Diabetes & Alcohol

Dear FLC, I’m hungover. I’m not a drinker, mainly because alcohol is just *such* a shitty drug that has too many side effects (case-in-point: hungovered-ness). Last night I heard that there was a place in town that had power so I found shoes and off I went. The bartender had her thumb on the diet coke button when a Cruzan pineapple rum with cranberry juice was ordered – coulda knocked that poor girl over with a feather (Heather? drinking?!). We had some snacks as well and by the time we were home (10PM) the power was back on. All in all, it was a good night.
See, the problem with drinking for all diabetics (Type 1, Type 2, and every other kind) is that the human body prioritizes. So, our livers go from working at a normal pace: process this, release sugar now, filter that, rinse, repeat, etc. When we throw some alcohol into the mix, the liver does the equivalent to sweeping its desk clean and focusing only on the alcohol; basically ignoring everything else.
That’s when our diabetic medications can get us into trouble–see, the medications aren’t thinkers, they are just up in there doing there jobs like a computer driven vacuum cleaner (or a Roomba) sucking up sugar. Well, if the liver doesn’t provide sugar on its normal schedule then the vacuum cleaner can suck up sugar we may have needed thus leading to potentially scary lows. The lows can be extra scary because if you add enough alcohol then you cannot feel the low happening. Then, the next day, my LEAST favorite thing in the world can happen–rebound highs. After finishing the alcohol project your liver PANICS at all of the work he pushed off his desk and just dumps a bunch of sugar at the problem leading to random HIGH blood sugars.
There is no perfect answer and I will happily smack down the first person who says Diabetics shouldn’t drink. It’s our bodies; we get to make choices about what makes us happy. I just don’t like anyone making an uniformed choice; know what your body does and why it does it. Make your choices accordingly and be happy with your life.

For anyone curious about what Herbert did last night, he did a great (and annoying(ly awesome)) alert where he stood on the picnic table to tell me that I was was trending high. I took a couple units of regular insulin to counteract the juice (but less than I normally would have to account for the alcohol). All was well. Today, despite feeling generally crappy (yes. after 1 1/2 alcoholic beverages I get a hangover) my blood sugar was a lovely 108 mg/dL.