Thursday, July 31, 2014

Five Point Fives

When I was at Friends for Life a few weeks back I learned a new diabetes expression.

Five point five.

At first I didn't know what it meant. I overheard a few people saying things like "he's a five point five" or "you hang out with a lot of five point fives".

Being a fan of the art of figuring things out on my own, I didn't ask what they were talking about. I tried to guess.

Why would one person be a five point five and another person not be one? What makes someone a five point five?

It wasn't a gender thing. Or a height thing. Or a body shape thing. Or a shoe size thing. At least it didn't seem to be.

Any guesses?

Perhaps it's easier if you see it written as 5.5 rather than five point five.

Someone who is a 5.5 is someone who doesn't have diabetes. It's a funny thing to call them but makes sense because every time you check their sugar, even after a tray of maple fudge and baklava (mmmmm, maple fudge and baklava!), their blood sugar will be 5.5. Or thereabouts.

(Oh, and apparently my American friends call these folks ninety-nines. Same idea, different system of measurement). 

Being a five point five isn't a bad thing. At least I don't think people were saying it was. I certainly don't think it is. In fact 95% of my friends are five point fives so, if it's a bad thing, I'm so oh elle in the friend department.

I think that I'm going to add my own little caveat to the definition. For me, a five point five is someone who doesn't have diabetes but who also recognize that some people do have diabetes. They might not get all the ins and outs of it but they know it exists.

So I'm happy to add five to fives to my vocabulary but I'm making a point of distinguishing between them and the folks I like to call the don't get its.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Unplanned Tempos

Tuesday morning was a tough one for getting up and out of bed at 5:15.

I just wasn't feeling it and would much rather have stayed in bed for another 75 minutes.

"Get your ass up!" said that sometimes helpful, often annoying, voice in my head. "And be quick about it, Doug has a busy day ahead of him and needs his sleep."

I grumbled in my head and tiptoed off to the bathroom, not even bothering to argue with myself that I too had a busy day and could have used my sleep. Instead of arguing, I was making up excuses as I went. Don't even worry about running all 7k. Just do 6k. You prefer even numbers anyway. Heck. It's been a few weeks since you've have an honest to goodness 'easy week' so maybe you should just do 5k. Blah blah blah. Thank goodness I've mastered the art of making excuse while completely ignoring them and doing what I know I should be doing.

I pulled on a t-shirt instead of a tank top because the air coming in the window was chillier than it should have been for a July morning. I ate a date and stuffed some emergency carbs in the zippered pocket of my shorts. I opened the door, shivered, crossed my arms across my chest and shuffled to the end of the driveway. I looked both ways just in case someone else was up, started my watch and headed off.

The first kilometre felt the way it always feels. Slow to warm up. Breath a bit laboured. Legs sluggish and cranky. I kept going knowing it would get better. My watch beeped and I saw 6:35 pop up. The time it took for the first kilometre. Typical for me.

The second kilometre felt the same. My watch beeped and I saw 6:33 pop up. Typical metronome pace on a typical Tuesday morning run.

I kept going and realized I was feeling better than I thought I did. Certainly better than I felt 13 minutes earlier. Perhaps it was the cool morning air? One kilometre later I saw a 6:30 pop up. That's funny. I don't usually get faster every kilometre.

I wonder if I can do it again?

I tried to pick up my pace just a bit. I didn't want to go crazy and then blow up before I finished but a little part of me was curious to see if the early morning speed workouts I had been doing had improved my ability to pick up the pace a bit and hold it.

The next kilometre was 6:28. Good. Let's speed it up a bit more.

6:18 for the fifth kilometre and I was feeling better by the minute. I didn't even have to convince myself to keep going. I just wanted to. Down one street, around the corner, up another street.

The sixth kilometre took 6:11 and it included the only hill on the route. Nothing crazy but I usually lose a few seconds on it. I don't gain them. I even timed the light well and didn't have to stop. Usually timing it right means I get to stop but I was in no mood to lose my rhythm.

The last kilometre felt great. I knew I was tiring but kept going knowing it was almost over.


Not bad for a tired girl who almost didn't get out of bed.

Looks like Tuesday mornings might become tempo run days.

It is true you know. The only runs you regret are the ones you don't do.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Stymied Sensor

Yesterday's blog whipped through the weekend rather quickly because that was all I had time to write. Now that I have a few more minutes, there are some things I would like to revisit. Specifically in the diabetes department.

