Diabetes Self-Management Blog

This past week my wife, our dog Ellie, and I were a couple hours west of home doing some much-needed and very anticipated absolutely nothing at a cabin on a lake. OK, there was hiking, some kayaking, campfires, lots of reading, and good grilling… but for the most part, absolutely nothing.

We’re back home now, returned only a few hours ago after a unanimous decision this morning to come home early.

“Early!” you say. “You left a vacation and went home early?”

Well, technically we’re still on vacation, but now I get a few extra days to work in the garden, hang out in the comfort of my own home (which is decidedly not a rented-out cabin, although the cabin was nice enough), and be able to go outside somewhere where, while it may have its share of mosquitoes at this time of year, has nowhere near the massive numbers of the biting buggers we experienced at the cabin. (It’s no exaggeration to say we went through two cans of Deep Woods Off! in five days.)

Being back home means that we’ll quickly settle back into our routines, and while that may sound boring, I think routines are nice. I enjoy my day-to-day, even when I’m not on vacation, and so to fall back into whatever it is you want to call it — the mundane, the quotidian, the grind, the boring — is for me such a welcoming, comforting prospect that I really don’t care what you want to call it. This morning when I could choose two more days in the woods or two extra days hanging around the house, I chose the latter.

For that decision, I think my blood glucose numbers — or rather, my organs — will thank me, because back here at home the blood glucose numbers will no doubt reflect this slipping back to normalcy. You will probably recall that last week I asked you to share any tips or warnings about traveling while under the influence of diabetes, and many of you did just that. I prepared well for our travels, and I had more than enough supplies. That wasn’t the problem. In fact, there weren’t any real problems, but several situations came up, all of which involved blood glucose readings.

The only really frustrating incident happened the second night we were at the cabin. We’d gone out for a drive, and on the way back stopped by a little pizza joint and ordered a pie. Now, first of all, let me say that I don’t adhere to any strict diet while at home. I do try to eat as healthy as possible, and for the most part I’m quite successful at it.

But on vacation? Kathryn and I both kind of threw caution — or rationality, or our good sense — to the wind and decided that potato chips, dips, pizza pie, raspberry–rhubarb pie (wife’s early birthday dessert), tortilla chips, salsa, beer, and other various snacks wouldn’t be prohibited. Now of course nothing’s prohibited in my at-home life, but apart from good microbrews, all of the above-mentioned items never make it into our house, except for on special occasions. For good reason: “Out of sight, out of mind” works well for both Kathryn and me. “In sight, on the plate,” is the dilemma we face otherwise. It was the dilemma we faced with the aforementioned snacks for the past five days.

Why’d we do it? Come on, you know what I’m going to say next. “But we’re on vacation.” It was a phrase we used to the fullest extent of its powers.

And let me tell you, that phrase held quite some power.

Back to the pepperoni pizza…

The rule of thumb I follow is roughly 25 grams of carbohydrate per normal-looking slice. These slices seemed normal enough, and so I had three around 9 PM, bolused accordingly, and then a few hours later checked my blood glucose. Around 180 mg/dl. High(er), sure. But I was on vacation. But… But! This pizza wasn’t made by a pizza house where I normally get pizza.

An hour later my blood glucose was at 250 mg/dl. It’s now midnight, I’m tired, and I want to go to sleep. Yet I don’t want issue a correction bolus and fall asleep when I’m not sure why my numbers are up there. I check the insulin pump and everything’s working fine. I change my infusion site, in case there are any problems with the insertion point. Then I issue the correction bolus.

Then I read. Watch TV. Drink some Diet Coke.

An hour later, about 230 mg/dl. At 2 AM, still around 230 mg/dl.

I finally see it start to go down around 3 in the morning.

The next day I relayed my long night’s blood glucose travail to Kathryn, speculating that maybe that pizza sauce was made with pure sugar. She laughed, but she said she did find it awfully sweet.

That’s what I’m going to attribute my blood glucose frustration to. Super-sweet pizza sauce. I’d bet there was extra sugar in the dough, too.

If I were to comment on my own blog from last week, that’s the story I’d share. Never assume that some food you’re used to eating will be made the same way and always have the same amount of carbohydrate.

Oh sure, I could say that I should never enjoy those kinds of foods, never deviate from a diabetic-friendly diet (tell me what, exactly, that would be?), because see where straying from righteousness got me.

But that’s not what this is about. The types of foods I mentioned aren’t great for anyone, let alone people with diabetes. However, they can be had (that’s me saying that, not some diabetes educator or doctor or anyone affiliated with Diabetes Self-Management!). It just can’t be with wild abandon. See, I’ve learned how to compensate for most of any kind of junk food I eat during my normal day-to-day life, how to bolus, how my body reacts, etc. Yet in a different place, with different foods…

I know my mistake seems like a “duh” kind of error, and so my advice seems rather elementary. But hey, I forgot to heed it. I assumed — or just didn’t think! — and I lost many hours of much-needed sleep.

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