It’s almost cliché to say wherever you go, diabetes goes with you. But don’t we all wish diabetes would go on a vacation when we do? A separate vacation.
Just back from 12 days in Holland and London, it was a wonderful trip. Not a spot of rain and lots of time with friends and family.
But then there’s that uninvited, omnipresent diabetes.
There’s a reason why they call the Netherlands, “bread country.” Or maybe it’s just me who calls it that. Bread is everywhere, at every meal. I also call it “potato country.”
Broodjes, Dutch for sandwiches abound. As do quaint little bread bakeries. And fries are considered a vegetable. Often the only vegetable that arrives at your table. So just when I thought I’d figured out how many units of Apidra to dose for a broodje with smoked salmon, my early morning breakfast at the airport’s Deli France, my blood sugar was 264 two hours later. Welcome to Amsterdam.
Then, unfortunately, while staying with acquaintances, as my husband and I did in London, I erred on the side of politeness rather being direct about what foods I prefer to eat and not eat to keep my blood sugar better controlled.
So for five smashingly beautiful days in London I spent some time smashing my head against my own reserve not wanting to make my hosts feel uncomfortable with my own imposed food restrictions. That meant drinking orange juice for breakfast which I never do. Eating cold breakfast cereal loaded with carbs which I never do. I couldn’t help myself on the second evening combing through a dinner salad and removing all the raisins. I realized what it looked like when my husband opened his mouth to explain dried fruit raises my blood sugar. That understood by my hosts unfortunately did not translate into apple-laced mashed potatoes did too.
Then, two days in a row there was the spontaneous 3 PM and 4 PM outing to the park for an endurance walk. The first day, I covered it retroactively with glucose tablets. The second, I gave in to half a chocolate cupcake minutes before the announcement. By visit’s end, I was no longer sweating from the unexpected power-walks, but the frustration of not being able to control my food, my environment and my routine. Diabetes, go somewhere else on vacation!
Lest you think I had a crummy time, far from it. There were gorgeous strolls in Kew Gardens and historic towns just outside of London, including a drop-in at the local pub. There was the evening seeing Les Miserable and exiting with the theatre throng onto fantastic Piccadilly Circus. And there was the party my husband threw for his mentor of 30 years.
But, I was reminded how invaluable my routine is to the numbers I like to see on my meter and how crushed I am when I can’t predict, a wit, what numbers will show up.
So I realize I need to come clean next time. Bust through my own reserve not to offend my very gracious hosts and share with them what menu options make my life easier. And I pledge that next time I will do exactly that.
Home now, I can’t tell you how divine it is, although you probably can guess, to fill my morning breakfast bowl with steel cut oats, peanut butter and no-fat plain yogurt and my lunch and dinner plate with crunchy green vegetables. And thank goodness my better blood sugar numbers, while on vacation in London, have come back to Brooklyn with me.
While others feel routine takes the “spice” out of life, for me it allows me to put it everywhere else in-between my meals.