Thursday, April 17, 2008

Diabetes At Work

I work in an office, and usually, my diabetes doesn’t really interfere or cause me any grief. We’re not really allowed food or drink, but my boss lets me eat when I need to, and no one is bothered if they walk into my office and see me doing a blood test.

I say “usually,” because there is one area where I have yet to figure out how to combine my diabetic self with my career self: the business lunch.

Fortunately, it doesn’t happen all that often—maybe four or five times a year—but when it does, I find myself getting a bit flustered and always wind up with numbers too high or too low. Since I veer toward the low, when I fluster, I aim higher and figure the high number is better than a potential emergency.

Take yesterday and today for instance. Yesterday, I went to a mini-convention with my boss and a senior co-worker. We were only going to be gone for a couple hours, so I brought my lunch to work, as normal, and planned on eating when we got back. I made sure my sugar was okay before we left, and I took my blood kit with me. And, as every good diabetic does, I had food stashed in my bag as well.

After we had finished walking through the exhibits, my boss and co-worker decided they were hungry and we should go to lunch at the restaurant across the street. (If I had my say, I would have preferred to come back to work, eaten my lunch at my desk, then taken my lunch break outside where it was the first 70-degree day of the year. But I really didn’t have a say…)

So, we’re at the restaurant, and I really wanted to test. I’ve done the subtle, put-the-kit-in-my-lap trick, but I couldn’t configure it. I thought about getting up to go to the bathroom, but then I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. And I didn’t want to make it look like I wasn’t interested in the business conversation they were having.

So I didn’t test. I guessed. We had been walking, and I figured I needed some carbs, I just didn’t know how many. I looked at the salads, but none of them had any carbs in them—all lettuce and non-carb veggies. I looked at the sandwiches and I knew all of them would have a lot of carbs in them. Ideally, I would have liked to order a salad and an appetizer, but I always feel like I have to order in line with everyone else. If they don’t get an appetizer, I don’t. (I’m not paying.)

So (such a lovely transition word; that’s why I keep using it). So, I ordered a hamburger, knowing I would over-carb. I ate only part of my fries (probably should have ignored them all together) and ate the whole hamburger.

Back at the office, a bunch of stuff came up, then I had an irritating phone call and my stress shot up. When I checked my sugar at the end of the work day (about three hours after I ate), it was just over 150. Very, very high for me.

So (there it is again). So after work I went for a long walk, and I got my sugar down to 74 before I ate a light dinner.

And then today, I knew we were going to a business lunch. Two days in a row out for lunch with business people is rare, but it happened this week. I checked the menu of the place online before we left to get a handle on the menu (this helps sometimes) and configured a few things. The problem with this, though, is that everything goes out the door once you hear what everyone else is going to order. You don’t want to get the most expensive thing on the menu, but you don’t want to get the cheapest. If everyone else is getting a salad, you don’t want to be the one person getting an entrée. If everyone else is getting an entrée and no side, you don’t want to be the only one with an extra plate. So I waited to hear what everyone else would order and had a sandwich. Not too bad, I thought.

Then (see, I changed it up). Then we found out it was one of our lunchers birthday, so everyone ordered a dessert. That’s where I messed up. I ordered the same thing as everyone else, but I only ate part of it. If I hadn’t had the dessert, I probably would have been okay.

But here’s the other piece of the puzzle… When it rains, it pours. As it turns out, I also have an event to go to tonight right after work (office-related). It’s for “appetizers and drinks.” Now, that could mean full-on appetizers, or it could mean passed plates of tiny pieces of cucumber. And because it’s right after work, my usual dinner time will be delayed. I just checked my sugar (two hours after eating) and it’s 148. That’s high, and though my initial reaction is to freak out, I’m a little less freaky because I know I may not be able to eat anything real again for three more hours. In this situation, I think it may be better to be high, because I don’t want to fall hard and fast if I’m only 100.

I know it all sounds convoluted. Am I following some weird business rules of etiquette about ordering that don’t need to be followed? While I want to take care of my diabetes and keep an eye on that carb count, I don’t want to throw it anyone’s face or disrupt the business going on. I only have to deal with the situation randomly, and I can’t imagine what I would do if I had regular business lunches (I assume, hope, pray I would figure it out eventually).

Luckily, I know there’s no more lunches planned for a while, so I’ll be safe. And for now, for today and for yesterday, I’ll just have to live with those high numbers. Damn business lunches.

As always, more to come…

UPDATE: The next morning. I just wanted to point out that the "appetizers and drinks" thing turned out to be drinks only--not a crumb of food in sight. I went home, tested, and I was quickly descending from 102. Guess the high from lunch was warranted...

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