Love and Lows in the Deli Line: A T1D Struggle


First world problems

A group of giraffes is called a tower. A group of sharks is called a shiver. A large group of people is called a no thanks. So you can imagine how I feel about grocery shopping on a Sunday. It’s crowded and time-consuming, you have wait in long checkout lines, bag everything, avoid messing up the eggs, load it all into the car, return your cart without getting hit by a driver who doesn’t understand the importance of checking their rear-view mirror, and then break your arms unloading the car at home. Because God forbid you make two trips with fewer bags. Sunday grocery shopping, on the whole, is a pain and an excursion I dread every week.

All that said, perhaps the biggest motivator that gets me out of the house as early as possible each Sunday is the deli line. Now let me be perfectly clear on this — the folks who work at our Stop & Shop in the deli department on Sundays are absolutely lovely people. They are kind, hardworking, and make what sometimes feels like a visit to the DMV suck a little less. But I still hate the deli line. And it makes me sad that I feel that way because everything we get from there (our meats and cheeses) are carb free. I should love that place!

Alas, the deli is a zoo on Sundays and I’ve already established how I feel about crowds. Now step into my head for a moment…you’re in line at the deli on a Sunday morning with your wife. You were diagnosed less than a month ago, so you’re on injections with no Dexcom because #insurance and #healthcareintheUSA. Suddenly, seemingly out of left field, you feel it. The sweating. The shakes. The disorientation. You need to test, and you need to test now. You ask your wife, no, you bark at your wife to make herself useful and help (you’re pretty nasty to her for no good reason at all, other than you’re low and anxious and scared, and she’s the closest person to take it out on).

No compromising

So I think I tested while Melissa held my pack in her hands. I was 42. Not super. I angrily sucked down a juice box, and then, just lost control. We’d been waiting for about ten minutes already, and I didn’t want to wait any longer. I wanted a bed, a couch, or a freaking pool float. I just needed to be horizontal. I told Melissa we were leaving, and she calmly looked up at the now serving sign and down at our ticket. “But… our number. It’s almost our turn. Just two more people, then us. Then hopefully the juice box will have brought you back up and we can finish shopping.” Wow, I was so pissed. Unnecessarily pissed. I told her I was leaving, saying, “choose me or the deli.”

She looked up at the now serving sign again and down to our ticket and totally chose the meats and cheeses. So off I went like a petulant child. “Fine, I’ll go lay down in the car. Or maybe I’ll walk home. I don’t know. Thanks for nothing.” (Spoiler alert: She had the car keys. And we live about three miles from our grocery store with fairly busy traffic on a main road. So walking that while low was probably not the best life choice.) I meandered around the parking lot for about three minutes before I realized it was March in Connecticut, and I hadn’t brought a jacket. Back in I went, aimlessly walking up and down the aisles.

Illogical lows

I can’t even tell you why I reacted the way I did, why my feelings escalated so quickly, why I took it out on Melissa. I can’t tell you why I thought it was a good idea to wander around Stop & Shop low and alone. By the time I got myself together, Melissa had finished the rest of our shopping after the deli, checked out, loaded the car, and was patiently waiting for me with the heat on. I’d like to say that I got in the car and profusely apologized for my irrational behavior, but…

I still really wasn’t that nice for a while. I was grumpy for the rest of the morning, mostly, I think, out of embarrassment. We laugh about it now: “Remember when you chose the cold cuts over me?” I ask her. “Remember when you ran away from the deli when you were low?” she replies. “And I had the keys! I knew you couldn’t get very far.”

But why? Why in the hell did I do that? Why do we do anything when we’re low? Why, when I’ve found myself at 32 in the past, was I able to keep it all together when other times in the 50s, I’ve been on a one-way trip to crazy town? Unsolved diabetic mysteries — that should be a podcast.

To my dear, patient wife, I dedicate this post to you and all of the other supporters who have found themselves on the business end of what I call “hypo-wrath.” It’s like a weird, hangry, diabetic fury of intoxicated nonsense that would be hilarious if you weren’t literally dying. We all love you for loving that version of us.

And for the record, I would have chosen the cold cuts too. Sunday in the deli line is no joke.

WRITTEN BY Cat Carter, POSTED 02/21/19, UPDATED 06/10/21

Cat is an instructor and academic advisor at a small college in northern Connecticut. She believes in the power of education, coffee, and the undeniable truth that the basketball universe revolves around Storrs, CT. When she isn’t (under)training for a race or singing along to Broadway show tunes, she’s probably hanging with her wife, son, and their brood of furry babies. She was diagnosed on Feb. 4, 2015, shortly after her 30th birthday. You can follow her mishaps and adventures at and find her on Instagram and Facebook @typeoneontherun.