Carb-counting During Grace (and Other Holiday Diabetes Mishaps)

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While I was home in Columbus, Ohio, for the holidays, I was able to see how significantly diabetes affects my daily routines. Or, rather, how significantly it affects other people’s daily routines. When I’m here in Seattle, it’s just me; nothing I do is weird. Nothing takes “too long.” Nothing interferes with my plans… because they are my plans. Constantly surrounded by large numbers of family members and friends, though, I was aware of how restricted I felt by others’ ideas of what should be happening and when.

Just a few of the ways diabetes took priority over whatever else was supposed to be going on this holiday season:

 

1. Carb-counting during Grace

My extended family always gathers for dinner on Christmas Eve (and then again for brunch and dinner on Christmas Day). We are a music-oriented Lutheran family, so we always sing The Doxology before holiday meals instead of saying a table grace. I laughed to myself after we sang the final “Amen” on Christmas Eve when I realized that I had been counting carbs through the entire thing. I held hands with my relatives and I sang in harmony, but my mind was far, far away… in the land of math. I had been surveying the beautiful arrangement of home-made food laid out on a large buffet in my parents’ kitchen. I had planned a sampling of the foods we eat every year, including butternut squash, grilled vegetables, beef bourguinion, and–did I mention we’re Norweigian Lutherans?–the much anticipated lefse. Instead of giving thanks like a good little Norweigian Lutheran, I was actually calculating how much insulin I would be taking for the meal. Is anyone else guilty of such a diabetes sin?

 

You'll notice, of course, that the napkins are Norweigian

 

2. Crashing after Christmas morning breakfast

Before heading out to my aunt’s house for our annual tradition of Eggs Benedict brunch, we usually open presents and have a small breakfast with just my immediate family at my parents’ house. My mom always has something relatively healthy for us to eat, along with egg nog. This year, it was delicious oatmeal (made overnight in the crock pot!) with dried cranberries and fresh fruit. I knew I could handle that. Last year, my first Christmas with diabetes, I completely overestimated the home-made rolls and egg nog we had, and plummeted to the lowest blood sugar I’ve ever had in my 22 months of diabetes. I was determined to play it safe this year and only took half of the insulin I would normally take for a bowl of oatmeal… and I still managed to crash down into the 50s an hour later. There I was, chugging my parents’ mango juice while everyone else got dressed to leave, wondering how this could possibly be happening. I thought nerves and excitement caused your blood glucose to go up! Can anyone explain my Christmas morning insulin sensitivity?

 

Christmas morning with my new soon-to-be sister-in-law!

 

3. Dismissing the wide-eyed glances of fellow passengers on public transportation

Between my travels to New York City for my cousin’s wedding on December 18th and my trip home to Columbus for Christmas, I rode multiple modes of transportation. Turns out you don’t give up diabetes when you step onto a plane, so your diabetes is about to go public. I am very much someone who lives diabetes “out loud,” meaning I give myself shots and check my blood glucose in the middle of church and at work and while sitting in bars. On a plane, though, I must admit: it’s pretty close quarters. My middle seat did not afford a whole lot of privacy and five hours is a long time to monitor one’s diabetes secretly. On one particular flight, I went to give myself an injection in my abdomen, and a little girl across the aisle from me said to her mother, “Look! That lady’s about to shoot herself!” You may think adventures like these would cause me to head for the folding-door bathroom, but you would be wrong. Instead, I decided to up the ante with my PDD (Public Displays of Diabetes).

In my previous post, I mentioned that I was awaiting my new Continuous Glocose Monitoring System, the Dexcom Seven Plus. It arrived a bit before the holidays, so I decided to take it home with me to “install” while I was with my family. With our holiday plans as jam-packed as they were, I still hadn’t started my first sensor by the time I left. I had watched the DVD and read the manual several times, but I hadn’t made time to sit down and actually insert the sensor. You know where you have lots of spare time, though? Lay-overs. That’s right; I started my first CGMS sensor in Terminal C of the Newark Liberty International Airport. I had just taken a shower, I had my alcohol swabs at the ready, and I had the whole seating area of Gate 34 to myself. Aside from a momentary freak-out when I couldn’t break the four-inch-long plastic applicator off of the sensor sticking out of my stomach, I am proud to report that everything went just fine. Who else has favorite non-traditional locations for completing diabetes tasks?

 

Off the plane, onto the train, into the subway, up onto the sidewalk, and this was my welcome to NYC: a perfect 100

 

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Karmel Allison

I often catch myself counting carbs or planning boluses when I am supposed to be praying, or paying attention to what someone is saying :( I always feel silly. Like, really, give it a rest for one moment!

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