Things I Have Eaten

Editor's Note: This is a humorous piece and in no way purports to provide genuine information on blood sugar management.

| Jun 6, 2007

People without diabetes completely miss the real difficulties of being diabetic. For one thing, it's not so much about what I can't eat as what I have to eat.

Allow me to outline a situation in which I have found myself more than once. I am out and about, I have again forgotten my wallet, and signs of a low blood sugar are beginning to approach. A quick search of my pockets reveals thirteen lifesavers that have gone through the washer along with my cargo shorts. They are fuzzy with lint, and dryer heat has welded them into a rainbow-colored blob. In fact, they are not readily identifiable as candies.

So here's my choice: Assume that pocket lint will cause no lasting damage when digested (it was washed, so it's clean, right?), or pick a direction and hope to reach one of my numerous emergency sugar stores. The choice is obvious: do both. Don't they call them lifesavers with diabetics in mind?

I have a squirrel-like tendency to collect and store various forms of quick sugar. If a promotional event is handing out free cans of soda pop, two or three will find their way into my gym bag, book bag, under the car seat, under the pillow, etc. However, secreting root beer into all manner of crevices can lead to difficulties. For one, you'd think an aluminum can filled with carbonated syrup has a half-life comparable to plutonium, but it ain't so. That pop and the hissing noise that emits after you've sat on your bag can ruin your day.

Generally I'm not too fussy about what I eat. (I watch what I eat, but only from the plate to the fork to the mouth.) Thankfully, this dietetic leniency has saved me from many a close call. While attending a high school competition, a shaky feeling found me with my pockets empty of lint-covered lifesavers. The refreshment supplies were dwindling, but fate was smiling on me: there were two cookies and a cup of juice left over. I started to make my shaky way to the 34 carbs like a lost desert wanderer toward an oasis.

Then, like that same wanderer discovering a mirage, I watched my lifeline disappear as a rotund fellow student grabbed my prey. I doubt that Chubby ever realized that his very life was in peril at that moment. It's a good thing I wasn't feeling better, or I might have bit him. Thankfully, my pottery teacher had a stale onion bagel in her pocket. Carbs are carbs. It took a long time to get working (clay probably slows digestion), but it did work. I still harbor resentment against the kid who stole my cookies, though.

During high school, I discovered that chugging a whole quart of juice right before running drills made a miserable experience into something downright agonizing. I clearly needed to cut down on the volume, so I switched to pure juice concentrate. Once again, my training in consuming gross stuff came in handy. And when someone asked to partake of my "juice," I would happily hand him the bottle and watch as he gagged and choked. Misery loves company.

In college, I joined the crew team and began buying concentrated juice in bulk. In typical student style, however, I quickly lost track of which bottles contained fresh concentrate and which had been sitting around awhile. One fine morning, sitting in the rowboat, I needed some sugar and grabbed my bottle of concentrate. When I opened it, it exploded. Thus did I discover the basic process of fermentation. But what choice did I have? Bottoms up. It made for some interesting rowing.

I've gotten much better about monitoring my sugar sources, and most of what I eat now would be considered edible by even a fussy personality. Recently I discovered that Fruit Leathers contain a reasonable amount of quick-acting sugar, can withstand storage (measured in years), and are slim enough to fit anywhere. So I am quite efficiently stocked up. Oh sure, on occasion you'll find me inspecting my pocket contents with a hungry glint in my eye, but on the whole, I have to tap into my emergency supplies with less frequency. Of course, this could pose a problem: When the time comes…what will I find?

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Categories: Blood Sugar, Diabetes, Diabetes, Personal Stories, Type 1 Issues

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Jun 6, 2007

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