Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Say HOW many carbs?

It's easy to get complacent with type 1 diabetes.  On a daily basis the disease demands frequent blood testing, carbohydrate calculations, preemptive dosing, correction boluses and walking the tightrope of 'too high' and 'too low'.  It's a fine line, oft stepped over.  But as it has featured as part of my life for the last 27 years I have learned to guestimate much of my foo - usually with a fair amount of prevision - making much of  daily my life easier.  On average a bowl of pasta is 7.5 units; an omelette, 1.5 units.  For the most part I successfully navigate my way through the day with only the occasional mistake.  But guessing because you need to, and because you are being lazy with your approach to diabetes, are different things.

I have a smartphone - one equipped with just about every diabetes app going which makes eating out almost impossible not to carb count, if I wanted to.  Yet this week, when I met up with everyone's favourite Ninja and sat enjoying my Costa Chai Latte in the sunny harbour of Gunwharf Quays while putting the world to rights,  I wasn't quite giving the 'due care and attention' to my diabetes that it demands.  Having not been bothered to spend time on any of the resources I have to hand, more interested in catching up with friends, I threw a somewhat reserved 2 units at my super-sized lactose-swamped treat, because I wouldn't want a hypo to ruin the lovely glucose trend I'd been sporting that morning.

Around 40 minutes into our coffee and conversation, I started to feel the tell-tale muggy head, heavy muscles and strange sense of smell of a high blood sugar creeping in.  I glance down at my CGM receiver in my hand and...wait...what the?  14.1 mmol and rising very fast? I was 5 mmol when I got here!

I dove into my bra for my pump (present company of course being one of the few I can do this with!) and bolused another 3 units.  But I reeeeeally wanted another coffee because it tasted so good (that should have been my firest major clue that this would be more than a 2-unit treat...) so I gave in and racked up another.  This time I took 4 units - because I wasn't going to be making that mistake again!

As Ninja and I bid each other farewell and went our separate ways I started to wonder... what if the sweet tasting delights of the Chai Latte were less about spices and more about sugar?  It was very sweet, after all.

I finally instructed the brains I was born with and used the technology in my hands to tweet Costa in the hope they may pick up my question but, without response, I made my way onto their website.

It's times like these - when realising I have unwittingly devoured 175g of carbs (which should have been around 17 units of insulin and for which I had given a pointless 2) that I remember that I cant't get complacent with diabetes on board.  Even my 3 unit correction barely touched the sides of the first coffee, let alone the second. And no wonder I eventually danced with 20 mmol before finally the food wore off and the right correction was given.

I have to remind myself of the hidden carbs that most processed foods have in them, and that while it's OK to have these treats, it's not OK not to bolus for them.  Lesson learned Costa, lesson learned.

Do you get complacent and pay the price?


  1. Oh no! That's the worst, when you're SWAG'ing is so totally off but you think you're doing what you're supposed to. Yes, I do this more often than not, especially lately. Need to get back on track with better carb-counting and dosing. Thanks for the inspiration, Anna!

    1. Hey Mike, thanks for stopping by! I know exactly how you feel. It gets incredibly tiring carb counting everything - especially when it still isn't a science. When it goes wrong I definitely lose the commitment. But hopefully this taught me a little lesson! I'm sure I'm still coming down from the high :)