When Every Conversation Turns to Diabetes

For me and I suspect for many others with DeTickles, there is no switch to turn off thinking about the disease. It’s like background software in the mind, always running and taking up some memory or necessary pathways for other functions and thought processes. My mind is already non-stop whether I want it to be or not, and the constant awareness and management needed for DeTickles just added to that busyness and chaos of thought.

So, it isn’t surprising to me that, especially in the first year of diagnosis when I was on the fastest learning curve and one-way lifestyle change I’ve ever experienced, every conversation made me think of something DeTickles related.

A friend could say, “I am so hungry!” and I will immediately think, Food, yeah that’s a good thing, important. You should eat. If I were to eat a snack like yours, I’d have to count up those chips, check my blood sugar, make sure chips is an okay choice for me right now, then get my insulin, and then I have to make sure I eat all of the food even if I decide I don’t want it.

Or I might hear how cool a concert was and think about if I had gone or if I wanted to go to a different concert how often I would have to check my CGM to make sure my blood sugar was stable because I wouldn’t likely be able to hear any warning alerts.

Or if I were invited to go to the beach later in the week, I’d be thinking about where I want to wear my insulin pump and CGM and which swim suit to wear–do I feel like hiding the pump and monitor and feeling more “normal” or proudly wearing them visibly and being an advocate–and also prepare for questions. I’d think about carrying emergency carbs with me, preventing dehydration (which sends blood sugar numbers up) and sunburn (which can also weaken the body and send sugars up), and trying not to feel like an idiot when I carry a huge, awkward tote of everything I could possibly need (or skipping some of it and taking a risk).

For me, everything comes back to DeTickles management; DeTickles affects everything.

Eventually I noticed how often the word “diabetes” came out of my mouth. I didn’t count, but I was beginning to annoy myself, so I figured maybe it was getting old for others, too. Now, I have a lot of amazing friends who engage and ask honest questions and want to learn about it. That’s great! But for my own sake as well as maybe theirs, I didn’t want absolutely everything I ever talked about to be diabetes this diabetes that, diabetes up the wall and in the bathroom and at the vet’s and on vacation.

There is still a very real element where I do need to talk about it, and often if I have an alarm sound or feel off or whatever, DeTickles will and has to enter the conversation. But I get to choose the other times how much I want it to take over and be the only thing I talk about.

Nah, man. I’m far too interested in a bajillion other things to want that.

Making this blog was in part so I could have a place to regularly pipe up about it without noisly taking it to every restaurant or hangout with friends or shopping trip. And I’m still learning, but I have been a little more proactive in not chiming in with DeTickles fact #1203 or DeTickles complaint #1701, and I’m not sure if anyone else has noticed, but I’m happier for not letting it consume every single time I talk to a friend or family member or share something on social media.

Sometimes I really do even forget I have it. And that’s pretty nice actually.

Yes, I can eat that. Maybe. 

A common joke I’ve heard and even been the butt of once, and one that honestly probably should stop, is “This food is so sweet it’ll give you diabetes.”

Well, I’ve already got that, so bring it over here.

So last week I shared about food, making spinach-apple turkey burgers (do reccommend), and that hey I can still eat potatoes.

Food…is something I greatly enjoy, and very easily hate. It gets so complicated so immediately, it doesn’t really even matter what it is. Sugar free jello cup or a pizza buffet and everything inbetween.

I’ll give you the simplest version of the Type 1 rule of thumb for eating:
I can eat anything you can. I just have to make sure I adjust my insulin accordingly.

That’s is. That’s what many T1Ds fight for the general population who don’t (and we hope won’t have to) deal with constant blood glucose monitoring to understand.
But. Just as everyone should listen to their body and do as best as they can for their individual needs, each person with diabetes (PWD, there’s an acronym some prefer) has to learn what their body does normally and decide how they want to handle their needs. And then there’s also always the chance that how the body responds every single time to x thing won’t be anywhere close to how it responds to exactly the same x thing in all the exact same variarables this time. (Such as my dose for the exact same breakfast the other day: normally barely keeps my numbers from jumping too high but on this day sent me dropping into dangerous territory.) (And it should be noted that some have a harder time with that than other. DeTickles is freakin’ complicated.)

Aaaaand there’s also the whole, Actually sugar can save my life, so hand me that candy and soda right now please thank you.

So, while I will hold fast to the claim that I can still eat anything, there are plenty of times when I have to consider if I should have that slice of cake or half a baked potato or twelve chips instead or five or even if an apple is a good addition to my lunch at the moment…or will eating something extra cause me problems later? I will admit a lot of times I choose to eat the thing I want now anyway, but also a lot of times I refrain, trying to keep longer term health and well-being in mind as more important than happy taste buds or even being a little less full now but not starving so I’m actually okay.

