Festive Isolation

Diabetes is an extremely isolating condition to live with. I think I’ve dealt with that isolation quite well over the past couple of years, both by building good support networks around me and simply acknowledging that it exists. Diabetes is not normal, and I feel more normal just by saying that out loud.

But there’s still something about this time of year, where that isolation feels a little greater.

It’s hard being surrounded by loved ones who don’t have diabetes, or don’t seem to care about diabetes, at this time of the year. Watching others being all merry and carefree and sometimes living like there’s no tomorrow, can make that isolation feel somewhat greater.

Hey, that’s fine. I don’t expect extended family members who I see a few times a year to remember about diabetes. I don’t expect, nor do I want special treatment just because I have diabetes.

But I also find it extremely insulting to be asked about diabetes the minute I’m sitting down with my helping of dessert.

“How do you manage sweets with your diabetes?”

“Do you have to be careful?”

“It’s not too much sugar?”

I manage my diabetes 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. 366 in a leap year. Diabetes extends far beyond dessert time. It extends into my nights. Into my weekends. Into my physical activity. Into my work. Even into my sleep. Misconceptions like these do me a great injustice.

As someone who actually has to live with this condition every day for the rest of his life, it’s ludicrous to suggest that I don’t know what’s best for me. Or that I would, you know, be tipping poison into my mouth if I knew it would kill me.

I don’t think anyone takes pleasure in inflicting feelings of guilt and shame, and yet ill timed comments like these do just that. In fact, feelings of guilt and shame can spiral even further into anxiety, depression and even disordered eating.

So if you are planning on seeing a loved one with diabetes during this festive season, here’s a better way that you can support them and help reduce those feelings of isolation.

Check in. Say hi. Ask them how they’re doing. Genuinely, and not just in passing. Show them that you care. Ask us about day to day life with diabetes, because hell, it’s a bloody big part of our lives!

However when it comes to dessert time, the only question a person with diabetes should be asked is how delicious it is.

While I’m at it, check out these pearls of wisdom on best supporting a loved one with diabetes from My Therapy App!

The Real Deal

 

As many of the people around me will attest to, I don’t have a very broad depth of cuisines. I can’t stand recipes that have long ingredient lists, none of which I can ever find in my cupboards and fridges at home. Ingredients which I will have to buy for the one recipe, and have no use for ever again. Over the years, I’ve been well trained to adapt.

Which brings me to the above. I’ve pulled together this baked Cookies and Cream Cheesecake a number of times this year. It contains a few simple ingredients, is super easy to make, and takes no more than an hour to get into the baking pan. The four carb centric ingredients are easy enough to add together and divide by the number of slices I’ve cut up. Of course, a guess or a glance at Calorie King works just as well…

This Cheesecake has proven to be a winner every time. Even if I am getting accused of becoming a repeat offender, or robbing my Sister of her signature dessert.

I must admit that I felt a little hesitant about making this for a group of people with diabetes this week. However at the end of the day, this was me.

I simply can’t get my head around artificially sweetened, sugar free or low carb alternatives. People in my type 1 circles rave about some of those options, but I feel they pale in comparison.

When it comes to dessert and diabetes, I have one motto.

I want the real deal.

Count carbs. Give insulin. Enjoy every mouthful. Don’t feel guilty for it.

If I’m going to do it, I’m sure as hell going to do it right.

“How Do You Manage Sweets With Your Diabetes?”

My red, plastic plate was piled high. I’d grabbed a scoop of hot apple crumble topped with Connoisseur ice-cream, a Cherry Ripe chocolate cupcake and a slice of liquor sponge cake from the desert table at our family get together over the weekend.


Get togethers in our family are all about the food. I spent most of Thursday telling Mum that she’d prepared way too much for our get together that evening, and the remainder of the weekend saying I told you so. Nonetheless, you still want to try and have a little bit of all the deliciousness.

“How do you manage the sweets with your diabetes?” my Uncle asked me as I sat down at the table with my plate.

After all these years with type 1, you sort of begin to expect these kinds of questions. I mean, even I get a little conscious when I sit down with a piled plate, wondering what others must think.

