For people with diabetes, New Year’s isn’t just a chance to start afresh with some new blood sugar resolutions (I will determine my exact fasting carb-to-insulin ratio. I will!) — it’s an opportunity to celebrate the end of holiday season, and its accompanying smorgasbord of high-carb treats. As I see it, New Year’s day marks smooth sailing till Valentine’s Day.
When I lived in New York, I liked to bring in the new year with what I think must be the most diabetically friendly NYE party ever: the midnight run in Central Park. You gather in sub-freezing weather with thousands of other lycra-clad revelers, all count down to midnight together, and then, at the moment the new year starts, run four miles. I admit that the idea of kicking off 2010 with a midnight jog might not sound like fun to a lot of people — but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. There’s a Central Park fireworks display, so as you start to run you’re treated to an incredible show bursting directly overhead. The run is also a costume contest, so you’re constantly passing (or being passed by) giant crayons, or salmon, or — my personal favorite — an 80-year-old man naked except for a diaper and running shoes, his chest marked with the words “New Year’s Baby.” (“My wife doesn’t know I’m doing this,” he told me.) As you run, people from the neighborhood stand at the edge of the road shouting happy new year, and instead of water breaks, they have tables covered in small cups of non-alcoholic champagne. Best of all? At the end of the race, there’s a huge dance party.
So in other words, you’re celebrating the new year by exercising and dancing. What could be better for your blood sugar?
Alas, California does not have a new year’s run that I’m aware of. So instead we celebrated by having dinner with some friends. Equally fun — but not as good for diabetes. Witness this cake, put together by my husband from Cook’s Illustrated. That is three layers of chocolate, my friends. Nearly flourless cake, a dark chocolate mousse, and a white chocolate cream on top. Oh, and the brown stuff? Chocolate shavings. You can only imagine how good it is.
The weird thing, though — and perhaps this is a testament to nearly nine years of restricted desserts — is that I didn’t have too much trouble resisting. Granted, I have had more white chocolate cream in the past two days than over the past three years combined (that’s what happens when it’s in your refrigerator) but I know, somewhere deep in my soul, that the temporary pleasure of having its three layers dissolve on my tongue would not be worth the feelings of guilt and fear that would ensue. Let them eat cake! My true weakness was the rolls.
Oh, the rolls. My husband’s mom has an amazing recipe for dinner rolls that he has, for some reason, hidden from me until this new year’s eve. After he’d put together his chocolate concoction, he began kneading and shaping what I can only refer to as carbohydrate crack. Check out this photograph (and please note the BD pen needles in the background). Chewy, doughy, yeasty, slightly sweet — put a pat of butter in the middle and you will swear you’ve gone to heaven. (Eat too many of them without enough insulin and you may well have the opportunity.) Dear lord, these are good. So good that I can hardly write about them without wanting to eat one.
So basically, I spent new year’s eve wondering if my husband were trying to kill me.
And then last night I had an incident where I almost did the job myself: it was 4 a.m. and my CGM said 165. I hate letting my blood sugar stay high at night so I began fumbling around with my pump, trying to get the light on so that I could program a correction bolus. I must have woken up in the middle of a deep cycle or something, though, because no matter what buttons I pushed, the light wouldn’t go on. Said deep sleep also really screwed with my understanding of what the pump does (i.e. give you insulin) because it was only after I heard a few ominous ticks that I realized that instead of turning on the light, I was giving myself a bolus. Please note: I have worn the pump continuously for eight years and never, ever done this. I managed to push the suspend button, flicked on the light, and realized I’d given myself two units in my sleep. Which is bad — and necessitated a mouthful of honey and a double check to make sure that the low alarm on my CGM was on (thank god for the navigator). But when I looked at what *could* have happened, I realized just how lucky I was: I had somehow programmed into the bolus wizard calculator that I had just eaten 299 grams of carbohydrates (in other words, theentire chocolate cake). Recommended bolus? 23 units — nearly an entire day’s worth of insulin. What had I actually programmed? 10 units — a number determined by my pump’s predetermined max (which I am now going to lower even more). I don’t even want to think of what would have happened if I hadn’t heard the tick. So I’m going to add a new resolution to my list: don’t let my diabetes management kill me.
A much cheerier note: here’s a photograph of an aquavit-inspired creation my husband made — it’s a bottle of ginger liquor that he froze inside a milk carton with pretty flowers and rosemary sprigs.