I've been working at figuring out how to keep my blood sugars fairly stable while I play golf. Golf is different than swimming or running and, as a result, I'm learning all over again. There are a few diabetes challenges when I play 18 holes.
a) I'm doing 4 hours of walking and carrying golf clubs so it's a lot of low intensity exercise which I'm not used to doing.
b) It's usually really hot out so dehydration is always a risk
b) I get hungry and need to have a snack partway through. If I don't I'm a shaky mess by the end that has nothing at all to do with diabetes. I'm just beyond hungry.
c) I don't want to take insulin if possible on the course because, in combination with the activity, it usually leads to a yoyo of lows and highs that involve me eating way more than I want and feeling sick or not being able to eat even when I'm starting.

After a bit of trial and error I've worked out a system that seems to be effective. I don't do it when I play 9 holes but I do when I play 18.

(This is where I add the reminder that your diabetes may vary and my experiences are my own.Add to that the fact that I'm not a doctor and you'll realize that doing exactly what I do is probably not the best way to handle your diabetes. If you even have diabetes.I guess I should add that your golf may vary too so don't be copying my golf technique either)

I lower my basal rate by 40% 90 minutes before we start. I set this temp basal for 4 hours which means that my regular basal rate kicks in before the golf game ends. I do my best to make sure my blood sugar is mid-range (6-8) before I start and that I have no insulin on board from a previous meal. I have a small snack before we head out (ex. a banana or an oatmeal cookie). No insulin for the snack.

I check Rose after every hole to catch highs or lows before they happen. Once we finish 9 and confirm that we are indeed doing all 18, I will have a Clif bar. If my blood sugar is hovering a little high (10+) I will have half the bar and if it's a little lower (under 8) I'll have the entire bar. No insulin.

The carbs in the bar do battle with the exercise in my legs and it usually results in my staying between 6-9 for the back nine.

On Sunday, I got to test this system on faith. I lowered my basal insulin as usual. I was 6.9 at the start of the 10th hole so I pulled out my Clif bar and ate the entire thing. I teed up and hit my ball. My shirt which was rather sweaty from the heat twisted against my side and I felt my sensor pull out as I hit the ball. I mean entirely out. I lifted my shirt and it was hanging there limp and unusable. I did not have my glucometer with me because Rose is so consistent that I never need it on the course.

Option 1. End the game.
Option 2. Trust my system and my ability to sense when I'm high or low and carry on.

I carried on of course. I felt fine the entire way. I made sure to drink a lot of water to help avoid dehydration-induced highs and I kept checking in with myself to see how I felt. We finished and I guessed I was 8.5. I was 9.0. Perfect.

By the time we got home and I showered, it was 8pm. If I put in a new sensor I would have to wait two hours to calibrate it and I knew I was too tired to stay up that long so I went to bed without a sensor. Probably the second time I've done that since last November. I used to sleep without a backup system all the time but, now that I've gotten used to it, it's a little disconcerting to think that the only thing that will wake me up if I'm low is me.

I checked at 1am and I was 9.6. I took a modest correction bolus and woke up at 6:30am with a lovely 5.0. By 9am my new sensor was up and running and the comfort of being able to look down and see how I'm doing was back.

It's nice when the diabetes gods play nice.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Weekend

Today's blog is a little short on words.

My excuse is lack of time. But lack of time means that we just finished a wonderfully active weekend so I'm not particularly bothered by lack of time.

Friday I left work and we headed directly to the golf course for a lovely 18 holes. Followed by dinner. And then bed because it was late and we were exhausted.

Saturday morning started off with a nice run. The sun was up but it was cool with a refreshing breeze. Life doesn't get a heck of a lot better than that - especially in July.

The rest of the day involved an afternoon spent with my best friend from my University days. Three solid hours of laughter is good for the soul. Follow that up by dinner with two newer but no less wonderful friends and suddenly it was 9pm again.  

Sunday morning, we hopped on our bikes for a 90-minute ride with our cycling friends. I followed by the 40-minute workout that I wrote about last week (arms, legs and core muscles were all burning by the end of that). A quick lunch and shower and we were back on the golf course for another 18 holes. Followed by steak and red wine.

And somehow it's 9pm on Sunday night and I have nothing written for Monday.

I'm perfectly fine with that.

See you all tomorrow!

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Week in Review

  • I played golf on Monday with my lady friends at our favourite 9 hole par 3 course. This time last year I was working hard to break 50 on that course. A month ago I was struggling to get under 46. On Monday I got a 39! 

  • At the end of a team meeting this week we were asked to answer the following question: name something in your personal or your work life that you are working on 'letting go'. My answer popped immediately into my head. "I am working on letting go of the instant anger and frustration I feel when someone says something entire asinine and insensitive in response to my saying 'I have diabetes'." My shoulders and neck tensed as I said this which made me admit that perhaps I wasn't as far along the 'letting go' path as I'd like to be. 

