Letter To A Lurker

Dear Dack,

About 8 years ago (maybe 10, who’s counting?) we had a conversation about—of all things—diet soda. While you didn’t subscribe to the Oh My God Aspartame Is Causing 16 Million Different Diseases theory of diet soda consumption, you did have theories about its effect on some people. Theories based on “stuff you read.” Since you are known to read everything from phone numbers on the bathroom wall to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, that’s not something to be taken lightly.

One of the things you had swimming around in your head: while diet sodas contain no calories, the aspartame may, in some people, cause the same insulin release as does sugar, thereby starting a metabolic tide of adding body fat onto the bodies of those who choose to consume aspartame. You figured that if someone drank 5-7 diet sodas a day, they might as well be drinking 5-7 regular sodas, because the effect could be the same.

Not in all people, you said. Just some people. Perhaps those who are otherwise insulin resistant. You shrugged it off (a neat trick in an IM conversation) pointing out that you’re not a doctor or biologist, just someone with an idea. But you drove the point home with, “Think back to when you started gaining weight. Right about the time aspartame hit the market, right?”

As news-hungry a person as you are, I’m sure you saw or read a news piece about diet sodas this week. Researchers went back over 26 years of data and found a correlation between the consumption of diet sodas and obesity. They don’t have a causative factor yet, just statistical data.

I saw that on the news yesterday, and immediately went back to that conversation we had. And I wondered, “could Dack have been onto something?”

Could you have?

Here’s the thing: I am a diet soda addict. I kill off at least a six pack a day, and if my DDAVP wears off early and I don’t want to re-medicate, I can easily triple that. I’ve tried drinking just water when that happens, but I am so violently thirsty that I drink too much too quickly, and a stomach can only hold so much. I either have to throw up, and wait until there’s room in my stomach, during which time I suffer. And I don’t use the word suffer lightly. There is no thirst like that brought on by diabetes insipidus.

If I drink soda, the carbonation slows me down. I can’t guzzle a soft drink the way I can water.


I wonder now if I can do it. If I can kick the diet soda habit and drink water and de-caff tea. If it will make a difference if I do. If my sanity can survive giving up my main vice.

I’ve decided to try. I’ll finish off the Diet Sierra Mist I have in the fridge, stock up on bottled water, make a pitcher of de-caff tea, and see how long I can go without a diet soda.

Your job, Dacius Hunter, is to not point and say “Well, I freaking told you so,” if your theory does bear some truth for me. Your job is to say, “Way to go!” Your job is also to get a new email address, because your old one bounces.

Until then, I will post correspondence for all the world to see.

Your former so-called student and really thirsty Wabbit,

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