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Having a Few.

My favorite white wine.Diabetes makes drinking a bit of a tricky topic.  I take very good care of my health and my diabetes - I'm vigilant in monitoring my many numbers, eating well, seeing my doctor, and hitting the gym.  I work hard.  I am determined to be healthy!

But I also am determined to have a life.  And for me, part of "real life" includes having some drinks with my friends. 

This summer has had some fun times, and some of those times included alcohol.  The enGAGment party, a weekend at the beach with my college roommates, wine tastings, this past weekend out with the girls, etc.  No, I don't need to drink to have a good time.  But yes, sometimes my good times include having a few drinks. 

It's weird, though, because not a lot of diabetics talk about their drinking habits, if they have any.  I am not much of a drinker, but I do like to have a drink once in a while.  Not too often because I have such a low threshold for alcohol. (Please - ask any of my friends.  Two drinks and I'm completely silly.  Three drinks and I'll dance.  Four and I'm ... well, four is too many.) 

I'm very careful when I drink.  My meter makes frequent appearances on nights out at the bars.  This past weekend, I was out at a beautiful wedding shower for one of my college roommates, M, and there was an open bar.  So I had a glass of wine.  Blood sugar at 132 mg/dl. 

The night progressed to a group of us getting a case of Coronas, having some beers while we hung out, and then heading out to the bar.  Along the way, I was steady at anywhere between 130 - 160 mg/dl and that's where I'm most comfortable when drinking.  Once I started to edge towards 80 mg/dl, I hit a quick swig of juice from my purse to ward off any lows.  Rest of the night?  170, 143, 130, ended up at 180 mg/dl before bed.  Works for me.

For me, I can't pretend not to be diabetic.  That's less about what other people see but more about how I react to certain situations.  I don't care if anyone sees me test or spies my insulin pump, but I need to make sure that I'm always taking diabetes into consideration.  Does it seem irresponsible to be having some drinks with my friends?  Maybe to some people, yes.  Maybe it makes my mother a little uncomfortable to think that I'm deliberately putting myself into a situation that could become uncontrolled.  But I can't lie and say that I live my life in a big diabetes-bubble - I go out.  I party.  I drink.  (And I know I'm not the only one.)

I do my very best to remain as safe as possible - this includes educating my friends, carrying things like my meter and a bottle of juice with me at all times, and not being afraid to say "No," when it's not the best time for me to be drinking.  Case in point:  at the enGAGment party, I was having a great time and yes, enjoying some drinks.  I tested all the live-long day and once I started cresting up into the 240 mg/dl range, I stopped.  I calculated out an insulin bolus, waited for my blood sugar to come down, and actually decided not to drink anymore once I was back in range.  I know when my body's had enough.  Reaching the high 200's means it's time for me to sober up and regain control.  I'm all about a good time but I hate having my blood sugar that high.  Ruins all my fun.

Thankfully, there's always the other drunk people.  Sometimes they pass out, wasted, in the middle of the street.  And what's better than posing near the wasted guy?  Not much.

Note:  No drunk messes were harmed while taking this picture.  He did this to himself.
(Yes, we made sure he was okay before we posed.)


Well said Kerri. I'm also a diabetic drinker :) I'll be completely honest, I haven't always been as responsible as your description. Luckily, the mixture of sugary syrups, bar food, and alcohol's blood sugar lowering effect, I typically ended up in a normal range. Since I've been pregnant, or trying to be, since I started pumping, I haven't had experiences with alcohol and the pump. Especially with the pump's constant stream of insulin, deligence is important.

Hopefully this post sparks some conversation, because in my opinon, it's fairly naive to think that young diabetes won't ever drink.

Ironically, that same bottle of wine is currently chillin' in my fridge. Nifty!

I too am pretty careful when I drink. The few times I've gone further than intended were ones where my friends were very concerned about my BG, and forgot to worry so much about blood alcohol level. I've spent at least one drunken night on my kitchen floor because it was comfier and closer to the bathroom. Thankfully, I'm much more conservative now when it comes to drinking and, really, hangovers so aren't worth it. One drink, maybe two, is plenty for this D-girl.

I love the juxtaposition of your description of responsible drinking with a pic of you squatting next to a passed out guy.

I have to say that I am utterly impressed by how closely you monitor your diabetes while having a good time.

You're responsible, yet fun. That's the best combination.

This may sound strange, but I almost emailed you to ask you how you handled alcohol a few weeks ago (after the wine tasting post). It was around the same time as my 30th b'day and we went out with friends to celebrate. Since I only drink occasionally, I've only had a few occasions to drink since my diagnosis a year ago. At most of these occasions I've limited myself to one for fear of ending up in the basement. However, I knew that I would be having more than one to bring in the thirties, so I was wondering how you handled more than a couple of drinks. I ended up finding a great solution...I had my usual martinis until the end of the evening when I celebrated with a chocolate martini. It did away with any fear of a low-HA! It really did work for me. I ended the evening around 200, gave myself half of the correction bolus (for fear of a delayed reaction to the alcohol), went to bed, woke up the next a.m. at 132. Not too shabby.

I am so glad you brought this up! Yes, it's so tricky to remain in control of my diabetes when I drink, but I will not pass up a glass of wine! For me the hardest part is bolusing, because I am afraid of getting low at the end of the night when that sneaky little dip takes place around 4:00am. So I tend to stay on the high side. BUT! I just started the CGMS with my Minimed and I can't wait to be able to constantly watch my BS to see how the drinks affect me. Maybe I will finally get this dinking routine down. Wow, that doesn't sound good...but we have to live, right??!!

Nice post.