  • I did my new favourite 6x800m interval run yesterday morning. My neighbour came out just as I was heading around the block for my third 800m. "Going for a run?" she asked. "Yep" I replied. I returned 4 minutes and a few hands full of seconds later. She looked at me and said, as if disappointed, "Oh, that's all you're going to run?". "No" I replied. "I just ran 800m. I've already done it three times and I have three more times to go". Her eyes widened and she said "you're crazy!". I grinned and headed off again for number four. When I got back I asked jokingly if she wanted to join me on number 5. "I don't jog" she said wistfully. "Neither do I" I replied. I don't know if she got the running humour or not but I grinned and she grinned back so we're good. 

  • It was a little cooler than is typical for a Thursday in July so, after my intervals, breakfast and shower I pulled on my jeans, compression socks and running shoes with orthotics and headed off to work. I am almost embarrassed to tell you how good my legs felt after a few weeks of sandals. Their sigh of relief at being so spoiled was audible. 

  • I changed my pump site and put it higher on my abdomen than I usually do in search of some fresh real estate. In fact it's less on my abdomen and a bit more at the bottom of my rib cage. It felt fine going in and worked just fine but started hurting a few hours after being inserted. I've done this before and the pain was familiar. As was the stubborn response that immediately popped in my head. "Suck it up princess. It's only four days. You just changed it and you're not going to waste $20 changing it again if it's working just fine." Sigh. 

  • I made my favourite home alone dinner this week. Quinoa, steamed kale, roasted sweet potato, goat cheese, olive oil and soy sauce. It was so tasty that I was almost entirely ok with the fact that we were out of black beans. I had to buy the world's biggest sweet potato because that was all that they had at the store. I had visions of it taking 2 hours to roast. As I stood at the counter I had the brilliant idea of slicing it into 1/2 inch slices, drizzling olive oil over the slices and roasting it that way. It took 30 minutes and was delicious. That, my friends, took me at least ten years to figure out. Maybe next time I'll do beets too. I was so amazed at the potato discovery that I went completely wild and stirred a bit of sriracha sauce into the quinoa. 

  • I went for bloodwork on Tuesday in preparation for my upcoming appointment at the Diabetes Centre on August 7th. I got back to work and my cell phone rang. It was the Diabetes Centre calling to reschedule for October 7th. Fabulous. My bloodwork is going to need to be dusted off by the time I get there. 

  • I go through a swim suit every few months thanks to the wonders of chlorine. I am currently wearing a red one that I like very much. I also have a red swim cap that I got from a triathlon last summer. It has my race number on it and I like it very much as well also. I'm not usually that colour coordinated at the pool but I have been wearing red for a while now and feel very 'swimmer' when I do. On Monday, partway through my workout, my swim cap split. Right up the middle of my forehead. I sighed a sigh of sadness and pulled it off in the ten seconds we had between sprints. I used to swim all the time without a swim cap so I figured I'd finish the workout sans problème and dig out an old one for my next workout. Within seconds I realized we had a problem. My hair is all different lengths now and half of it fell out of the elastic in about five seconds and was all over my face, I discovered that water does not flow past my head as smoothly without a cap and it kept churning up my nose which may sound totally bizarre but I swear it's true. I had to lift my head higher to breathe and I was slower as a result. I cannot believe I used to hate swim caps. I also had to spend an extra ten minutes in the shower trying to comb out all the tangles from my hair. Never again she said. Never again. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

If Running Were Like Golf...

Imagine for a moment if other sports were like golf.

If running were like golf, you'd start off running fairly well but, after a little while, you would second guess how your feet should land at each stride. And then you would feel that something was not quite right so you would tweak how your arms swing but that would lead to you having to adjust the amount of bounce in your step which would lead you to wonder if you really should wear those shoes for that run when these shoes might work better if you tie them just right. And then, after a few weeks of self-tweaking, you'd have to pay a pile of money for a running lesson because you had completely lost the ability to run from one end of the driveway to the other without falling down twice and then running head first into the garage.

If cycling were like golf you would only be able to cycle at certain times of the day. And you would need at least three other people to cycle with you. If you didn't have a group of four, a nice man you may or may not know would ask if you minded very much if rider A and rider B might join you on the ride. And it wouldn't matter how fast they could or couldn't ride or how well they climbed hills, whether they had completed in Le Tour de France or whether they still had training wheels on their bikes, the etiquette of the game would dictate that you should embrace these two new cyclists as friends and agree to spend the next four hours with them.