I went on to explain that I would look at the plate and estimate that I had at least 100g of carbs there.

I went on to say that I would enter 100g into my insulin pump, and that the pump would deliver an insulin dose for me.

I went on to explain that I can technically eat anything, so long as I cover it with insulin.

I went on to explain that I should still be mindful of how many carbs I eat, but that it was Easter and I didn’t care so much today.

I went on to explain that if it wasn’t Easter and I did care a bit more, a back up bolus of at least 15 minutes would also be helpful.

I didn’t explain the months of hard work that went into perfecting my basal rate, so that my mealtime insulin does its job and doesn’t get stuck in quicksand.

I didn’t explain how I weigh all of the food I prepare at home, multiply that weight by carb factors, and then divide it by my own unique insulin to carb ratio.

I didn’t explain how some foods are digested very slowly, while others are digested very rapidly, and insulin needs to be backed up or delayed accordingly.

I didn’t explain that a larger, higher fat or restaurant meal, requires a temporary basal rate for several hours to combat the insulin resistance.

I didn’t explain the importance of checking my blood sugar levels post meal, to ensure that my insulin is doing its job.

I didn’t explain that sometimes I get it wrong, and I end up eating my way out of lows.

I didn’t explain that sometimes I also get it wrong, and I end up shovelling down insulin and bucket loads of water at 3am to bring down the highs.

I didn’t explain the huge investment I’ve had to put into learning, observing and applying, so that I don’t make these errors so often and see more numbers in range.

I know that my uncle wasn’t trying to be rude or judgemental. And it was nice of him to ask. I liked that it opened up the dialogue, and that I could deflate the stigma around sweets and diabetes.

It’s just a shame that despite how simply I’d put it, nobody in that room will remember a word of what I said.

It’s a shame that despite how many times I check my blood sugar or pull out my pump during the day, nobody seems to notice the diabetes.

It’s a shame that I’m only ever asked these questions when I’m seen with a plate piled high with desert.

Eating Whatever I Want

My eating has been lacking lately.

Most afternoons of late, I’ve been coming home and sinking my teeth into something sweet. Like the Ice Cream Pannettone sitting in the freezer, that we made with one of our leftover Panettone from Christmas.

The leftover Pancakes I made for breakfast last weekend. A bowl of ice cream. The stash of Woolies choc chip Hot Cross Buns sitting in the freezer. Or, the block of Kit Kats that was on sale last week.

This is rather different to burnouts I’ve experienced in the past, because I’m still diligently covering my carbs with insulin. Dare I say, I’m covering my carbs with insulin quite well. The Calorie King app is my lifeline for things like the pancakes, or the choc chip hot cross buns. If I’m guessing for that Panettone ice cream, I weigh it first and estimate that it’s got at least 50-60% carbohydrate content. My insulin to carb ratio seems spot on most of the time. My levels honestly aren’t bouncing around all over the place, that I sort of feel like I can get away with it. 

I’m also in the midst of what I refer to as the lazy time of year. It’s been a warm start to March. There’s little motivation to go outside, or doing something more productive after work. The heat sucks all the energy out of me, that crashing in front of the air con is the most tempting option at the end of the day. The mornings haven’t been the most comfortable to wake up to either, lacking that cool, crisp and fresh feeling. Thankfully, it seems to be coming to an end…

The energy spike and crash from these carbs isn’t helping my cause. I have felt pretty damn lousy this past week or two as a result. I feel exhausted. I have observed noticeable changes in my mood. I shouldn’t feel like I am limping toward the finish line on Friday, despite a stressful week. 

I know what I need to be doing. Cutting back on the sugar laden foods. Swapping some of the carbs out for fruit, veggies and proteins. Being more organised with meals and snacks. Swapping the spontaneity with more set times to eat.

This is different to burnouts I have experienced in the past, because I don’t feel particularly burned out. I am still actively managing my blood sugar levels and counting carbs. I know I have a lot going on at the moment. Perhaps taking my foot off the pedal and eating whatever I want, is simply a way for me to cope the demands of diabetes and life at the moment.