The biggest lie I ever said about Type 1 diabetes…

Before I get to my post topic…

WELCOME TO DIABETES AWARENESS MONTH!

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, which means that the lull of October is over. I was purposefully lying low, gathering energy and post ideas, because I am going to spam you every.single.day. this month. Not every post will be deep and profound because this Mama ain’t got all the time and energy it takes, and not every post will be new or mine, for that matter. But there will be something every day, either here or on my Facebook and/or Twitter page, which I will dutifully cross-post everywhere.

Without further ado, let’s return to the topic of the biggest lie that came out of my mouth multiple times about Type 1 diabetes:

“V can eat everything she wants, she just needs insulin to cover the food.”

OK, technically it is not a lie. She can have carbs and sweets and pizza and whatever else. But she can’t have everything she wants every time she wants it and not pay the consequences. It is fair to say that I was in denial about it for the longest time but recent events drove the point home loud and clear, completely shuttering my denial bubble.

A couple of weeks ago we went on a 5-day cruise. We went from our active lifestyle of rigorously working out a minimum of 3-4 days a week and a fairly balanced diet, to 5 days or rest, relaxation, and decadent dining. If you’ve ever cruised before, you know they don’t starve you there. And they aim to please – the chefs were bending over backwards to accommodate V’s gluten-free dietary needs. We tried to be reasonable – after all, no one benefits from pigging out and stuffing their face for five days straight. But we were also on vacation, so we wanted to be more relaxed about it and let V be a normal kid on vacation who can have treats and ice cream and all kinds or yummy things. And we were also a lot more sedentary. Hanging out by a pool for a couple of hours does not substitute one our of intense swim team practice or two hours of BMX clinic.

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Very quickly V’s BG started to climb up. We tried to guess on the carbs the best we could, we followed CGM trends closely and adjusted dosages accordingly, we increased background insulin, all with minimal results. Even when we increased V’s background insulin to 200% and rage-bolused with abandon, at times shattering all previous pre-meal insulin dose records, we were barely making a dent.

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For a healthy human with a functioning pancreas none of this is a big deal. For a diabetic with a broken pancreas, this is an insurmountable challenge. With decreased activity and increased eating comes insulin resistance, so the usual amount of insulin becomes insufficient. The longer the BG stays high, and the higher it is, the harder it is to bring it into a normal range. We battled high BG for five days straight. On days when V ran around the ship with her friend and spent a couple of hours at the pool, BG was beginning to normalize for a few hours here and there. On days that were more chill, we were happy to get BG closer to 200 as opposed to 300. We had to get up in the middle of the night almost every single day to administer insulin correction.  Fortunately, V was feeling OK through all this, mostly unaffected by high BG. She felt a little more tired – surely partially because of running high all the time – and was napping a lot, which of course contributed to the vicious cycle of decreased activity leading to higher BG. Our frustration eventually turned into resignation and acceptance of it being a short-term situation, and a determination to do the best we can but not worry about it too much. If our cruise were to last longer, there is no way, NO WAY it would have been OK to continue with status quo.

Here it the truth: a person with diabetes cannot live a high-carb and low activity lifestyle and be well. Of course, this lifestyle is not good for anyone’s health and can lead to all sorts of problems. However, a person without diabetes can go on a relaxing vacation and indulge, and have no immediate consequences. A person without diabetes can eat poorly and be sedentary and not develop any health issues for years, or ever. A person with diabetes will feel the adverse health consequences pretty quickly and it will only get worse with time. It is a guarantee.

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5 responses to “The biggest lie I ever said about Type 1 diabetes…

  1. We’ve just had exactly this on a trip to Jamaica. First day was peppered with hypos as she ran around exploring and having fun (and was still sensitive to insulin!) then she steadily got higher and higher as she relaxed and enjoyed the food, until eventually she was on double her usual insulin intake! And now we’re home we have the joy of managing the whole process in reverse…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read this post with a heavy heart… You are absolutely right. This fact makes me so sad.

    It’s frustrating when just a single hamburger bun in an otherwise healthy meal will lead to insulin resistance during the night. And a weekend at Grandma’s? Don’t get me started…

    My son’s best night time blood sugars came on our six week trip to Europe where we walked several miles each day. Hard to replicate that in our busy daily lives. So I’ve concluded that my son should go to college in Germany (it’s FREE for foreigners) and live somewhere in Europe afterward where he’ll walk everywhere because it’s just built into life. We’ll use the money saved to visit — a lot.

    Or maybe he’ll just conclude that he needs to eat low carb and figure out how to incorporate exercise into his daily routine. You’ve raised a critical point and managing T1D that doesn’t get voiced enough.

    Like

    • He can also go to college in New York City, where everyone walks everywhere too. Though I think it would be way, WAY cheaper to study live in Germany and visit often. I hope our kids will figure it out. I know if it were me I’d definitely be doing a low(er) car diet and keeping up with exercise. I’m hoping that by living an active and balanced life now we are developing a level of “normal” for our kids that will feel natural and easy to them when they are older. Time will tell.
      And I’m still holding my breath about the AP. I think it will be a game changer. It would be nice to have an opportunity to have the cake and eat it too on special occasions, vacations, etc. Healthy lifestyle has to stay no matter what.

      Liked by 1 person

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