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Separation Anxiety: my hour without diabetes

February 5, 2011

More and more people I know are addicted to iphones and blackberries. Thankfully, I don’t have one, nor do I ever want one.

I LOVE vacations from electronic devices. My work as a freelance copywriter means I spend most days in front of the computer, plugged in to cyberspace. But it feels delicious to come home after an evening rehearsal and not open my laptop. Curling up instead with a book or radio show feels rebellious and empowering.

Trips to the country where I can’t check email for several days at a time? Heaven. And cell phones? I left my phone charger in Texas over my Christmas holiday and my phone died the day after I returned. The week it took for it to get the charger mailed back to me was pure bliss.

I hope I never have to get a PDA. I can’t imagine a more greater compromise to my quality of life than being constantly on-call. (Okay, maybe a Chinese prison.)

But I am addicted to my glucose meter. And this week I had to practice a little exercise in non-attachment.


I showed up to the gym Thursday morning for my regular spinning class, pumped for what is generally my favorite workout of the week. But as I reached into my backpack for the usual suspects – gym shoes, bag-of-dates, glucose meter – I realized I’d done something silly. I’d forgotten my glucose meter.

Well, naturally my first reaction was: “Crap, you dingbat. Now I can’t do the class.” It is just not possible in my world to go through a 45 minute workout without continually monitoring my blood sugar.

“Hold on, muffin,” spoke a voice, one of many in the cacophony of Sarah’s Brain. “We can do this.”

I went through a mental checklist. I hadn’t taken a bolus shot with breakfast, in anticipation of my workout. Though I didn’t check my levels before leaving the house, I was probably somewhere around a 12 or 13. Normally I can get through a morning spinning class without having to snack if I haven’t bolused before. Of course, “normal” is a four letter word in D-land, and numbers have a cheeky little way of changing on you real fast. But if I ate a few dates throughout the class, just to be on the safe side, I would almost surely be okay.

Sure, I’d likely be erring on the side of super-high BG, but an hour or two of that won’t kill me (or will it…? I honestly don’t know what are the long-term repercussions of blood sugar spikes. Only time will tell what complications-card I get dealt….).

So I decided to do this. I would ride my first spinning class without my glucose meter. An hour of sweating would go by and I wouldn’t once know what my blood sugar was. And this, I had decided, taking a deep breath, was going to be okay.


And it was. I got through the class just fine, popping a few dry dates for precaution midway, all while not compromising on my intensity. I didn’t pass out, or have to leave class early, or turn into a pumpkin or something.

I did however feel very, very weird. I kept wanting to reach for my glucose meter just to see – like flicking the light switch during a black0ut, only to remember it’s dark for a reason.

I had feelings of phantom hypoglycemia. Am I feeling light-headed because I’ve dropped down to a 3.8? spoke the inner voice. Or is it just because I woke up with sore glands this morning and I’m probably fighting off a virus? Am I feeling tired because the life is being sucked out of me? Or tired because I just biked up the equivalent of Mount Rushmore?

And through it all was the constant impulse to reach for my glucose meter and check. I JUST WANNA KNOW dammit. 3.8? 9.2? A 6.3? I should probably eat another date, just in case…

That’s when I realized how addicted I am to my glucose meter. You know people who just need to constantly check their ipods to see if they got a new email? I feel the same way about my blood sugar levels. I just need to know.

Thing is, I was handed this diagnosis without much preparation. They told me what I have to do, and I rose to the occasion. My mission: Control Glucose. I take it seriously, so yes, I want to know.


I came home after class and checked: I was at a 6.5. Absolutely perfect. Spot on. I’d played it well. High fives all ’round to the voices in my head. Also, big, big sigh of relief.


Getting through a class without my glucose meter was almost bittersweetly liberating. Bittersweet, because I know it’s not something that can happen too often.

While I love disconnecting from email/facebook/cellphone/life, disconnecting from my glucose meter is irresponsible and dangerous. It was a lovely, strange taste of freedom to be sans-meter for an hour – the freedom of life Pre-D, the freedom I never knew existed.

Maybe I can afford to become a bit more casual about my diabetes management. But diabetes has no cure. That freedom? It’s not mine to have anymore. I can occasionally remember what life was like Pre-D, but it won’t ever be Pre-D again.

And that’s okay. It’s just weird sometimes to think about.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Michael permalink
    February 5, 2011 2:17 pm

    hi Sarah, I think it’s only natural that you are especially vigiliant being a new diabetic; but as times goes on I do think you’ll be trusting of you body and check it less, perhaps. “Hold on Muffin” you are doing great!

  2. February 5, 2011 4:07 pm

    Does Quebec’s plan cover CGMs? I feel like you’d be a perfect candidate for those, even if you’d still obviously also have to test. Once again I’m impressed by your dedication. In my (many, many) rebellious years, I’m not proud to say that there were occasions where I went weeks, if not more than a month, without testing. I wonder if you can even imagine that!

    • February 5, 2011 7:34 pm

      Yeah, Quebec doesn’t cover CGMs. But I agree, I think I’m more open to having a CGM attached to me at all times than an insulin pump. I know I would probably end up loving the pump, but I’m just not ready yet to be…attached to something like that.
      A little CGM censor though? OMG I’d go nuts it’d be so fun. Thanks for the high fives Ilana. I’ve been feeling bummed out about this stupid crap the last few days and it’s nice to get a pat on the back. But I also wonder if I might not “rebel” at some point too. If all this vigilant monitoring is not just phase-one of Sarah Dealing with Diabetes.

      • February 5, 2011 7:35 pm

        I’m gonna be a grad student in the fall tho, so I’m hoping to score some great swag once I get on private student insurance. CGM baby!! DEXCOM time!!

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