Famous Old Tyme Hyperglycemia

It was a weekend that began like any other.

Late Friday night, we stocked up with some snacks and a few 12-packs: cold, bubbly, caffeinated evil incarnate, and its lesser evils, caffeine-free Sprite Zero and Diet Barq’s.

Saturday morning, I took the beast for a nice long walk, came home and cracked open a delicious Diet Barq’s to wash down a snack of hummus and pita chips. A few hours later, I checked my blood sugar: 216. A WTF?-inducing number, sure,  but nothing to panic about. A few hours later, my husband and I headed to the in-laws. I brought a diet root beer for the road, and checked again before dinner: 242. Okay. Like any good diabetic, I rage-bolused that sucker down, and enjoyed dinner and the rest of the evening without further circumstance.

It wasn’t until the next afternoon, while I was reading with a diet root beer next to the bed, that everything began to make sense. My tongue felt weird and my mouth tasted sticky. Something wasn’t right. I looked over at the root beer can, searching for the word “Diet.” I picked up said can, scanning the list of ingredients for comforting words like “Acesulfame Potassium” and “Aspartame.” Instead, I found “High Fructose Corn Syrup.”

I ran into the living room with the half-empty can in my clutches. “Do you know what this is?!”

My husband looked at me warily. “Root beer?”

“It’s not diet! This is not diet root beer! It’s regular!” Clearly, my world had just been shattered. I had been fooled — tempted by that familiar pile of barrels, the old-school script on the can, the weird little illustrated tree climbing behind the Barq’s logo. Even after 19 years of drinking the diet stuff, I was duped by a single 12-pack.

I could blame myself, I could blame my husband, I could even blame the late hour of our grocery shopping excursion. But I think I should blame the Barq’s packaging — and the fact that Diet Barq’s is so damn tasty that it took me an entire day and 3 root beers to figure out that I wasn’t drinking the artificially sweetened stuff.

Amazingly, I escaped unscathed. And, I learned a lesson: when you’re drinking the real stuff, Barq’s does, in fact, have bite.

“Carb” is Not a 4-Letter Word

The last time I visited my CDE, she looked at my 65/35 basal/bolus ratio and said, “You must eat a pretty low-carb diet.”

This surprised me, because I don’t feel like I eat any kind of “-carb” diet. Instead, I eat what I eat, and I try to cover for carbs as accurately as I can. Maybe I’m doing a poor job, or maybe, as she put it, my basal and bolus needs are simply different from most people’s.

The way I see it, the flexibility that my insulin pump — and insulin itself — afford me is one of the few advantages of having Type 1 diabetes instead of Type 2. When people ask me about it, I probably exaggerate a little much.

“So, do you have to watch what you eat?”, they’ll ask.

Bread is not evil. But this little girl probably is.

“Oh, no,” I’ll insist. “I could eat, like, a whole entire cake, and as long as I figure out how much insulin I need, I’m fine.” (I’ve never actually tested this theory.)

I think it was the Atkins craze of a few years ago that really put everything into perspective for me. Here were perfectly healthy people with precisely functioning pancreases, forgoing their God-given right to enjoy the most important food group of all. It drove me nuts. I watched friends and acquaintances gnaw glassy-eyed on beef jerky and shellfish and bacon and eggs, and push away foods like baked potatoes, rolls — even brown rice. On the outside, I was silent, but on the inside, I was screaming, “Eat it! Eat it because YOU CAN!”

Whether or not my diet is low-carb, medium-carb, or a-little-on-the-high-side-carb, I just try to eat as best as I can — without sacrificing the foods that I really, really love. Ultimately, I think that having a normal, healthy relationship to food is just as important as maintaining a kick-ass A1C. Potatoes, pasta, popcorn, bagels, cereal and granola bars are my friends. Diabetes is tough enough without having to give them up.