Tag Archives: type 1 diabetes and alcohol

Diabetes, Alcohol, and Knowing Thy Self

Photo courtesy of Suat Eman

Photo courtesy of Suat Eman


Few things make me as happy, carefree, and relaxed as alcohol.  You weren’t expecting to read that were you?  Such is the plight of the introverted, over-analyzing type I guess. But that is one of several reasons why I don’t drink much. A few sips of my husband’s wine here, a sip of my favorite scotch there, and that’s it. The truth is I’ve been drunk enough times to know that alcohol and type 1 diabetes don’t mix.  It really should have just taken the one time to find out but you know how these things can go…

Considering most type 1 diabetics can drink moderately and safely, then yes, if you don’t have issues when you drink, have a beer.  Or a shot, or a glass of wine.  The thing is to “know thy self” and believe me, as a total Myers Briggs nerd, I do.  And if you have trouble stopping after one drink, maybe that one drink ought to be reconsidered.

I get a little anxious in social settings ever since I can remember.  So when I was in my early twenties and I discovered the magic of alcohol I was in a sense, relieved.  I’d suddenly be able to say what I wanted, dance, not care, whatever.  I could just relax for once.

For those of you out there reading and thinking, “Hey that sounds fun!” eerrr think again!  I’d have a good time until I remembered to test.  I’d see a 400-something about half the time.  Suddenly reality hit and I realized my avoidance of worry and responsibility was never an avoidance but only a delay.  Eventually I was going to have to deal with the consequences of drinking more than one serving of alcohol as a type 1 diabetic.  I tried testing every 30 minutes in order to stay on top of blood sugars.  This worked pretty well until I had one too many and found myself having a low blood sugar.  The symptoms of a low blood sugar can be confused with the symptoms of drunkenness and if you mix both together you get an unsightly disaster.  Why the things that could happen!  You may not realize you’re low or you could pass out, or you could throw up at a gas station parking lot for all the world to see (never happened to me by the way). 

I’m not enjoying this post in the least bit.  It’s embarrassing.  I am writing about it because it’s been years since anything like that happened and looking back I can think, “Whaaat a nutzo!”  People seem to enjoy memories like these.  Problem is…who knows what damage I caused to my feet dancing around in 4 and 5 inch stilettos, blood sugar over 400, while mildly intoxicated.  I remember feeling a bit of tingling and burning at pressure points in my feet while at the clubs or bars.  When I feel tingling in those same places now I can’t help but think, “Would that annoying pain be there had I not done those stupid things years ago?”  The pain is minimal and much of it has disappeared over time but the little that remains is SO annoying.  You know why?  Because it scares me out of my mind.  Fear is not fun nor pretty.  Not to mention I’ve basically given up on my love of high heels.  I don’t think I’ll ever go back.  It’s time to take care of the feet.  I used to wear 4 inches daily, morning to night.  I just boxed away my 15 pairs of high heels with plenty of sighing.  Eventually though, I got over it.  There are bigger things at stake. 

Having children definitely helped me stiffen my decision.  There is a particular clarity that came with having them.  Or maybe it was something more to do with guts.  Whatever the case may be, when my kids were born I didn’t even hesitate to move on from drinking.  I only wish I’d come to that conclusion earlier.  Being alive after 16 years with type 1 diabetes and doing the things I’ve done is nothing short of a miracle.  One I don’t intend to squeeze much more out of.  I’d tell you much more except my parents are reading this, horrified as it is. 

If you have diabetes and like to drink, fine.  Just remember that people with type 1 are living super long and full lives and since you don’t know what’s around the corner, and you may just make it to 100, be sure to treat the present with loads of respect and care or you may ruin your future.  And believe me, the future for type 1 diabetics is looking seriously good.  Who would want to mess with that?