Things I Have Eaten

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By: Jonathan Thorn

People without diabetes completely miss the real difficulties ofbeing diabetic. For one thing, it's not so much about what I can'teat as what I have to eat.

Allow me to outline a situation in which I have found myself morethan once. I am out and about, I have again forgotten my wallet,and signs of a low blood sugar are beginning to approach. A quicksearch of my pockets reveals thirteen lifesavers that have gonethrough the washer along with my cargo shorts. They are fuzzy withlint, and dryer heat has welded them into a rainbow-colored blob. Infact, they are not readily identifiable as candies.

So here's mychoice: Assume that pocket lint will cause no lasting damage whendigested (it was washed, so it's clean, right?), or pick a directionand hope to reach one of my numerous emergency sugar stores. Thechoice is obvious: do both. Don't they call them lifesavers withdiabetics in mind?

I have a squirrel-like tendency to collect and store various formsof quick sugar. If a promotional event is handing out free cans ofsoda pop, two or three will find their way into my gym bag, bookbag, under the car seat, under the pillow, etc. However, secretingroot beer into all manner of crevices can lead to difficulties. Forone, you'd think an aluminum can filled with carbonated syrup has ahalf-life comparable to plutonium, but it ain't so. That pop andthe hissing noise that emits after you've sat on your bag can ruinyour day.

Generally I'm not too fussy about what I eat. (I watch what I eat,but only from the plate to the fork to the mouth.) Thankfully, thisdietetic leniency has saved me from many a close call. Whileattending a high school competition, a shaky feeling found me withmy pockets empty of lint-covered lifesavers. The refreshmentsupplies were dwindling, but fate was smiling on me: there were twocookies and a cup of juice left over. I started to make my shaky wayto the 34 carbs like a lost desert wanderer toward an oasis.

Then,like that same wanderer discovering a mirage, I watched my lifelinedisappear as a rotund fellow student grabbed my prey. I doubt thatChubby ever realized that his very life was in peril at that moment.It's a good thing I wasn't feeling better, or I might have bit him.Thankfully, my pottery teacher had a stale onion bagel in herpocket. Carbs are carbs. It took a long time to get working (clayprobably slows digestion), but it did work. I still harborresentment against the kid who stole my cookies, though.

During high school, I discovered that chugging a whole quart ofjuice right before running drills made a miserable experience intosomething downright agonizing. I clearly needed to cut down on thevolume, so I switched to pure juice concentrate. Once again, mytraining in consuming gross stuff came in handy. And when someoneasked to partake of my "juice," I would happily hand him the bottleand watch as he gagged and choked. Misery loves company.

In college, I joined the crew team and began buying concentratedjuice in bulk. In typical student style, however, I quickly losttrack of which bottles contained fresh concentrate and which hadbeen sitting around awhile. One fine morning, sitting in therowboat, I needed some sugar and grabbed my bottle of concentrate.When I opened it, it exploded. Thus did I discover the basic processof fermentation. But what choice did I have? Bottoms up. It madefor some interesting rowing.

I've gotten much better about monitoring my sugar sources, and mostof what I eat now would be considered edible by even a fussypersonality. Recently I discovered that Fruit Leathers contain areasonable amount of quick-acting sugar, can withstand storage(measured in years), and are slim enough to fit anywhere. So I amquite efficiently stocked up. Oh sure, on occasion you'll find meinspecting my pocket contents with a hungry glint in my eye, but onthe whole, I have to tap into my emergency supplies with lessfrequency. Of course, this could pose a problem: When the timecomes…what will I find?

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