When Potato Salad Makes You Cry

I love potato salad. I don’t know why. I think it’s the starchiness of the potatoes, the creaminess of the dressing, the crunchiness of the pickles and whatever else the chef decides to include in the recipe, the sweet-tart-salty mixture of all of the ingredients. Commercial potato salad will do in a pinch, but there is nothing like homemade potato salad. I don’t make my own, because I don’t have the patience to cook, cube, and chop everything that needs to be attended to. But, oh, how I love potato salad.

Yet, after 13 years of being a type 2 diabetic, I know that potato salad isn’t the best thing for me. Starchiness = carbohydrate; creaminess = fat; and the combination of the two means not only high blood glucose but also sustained high blood glucose for a longer than normal time period. So I’m careful about consuming potato salad. I eat it sometimes, but not as much as I used to and not very often.
Christmas day of this year was relatively uneventful. I got to spend the day with my cousins, which always makes me happy. I ate what I thought was not too much eggplant parmesan and potato casserole and what I knew were too many of my aunt’s lumpia (Filipino egg rolls). Still, I was surprised at how high my bg was so many hours after lunch, especially since I was feeling hungry. Determined to “be good” after a day of indulging, I made myself a sandwich of vege-sausage and sat down to eat.
That was when the doorbell rang. Our neighbor was at the door, bearing gifts—a bowl of pancit (Filipino-style noodles) and a saucer of potato salad. Yes, homemade potato salad. My eyes lit up. I knew that I could devour that whole plate of salad in one sitting. But my newly-discovered “good” diabetic said, “No, you can’t. Imagine what that will do to your bg. And after the day you’ve already had, it’s just not a good idea.” And despite my love for potato salad, I had to agree with conscience. I spooned out just enough for a taste—and oh! it was delicious!--and put the rest into the refrigerator for the next day.
At lunchtime the next day, I had the same argument with myself. Only a few years ago, I would have ignored that little voice and gobbled up the treat in just a few minutes, but that was before the insulin, the needles, the multiple fingersticks a day. That was before the worry about complications, the constant vigilance, the extreme exhaustion from the out-of-control numbers. So I managed to limit myself to half of what was left on the plate, despite the struggle. “If I don’t eat it now,” I reasoned, “I can eat the rest later and that way the joy will last longer.” Again, it was delicious, but I waited.
When dinnertime came, my dad prepared the meal, basically warming up leftovers from the day before. Arriving at the table, I knew something was wrong. The potato salad that I had been anticipating all day was sharing a plate with my aunt’s potato casserole. “Did you warm this?!?” I exclaimed a little too loudly.
“Yes, of course,” my dad assured.
“That was potato salad!” I exclaimed.
“Oh, I thought it was potato casserole. It’s OK. You can still eat it,” said my dad.
“No, I can’t. You just warmed mayonnaise! It’s ruined!” And it was.
My dad apologized, offered to put the salad back into the refrigerator, but I shook my head. “It won’t work. Cooked mayonnaise. How disgusting.” And I left the room to inject my insulin. Once out of my dad’s sight, I felt tears come to my eyes. I had been *so good* and had *not* eaten the way I would have just a few years earlier. If I hadn’t been “good,” I would have gotten to eat that whole plate of one of my favorite foods, and there wouldn’t have been any left for my dad to ruin. Why did I have to watch my carb intake if it just led to disappointment? Why was I being punished for behaving?
Maybe you wonder why I let something like this get to me. But if you haven’t had a chronic illness, I don’t think I can explain it to you. I don’t know that I can make you understand how frustrating it can be when doing what you “should,” makes things worse.
Taking insulin for the past 10 weeks has made diabetes very real for me. Instead of just taking pills twice a day, I now have to be constantly aware of my next mealtime, the number of pens in my refrigerator, where my last injection site was. And I hate it. Just as much as I love potato salad, I hate diabetes. Maybe more. No, definitely more.

And you definitely know that you are a diabetic when potato salad makes you cry.


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I write about whatever...life, education, diabetes, family, pets, church, God, and whatever else comes to mind.

    Some Things That Make Me Happy

    (1) learning
    (2) family
    (3) barney
    (4) food
    (5) school
    (6) music
    (7) adoption
    (8) Doctor Who
    (9) worship
    (10) baking
    (11) reading
    (12) Quantum Leap
    (13) chocolate Irish cream cheesecake
    (14) scrapbooking
    (15) cake decorating
    (16) Star Trek
    (17) Craig Ferguson
    (18) British TV
    (19) gooey butter cake
    (20) crunchy onions
    (21) traveling

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