Confessions of a Thanksgiving Weekend Survivor

For the last few days, I’ve been wanting to write some kind of diabetes confessional. The problem is, I’ve been uncertain about how to create the context in which to write it. Thanksgiving and its four-day weekend of food sloth has provided me the occasion, but the presentation gives me pause.


If I just flat out come out and say beforehand, “Forgive me readers for I have strayed from the path of self-management righteousness,” maybe I won’t be judged too harshly. I know I’m not alone in experiencing moments, be they hours or days, when I fall from diabetes grace. However, I also know all too well that there are others who can’t wait to cast aspersions in the form of blog comments, those who exercised restraint, those who probably deviated not one bit from their normal routines.

So, as I write what would have been last Thursday’s (Thanksgiving’s) blog entry, I say unto those who judge, “Please examine your own diabetic soul before looking self-righteously upon mine.”

Thursday began with a breakfast sandwich (turkey bacon and egg) and coffee at Starbucks. My wife and I took the dog to the dog park, so we went through the drive-through on the way. The sandwich: pretty good. The danger to my diabetic karma: pretty slim.

From there, though, it went slightly downhill.

We drove to my wife’s parents’, where I promptly fell into the butcher block buffet of tortilla chips and Fritos and crackers and cheese, all with a vast array of dips (chili dip, cheese dip, hot queso) and spreads (spinach and artichoke, as well as a crab dip that is impossible to turn down). I dialed in a bolus for 60 grams of carbohydrate on my insulin pump to cover what I’d snack on over the next hour or so.

Thanksgiving Dinner consisted of turkey, decadent mashed potatoes (within which was butter, sour cream, and cream cheese), some smoked duck and pheasant (which came from the family compound), stuffing, gravy, pistachio bread, and several other sides that, after four days have passed, I can no longer remember.

I’d bolused for 40 grams of carb about 20 minutes before eating dinner, and then when we sat down to eat I bolused for another 100 grams.

Dessert? Back in college I had a literature professor who always told us, on the last day of class before Thanksgiving, “You must always have two kinds of pie.” This year was no exception to his counsel. I had pumpkin. I had pecan. I also had some kind of apple cobbler thing.

The carb estimate for a dessert such as this: 90 grams (these weren’t huge slices, and the apple-cobbler portion was really only a few tablespoons).

It was all so good, so tasty. So good. So good and tasty.

Later that night, back at home, I had the obligatory cold turkey sandwich. And before I went to bed, I looked on my insulin pump at the carb count for the day: 435.

That’s a record. That surpasses a few weddings I’ve attended, and it certainly surpasses 2007’s holiday feasts.

The food sloth continued through the weekend, with food choices that were pretty decadent (we still had another holiday party to attend on Saturday, and I had to sample sweets and each delicious course). There were hour-long dog walks and some snow shoveling, but also lots of football-watching and movie-watching. However, aside from an insulin delivery incident on Saturday night that sent my blood glucose into the 200s following another holiday party — and I’ll spare you the details of that incident; the woes of insulin delivery via pump seem too much in my blog postings of late — throughout the four-day weekend I kept my blood glucose in the 100s. In fact, two hours following Thursday’s main debauchery, I was at 131 mg/dl. Not bad.

The calorie count of the meals, and all of that other stuff…I’m just not going to think about it. I came upon Thanksgiving, I experienced everything everyone else experienced, and I enjoyed it, and without too much detriment to myself as Type 1. In fact, as I look at what I’ve just written, it isn’t nearly as bad as I’d made it out to be when I thought about it yesterday. I wasn’t overly moderate, but neither was I overindulgent to the point of danger.

Maybe I didn’t even need to write this.

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  • SSP

    People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, so I certainly won’t be all self righteous on ya, cuz I had some high numbers myself. I WILL say, that if you were 131 2 hours after the thursday debauchery, perhaps you should have spread some of that insulin out with a square wave (maybe you did, but you didn’t indicate that). With all the butter and drippings and pecans and other fats, it is like eating pizza or chinese food or ice cream…the carbs are delayed in affecting your sugar, so a timed or delayed release of insulin is a good idea. Personally, I put in a temp basal of 4 units per hour starting about 1/2 an hour before we sat down and let it run for 2 hours….and just made corrections as needed every 2-3 hours after that. Thanks for sharing your experiences though – it is good to read that other people don’t beat themselves up when they aren’t “perfect.”

  • Scott Johnson

    I am SO in touch with you on this! I ate so much that my brain is trying its best to block it all out.

    I chuckled out loud with your first line about wanting to write a diabetes confessional! I’m right there with you!

  • Nancy G.

    I here you loud and clear.I fine it very hard to stick to my diet these days.Its so hard at xmas time with all the sweets.My family wants me to bake for them.Nancy G.

  • BobinBoise

    I too managed to pig out for Thanksgiving. It’s hard not to and I tend to believe that if you are always denying yourself something that when you do fall off the wagon it will be one big fall. So for big occasions I will allow myself to go a little overboard. Like you I try and match my insulin intake to what I have eaten but I’m not always as good as you were at getting right. 131 two hours after eating is darn good.

    We all need to remember not to let diabetes control our lives. We need to be careful and take control rather than being controlled.

  • strawberry

    Wow! That’s some serious carb-loading. Hahahaha Bravo for managing it all. That meal is just too darn good to pass up any of the good bits. The pistachio bread sounds amazing!

    I am laughing out loud reading this at work!!

  • carol

    Can I join you next year for those delicious-sounding indulgences? Happy Holidays!