Friday, October 31, 2014

12 Years

Today is Hallowe'en.

Tomorrow is my 12-year diaversary.

Twelve years ago today, I woke up feeling awful. I woke up exhausted. I woke up thirsty. I woke up having probably lost a pound or two since the day before. I woke up craving sugar. I woke up knowing something was terribly wrong and hoping that the appointment I had made for November 1st would shed some light on the problem...even though I had pretty much figured out the problem already. I just didn't want to admit it to myself.

Twelve years ago tomorrow, I woke up in my own bed for the last time in a week. I would be misdiagnosed before noon, re-diagnosed correctly by about 4pm, in the hospital by 5 and in intensive care before dinner. I would have called my parents trying to be brave and broken down in tears before I could even say 'hi dad'. I would be put on an insulin IV and assured that insulin would make me feel better. It did. In fact by the time my parents showed up around 8pm I was already feeling better. Probably because my blood sugar was down to 20 rather than 35.

Every day has 24 hours in it. Every hour has 60 minutes in it and every minute has 60 seconds in it. Some days, some hours, some minutes have a bigger impact on our lives than others.

The day of my car accident when I was 16 years old aged me. In the hours, days and weeks that followed that horrible day, I grew up quickly. By the time I left that hospital, I was no longer the little girl who had gone in. I had grown up, matured and learned a lot of life lessons that helped me when I found myself in the same intensive care unit a decade later.

Some of the nurses recognized me from my last stay. I (thankfully) wasn't in the same room again but, as soon as those doors opened, I instantly remembered the smells, the sounds, the feeling of vulnerability and the stubborn refusal to cry no matter what happened next. At least not until my family had left the room.

That week 12 years ago was another one of those weeks where I was forced to mature quickly to adapt to my new situation. I came out of that hospital stronger and braver than I was when I went in.

I am who I am today because of many things. My ability to handle life's curveballs is due largely to that car accident and to that diabetes diagnosis. Those moments taught me how to handle physical and emotional pain with courage and how to separate the little things in life from the big ones.

I wouldn't wish either of those weeks on anyone. But I am grateful that they are part of my own history. My life would not be nearly as rich or wonderful if it wasn't for the moments that taught me what is important...and what is not.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


When I exercise regularly, which is most of the time, I look forward to exercising. On running mornings it's rare that I don't want to get up and run. On CoreFit and Tabata nights it's rare that I don't want to change, grab my mat and head across town for another crazy workout. When the little voice in my head suggests that it might be nice not to work out, the much louder one tells it to shhhh and there is rarely an argument.

Exercise begets more exercise.

For two weeks while I was sick, I did not exercise. At all.

This week, I'm back at it but only about 60%. I'm running but not quite as far and I'm back to CoreFit but only just. Swimming isn't even on the table yet.

The biggest lesson I learned is that not exercising begets even more not exercising.

The body gets used to whatever it does the most. When I exercise regularly, that becomes the norm and it is what my body knows and expects. It feels best when that pattern is maintained.

When I couldn't exercise, the first few days were tough. I felt awful but wanted desperately to go out for a run anyway. Didn't matter how long. Fifteen minutes was fine. I just wanted to move.

As every day went by, I became more and more comfortable not exercising and, in less than two weeks, not exercising became my new norm.

I knew I wanted to get back out there and run but it was my mind telling me to, not my body. My mind knew it was good for me. My mind knew that I would feel better and have more energy once I was moving regularly again. My mind knew I would use less insulin and have fewer highs once exercise was the routine.

My body was quite happy to sit on the couch after work. It was quite happy to sleep in until 6:30am, shower, eat and go to work. No 5am alarms.

I think I understand now how difficult it is for people to motivate themselves to exercise when they are not used to doing it. It's hard to get motivated. It's exhausting the first few times you do it and you're more tired afterwards. I don't think the endorphins come out to play for the first few weeks.

Only the fact that I know how good I'll feel once I get over the first few days gets me up when the alarm goes off. Only the fact that I have a vague memory of how much I love CoreFit convinces me to head out, in the dark, after work for a class.

