you Maraschino cherries) that WILL add to the carb count. I am usually so preoccupied trying to figure out how many ounces of yogurt I’m eating that I forget to add carbs for fruit.

If you’re looking for different varieties of Greek Yogurt (live cultures, low-fat) then look here. That is a nice short blog post about Greek Yogurt with a list at the bottom for different kinds. The comments are good too!

Over this Fourth of July weekend remember: if you are also on the All-Potato-Chip Diet, or the All-Beer Diet, or even the Healthy Diet, adding something new like Greek Yogurt can be your small step towards a slightly healthier life.

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Filed under Confessions, How to: get diabetes.