Vacation From Diabetes?

If you got a day or a week off from diabetes, what would you do? What would be different for you? Could you enjoy life more?


Unfortunately, diabetes is an all day, every day thing. With my condition, multiple sclerosis (MS), I know what that’s like. MS is there every waking moment and sometimes in sleep. It can be tiring and depressing. In practice, though, I get used to it and don’t notice so much. It becomes normal, and I live my life from there. Something like that has probably happened to you.

But diabetes is a lot more work than MS. As Joe Nelson wrote on Diabetes Self-Management, living with diabetes means “you are asked to eat better, exercise more, check your blood glucose levels, and be more aware of your weight, feet, eyes, mood, and sexuality. I have come to believe that these obligations create an additional psychic weight for anyone who has this diagnosis.”

If you have Type 1, of course, it’s even more demanding, calibrating your food intake and insulin, trying to prevent lows while not getting too high.

So it’s normal to want a vacation from diabetes, even a short one. Writing on Diabetic Connect, Ravenmoon33 posted, “Am I alone in wishing that diabetes gave you a day off? Just one day to not have to test/carb count/medicate…etc…etc…etc. I could so use a break!!”

She got over 30 replies of agreement.

CaliKo wrote: “I’d vote for that, and I’d have a chocolate shake from Fuddrucker’s!”

Jladytiger1979 posted: “[My wish] would be a vacation from exercise!!”

Maxxkatt said: “I know how you feel. I would love one day off too. No meds, carbs, NO neuropathy. Just once.”

Most touching for me was this note from Gemm: “My wish — to have 1 day without any of my disorders/conditions, so I could again do some of the things I really miss being able to do.”

I could so relate to that. I started thinking about the things I would do if I had a break from MS. I’d take a hike in my favorite park. I’d play basketball; I’d dance. Maybe I’d have lots of sex. But I would be awfully sad when the vacation was over.

Similarly, a blogger named Heidi wrote about what she would do with one day off from diabetes. Things like going to work without monitoring, eating without worrying about highs, riding her bike without concern for lows, not having to make her clothes fit over her continuous glucose meter. “Sleep better than I have slept in years,” she concluded “[then] get out of bed, walk downstairs to find my meter, and… check my blood sugar.”

Without a magic vacation, perhaps you can try some denial. One reader on Diabetic Connect commented: “It is better to take a small break than to get burned out. Always be safe, but if you need to eat something that you have been craving or just change your routine for a day, I would say go for it. Sometimes the diversion can help keep you from just giving up on your self care for a longer period of time.”

However, our reader Coco commented on Joe Nelson’s blog, “It is not possible to ‘take a break’ from diabetes any more than it is possible to take a break from breathing.”

Or is it?

On the Diabetic Connect post, a Type 1 blogger called the diabetic camper wrote: “I had an 80% off day last Saturday. I was outdoors with a pick axe trying to move rocks out of a trail I am building. I had pancakes for breakfast with lots of syrup and my blood sugars never were above 110 with no bolus, and I had to turn my basal rate down 50%. Then for lunch I had tuna salad with chips and some gummy bears and a sugary ice cream pop and still no bolus because I did not get above 125 in the afternoon. Get out, and get active and you will… just about have a day off from diabetes.”

So what would you do with a day off from diabetes, or a week off? How would that feel? Is it a pleasant thing to imagine, or does the whole idea hurt to think about?

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  • jim snell

    I would pig out and have a blast – some drinks.

    Snooze when I want.

    Ignore the numbers. Lets go.

    Shut off the cgms for the day.

    You bet. Eat when I wanted – skip the time issues and the hell with the railroad schedule.

    Dam tootens!

  • cesar

    Hi David, I have a situation that I can’t understand, so I will appreciate your help.
    I have type 2 diab. since 5 weeks ago and my
    fasting is 120mg/dl. in the morning I get my
    breakfast (2 slices of white bread and a
    small glass of apple juice) so after 1 hour
    my numbers are 210mg/dl, then at 2 hours post
    breakfast my numbers are almost the same
    (200mg/dl) and then start to get down, and by 4
    3 hours after the breakfast my numbers
    reach to 140mg/dl, and at the end of 5 hours
    they are 120mg/dl, and every morning is the
    same because I ate the same food, but the
    bizarre situation is this:
    fasting 120mg/dl
    same breakfast as above (2 slices white
    bread and small glass of apple juice)
    1 hour after breakfast 210mg/dl
    2 hours after breakfast 200mg/dl then I drink
    8oz of Diet coke or Diet pepsi and 10 minu
    tes later my numbers get down to 165!!
    and then if I drink another 8oz they get
    down to 130!! and so on until I reach the
    numbers that I want!! so in 30 minutes I
    can “push” down my numbers from 200mg/dl to
    95mg/dl, this only happen If I start drink
    the diet coke “2 hours after the meal” not
    before that.
    This is just and example of what happen with
    my breakfast and the same occurs with my
    lunch and dinner too, but with different
    numbers, so the fact is that for every 8oz
    of diet coke or pepsi (after 2 hours of
    a meal) that I drink my numbers get down
    35mg/dl. I don`t like to drink to much diet
    coke, but when I first saw the numbers
    getting down so fast! I really liked it!
    Thinking about it, when I drink the coke
    it passes only 10 minutes to see in my blood
    test a reduction of 35mg/dl and supposedly
    it needs more time to reach and stimulate
    the ileum, am I right?
    Thanks for your time, I will appreciate your
    answer as soon as possible.
    Cesar R.

  • Rob S

    It is nearly true – but takes a very distinct type of exercise and a bit of practice to get right!