For folks out there who are trying to find a way to motivate themselves to move more, here are my two cents for what they are worth. Use your mind to motivate you at the beginning - tell yourself all the reasons why it's important to walk, run, swim or whatever it is that appeals to you. Convince yourself of the value and talk yourself into moving. Once you get used to moving, your body will take over and motivate you to keep doing it.

Because, I have to say, it feels so darn good to be active. And the memory of feeling that good is what gets me moving again.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Neighbourhood Pharmacy

Monday after work, I popped in at the local pharmacy to get my flu shot.

For those of you who think I'm crazy for getting a flu shot, I don't want to hear about it. Well, actually, that's not very open-minded. Let me change that. For those of you who disagree with my choice to get a flu shot, I would love to hear your scientific arguments against it and I promise to read each and every one. 

Back to the story...

The pharmacy I chose to go to is the one I go to every year for my flu shot.

I like it there.

They are nice there.

I also like it because it's a pharmacy that is smack dab in the middle of several different neighbourhoods. Some of the most expensive homes in my city are within walking distance. So is much of the affordable housing. Doug and I live right in the middle of it all and I love that all sorts of different people live around us in a way that just seems to work. My 7k morning runs take me from one end of the socio-economic scale of our city to the other and back again.

I make a point of going to this pharmacy because it's one of those rare places where everyone feels welcome. It doesn't matter what you're wearing or how much money you have. It's open. It's accessible and nothing seems to phase the people who work there.

A rainbow of colours. People of all ages. Different accents. Tattoos. Piercings.

And that's just the staff.

I walked up to the counter and asked for a flu shot. I filled out the form and had to wait my turn behind everyone who had dropped off a prescription before me.

Two people had come in for their daily methadone maintenance treatment. They nodded at me when I made eye contact. They leaned against the wall casually waiting their turn to be called up.

A young mother covered in tattoos and piercings brought her young daughter in. She proceeded to open a chocolate bar and share it with her daughter while they tried on sunglasses, debated between Ninja Turtle and Barbie bandaids and waited for whatever it was they were waiting for. The mother kept yelling her daughter's name if she wandered too far and, instead of giving her annoyed looks, the other folks grinned at the precocious little girl who clearly had a mind of her own.

Seniors made their way in and each one was greeted by name. They looked at the little girl and then grinned at me.

University students with their strategically messy buns, pyjama pants and UGG boots were slumped in chairs waiting for their names to be called.

A woman dressed to the nines strolled in. She probably looked the most out of place. She too smiled when I made eye contact.

I choose to get my flu shot for my health and for the health of the people around me.

I choose to go to the pharmacy that I go to because it's a community that I enjoy being a part of.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Perfect. Just Perfect.

I went to the eye doctor last Friday for my annual exam.

I went because I am supposed to go every year to make sure that the diabetes complication gods have not been working overtime. I also went because I have been noticing that a) I can't see distant things quite as clearly with my glasses and I am also having trouble reading through my glasses. In fact I am now resorting to taking them off to read.

I went in thinking I'd come out with a clean bill of health eye-wise as well as a prescription for bifocals.

I was right on one count and wrong on the other.

My eyes, despite almost 12 years of diabetes, are perfectly healthy. There is no sign of damage whatsoever.

Sending out a big thank you to whatever diabetes gods out there are in charge of the Department of Complications. Obviously they've been sleeping on the job and I'm quite happy for them to stay that way for another 12 years. Hell, how about another 50 years?

As for the vision test - well I learned a thing or two about how my vision works.

I was put through all the regular eye tests. Close one eye and read the tiny letters across the room. Close the other eye and read this sentence in a book. And so on.

After the tests were done I was told, in no uncertain terms, that my prescription has not changed.

With my glasses on, I have 20/20 vision in terms of distance.

Without my glasses on, I have 20/20 vision in terms of reading.

So what is my problem?

Apparently, I'm just perfect.

I was told, with a smile, that my vision with my glasses on used to actually be better than 20/20. But, with age (sigh), they are no longer able to get me to see any better than 20/20. In other words, my vision is now just perfect rather than superduperperfect.

