Real Life: Scott Johnson Says It’s Complicated
Scott Johnson is a native Minnesotan. He was born into a working class family in April of 1975. His mother was a nurse for 30 years and his father a painter. In April of 1980, at the age of 5, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Like most type 1 diabetics, Scott has struggled with diabetes and the lack of support and resources for this disease. As a means to find support and connect with those in similar situations, Scott created his own website, http://scottsdiabetes.com, to chronicle his daily struggles.
Drinking with diabetes? Sheesh – that’s a complicated one. At least I think it is.
I have to admit I don’t know much about it. It scares me.
Maybe scared isn’t the right word for it. Intimidated sounds more accurate. I’ve always been intimidated by the idea of learning how to drink with my diabetes.
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was five. By the time high school parties (and alcohol) rolled around I had a decade of diabetes lessons under my belt. In all honesty though, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Diabetes is rough on its own. Being a teenager is rough on its own. Together they make for some rough times. Maybe that’s what turns some people towards alcohol in the first place.
So why didn’t the idea of drinking appeal to me? I don’t remember specifically learning that alcohol can make blood sugar management tricky, though I must have heard it somewhere. Maybe I was just afraid of getting drunk and losing control. Maybe I’d seen friends when they were drunk and didn’t like what I saw. Maybe it’s from growing up during the “Just Say No!” advertising campaigns of the 80′s & 90′s
I did know drinking made diabetes a little more complicated, and I was already having a tough enough time. I opted to not make managing blood sugars any harder than it already was. I would often use my diabetes to get me out of uncomfortable peer-pressure situations. I would literally say “I don’t know what that will do to my diabetes” when someone was pushing me to drink.
Eventually saying “I don’t drink” held some sort of power. It set me apart from the people making fools of themselves getting sloshed and acting ridiculous. There was only one person who gave me a hard time, and he was an asshole anyway so it didn’t bother me.
Does it still stand today? Mostly. I do drink a glass or two of red wine, usually only on special occasions or when I travel. Even that little bit makes me cautious with my blood sugars hours and hours later. But I’ve never had hard liquor or mixed drinks, and I’m fine with that. I still don’t like the idea of losing control of myself. Lows do enough to cripple my brain, I don’t want alcohol in the mix too.
When making the decision to drink or not, you are going to do what feels right for you. If that decision is to drink, you need to know how to do it safely.
Diabetes is a dangerous thing to misunderstand, and it can be fatal to underestimate its power. One mistake with alcohol and diabetes could end your life. I know it sounds overly dramatic, but I’m very serious.
You need to be careful out there.