Alcohol – by Helen Whitehouse

I have to say, one of the questions that my mother has to ask every time she attends diabetic clinic with me is “ Is she allowed to drink…?” I add the ellipsis to this question as I feel she would very much appreciate my lovely diabetic nurses strictly forbidding alcohol until the age of 18 ( I obviously don’t touch any form of alcohol ever. Ever…cough) however, my nurses are pragmatic people and they realise that in some time within the no-mans land of teenager-hood, the problem will arise. And what is really the sensible answer to it?

Illegal or not, we all know of youths hanging round in parks, downing fish-tank bottles of white lightening. Although this isn’t right, its inevitable that we do drink occasionally… Sensibly or not.

But it isn’t just age that diabetics need to take into consideration. I literally never knew the array of stuff that surrounded alcohol. It puts your sugars up, then pushes them back down, alcopops are bad, beer and cider are “better”… Make sure you take your insulin, not too much insulin and for gods sake, make sure you get yourself a nice greasy kebab afterwards. It seems like logic gets turned on its head slightly. Eat greasy food? Not alcopops? Isn’t it a right of passage to be sat there with your tropical Bacardi breezer? Well apparently not. I never knew exactly what was going on and what I would have to take into account when I wanted a drink.

To be honest, I am a pretty wary drinker. Even at Leedsfest I didn’t touch it, I just sort of pretended to be intoxicated as I pranced around listening to Pulp ( yes, I gave into peer pressure and pretended to be drunk at a festival. The plus side is I didn’t actually fall over into the foot deep mud). I mean, I am 16 now and it’s not something that really appeals to me. I don’t like the taste of it, and it makes my skin look scummy the day after. And for me, even if I do drink, I am too aware of injections and blood sugars for it to be enjoyable to me. It’s a token drink before my OCD kicks in about severe hypoglycaemia (I think of worst case scenarios). It is a difficult situation. But like anything, at some point in anyone’s life there is a time where they think, “Wow, maybe I have overdone it”.

The point to remember is, you can do anything in moderation and lead the life that maybe you envisioned for yourself before diabetes. And for me personally, sometimes drinking becomes a peer pressure thing. But, don’t let anyone rule your life about it, and remember that it isn’t diabetes stopping you, its your own decisions.

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I know exactly how you feel Helen – i personally dont like drinking in excess anyway – ive only been diagnosed a year but even before that i only had maybe 2 or 3 drinks on a night out. I have a thing about having to be in control of myself at all times – and obviously alcohol doesn’t really mix with that!

I’m a 3rd year university student and before my diagnosis i was fed up with people trying to push me into drinking more than i wanted to, i mean you can laugh it off but its still annoying and runk people really dont take a hint easily! As a student i think im expected to drink to excess but thats not me – and now i can turn round and say actually i dont want another drink, i have to be careful because im diabetic – honestly it shuts people up so fast!! i use it as an excuse for all its worth in such situations. It is always a worry though – and ive found that different spirits can affect my levels in different ways. To be honest, rather than take a risk of going really high etc i just stick to what i know works and keep myself aware of how im feeling

i can still have a good night out with my friends and i get to remember their antics in the morning – good or bad :p being diabetic may lead to some lifestyle changes but as you said it doesnt rule my life and it certainly does not stop me from having fun!

Hi Helen,

Great blog – my son Ewan is only 9 so hopefully possible alcohol consumption hasn’t entered his head yet but its great to hear from you on what I need to look out for and warn him about before the time arises!

You sound like a really sensible young lady and I am sure you will practice what you preach and when alcohol does take your fancy you will drink it in moderation!

Great blog, well done X