OK, we talked about scary low blood sugars last weekend, but with Halloween just around the corner, this week's edition of our diabetes advice column, Ask D'Mine, is especially scary, we promise.  Have you met our host, longtime type 1 PWD, diabetes author and educator Wil Dubois?AskDMineJackOLantern

He's got some advice on the perennial question that comes up this time of year: what to do when there's candy all around us? And just what comes to mind when we think of the scariest parts of diabetes? Read on, if you dare...

{Need help navigating life with diabetes? Email us at [email protected]}

 

Karen, type 2 from Kansas, writes: I hate, hate, hate Halloween! At work, everywhere I turn there are bowls of candy! Did I mention I'm a chocoholic? I struggle with my weight, my blood sugar, and my "addictions" more at this time of year than any other. Got any tips for me?

Wil@Ask D'Mine answers: That particular evil is hard to keep at bay. You are wrestling with your own demons and it seems everyone else is in league with them!

Innovation 2015

The truth is that like vampires, most people suck. Which is to say, they are myopic enough to be callous to the needs of others around them. We have this countertop at work called "the carb counter." I may have been the one who gave it that name, but it was so many years ago that no one remembers any more. This is where the well-intended morons I work with share their poisons -- home-made cookies, brownies, cakes, pies, and more. I think it's a self-enabling mechanism. An overweight coworker who really wants a bag of M&Ms probably won't buy it for herself—too much guilt there—but if she gets it for the gang at work...

Sorry. Got off track. A while back, I spent most of the day strongly resisting some brownies that by all (frequent) reports were "to die for." I didn't eat any, but you know what? I had a frickin' blood sugar excursion anyway. I should'a just had the damn brownie. It was probably the stress from trying to resist temptation that caused my blood sugar to go up.

Further proof that "just say no" never works.

Scary Candy BowlI think your best bet is substitution. So... after chocolate, what is your go-to snack? Do you like mixed nuts? Popcorn? Beef jerky? You need something you can stash in your desk drawer and retreat to when the witchcraft of chocolate gets to be too much of a temptation.

Yes, all of these alternatives also have calories that you don't need, but they are kinder to your blood sugar than the tricks and treats, and in the greater scheme of things you will probably eat less of them.

Of course, substitution is about survival.

You could opt for rebellion instead. {Insert evil villain laugh here.}

Take the devil by the horns and change the way things are done around your office. First off, stake out your own territory. Have an un-candy bowl. You could opt for healthier snacks or go the non-snack route. Are you familiar with the Oriental Trading Company? They have the most awesome oddball cheap holiday-themed "chotchkies." No calories in a glow-in-the-dark squishy skeleton. An eyeball splat ball won't drive your blood sugar up. Chasing a mini Jack-O'-Lantern slinky might even be good exercise.

Disguise yourself in costume, and like a thief in the night, go around and spike other people's candy bowls with non-food options. It might make people think, and who knows? You might find you aren't the only one in your office that's afraid of Halloween treats.

The trick is to get people to admit it.

 

Jennifer, type 1 from Colorado, asks: Hey Wil, now that it's almost Halloween, what do you think is the scariest part of having diabetes?

Wil@Ask D'Mine answers: For me personally, for D-folks in general, or for our loved ones? Because I think the answers might all be different.

For our loved ones, I think the biggest fear is the constant unease about which diabetic is home inside our heads at any given moment. We're completely unaware of it most times, but we are moody SOBs. The effects of blood sugar variations on our emotions can be toxic. We can get touchy, grumpy, nasty, and sometimes downright dangerous depending on the ebb and flow of our glucose ocean.

It must be like living with a zombie bride/groom. Ya' love the other person in the relationship, but you sure don't want to get bit.

Naturally, I thought I was completely immune from this little side effect of diabetes until a recent party at the home of one of my diabetic sisters. I happened to overhear my type 3 and her type 3 comparing notes. Well, that's an understatement. Is there a word that means 45 minutes of commiserating, ranting, and overall mate-bashing?

Apparently, living with me is no picnic. Who knew? (Apparently my wife, my son, my mother, my mother-in-law....)

I could see where living on the slopes of an active volcano could be scary. So at least for adult loved ones of adult PWDs, I think that's the scariest part. Parents of little T1s, on the other hand, all share the same nightmare: lighting a blue candle. Nuff said about that.

For D-folks in general, I think fear of complications rates pretty high up there on the list of things that go bump in the night, but I don't think any one complication is the universal fright. Some people fear losing sight. Others fear losing limbs. Still others fear heart attacks, strokes, or kidney dialysis. I think neuropathy is one of the scariest complications, but no one seems to worry about it or take it seriously until they have it. Then it's too late. You can't take back that vampire's bite.

And of course some people fear death.

In the same way that some folks are scared of snakes and others of spiders, I think what complication you fear most depends on your personality. But the wonderful thing about diabetes is that it has a regular haunted house full of complications to choose from! Has anyone ever adD Ghostded up how many different complications there are? If they have, I couldn't find it. Someone with more time on their hands than I have should compile a complete and comprehensive list. I bet there are hundreds.

For me personally, I'm not afraid of death. I know the diabetes will get me someday, so that's oddly comforting. I don't worry much about complications either, I just do my level best to control my blood sugar and have faith that my efforts will keep those particular goblins at bay.

Hmmmmmm.... I guess what scares me the most is the cost of diabetes, both in time and in cold hard cash.

Oh my. That sounded shallow and materialistic, didn't it? Let me elaborate. All the time diabetes takes away gives me less time for my loved ones. There are only so many hours in a day. In the same fashion, there's only so much money to go around. A dollar for a test strip over here means one dollar less for a museum entrance over there. A CGM sensor costs me a meal out with my family. A month's pump supplies costs us the equivalent of a family vacation. As a result, I have nothing set aside for my son's education, or for my own retirement.

Diabetes is a big black hole that sucks every second and every spare penny into it. It lowers my standard of living and robs my loved ones of the things and experiences they would otherwise have.

I worry that my diabetes is robbing my son of the opportunities I had as a child to experience all the world has to offer.

What scares me most about my diabetes, I guess, is that it makes me a worse father than I'd be without it.

 

 

This is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still need the professional advice, treatment, and care of a licensed medical professional.

 

 

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.

Disclaimer

This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.