Saturday, December 17, 2005

Holiday Landmines

So, today I've been thinking about the Holidays. Mainly, because tonight we attend another Holiday affair centered around food and drinks. In this case, around latkes (Potato pancakes = Carbs galore.) and cocktails (How does that word manage to sound so harmless?).

Over the past year, I have successfully stopped drinking almost altogether. I may, on rare occassions, have one or two drinks, but I'm not having drinks every weekend as I did for awhile in my twenties. I have also started an exercise program. And, I have managed to consistently achieve A1Cs in the low to mid 5s. Two years ago, my A1Cs were mostly between 6 and 7. As you can imagine, keeping the A1C in the 5s has taken a good deal of testing, recording, and tracking of bloodsugars and patterns and a good deal of not eating foods that I might like to consume more often than I do. Well, here come the Holidays and the landmines.

I like cookies, and cakes, and pie, and I like a good hearty meal. But my enjoyment of these things is often hampered when I wonder - compusively - what kind of messy bloodsugar I'll be dealing with in two hours.

I've come up with some strategies for bolusing that seem to work fairly well -- most of the time. But there are times when my body just doesn't cooperate; when I eat the same things, give the same insulin, have the same amount of stress, activity, etc -- and my bloodsugar does two drastically different things. And, there are so many different strategies around my eating, it's hard to keep them straight. Cake and cookies for me, require careful bolusing of both carbs and a percentage of the sugars contained in them. Fatty meals require a combination bolus -- with the amount of the bolus given up front vascillating, depending on what exactly the food is. A drink or two require bolusing for only a percentage of the sugars contained in them.

Damn it, sometimes I just want to eat a cookie with frosting on it and candy canes and have a white russian or a strawberry daquiri -- and not have to worry about counting and calculating and testing and retesting.

The landmines are here, though, and they must be dealt with. I've given up on just trying to "estimate" the number of carbs and sugars in things. I usually try to email or phone our host(s) ahead of time and talk with them about the food and drinks we'll be having -- that way, I'm not in the bathroom with my Calorie King book trying -- usually in vein -- to figure out how to bolus for what I'm eating. If the hosts are not close friends or if it's a function that doesn't offer the option of calling ahead, I simply try to stick with food that I'm familiar with carb/sugar/fat counts for or I eat something small ahead of time and nibble while I'm there.

I love the call ahead strategy. I used it at Thanksgiving this year. Easy enough -- we were eating at my mom's house. I thought about what I would eat ahead of time and looked everything up. I had a strategy going in. I sat down to my carefully planned dinner, ate, bolused half way through meal time, ate some more, I even had a piece of cake. And I was actually able to enjoy my meal. I felt comfortable that I wouldn't be dealing with a 250+ BS in the hours after it. My highest sugar that day was 143 and I didn't drop below 79. Not a bad day, not bad at all.

But tonight's holiday party is not a "call ahead" sort of deal; I don't want to be a bother. I have looked up latkes on the internet and not been able to get any sort of accurate estimate of carbs/sugars/fat in them. So, I have a few choices. Revert to estimating and deal with the consequences, use the one carb/sugar/fat count I was able to find for latkes and hope it's close to or on the money, or not eat latkes -- sticking with the things I know. I haven't decided what I'll do yet.

I guess the point of this post is not necessarily to get advice or answers -- though I welcome either. The point is that I know we're all navigating our own Holiday minefields. The greatest challenges with diabetes for me are these sorts of choices. I know what the 'best' course of action in terms of bloodsugar would be, but I'm not sure it's the 'best' course of action for my mental state, for my enjoyment. No matter what I do, I'll be making a selfish choice -- serving my diabetes well or serving my own needs for physical and mental enjoyment and satisfaction. The Holidays are really one of the only times of the year when I think... "Can we just find a cure for this already?" Because I grow weary of quandries like this one.

What are your landmines? I know you must have some.


Violet said...

My daily life right now is a landmine. Well, that's overstated. But since I moved to New York, my job has shifted to include a large number of business lunches. That topic in itself is worth a full post (note to self). And now that I'm with Mr. Brooklyn full time, and his kids are with us on the weekends, the whole meal thing has gotten completely out of control. This is my responsibility but I truly don't have a handle on it yet. It's way too easy to order pizza on Saturday night, and then, of course, I want to eat what they're eating. I'll be letting go of that pretty soon, but food is a family thing to me, so I'm not happy about it. It doesn't seem fair, somehow, for their diets to shift because of my disease. So if I want to take better care of myself I'm going to have to make some changes of my own.

Nicole P said...

Ahhh.... Food life is a minefield. For sure.

In my neck of the woods, family times always involve food. I guess I'm fortunate of late (depending on how you look at it) that my work life hasn't had a lot of food trappings (aka the business lunch/dinner)

Do you wish sometimes that you didn't care as much as you do about what's happening with bloodsugar and your diabetes control? I know I do.

E said...

Hey Nicole,

Glad to see another Barton girl out here.

This whole holiday season, end of november through the new year, is a landmine. I am treating it this year like I use to treat this period back in my running days- a month off. Sure I try to be good - but just accept that those parties are going to throw me off and just relax about it.

Granted, I'll see how I feel after my mid-January Joslin appointment.

e. (aka Bug)