Dear Diabetes, I Quit

You can quit a job for any reason. You can quit school once you get past the state’s legal dropout age. You can end a relationship very easily and you can run away from home.

What you can’t do, however, is quit a medical condition. 

Today, however, I sure did try.

I like to keep a low-carb diet. It helps me keep my blood sugars in much better line. I’m not necessarily ketogenic since my main goal is to just keep stable levels and there are some non-keto things that don’t raise my blood sugars so I don’t worry about them (coconut palm sugar is one thing that comes to mind – it’s not on the keto list, but since I don’t need insulin to handle it I don’t give a shit). I’ve lost quite a bit of weight since having Baby Imp while on a low-carb diet, and I have actually grown to prefer the dishes that I’ve been making.

The thing about low-carbing is that it’s a lot of work. I make EVERYTHING from scratch – hell, I even make my own crackers. It isn’t exactly a diet for convenience. It takes a lot of preparation, thinking, planning, grocery shopping and a lot of time in front of a stove. Supper tends to be just a meat and some kind of vegetable because by the time 6 o’clock rolls around I’m running low on spoons and throwing something on the grill and slicing up some cucumber is easy. 

I’ve had one hell of a time the last three weeks. I’ve moved, set up a house, started at a new school and new job and got acclimated to a new schedule. I’ve also been through the living hell of going through the motions of getting a whole new set of prior authorisations for medication and doctors. I’ve been living with the constant worry whenever someone near me in class coughs or sneezes. I’ve been dealing with yet another a fungal infection on my leg and increasing chest congestion due to not having my immunoglobulin for two weeks (BIG NEWS SIDE NOTE got a month of Hizentra approved by the insurance, but they don’t like the specialty pharmacy chosen by my immunologist and they’re still missing some paperwork so this month is to get me through until they get all of the paperwork they need in order. Supplies are getting shipped tomorrow since the approval came around 4:30, will have them by Thursday morning).

Life is exhausting.

As time goes on, I have less and less energy. And today I finally had enough.

This afternoon, I quit diabetes.

And I didn’t leave a two-week notice either. I just up and walked out the door, flipping the bird over both my shoulders as I exited. I turned around in the doorway and disco danced to “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” for good measure. Then I shouted that he was an awful lover, because no quitting scene is complete without a dissolved office romance.

Freshly alive with my newfound freedom, I ran straight into the arms of my secret lover: Hardee’s. He enveloped me with the scent of his curly fry cologne and caressed me with sweet words of encouragement. “It will be all right,” he whispered in my ear as the bag was passed through the window.

So I went home with my carbohydrate bomb, the ease of simply ordering lunch giving me the energy to go on. And I sat down. And ate.

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I even ate the cookie.

But, alas, despite my officially divorcing myself from diabetes, some of it still stuck around. Like I still went for the pump when eating. Because it’s only second nature.

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That’s about four times my average daily carbohydrate count…

And I found myself running into a problem.

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You shall not pass.

I purposely set my max bolus to 5 units because Baby Imp likes to grab at the pump, and it’s to prevent me getting an insane amount of insulin. I rarely take any more than 2 units in a sitting (and that’s only when my blood sugars end up high for some reason) so I never see that screen. Until today. I felt like a bit of a rebel, taking more insulin than I normally do. It was freeing, like the first time you go out on a date after leaving an awful boyfriend.

Soon the pump was shouting at me again, and instead of my usual “hey, I should take care of that…” response, it was more along the lines of “pfft, whatevs.” Because I quit diabetes today. 

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Nope, don’t care.

I ate everything. The burger, the bun it came on, the fries, I even finished the cookie even though it was highly disappointing.

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C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me.

138 grams of carbohydrates later and 8 and a half fattening units of insulin later, and I felt fine. Wonderful. Disappointingly wonderful. When you quit diabetes, you’re supposed to feel awful. You’re supposed to need to pee all the time, feel lethargic, and be reminded that quitting diabetes was a bad idea.

