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.