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.