It’s a Sparkling Water Kind of Day, Every Day

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Ah yes, I remember it so unfondly, the month or so before my diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes. The thirst! Oh the excessive, abnormal, unquenchable thirst. I wanted a garden hose hooked up to my mouth, a river of fresh water at all times. To guzzle (and then pee), then guzzle some more (and then pee some more): this was my modus operandi.

Back then, that February and early March of 2007, it didn’t matter what I had to drink, so long as it was wet and potable. Just give me more. Polydipsia: it’s one of the things that living for weeks with a blood glucose of over 400 mg/dl will do to a person.

Thankfully, constant thirst is not part my life anymore. Once the doctors made the diagnosis of diabetes and put me on insulin, I lost that need to be constantly sating my thirst.

Why write about polydipsia now? It’s mostly an associative thing. See, these past few months I’ve been trying to drink as much water as possible, and more than a couple of times, while downing a glass of water or slugging a liter bottle at the gym, I’m reminded of those prediagnosis middle-of-the-night unquenchable moments when I stood at the fridge, two-liter of Diet Coke or gallon of milk or bottle of OJ in hand, or at the sink, the tap running while I’d gulp, refill, repeat.

These days my water consumption, while great, is not the “drink until I get water intoxication.” Nah, this move toward more water is a good, healthy shift to give my body what it needs. I’ll spare you my attempts at the details of water’s health benefits for someone with diabetes. You should already know this! Or, you can find that easily enough online, right here at Diabetes Self-Management via a simple search for “water” (check out Amy Campbell’s article “Water, Water Everywhere”).

But let me share with you my more-water mindset — in case you’re interested.

I’m not a person with many bad habits, but one habit I wasn’t fond of was my overdoing the Diet Coke. While I don’t buy in to all of the Chicken-Little messages about aspartame, I was pushing a lot of caffeine into my body, and something about the soda also seemed to stimulate my appetite: when I drank Diet Coke — and if you’re following me, you know that was a lot — I usually wanted something to snack on with it.

So I decided to slowly replace much of my Diet Coke drinking, slowly but surely, with water consumption, doing so not in a cold-turkey, “I’ll never drink Diet Coke again” way, because I’ll still enjoy a Diet Coke if I want to. Yet I’ve kind of kicked it out of the house. It’s a treat, not an ever-present beverage.

Water, delicious, quenching, tasteless water. That’s what I prefer. With all of the medicines I take, that flushing of the kidneys can’t be a bad thing. And drinking a lot of water? I rarely feel hungry, even though I’m eating less. And it’s good for the skin. Hell, it’s good for everything.

Oh, but not only water — delicious, quenching, tasteless sparkling water. Yep. That’s what I love to drink now. I can’t get enough of it. Water and a little carbonation equals love.

At our house we employ the do-it-ourselves variety of sparkling. In the spring of 2009 we bought a Black & Decker Bottom-Loading Water Dispenser. Slightly self-indulgent, I know. But I love cold water at the ready, and despite my awareness that there’s nothing wrong with tap water, I really don’t like its taste.

About a month ago, my wife was smitten by a friend’s SodaStream machine during an evening of dinner and drinks. There were cocktails, but there was also ample soda water to help keep people hydrated. The next day, as a belated birthday gift, Kathryn ran out to Macy’s and bought one. And this machine has revolutionized my water consumption. I now drink at least three liters of this daily, along with the water I drink at work and at the gym. My cravings for Diet Coke that used to happen? Now I fantasize about getting home to make some sparkling water and down a tall, cold glass.

The expense? The self-indulgence? Not an issue. What I mean is, after the initial investment in the cooler and the SodaStream machine, the $4 five-gallon refills aren’t much of an expense. We go through one jug every three or four days (using it only for drinking, not cooking or anything else). Look, I used to spend about $5 daily on Diet Coke. If it wasn’t the two-liters for home, of which I’d easily drink one a day, then it was the 20-ounce bottle at the convenience store, or the soda with lunch. That adds up.

As for the CO2 canisters for the SodaStream? After the initial canister purchase, we are able to swap out our used canisters at the local Ace Hardware for $14 each. Very much like propane for the grill. One canister lasts about two or three weeks. We probably carbonate more water than most people. Maybe not. I don’t know others’ sparkling-water habits.

Overall, then, as someone with Type 1 diabetes, I have no problems indulging myself somewhat, and I’m perfectly fine with the money we’re spending on water.

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