I am also a responsible diabetic drinker. I enjoy a beer or a gin and tonic with friends, or after playing a softball game. I don't let the d get in the way. I test often, tell others, and drink responsibly.

But in college.... I drank way too much several times, but never had diabetes problems. I remember a roommate of mine saying "...I had to help you walk home, and you insisted that you test and have a snack."

Diabetes is always part of me.

I drink, though I tend to favor beer, which has a somewhat predictable amount of carbs (aside from Sam Adams - I swear you could treat lows with that stuff!).

Ben Franklin said, "In all things, moderation. I apply this to all aspects of diabetes, including alcohol." Then again, it was also Franklin who said that beer is proof that God wants us to be happy.

Aside from beer - I'll drinker stuff w/ lower carbs. I stay away from wine, mostly -- both because of the unpredictable carbs but moreso because the reds hurt me head. :)

Nice :) ...HOWEVER, I DO NOT feel sorry for him because he is passed out....I DO feel SORRY for him because LOOK at all the beautiful women standing over him that he is missing the oppurtunity to talk with!!! ;) Great blog entry Kerri...I hope you guys are well.

Hey, no worries. There are more of us "diabetic drinkers" out here. I don't do it much anymore cause I'm getting a little old. And although I haven't always been as responsible as I should, there was always someone who knew what to do and how to handle the diabetes. I'm, for one, glad that you do talk about it. It helps the others out here not feel so bad!

Ditto on Shannon's comment..she hit the nail...responsible and fun

I believe not to be too deprived in life, live life to the fullest and same time taking care to live a long time.

I would have an occasional wine or when we have mexican..we would have lo carb margaritas (my hubby made this recipe at home when even a couple of sips of margaritas at restaurants would do a number....this one doesn't for me..it includes organic lime juice, splenda, ice, a bit of water, rum.


The nephew of a dear friend used to keep his meter out on the bar and test periodically, quitting (he said) when he reached 250 mg/dL. That never seemed to me to be the best way of managing the drinking with diabetes issue. But then, at that time he wasn't doing much to take care of himself at all.

I don't it's irresponsible for most of us, Kerri. I think most of us are able to have a few drinks with friends, make sure we're eating and testing and be fine. It's just that the consequences can be so much higher than a hangover.

Brilliant post. Really awesome job.

I am wondering if this is in response to someone's negative comment somewhere. If someone was making nasty remarks to you about drinking when you have diabetes, I hope this sets them straight! And if someone makes nasty remarks regarding the times I have a drink or two, I'll direct them to this post.

I don't think there is anything wrong with imbibing once in a while, as long as you don't overdo it, and as long as you remember to test/do what's best for you & your diabetes. If I'm planning on drinking more than one drink, I'll make sure I have a snack while drinking. I also alternate alcoholic drinks with glasses of diet coke. Keeps me from overdoing it, but it also keeps your drunk friends from wondering why there's no drink in your hand!

It's a good outlook you have on the sauce. If only Charlie knew when to stop. Damn you, Grey Goose!

Hey, just wanted to stop by and say hi, you have an informative blog with a fun twist. I'll be popping back. Best, F

Hannah - LOL! No, it's not in response to any negative comments. It was more because I was thinking about parts of my life that I don't talk about on the blog, and drinking is one of them. I wondered if I kept that part quieter because I wanted to appear "more responsible" or "in control," but in keeping with writing this blog from the perspective of real damn life with diabetes, omitting the partying didn't make sense. I'm not the only diabetic who drinks. And it's important to me that people feel comfortable talking about every aspect of their diabetes here.

Or at least I need to feel comfortable talking about every aspect here. ;)

Kerri - I'm glad you started this discussion. I've had D for 36 yrs now. I've always shyed away from wine because of the sugers in white. I have always enjoyed quaility beer and usually have a couple with meals on the weekend. I dont now if my wine vs beer argument is valid or just my twisted logic.

Thanks for this post, Kerri. And thanks to all of you who posted responses. I do drink on occassion, and I'm glad we can admit it. I have cut back a lot from what I did drink when I was in college, for example (drinking to the point of oblivion, but enjoy a glass of wine or a beer or a cosmo once every couple of months.

My uncle who had type 1 was alcoholic and basically died at an early age, in part from neglect of his diabetes and alcoholism. I am always scared to broach the topic of drinking with my family, as alcoholism runs rampant, but I have been lucky to not have any adverse reactions when drinking, aside for the occasional low which I have treated and been fine.

Thanks again for your candor and honesty. I appreciate it.

I liked the post, but the picture of all of you beside the guy made me uncomfortable.

I've come across situations where the semi passed-out guy on the street was actually someone with diabetes. Everyone walked by and ignored them, assuming they were drunk.

I'd rather get the message out to maybe think about whether those folks are really drunk or maybe experiencing a low.

Bernard - We did check him first. That's why we stopped in the very first place. One of my friends is a nurse and she checked with both the kid and his friends (who were standing by and monitoring the scene) to make sure he was okay.

NEVER would we just leave someone there to flounder around on their own. And I agree - you never know who could be a low diabetic.

I am really happy to have found your blog. I did so when I googled Insulin Pump Margaritas. I drink in moderation too. But I just recently got on the pump and a contant monitoring device. I used to be pretty successful drinking and staying in control when I was on syringes but this pump and sensor make it really tricky and I havent figured it out. Thanks for some insight into how you handle it. -jIm

I am an old fogey...my college roommate in 1971 was a diabetic and she used to scare the h*** out of me coming home drunk and throwing up. My very close cousin had JD and was a very brittle diabetic, so I was freaked. You have so many more tools now to create a safer environement. Kudos to you for sharing and speaking out!

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