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October 24, 2014
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Bargains with the Devil


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Cake. Devil.
I am sitting at the dining room table. Two pieces of cake sit in front of me, in the glass cake holder my mother bought for me. They look amazing, those slabs of cake, with their white frosting and their devil's food cake-i-ness poking through. I stab at the grilled chicken salad with peppers and onions and slivers of carrots on my plate. The salad, which just a few moments earlier had looked so delicious. Now it just seemed pale and loose and green in the shadow of the cake. In the shadow of the devil.
I say, out loud, "Well, just one piece can't be too bad. I mean, I have just had this salad for dinner. And I've barely touched it."
The cake looks back at me. It's just the two of us in the dining room. It whispers, "I'm worth the 3.5 units of insulin. I'm worth the guilt. I'll be SO good."
I push my salad aside and give the cake its due consideration. I turn the cake holder and see the deep brown and white layers, the texture of the cake. I try to calculate quickly just how many calories I've consumed today.
Well, there was the cereal bar and peanut butter this morning. The salad with tuna fish for lunch. A pear in the afternoon with some cheese. Some berries, a few almonds, an apple before the gym. And now my forlorn dinner salad and a little piece of whole wheat pita. But I hadn't even touched the pita. So maybe. Just maybe. 725 calories, maybe a few more so far. With about 500 in the cake, I'd still be around the level I'd mentally contracted for myself.
"I can't even believe you're bothering with your silly calculations," says the cake.
"Shut up." I retort.
And then I factor in the calories I burned at the gym. Around the same number contained in that delicious piece of cake. Too bad the treadmill doesn't have a dial that lets you select which food calories you burn. It would make these bargaining sessions a whole lot easier.
I scroll through my insulin pump history screen, looking at my total daily dose so far. I realize I've still got several units left before I reach the number I like to stay under for boluses in a day. I think about my pre-dinner number - 106 mg/dl. I tell myself that I deserve this piece of cake. I curse myself for thinking of food as the enemy - and as the reward.
"Well?" Asks the cake.
I just don't know. I'm actually tearing up a bit. Over a piece of cake. The war in my brain is getting louder. The voices arguing about my bloodsugar, my health, my weight, the consequences of the cake, the goodness of the cake, the harmlessness of the cake, the virtue of the damned cake. I pull my salad back in toward me, and take another forkful. For a salad it's pretty good.
And the cake sits there. It seems to prop itself up. The pieces looking more delicious than ever. "Relent." One of them says.
And I do. I finish my salad, toss the piece of pita, and cut myself a half piece of the devil's food cake. I bolus for it - begrudgingly - filling myself with guilt and insulin. And I try to enjoy the compromise.
Only half piece, I reason. Only 2 units of insulin more than I would have had, I say. Calories burned at the gym, I remind myself. But in the end. I don't enjoy it much at all. The cake is OK, but it is flavored with regret, the way food so often is in this d-world of mine.
I wish it wasn't so. But food is the devil - and it is the prize. It is the bane of my existence and the fuel that keeps me alive. It is everything I hate at times - and it is the thing I most enjoy in other moments. It often catches me off-guard and unprepared and even more often consumes my every thought.
Worse yet, there's not an end in sight. There will always be diabetes, and there will always be the struggle to maintain healthy weight and eat well. And there will always be pieces of cake or packets of candy or tubs of ice cream that speak to me in a way that only food can.
Today, tomorrow, going forward, I guess I'll just keep working on making compromises that work - and then doing my best to actually enjoy what I've bargained for.

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Megan Holmes
Megan Holmes Megan was diagnosed in 2009 with Type I. As an RN, she was familiar with the medical side of her diagnosis; learning to be a good patient on the other hand, was and continues to be the challenge of her day to day life.   (Read More)
Michelle Kowalski
Michelle Kowalski Michelle Kowalski, a writer, editor and photography hobbiest living in Phoenix, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in February 2005. In January 2008, as part of her quest to start on an insulin pump, Michelle learned that she actually has type 1 diabetes.   (Read More)
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