Business Class


I’m on my way back to California after a week and a half of holiday festivities on the East Coast and have decided that I might need to expand upon my previous theory, explained in my guest post on Six Until Me, about how we as diabetics should give ourselves credit for the foods we don’t eat. After a week of horrendously difficult blood sugar levels, I think I might need to give myself some credit for the blood sugars I didn’t have. I was high at night more often  than I’ve ever been since being diagnosed, I am currently so insulin-resistant that my blood sugar has refused to go below 200 since I ate breakfast this morning, and I’m really feeling pretty diabetically miserable right now . . . but I’m trying to be grateful that even though my bs has routinely climbed to the mid 250s over the past week, it has not crossed the dreaded 300 threshold. And I’m also about to get back into my normal routine of leafy green vegetables and kickboxing class. But still, it sucks.

The title of this post, however,  is about something different: air travel. My husband and I wrenched ourselves out of bed this morning for our flight from JFK, and when we got there the flight was totally overbooked. We had seats, but instead of simply being grateful, I saw an opportunity: the chance to trade our seats for free tickets. If I have inherited one thing for my family (in addition to a tendency toward auto-immune disorders and a bunch of other genuinely good things), it is an obsession with beating the system in air travel. I hate it — the cramped seats, the lack of food, the fact that as soon as I get on a plane my bladder seems to shrink even beyond its normal miniscule capacity (so far on this three hour ride I have peed three times). But at the same time (and perhaps because it stresses me out so much) I am borderline obsessive when it comes to planning air travel. I will stay awake at night strategizing ways to get an aisle seat. I will spend hours — literally hours — going through travel websites to see if I can somehow unearth The Perfect, Secret Deal in which I am blessed with William Shatner/Priceline-inspired abilities to slash prices with my mind. If I am on an international flight at night, I will start  planning, months ahead of time, how to get myself more than one seat so that I have a chance at sleeping. I also have detailed theories about what days, seasons and times are best to travel if you are seeking the coveted five-seat middle row on an international flight. And when I manage to score myself a deal, I immediately do one thing: brag about it to my dad.

Given my seat anxiety, you can imagine my distress about my return itinerary, where I’d been assigned a middle seat next to my husband (who had the window). A middle seat? And my bladder? Are you kidding me? In a move I hope he doesn’t take personally, I signed onto my computer late on Christmas Eve and switched my seat assignment to the only aisle seat left on the plane — 26c — the dreaded last row next to the bathrooms, and concocted an elaborate plan to negotiate with my future seatmate to swap seats so that my husband could join me. I’m aware that all this is weird and borderline OCD — but I also have accepted it as a part of my personality that I cannot change,  and thus just do my best to work with it. Usually, I’m successful.

But luckily, today it turned out that none of this was necessary. I correctly predicted that the flight was oversold (the Sunday after Christmas after a day of bad weather? Come on!) and carefully listened to see if they were offering any free vouchers for volunteering to give up your seat. Sure enough, it happened — so we immediately signed up. Even better? The representative was so desperate that after a little bit of hemming and hawing on my part (the next flight wasn’t for three hours and I didn’t anticipate flying anywhere else soon), she bumped us up to business class — which is where I am now, and which is making me so happy that I am tempted to break out into a hearty round of the Flight of the Conchords’ Business Time. See here:


So what the hell does this have to do with diabetes? I’ll tell you what: cookies. United Business class apparently has a tradition of treating its customers with a round of freshly baked cookies shortly before landing. I’m not kidding. If you, like me, have ever been trapped in an economy seat, bladder bursting, and then start to smell fresh baked goods wafting through the cabin — so sweet, so tempting that it seems like it might be an air travel-induced hallucination — it’s all true: in Business/First, 45 minutes before landing is milk and cookies time.

This is  a comforting touch but, especially when combined with the option of the special holiday cocktail (eggnog mixed with bourbon — which I declined), it’s horrible for the old diabetes. I feel like after I’ve been on a plane for  several hours two bad things start to happen: my blood sugar goes bad, and any food starts to look good, no matter how inherently gross it actually is. Those stale bags of pretzels, the six-dollar boxes of havarti cheese — I’m so bored and hungry that I’ll eat anything you put in front of me.

Needless to say, I ate the cookie. (Though I did leave behind a small corner, just to indicate restraint.)

My blood sugar is, of course, a disaster. But you know what? If past travels are any indication, all the insulin I’ve been pumping into myself over the course of this flight is currently pooling right below the infusion site — and as soon as I get up and start to move around, my blood sugar will dramatically drop.

And, to continue my theme of inverse relationships, my blood sugar may not be pleased right now, but I know one person who definitely is — who in fact told me he was “happy all over” when he heard about my free ticket and upgrade: my dad.

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