Eating with DeTickles is like walking along a tightrope and sometimes you have that extra balance stick, and sometimes you don’t. My food choice right now is affected by my current blood sugar number, what I’ve already eaten and how long ago, what I plan to do in the next few hours, how I know the food typically affects my body, if it tastes good and is satisfying, if the taste is worth the chance of high blood sugar later and will I be able to counter that, if I have done or plan to do any exercise, if I’m recovering from low blood sugar, and like, just a whole lot of things. Being sick. Or injured. Or stressed. Or calm. Everything, absolutely everything can affect blood sugar, so it’s a lot to keep in mind.

So when someone offers me food, and I really really want it, but my numbers have been over 200 for several hours, and it’s maybe not mealtime, I might have to pass. But that doesn’t mean I wont accept another offer sometime when I’m cruising around 100 and pretty sure I can handle a little treat.

And I will definitely still eat pie.

 

Spinach-Apple Turkey Burgers

So a while back, I signed up for the menu/grocery list subscription service EMeals. I was struggling with meal planning and tired of the same, what, seven or ten things that I kept fixing all the time. I also had no time or desire to sift through (those enticing, delicious-looking, intimidating) cookbooks full of hundreds of ideas and recipes hoping to find something that didn’t take a lot of time or energy to prepare. EMeals was a good solution.

Each week I get a list of seven meals, I choose what I like, and it puts together a shopping list for me on the phone app, sorting the items I need by where they are kept in the grocery store. And, the service has meal plan options that take into consideration special dietary, time, and financial concerns. I signed up for the diabetic plan, which gives me the nutrition information for each main and side dish. I make adjustments as necessary and still do quite a bit of carb counting myself to be sure of what I’m eating, but it helps a lot (and I still get to eat potatoes!).

So let me introduce one of our favorite dishes from this new plan. As I make new posts with favorite meals, I’ll add them to the Food button on the main menu. If you try something I share, I’d love to hear how it goes! Sometimes my attempts and adjustments are…frustratingly amusing. So far, though, we’ve enjoyed them and not gone hungry.

 

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They smell as good as they look.

Spinach-Apple Turkey Burgers

What to do:
Heat some olive oil in a skillet and cook onion, apple, spinach, sage, and garlic salt for about seven minutes. You want the apple to be soft and the liquid to evaporate.

Then I put the cooked ingredients in a bowl and mixed it with the uncooked ground turkey. If you can manage this transition less awkwardly than I can, please do tell me! Forming that into patties was a bit of a literal hot mess, but it basically happened, and that gets cooked over some more hot olive oil about 5-6 minutes each side or until done.

Set up your burger bun with mustard (I used honey mustard, yum), lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and of course your homemade burger patty.

Add some baby carrots on the side and…

NOM!

This is one I want to repeat sometime, when I have a little more enthusiasm for the cooking process. Not really my choice for a worn out kind of evening. But I’m also snail slow at the prep portion of cooking (all that chopping!) and when I have to juggle things in, out, and in again to the same skillet.

 

If you want more precise measurements, see below. (I……was pretty vague with mine and actually I think overdid the apple and turkey proportions because I was tired, cranky, and in very unknown territory. Still, worked out pretty well.)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon at a time (I just splash whatever looks like enough into the skillet when needed)
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion (I think I misread this one as 1/4 of an onion and eyeballed it, but it worked out. A lot of -sniff- chopping for me, though, -sniffsniff-)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped apple (I probably cut a whole, huge apple. Good enough!)
  • 1/2 of a 9oz package of baby spinach (I just eyeballed whatever looked good)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey (I definitely used more which is part of why I had five patties–this recipe is supposed to feed two people one meal–and they were larger than would hold together well)
  • 2 teaspoons coarse-grain Dijon mustard (again, I just used honey mustard I had and portioned it as I wanted on my bun)
  • 2 whole-grain hamburger buns (whole-grain comes up a lot with DeTickles)
  • 2 lettuce leaves (I usually like more but it does become a bit of a stretch to chomp down on)
  • 2 thin slices of tomato (or as much as you want, mmmm)
  • 6 cucumber slices (easily slippery but yummy)

The recipe totals the burger carbs at 35g, but since I had extra apple and probably had more than one tablespoon of honey mustard, mine might have come out a bit more than that. The bun alone after all is still going to be around 23-28 grams of carbs depending on what exact one you get, so… If you need to count carbs, best to check your ingredients anyway. Still, for planning purposes, EMeals providing the basic information makes it easier to answer, “What can I eat today?” And these burgers were a two-thumbs up dish.