Corn On The Carb.
(Editor's note: Sometimes I like the title of a post so much it makes me smirky. Man, I love a good pun.)
Today's post is from my friend Elizabeth Arnold. Elizabeth is the bestselling author of two novels, with a third due out next summer. She’s been diabetic for over thirty years, and is the "proud, doting owner of two cats, a husband and an OmniPod, all of whom she considers her best friend forever." I've had the pleasure of chatting with Elizabeth a few times and she's sharp, funny, and definitely on the level. She offered to write a guest post for SUM, and I'm honored to have her contribution!
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I woke up the other morning, and my sugar was 287. And my first thought? Well my first thought was a word that can’t be printed on a “family” blog, but my second thought? That I’m an idiot. I’d eaten corn on the cob the night before (sweet New Jersey corn which has approximately a bazillion carbs), and I could only guess at the correct bolus as one cannot use Calorie King for this corn; it’s THAT sweet. And I must’ve come up about 20 carbs short. I know I shouldn’t really eat this corn because I rarely get it right, but you know, it is truly one of the world’s greatest foods. I do happy dances in July when I see the cornstalks rising on local farms, and when the ears start to grow I fall on my knees in rapture, so giving it up is Just Not An Option. So I eat and inevitably my sugar’s high, and then of course I beat myself up.
I also despise myself for those nights my husband’s had to give me glucagon, knowing how freaked out it makes him to see me unresponsive. (Although for some reason I never feel guilty when I catch a low myself, just think, Yay! I get to pig out! eat 15 grams, test again and if necessary eat another 15 grams!)
But you’ve all been there, haven’t you? You test and your number’s not where you want it to be, so you start blaming yourself for not being perfect. I’d assume it’s twice as bad if you’re the parent of a diabetic, and–since you’re not superhuman–can’t keep your child in perfect control. And even worse for many type 2’s who probably blame themselves for the disease itself. The problems we face aren’t the fault of the diabetes, they’re because we’re just not working hard enough.
It can be the same with complications. I felt guilty about my retinopathy, even though my A1C was in the high 5’s at the time I was diagnosed with it. I blamed the teenage-Elizabeth for not being more careful, all the afternoons (and yeah, there were a lot of them) when I’d gone out with friends and not taken a shot to cover pizza or fries, NEVER testing in public because, when you’re 14 years old, exposing your blood to the world seems excruciatingly embarrassing. Even when I was five or six, before the days of blood testing, whenever my urine tests read 4+ I’d be ashamed, and sometimes fudge the numbers so my parents wouldn’t see.
Does this make sense? Well of course logically, it doesn’t. We feel guilty because we do have so much control over this disease, but we all know diabetes can be a stubborn and temperamental (insert curse word of choice), trying to prove it’s stronger than all the time and energy we put into controlling it. There are site issues and infections and stress and hormones, and just days our bodies decide to go wacky for no conceivable reason.
So what’s the answer? Who knows? I think it’s our tendency to want to place blame on things we're not happy about, and who can we blame for this other than ourselves? I guess you could look at diabetes as a separate entity, pin a photo of a broken pancreas on the wall and throw darts at it, or something. But that doesn’t work for me–I’ve been diabetic for virtually all my life, so it’s an integral part of who I am, which means hating it would be like hating my own right arm.
There probably is no real answer, except to remind yourself that you’re human, and humanness + diabetes = inevitable fallibility. So I’ve been telling myself that I’m going to just relax when I feel like beating myself (or my meter) upside the head. If my sugar’s high, I’ll make myself a cup of tea (or rather, take a correction dose, test for ketones and THEN make the tea.) Put up my feet and go easy on myself until I feel okay. The “bad” sugars aren’t bad, they’re just information I can use to make things better, and why should I feel ashamed of information? Ashamed if I don’t test to get that information, yes, but not if I don’t like the results of that test.
So…here we go. The truth is my sugar wasn’t 287 on the after-corn morning, it was actually 302. (Eek! That sounds so much worse, doesn’t it? Even though it’s only 15 points higher? Even writing it down was kinda painful.) But I’m going to remind myself it wasn’t really my fault, just a mistake, and that making mistakes once in awhile is no big deal.
And dammit, I don’t care, I’m having corn again tonight.
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For more from Elizabeth Arnold, including information about her writing, visit her website at www.ElizabethJoyArnold.com.