    Type One also, I did a 240km bike ride day earlier this year, no bolus for food all day then a late pizza, beer and ice cream stop for which 2u (vs. 15+ on a normal day, not that I’d be able to cope with that much carb in one meal normally) proved far too much and required chain-munching of sweets for the last hour home.

    Endurance activities have such a long term effect, took a week before my insulin needs back to normal – like being half a diabetic for that week at least!

    Now, if only I could find a day a week when i’ve got time to exercise for 12 hours…

  • Susan

    Sitting here thinking what would I do with a vacation from finger sticks, needle sticks, watching every bite goes into my mouth, trying to make sure I get some form of physical exercise but what I would really really like is more understanding from family about my situation. Try to imagine what it is like for me to be constantly aware of what my machines and body is trying to tell me when my schedule is disrupted for what ever reason. Why it is so important for me to stop and take a few minutes to check blood sugar, and if on the low side to treat it if necessary or be prepared to treat if it suddenly drops. Please be aware that every diabetic is different be it DMI or DMII. I know the reality of what I have to do for my diabetes and heart disease. Give me a break folks, I am almost 60 years old and have had diabetes since ae 20. I don’t keep up as well as I used to. But when you are down guess who they want taking care of them?
    OK off my soap box. Not more pity party. Back to my duties. Just be prepared when I say NO!

  • Miss P

    A day off eh! It would be wonderful to wake up and be in a diabetes free land. No early morning autonomic reaction to open my eyes and immediately reach for the testing kit, eyes bearly open but designated finger already anticipating the ritual stabbing pain that is imminently approaching.

    Yes, I think for sure I would enjoy not having to test all day long, well my poor fingers would whole heartedly agree Im sure. My poor calloused digits do take a beating, or is that a pricking!

    Blood testing far outways the needles, needles are relatively painless… for me anyway.

    Before I jump in the car I test, before I eat breakfast I test, before I eat lunch I test, before I eat dinner I test, before I go to sleep I test, if Im not felling well I test, If I feel off colour or ‘different’ I test, when Im out shopping I test, when I go out with my husband for drinkx… I test, test, test, test… life is TEST!

    A day off from Diabetes eh! Sounds like a magical story about the land of make believe methinx!

  • David Spero RN


    Yours is a very interesting story and I would appreciate others’ take on it. It could be the caffeine in the cola that’s doing it. If you like coffee, you might check and see if that gives you the same results. It would be worth letting your doctor know. What do other people think?

  • Maria Vilma Gauna

    If I can have a break just a day from Diabetes, I don’t need to check my blood sugar before I drive.

  • Phil


    If Cesar has a breakfast that consists of two slices of white bread & apple juice tells me that whatever happens after that is whatever happens. If he is legit he either needs a new doctor or should research what carbs can do to a diabetic.

  • Cesar

    Hi David, I did some experiments and it appears that is not the caffeine in the soda because nothing happened with 3 cups of black coffee,
    so I did an experiment adding 2 teaspoons of Stevia to 8oz of water and I got the same
    results like diet coke! and then I did
    another one, but this time with Splenda and
    the result was the same as with diet
    coke!! it is very easy to do this and I would like to see if other people can have the same benefit.
    Thanks. Cesar R.

  • Lorena

    I do know that drinking a huge glass of ice cold water (ice cold being the key) will lower my numbers by about 20 points or so. And without the harmful side effects of artificial sweetners. Your body has to work to warm up the cold water. I always try to incorporate some form of protein with my breakfast to counteract the carbs. An all carb breakfast is never a good idea for a diabetic.

  • Jay

    I would reduce the bread to one, have 1 egg, water and coffee, test and have the fruit perhaps after some exercise. Replace the 1 bread with oatmeal occasionally. Fruit juice is sweet!

  • Becky

    Diabetes, with tests and injections, has become a normal part of my life so I don’t think about it much. I just do it. On a day off, however, I would go for a hike at Mt. Rainier and enjoy the day without testing every half hour to check for lows. Then out to dinner and not worry about what I ate, just order whatever sounded good to me, no insulin, no testing, no counting carbs, fats, protein to figure out when and how much insulin. No worries about highs and lows based on the physical exertion of the day.

  • leticia holmes

    I read all about diabetes, I’m also tired of testing before I go out to the store or any place, I carry a little lunch bag, in it is blood tester,glucose tablets, meds,blood pressure tester also, some hard candy. it become my body and feel safe. I would like to live without diabetes not only for a day,a week but for ever, some times I don’t even want to test because I know my blood sugar will be high. is horrible to live with this disease. I will keep testing and I hope they come out with something better for diabetes.
    thank for all the information .

  • marcie

    Vacation from it? Just not having to think about it, even if it does all seem kind of routine to do the things I do.

    But, more importantly:

    Cesar —

    It’s really good that you’re doing all of this testing. I KNOW that it can get tiresome to do it, but keep at it.

    I would suggest a slightly easier schedule for you, though — one that will actually give you much more valuable information. Try doing it right away when you get up — maybe right after you pee, but before you take a shower, put on the coffee or anything else — two hours after each meal, and at bedtime.

    This information will help you learn what foods help keep your blood sugar in the range that most doctors recommend: fasting blood sugar <100, 2-hr after meals <140, bedtime not <100.

    Rather than using fluids to routinely bring down a high blood sugar, it would be much better for your body to not get those high numbers in the first place. In fact, many researchers feel that it’s the wide swings and spikes in blood sugar levels that does the body the most harm.

    If you haven’t been to a registered dietitian (RD) — which can be extremely helpful — you might find learning about the Glycemic Index — or to be wonderfully helpful in finding a healthful way of eating.

    Learning what works for you — and about diabetes in general — is a lot of work at first, but it does get easier in a few weeks or months, after you have the info under your belt and it’s working for you.