Will Maintaining Blood Glucose Ever Become Easy? Dream On, Alice!

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Oh, what a dream! I was in the midst of reading a book involving time travel when I checked my e-mail to find that Andy Stuckey had sent a link to his and Murray’s “If I Were Jack Bauer” music video at www.dotcomedy.com. After I watched the video, I must have drifted off to sleep with the image of Jack Bauer as a pizza delivery boy swirling through my brain.

In my dream, Stuckey lived in the future, while I was still in the present, but there was an elevator that took us between the centuries. While you couldn’t get off the elevator to live in the other time, you could learn about what was to come—or revisit the “good ol’ days,” depending on your perspective.

Diabetes still existed in that future. That’s right: No cure yet. But there was one major improvement: Eating pizza didn’t send your blood glucose soaring. At least not Jack Bauer pizza. I know this because Stuckey delivered some to me and my blood glucose was only 92 mg/dl when I checked upon awakening. I don’t know if it had something to do with how the pizza was made or a new and improved diabetes medicine of some sort, but it was a welcome innovation.

Too bad it was only a dream.

If we can’t have a cure, I have only one wish: to have an easy, fail-proof way to control blood glucose levels. I use a meter. I use a continuous glucose monitor. I take Symlin (pramlintide) to help smooth out the spikes. I know food well enough to “guesstimate” carbs and fat pretty well even for unfamiliar dishes. When I travel, I check out recipes for native dishes before I go so I’ll have a better idea of what’s in the food.

It’s still a crapshoot. There are just too many variables with diabetes. Take my visit to New York City a couple of weeks ago, for example. I tagged along with a friend who was attending the American Diabetes Association’s Advanced Postgraduate Course. In addition to my accumulated knowledge, Sandy is an R.N., dietitian, and C.D.E., so I also had somebody to help me troubleshoot.

On the first day, we kind of got lost going to a restaurant. OK, I’ll confess: I got us lost. We were going from 45th Street and 7th Avenue to 44th Street and 8th Avenue. Except that I got turned around, and we trekked off uptown instead of downtown. After meandering around off course for a few blocks, we managed to find the restaurant.

My face was numb. Sandy said that my eyes were glazed over. Oops! Little too much exercise there, but a swig of soda took care of my hypoglycemia. We shared a roasted vegetable appetizer and a very thin-crust pizza with no sauce, very little cheese, and plenty of veggies. My blood glucose came up very nicely. In fact, it kept going up and up and up…and stayed there.

It was still high that evening when we met fellow bloggers Andy Stuckey and Tara Dairman and former blogger Katharine Davis for dinner at Katz’s Deli, where I split a pastrami sandwich and a potato knish with Sandy. I took insulin, injected Symlin, and drank plenty of fluids. We took the subway back to the hotel, which involved lots of stairs and more walking (and walking… and walking…).

In terms of crust and ingredients, I’ve had worse pizza and handled it. Pastrami and potato knishes are not new foods for me, and I’ve handled those OK in the past, too. With all of the walking and climbing up and down steps, you can’t say I wasn’t getting any exercise.

So why wasn’t my blood glucose coming down? Even if I’d grossly miscalculated my insulin doses for the food, why weren’t my correction boluses working? Was it the fumes from all the vehicles in the city? Was all that neon in Times Square having an effect? Had the planets realigned themselves? Should I have worn red instead of blue?

What Sandy and I finally decided, after some rest the next day saw my blood glucose coming back down, was that all of the walking had further inflamed my already arthritic knees. Once I learned to pace myself a bit better, the rest of the trip was uneventful—at least as far as my blood glucose went. I even ate a plate of fettuccine with pesto that, I swear, kept growing faster than I could down it and didn’t have any problems with soaring blood glucose.

Yep, variables. It’s not enough to control portion sizes and know the nutrition content of your food and balance that with meds and exercise; you have to account for physical and emotional stress, hormone changes, the temperature, and your sleep schedule (not to mention the alignment of the planets…and avoid wearing blue on Wednesdays).

As far as anybody doing anything about it—well, I can dream, can’t I?

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