By Claire Lynch
A friend invited me to meet her last month and a convenient place for both of us driving-wise was a local shakes and donuts shop. There were tables, chairs and plenty of room for us to sit down and catch up.
I knew ahead of time that the donuts wouldn’t pass my lips but I also knew that deep, down inside I was looking forward to drinking an iced cold frozen coffee. With a freebie coming to me and the QR code to prove it, I asked for a large size frozen coffee with a mocha flavor.
My mouth watered when I was handed the large drink. It was a hot day in North Carolina where I live and it would hit the spot. Figuring that I would only drink some of it, half of it probably, I popped the straw into the cup and started sipping.
Kelsey and I chatted for about an hour and sure enough in that time I had absentmindedly drunk most of the cup. Later that afternoon I finished it off. Not a good idea. Part of me knew that it was Trouble with a capital “T” as the old song “Ya Got Trouble” from the 1957 Broadway musical “The Music Man” goes.
And another part of me figured that I deserved a reward since I was managing my Type 2 diabetes so well. My A1C in recent months was 7 and my twice daily blood sugar level checks with the test strips were good.
My daily reading first thing in the morning, at 7 a.m., was 105, sometimes 112. Occasionally it was 98. I was pleased with those numbers so I thought, “What harm could a large frozen coffee do?” ODDP – “Oh, That Devilish Diabetic Personality” was at it again, tempting me.
The next morning my fasting blood sugar level was 185. I glanced again at my glucose meter, thinking at first that I had read the number wrong. No, I read it correctly. My eyeglasses were working just fine. It was precisely 185. Disappointment hit me. I had let myself down.
Knowing that I am Type 2, and have been for 11 years, I should have met Kelsey somewhere else. Maybe at a restaurant that had healthy choices for me. Or maybe at my place where I could have had a green vegetable smoothie – or a blueberry and coconut milk smoothie.
As a competitive person who likes to set high standards, I started to admonish myself. Over and over I told myself that I knew better. I had a refrigerator filled with fresh vegetables and fruits so why did I do it? Why did I let myself down?
A couple of cartons of coconut milk were stocked in my refrigerator just waiting for me to consume them. Coconut milk is light, it’s healthy and it’s refreshing. The brand I get has zero grams of sugar.
I guess part of me wanted to reward myself for being good and sticking to my sugar-free diet for so long. The fact is that I don’t have many vices. I don’t smoke, don’t drink any alcohol, don’t overeat, don’t hang out in bars and don’t stay out until all hours of the night. Clean living works for me.
My good habits have become routine and they serve me well. Drinking large size frozen coffees that are loaded with sugar – with 62.7 grams of sugar and 65.4 grams of carbs according to the store’s web site listing – is a luxury that this diabetic can’t afford, however. Not if I want to maintain good blood sugar levels and get an A1C next month that I can be proud of.
At first I told myself that I didn’t know going in how much sugar and carbs were in those drinks. That’s a pretty lame excuse. I could have found out easily by looking it up on the store’s web site. Besides, in general I know that those frozen coffee drinks aren’t good for me.
I was hard on myself for several hours, too hard, but then I reminded myself that yesterday was past. Today was something I could deal with. Starting over was called for so right then and there I made a commitment to getting back on track with diet and exercise. I would have lean meats, fish and green salads for dinner and some grilled vegetables and tuna salad for lunch. Snacks would be a small bowl of berries – some healthy choices not any sugar-laden foods.
While in the midst of getting back on track another friend reminded me about another time when I’d made a similar mistake. Three years ago I went to my dentist and he determined that I needed to have a tooth extracted. After making an appointment with an oral surgeon I got his opinion and sure enough, he said that the tooth should come out.
Scheduling the extraction for three days later and being sure that I would be having some temporary IV sedation (also known as “twilight sedation”), I relaxed. It really helped me to be comfortable and calm in the dentist’s chair. It wasn’t my idea of how to spend a Saturday morning but I knew that it had to be done.
Being temporarily knocked out worked for me-my oral surgeon assured me that with the IV sedation I wouldn’t feel or remember a thing.
After waking up I went into another room, sat down and was given some discharge instructions by a nurse. My friend, Kelly, drove us home and got me comfortably ensconced in bed. Part of my discharge instructions included putting an ice pack to my face every so often and eating cold things to help reduce the swelling.
The nurse had said that eating yogurt, ice cream, sherbet and cold applesauce would be helpful. I guess she forgot the part about my being a diabetic because everything she mentioned contained various amounts of sugar.
Kelly handed me the ice pack and a pint of my favorite flavor of ice cream thinking that I would only have a spoonful or two and then she would return it to the freezer.
Relieved that the oral surgery was over, I patted myself on the back for being a good trouper and ended up devouring the whole pint. In one sitting.
Kelly tried taking it away from me saying, “You know you’re diabetic and shouldn’t be eating this” but I countered with, “But the nurse said I could.” That was the weakest defense I have ever uttered but it wasn’t my best day. Not my finest hour.
Strong willed and adamant, I polished off the pint. The ice cream tasted good but it wasn’t good for my blood sugar level. When I checked it early the next morning it was high. Too high for my liking.
I started drinking a lot of water and several hours later I took a nice long walk around my neighborhood. While walking I took in all of the natural beauty around me and tried to shake off my mistake of the prior day.
On the day of the oral surgery I could attribute my “sugar slip” to having been temporarily knocked out. When I had the sugar slip with the large size frozen coffee, however, I hadn’t been knocked out. I was fully conscious, awake and accountable.
Yet being too hard on myself didn’t help. If I had kept hanging my head about my mistake I wouldn’t have been able to get back on track. Because I kept my sense of humor about those two big mistakes I was able to put them behind me and get on with life.
Part of my life includes Type 2 diabetes. It isn’t an all-consuming job to take care of my Type 2 when my mind is focused and my heart is in the right place. Being committed to healthy living and then taking action are key for me. I know what needs to be done. Now I have to keep putting my plan into action.
Eating right, exercising and taking my diabetes medication as prescribed was what I needed to do. I did some of those things correctly during my slip – I just drank too much sugar in a frozen coffee that I considered a treat.
Writing this down has helped me get back on track. When I get my next A1C I’ll know that this number includes my mistake with the large size frozen coffee drink. I have looked my mistakes in the face and determined that’s just what they were – mistakes. I can make things right again.
I’ve gotten back on track with my diet with what I eat and drink. Each day drinking my home-blended green smoothies or low-sugar fruit smoothies can fill me up and help eliminate the late-afternoon cravings that always seem to sneak up on me.
These days at 7 a.m., after checking my blood sugar level but before having breakfast, I walk a mile carrying some hand weights. On days when the weather is nice I walk outside and on hot or rainy days I walk indoors in air conditioning.
This has gotten to be a habit for me because these past few months I’ve noticed that if I don’t exercise early on, the day seems to get busy and at 9 p.m., when I think about exercising, I also think now I’m too tired to start doing any substantial exercise.
Carrying the hand weights or doing any weight-bearing exercise helps build bone health and can help prevent osteoporosis. That’s a good thing.
My blood sugar numbers have improved greatly in these past few weeks. I’m happy with fasting numbers in the 103 to 115 range. My post-meal blood sugar numbers have been good, too. I will keep moving ahead living a healthy lifestyle and remembering to stay focused so those sugar slips are in my rear-view mirror!