“I’ll Have a Regular Soda, Please.”

A funny thing about life with diabetes is that new experiences occur all the time. For example, this was a first for me the other day: ordering a regular soda at a restaurant instead of a diet.

Why was this necessary? I chalk it up to a few different factors that affected my blood sugar: 1) I did strength training earlier in the day, which can make me go low several hours after the fact. 2) I ignored the diagonal down arrow that had appeared on my CGM, because I really didn’t think I’d end up below 100 mg/dL before dinner. 3) It took a long time for our dinner to come out, and I’d made the rookie mistake of bolusing soon after ordering the food. 4) I also think I miscalculated the carbs in my dinner – I’m used to ordering this particular dish, a cajun chicken salad, with a beer or two. But since I gave up alcohol for Lent (more on this in an upcoming blog post), I wasn’t getting the extra carbs from the beer, which I forgot to take into account.

So yeah, in hindsight, I could’ve seen the low blood sugar coming. But I just didn’t anticipate some of these occurrences, such as our food coming out late. This particular restaurant is usually timely, but since it was a Saturday evening and the bar was rapidly filling up, I should’ve connected the dots.

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Diet Coke has a special place in my part, but in a hypoglycemic emergency, it just won’t cut it.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda. There was nothing I could do about my rapidly dropping blood sugar, unless I bit the bullet and ordered a regular soda. Shoving my diet root beer to the side, I flagged down my semi-bemused bartender and asked for a regular Pepsi, trying to ignore the fact that he was joking about how “diet just wouldn’t do it for me any longer, eh”.

If only he knew that the circumstances required sugar, stat.

It only took him about 60 seconds to deliver the Pepsi, but it felt like a long time. My CGM alerted me to an urgent low and things around me were a little fuzzy. I was trying to engage in conversation with my companions, who knew that I was going low, but maybe weren’t aware of how quickly I was going down due to my determination to appear normal.

Once my Pepsi arrived, I gulped down several sips and sighed with relief as my dinner appeared soon after. I wolfed down every last bit of it within 15 minutes, taking breaks only to drink a little more soda. I knew I needed to control how much I drank, because I didn’t want to end up sky high later on in the night.

Fortunately, my blood sugar was coming back up to normal within no time, and I actually didn’t even go higher than 172 mg/dL for the remainder of the night. A huge win, all things considered. Even though it was a somewhat scary experience, I’m glad I did what I needed to in order to take proper care of myself…even if that meant drinking regular soda, which was actually pretty gross. How do people actually enjoy that saccharine sludge?!