Although admittedly, I didn’t really quit diabetes. Like a codependent person, I came crawling back to it. I took insulin. I even checked my blood sugar beforehand (it was 71 mg/dL). And then I walked for like a mile and a half afterwards, which resulted in a 66 mg/dL pre-supper blood sugar about 5 hours later. For diabetes burnout, this was an awful example. For quitting diabetes, this was an awful example. But given how taking care of myself takes up every minute of every day and how dedicated I am to staying well, this was big. I consider myself lucky that the huge carbohydrate count in my meal didn’t end up with me having to bolus again even four hours later. While I didn’t check my blood sugar two hours afterwards (which is actually unusual for me, we can call that part of my quitting diabetes) I know by how I felt that I really didn’t get that terribly high. I don’t know why, but I didn’t. 

I can say though that in my temporary “fuck it” experience, I did learn a lot. Normally when I splurge on a high-carb meal, I am later consumed with a rather large amount of guilt and a feeling of failure. It was nice to let loose without the down feelings that followed. That’s not to say that this will end up becoming an everyday thing and that I have completely fallen off the wagon and am being dragged by a rope tied around my ankles. Supper tonite consisted of pork chops and a salad with low-carb ranch dressing. It seems that old habits die hard, although admittedly this is an old habit that is a good thing to keep around.

I will admit that I really don’t know what diabetes burnout feels like. Yes, I get sick of having it and I get frustrated and occasionally say “fuck it” and end up in a Hardee’s drive-thru. I’ve eaten whatever I wanted and not cared. I even spent a good 10 or so years not checking my blood sugar at all. But I’ve always taken the insulin, which is often the most difficult thing for someone with diabetes to handle. The thought of being constantly held captive by a needle or a pump is frustrating. But that is the one thing that I never really had a problem with. After 18 years, insulin has been second nature. I can honestly say that I don’t remember life before I did it, and even though I was 11 when diagnosed pre-diagnosis life and post-diagnosis life for the most part are one in the same. I hear about people experiencing diabetes burnout and books have been written on how to deal with it, but I can honestly say that I don’t understand it. When I burn out, it’s usually only for a day. When I quit diabetes, I walk right back in the door the next morning, sit at my desk and start typing like nothing ever happened.

I guess in the end I’ve accepted that there’s just no getting rid of it. No matter what I do, it’s always going to be there and I will always have to handle it. It’s a part of me and who I am, and that’s just that.

Dear Diabetes,

I try to quit you, but you’re still here. May as well have a beer together and keep working things out.

Love, Lady Imp

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Fast Food Fail

When I heard about Taco Bell’s new Power menu, I got excited. It’s super loaded with protein apparently, which can typically translate into two words:

Low. Carb.

Upon further examination of the menu at tacobell.com I found that it really is anything but low carb (like so much Mexican food is, sadly), however it looks to me like it is very easily adaptable to a low carb lifestyle. So when my mother texted me asking if I wanted anything from the place affectionately known in my family as Taco Hell, I figured “hey, why not?” and did a quick search online and saw their Cantina Power Bowl. Looked perfect, lettuce, chicken, sour cream and guac, all on a bed of rice and beans and topped with pico de gallo.

All right y’all, hold your low-starch pellet-fed horses here for one minute, I told Mama to tell them to leave off the rice and the beans. And then I added back in the beans. Because I love me some beans, and they’re almost 50% fibre, can’t be that bad right? But the rice stayed off and so did the pico. The rice, because it likes to DESTROY my blood sugars (in addition to just being plain nasty) and the pico because it just so happens that raw tomatoes make me recreate the projectile vomiting scenes from the Exorcist.

After a little calculation, I figured that my quasi-low carb fast food dietary delight would run me about 24g of total carbohydrates, and I sat in my room giddy with anticipation of my salad’s arrival. I’ve never been a huge fan of guacamole nor avocados, but I was even excited about those too, with all their healthy fats omm nom nom. So excited, especially since Lord Imp really likes Taco Hell and it’s difficult for me to find something that I can eat there that won’t leave me hungry an hour later.

