St Patrick’s Day and Type One Diabetes

Charlie Granby

So it was St Patrick’s Day on Wednesday and honestly I had a blast! This year looked a little different due to the pandemic, however that didn’t stop us from having a great time. 

Usually, we would either go to Ireland for the celebrations, or at least go into Liverpool to the pub. Being part Irish, it’s an exciting day that I’ve grown to really love over the last few years! 

Knowing that our original plans would be thwarted, my partner Steve and I planned what we wanted to do well in advance, and it was great to have something to look forward to. As I was working during the day, we decided to have an evening filled with fun, including some delicious food cooked by Steve, and of course, Guinness. 

St Patrick’s day decorations

Shamrock themed decorations around Charlie and Steve's home

I decorated our flat a few weeks before, with flag bunting and shamrocks, as well as our two little leprechauns. It definitely adds to the character of our flat, which already has a huge Irish flag in our hallway! 

I was interested to see how all the food and excitement would impact my blood sugar levels, as this was my second St Patrick’s Day living with diabetes, but last year with the uncertainty and stress of the sudden pandemic we were faced with, we didn’t celebrate. Ultimately I just wanted to have a good time and not let diabetes get in the way where possible; I wanted to eat whatever I wanted, enjoy a Guinness, and just be merry. Which is exactly what I did!

With work finished for the day and a blood sugar level of 19mmol/L after a lunchtime hypo, I decided to clean the whole flat while Steve prepared and cooked our Guinness stew, accompanied with soda bread! We had The Pogues playing throughout the flat, with the sunset blazing into our living room. 2 hours of cleaning later, my levels finally started to come down, to around 13mmol/L and then we sat down for dinner.


St Patrick's day food laid out on the table


Managing diabetes

I had to guess the carb count for the whole meal aside from the Guinness, but also because of the cleaning marathon I had just been on, I was unsure how much insulin to inject initially. My insulin sensitivity is really strong when I have been cleaning, and if I eat soon after and inject, I almost always go straight into a hypo which just isn’t fun. So, I decided to wait until I had finished my meal and then bolused, sometimes I’d split dose and do half my insulin up front, and half after. I do this because I don’t always finish my meal, and so if I’ve injected all of it up front, the likelihood of my levels dropping too low is always there. Really I just applied what I would do on a normal day, but because it was a celebration, and there were lots more variables involved; exercise, alcohol, excitement, all of which can cause my levels to go low. 

I was trying to be as careful as possible with avoiding hypos, as I had already had one earlier in the day and didn’t want the good times to be spoiled with low blood sugar. This is just what works for me some of the time because we all know diabetes has a complete mind of its own, and what works one day, does not the next!

We finished the celebrations with chocolate cake and watched PS I Love You which was fabulous! Despite all of the glorious food and having alcohol, my levels were really quite nice to me! 


If you were celebrating St Patrick’s Day this year, I hope you had a great time! 

Charlie Granby