The Most Wonderful Time…

I just not only survived, but thrived pretty well on vacation for my second time at Disney World with DeTickles, especially compared to the first time, and am feeling so satisfied, I don’t care right now if Santa brings me a new pancreas this Christmas or not.

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Some days absolutely suck and sometimes those days last a week or so long, sometimes more. But I get the support I need, make adjustments, and when I start feeling better, it’s all so worth it. I know I can do this. I’m learning how to, essentially, take care of my body, mind, heart, and soul more thoroughly and actually more mindfully, all because part of my body broke.

It’s like driving a stick shift when most everyone else seems to have an automatic and you’ve never touched a stick in your life. But once you know what you’re doing, it gets better. Sure there are still bumps and sometimes you may stall the engine, as it were. Take a metaphorical and real breath, and get after it again.

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I’m still here and still very much can and intend to thoroughly enjoy things like meeting Baymax and Moana, Joy and Sadness, walking until my legs feel about ready to fall off, and indulging here and there with treats from around the world.

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It’s my favorite time of year, and I’m feeling good. 🎄💙🎄

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Q: Food-y Holidays. What’s a Diabadass to do?

Eat!

So, okay but that’s a good question actually. Each Diabadass has to decide what works for them at the traditionally carb-rich celebratory meals, a lot like most days, but these can be a little trickier to navigate since it’s not the everyday menu.

My personal strategy this year was to indulge. Carefully.

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I ate a protein rich breakfast and a light lunch trying to keep my blood sugar steady and on the lower end of the healthy numbers.

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Fortunately it worked and I had a beautiful graph most of the day.

At dinner, around 4:30pm, I filled up my plate with a little of anything and everything I wanted. I did strategically make sure to get a decent amount of turkey (which you can’t see under the egg rolls in the photo, ha) as a protein anchor for all my carbs. And then I made educated guesses on what I was eating, without taking the time to look up nutrition information for everything…or anything, and added on more carbs to my guess.

The idea was if I somehow over guessed and my blood glucose took a dip, there was ample tasty (and some faster than other) carbs that I could just enjoy more of. (Plus I had brought juice and glucose tablets, my usual go-tos so I know moderately okay how I react to those, and I was surrounded by family,  which includes a couple of nurses, so I was more willing to risk low blood sugar.)

I also chose a small chocolate cupcake  (delicious) over the homemade German chocolate cake (about eight or nine times the difference in carbs) for dessert. Most of my splurge had gone into corn casserole, stuffing, and cranberry sauce already and I was on the rise by the time anyone was ready for dessert. I did not and do not feel shorted though. Everything was wonderful, and the chocolate cupcake was what I really wanted. Nommmm.

In the past I’ve gone for a walk to help with insulin absorption but it was too cold, wet, and dark for that this time.

In the end I went a bit high, but I’m satisfied with my steps, everything I enjoyed, and that I was recovered by morning. The only thing I would change is guessing just a little bit higher than I did on my seconds. But that’s how I learn and no harm done and a wonderful time spent with family, and of course snuggles with the Old Man after we got back home.

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Q: Is there anything you can’t eat anymore?

While pretty much every Type 1 Diabadass I know will argue that they can eat anything they want, and I touched on the only thing off limits is poison and cookies with poison, there are some things that–unless I’m having a medical danger à la low blood sugar– just aren’t on my menu anymore. 

When I lived in Oklahoma sweet tea and Dr. Pepper were my drinks of choice. Now that I live in the South, I’m glad I was able to enjoy local tea before diagnosis. That is one thing I have given up.

Technically I could still enjoy it. A healthy pancreas makes insulin for such a thing; I could dose my artificially produced insulin for it as well. But for me it’s just not worth it.

Straight, already dissolved sugar is a very fast acting carb. That’s what makes it a good low blood sugar help. My insulin, like most fast-acting insulin I’m aware of, takes about fifteen minutes from the time I dose to start working in my body to use those little glucose cells in my blood and turn them into available energy. 

The timing, plus the super high number of carbs info a regular glass of sweet tea rapidly converting into blood glucose, just doesn’t work out for me. My numbers will skyrocket and my blood will get thick, and it will take a very long time to bring my numbers back down into a healthier range.

Fortunately for me, there are tea flavors that I can add to water that are zero carb, and I can add my own sweetener to unsweet tea. It’s not quite the same, and sometimes the sweetener doesn’t quite do it, and I’m getting used to the added hint of lemon in some if the flavorings, but they are good.

I find I don’t miss sweet tea as much as I thought I would, and I sometimes reason that the flavorings help me drink more water. True or not, I’m not sure, but I’ll keep telling myself that. 

So yes, there are some things I’ve given up or don’t eat the same way. Like how a bowl of grapes will never be the same for me seeing as how I used to love to fill a big bowl and never count them unless I was testing how many I could stuff into my cheeks at the same time, like a chipmunk or a hamster.  But in general I still get to enjoy what I want, just with a few extra considerations…or modifications.

Q: What do you do with a nutrition label?

Yeah, I get it. Growing up and well into adulthood I never cared about the nutrition label or calories or what was considered a serving size. However much I wanted of a food was a serving size, thank you very much, and if I eat less I’ll still be hungry.

But now, I’m becoming expert at understanding what’s on that label, and I use it all the time, every day.

I’ve touched on this subject a little previously, so I’ll mention a little more about it this time. Here’s what I’m looking for.

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First I check Total Carbs. That’s the single most important information to me. Then, if I don’t already, I need to know what the serving size is. For instance, sometimes a single slice in a loaf of bread is considered the serving size and sometimes it’s two slices. “Serving” still doesn’t really matter to me because I’m going to eat as much as I need and as I can, but it helps so much with math and medicine dosing.

Next I’ll skip over Sugars and check the Fiber instead. I think I use fiber differently than others who are concerned about carbohydrate content for non-DeTickles reasons. I’ve heard others can subtract total fiber from total carbs, but that isn’t how I’ve been instructed to use the label.

If a food is a “high” fiber food, meaning five grams or more per serving size, and if I’m going to have that whole serving size (or more), then I can subtract half of the total fiber from the total carb.

But if I’m not eating at least five grams of fiber, the number changes nothing for me.

And honestly, for an added wrinkle on the side, if my numbers are higher than preferred, I probably won’t subtract anything. Higher blood sugar makes me more insulin resistant, so I probably need the whole amount of insulin to cover the carbs.

That’s how I roll. Others with DeTickles, especially other types of DeTickles, might handle it differently. In the game of diabetes, there isn’t much of a one-size-fits option.

Next up on the label are Protein and Fat, both of which are my friends because they help to keep my blood sugar from rising faster than my insulin can keep up.

I’m still figuring out how much is a good ratio of protein to carbs or fat to carbs for my best results, but I have been learning that the closer the number is to the carb number (for myself, it’s a lot easier to rack up carb numbers than it is protein or fat), the more likely it is I’ll manage and feel better after my meal.

Eggs are like my best food friend. And cheese sticks.

Then I’m pretty much done with the nutrition label. I’m fortunate that I don’t have to worry about sodium intake because my body is doing just fine filtering things, though it’s always good to be careful with it, and the same with trans fats and I’m sure lots of other things. It’s also good to know what the ingredients are but I will admit to being more lax with that of late. Sometimes I just need to not worry about it and have a meal or a snack.

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Thanks for reading my first Q&A post of National Diabetes Awareness Month! I’m open to questions all month and will be working on my planned comic answers in the near future.