So imagine my disappointment when I opened the bag, dug out my salad, and clearly saw red specks in my salad. Upon closer inspection: tomatoes. Son. Of. A. Bitch. All that excitement and a unit and a half of insulin for nothing. They didn’t even include the damn avocado ranch dressing. My mother tried talking me into not eating it but damnit, I was hungry. So I grabbed a fork, scraped off everything I could find that had come into contact with the tomatoes (which sadly included most of the sour cream and the guac, two things I desperately needed on that salad due to their fat contents and compounded by the fact that it was missing its damn dressing).

The salad sure as hell needed that dressing – it’s bland as shit without the pico. So I grabbed a bottle of chipotle pepper sauce that I use when making Susie Gibbs’ TO DIE FOR 2-minute enchilada sauce (seriously, go make it, your life will never be the same again), and dumped it on. That saved it somewhat. Unfortunately, the lettuce got limp on the drive home so when all was said and done it became an inedible mess. If I ever order this again, it will be when I’m in the restaurant, I won’t be bringing it home. To-go salads are never a good idea when they have a large amount of hot items on them like this one does, anyway.

All in all, the salad was good – ish. I really wish I could have gotten the dressing to give it a full review, but so far it gets an A for its adaptability to the low-carb lifestyle. The added guacamole (which they claim is made from real Haas avocados and I will blindly believe because I am already disappointed enough right now), sour cream and cheese fill the dish with fats and I’m sure the dressing would have contributed to that as well. I have no doubt that the lettuce was crispy when it was put together, and the beans were tasty because beans are just tasty. I just wish I could have kept the most important parts of the salad on it and I wish I didn’t have to spend five minutes picking diced tomatoes out of my damn dinner. In the end, I couldn’t finish the salad, probably due to the fact that I’m incredibly riled up and my appetite tends to dwindle when I’m riled up. It’s now sitting next to me here on the bed, a mushy mound of lettuce that looks like it was passed through a 90-year-old with severe digestive issues. The good news is, it still ended up destroying my blood sugars (I’m sitting at 160 right now after about 45 minutes) so I’m not in danger of going low at this point in time (no guarantees about later though, since I left about a third of it). However, the next time I get this, the beans are sadly going to be left off as well. 😦

Now that I’ve finished telling my story and opinion, let me just take a minute here to appeal to all you working in foodservice. Honey, I know where you’re coming from, I worked fast food for almost 7 years. I know the job sucks, the pay sucks, you get no benefits, you’re tired and you hate everyone. You especially hate people who decide that they want specific things done to their orders, and you don’t give a shit when you accidentally make something not the way the customer ordered it. The quick and easy way is to pick the stuff off and hope they don’t notice. But here’s the thing: often, people don’t order things a certain way because they’re hipster assholes looking to be ahead of the trend without realising that their interests are so 20 years ago. Often, people order things the way that they do because of their dietary needs. Dietary needs which, in this case, have the potential to at best create a rather long night, at worse become a medical emergency. People like me, we are very in tune to what we’re eating; we don’t blindly dig into a dish without thoroughly examining it first, especially when we’ve asked that things get left off due to distastes or medical reasons. Being a diabetic and knowing that a certain kind of food makes you vomit, you have to make a very conscious effort to avoid those foods. Because once you’ve taken that insulin, you had damn well better eat those carbs and keep them down or it’s lights out. And when you’re someone like me who eats low carb and only keeps low carb options in the house, save a bag of Butterfinger minis for emergencies, trying to cover a 24g meal becomes a real difficulty, and I severely dislike making a meal out of candy bars (that’s why I keep minis around, I have lost my taste for them and avoid them at all costs). Admittedly, it was my fault for taking the insulin before examining the dish for any issues, and I give y’all props for at least leaving off the rice as that would have been another major problem food for my blood sugars. But seriously – when someone asks that something is left off their dish, you leave it off. And if you accidentally put it on (it happens to the best of us), you ditch it and make a new one. No matter how busy you are, no matter how many cars are in the drive thru, no matter how many people are in the lobby. You remake it. End. Of. Story.