In terms of reading, I read perfectly well without my glasses. I can do the finest needlepoint without my glasses (if I actually did that sort of thing). But I can no longer do these things while wearing my glasses because it puts just a bit too much strain on my eyes and they struggle to see through the prescription lens. Take off my glasses and I am just perfect.

So no new prescription. And certainly no bifocals. In fact, I was told that I may never need them because I am near sighted and am 20/20 at that. Worst case: I get bifocals down the road where the reading part has no prescription whatsoever.

Perhaps I've been spoiled for the past 40 years with my superhuman vision but I have to admit that I'm not perfectly pleased with my perfect vision.

Guess I'll have to get used to the idea of settling for 100%.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Busy Weekend

Some weekends feel like weekends. Others, like whirlwinds.

The fact that it's Monday morning already is a bit of shock to the system but not at all surprising considering how busy our weekend was.

Despite a rather frantic pace, I did manage to fit in a few things to do with health and fitness.

I think, sadly, that we may have played our last golf of the season. We played nine holes on Friday after work and another nine holes on Sunday afternoon. Both games were cold and windy but the fall colours and the company made it all worthwhile. I also managed to post my two best scores of the season and drop my handicap by yet another number. Not a bad way to end the season.

I did get up and go for a run on Saturday morning. My first run in two weeks. I headed out aiming to run 5k. Two minutes in I felt so good to be running again that I switched my goal to 7k. Five minutes in I had dropped it back down to 5k again. Two weeks off is one thing. Two weeks off due to a nasty cold is another. My legs had the energy to carry me, my lungs were struggling with the exertion and my body was obviously not 100% yet. I stopped twice en route and both times, as soon as I stopped, the world began to spin. Just enough to remind me to take it easy and to stick to running on the sidewalk rather than the side of the road in case I tottered too much. I managed to finish 5k and felt better for it but it will be a few days yet before I attempt a 10k, that's for sure.

The golf and the run was enough to kick start my metabolism again and, for the first time in two weeks, my daily insulin dose dropped below 50 units per day. In fact, on Friday I only used 38 units, on Saturday I used 40, and on Sunday I used 38. Ten units less per day simply by doing a bit of activity. Amazing how much a difference exercise makes. It's also less expensive in terms of supplies. I've been changing my pump every 3.5 days since I got sick. It will be nice to go back to changing it every 4.5-5 days.

We also found a few minutes to carve some pre-Halloween pumpkins. Guess which one I did?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Thirty Minute Goal

Guess what I'm going to do this tomorrow? 

I'm going to go for a run. 




No fuss. No muss. Just gonna tie on my shoes, head out the door and lope along my familiar thirty minute route. 

My goals? 

To not beak into an uncontrollable coughing fit partway through and be forced to walk home. 

To run the entire thing from start to finish. 

To feel good at the end. 

If it goes well, I might try the same damn thing on Sunday. 

If that goes well, I'm running 7k on Tuesday morning and, if the stars align, I'm back to CoreFit on Tuesday night. 

Swimming is going to have to wait another week I think. It's one thing to gasp my way through a run. It's another thing entirely to not be able to breathe 100% and to hop in the pool. 

This damn cold has dragged on for two weeks now but I'm definitely on the mend. I know because instead of feeling a desperate need to sleep, I'm feeling a growing need to move. 

She's baaaack! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ben Bradley

Ben Bradley, from the Washington Past, passed away this week.

He was the editor of the Washington Post at the time of Watergate. He was the man who had the courage to publish the first articles about Watergate that eventually led to Nixon's resignation in 1974 - 23 days before I was born.

Last night, we had dinner and then sat down to watch "All the President's Men". Doug knew all of the history. I did not and felt like a kid in history class who knew that she was about to learn something really important.

By the end of the movie, I understood what it must have been like during that time. I also developed a great appreciation for Ben Bradley and the courage he displayed by supporting the still unknown reporters who were coming to him with stories that ran so deep and implicated so many people that they seemed more fiction that fact.

I'm off to bed to let my mind whirl itself to sleep.

'night y'all.

Rest in Peace Ben.