If swimming were like golf they would keep moving the black lines in the pool so every time you went they would look slightly different. The length of the lane would change a wee bit from day to day. The ropes lining the lane might shift slightly. Swimmers would stand at the end of the pool (in groups of four) and debate the exact distance from one end to the other now that the lines had moved five inches to the right. They would eyeball the distance, they would pull out their iPhones with their fancy distance-measuring apps and then they would carefully select the correct swim cap to wear to maximize their distance/speed ratio for that length. At the other side of the pool they would turn around, eyeball or gps the distance back, remove their green swim cap and put on their red one which might be their lucky cap, it might be the one that helps elevate their legs just that fraction more or it might be the one that cuts through the water all that much better. All this would be done with the utmost seriousness and everyone would keep score on how they did and what swim caps they used.

Golf, thank heavens, is in a league of its own. The minutes you stop enjoying in and start trying too hard, it falls apart. The minute you start thinking too hard about any part of it, the whole thing disintegrates into a mess of water hazards and bunkers.

But when the sun it setting on a summer's eve and it feels like we are the only ones out on the course, it's the most beautiful place to be.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Next Issue = Sore Abs

Alright I admit it. I like magazines. 

Don't get me wrong. I'm a big fan of 1000+ page novels and other reading commitments but I do enjoy spending an afternoon lazily flipping through pages of a magazine looking at the beautiful photography and reading the short and easily digestible articles. 

Have you heard of Next Issue? I love it! It's a monthly subscription service that allows you access to a wide variety of magazines on your reading device. In my case an iPad mini. The range of magazines is pretty broad and you can pick the ones you're interested in. At the moment I have 31 different magazines I get every month but I can change that any time I want. There are probably just as many I don't get and they are adding more all the time. 

Thirty-one magazines. And some of them are weeklies. Think about that for a minute. 

I love it because I can explore magazines I wouldn't ever go out and buy and would never subscribe to. But, since they're included in my subscription, why not? I read golf magazines, cooking magazines, news magazines, financial, running, fashion and health magazines. I have National Geographic and The New Yorker. I have things for the days when I want to look at pretty clothes and nail polish colours, things when I need some workout inspiration, financial encouragement or news bites. Thanks to Next Issue I am never at a loss for things to read. 

And imagine how much more fun it is to fly when you have all those magazines at your fingertips! 

So the other day I was catching up on a few issues of Prevention magazine. One of those magazines that I had never even heard of before Next Issue and would probably never buy. It's a combination of articles like how to get in touch with your pet's emotional side intermixed with how to increase the amount of iron in your diet and a smattering of tips and tricks for how to strengthen your calves. 

I was flipping through it in bed the other night and came across one of those articles that shows a few different exercises you can do at home to strengthen your core. You know the ones I'm talking about. They have tiny photographs of a lovely looking model doing all sorts of seemingly easy poses using a kitchen chair, broom and cans of soup. I usually flip by those in a hurry to get to more substantial articles. 

This time I didn't. 

I stopped and read the intro article. I studied the 14 exercises. And I thought "I can do that!" 

In fact I took it one step further and thought "I want to do that". 

See, I'm a big fan of cardio-type workouts. I swim, run and cycle regularly. But I don't have any strength training in my routine. I used to lift weights at the gym years ago but haven't in a long long time. The workout that I read was designed to strengthen the core muscles as well as arms, shoulders, butt, legs etc. There were 14 exercises that you do for one minute each and then you repeat the entire cycle. 

Thirty minutes. 

I can do that. 

So on Sunday morning I put on my sadly unused yoga top and shorts and headed to the living room. I pulled out my yoga mat, my elastic band thingie and some hand weights I used to use (8 pounds each because those were the lightest I had). 

I worked my way through the workout and was dripping by exercise 4. Shaking by number 6 and unable to completely do the last few. I collapsed on the mat for a few minutes at the end of the 14 and then convinced myself to do a second run through. It was a little easier the second time but nowhere near easy. Thirty minutes later I was a weak, humbled, soaking mess of my former self but I was grinning from ear to ear. 

"I'm so gonna hurt tomorrow" I said. 

By bedtime I was actually a little disappointed that nothing hurt yet. I thought I must have worked some muscles hard enough for them to hurt. But nothing. I went to sleep feeling oddly bothered by the fact that I felt fine. I woke up around 3am having to use the ladies room. I was lying on my stomach so I quietly began to push myself up but quickly stopped. Bloody hell - my abs are killing me. Instead of pushing myself up and clambering out of bed I gingerly rolled myself out. My abs hurt, my legs hurt and my butt hurt. 


It's been a long time since I've felt that familiar ache of a tough muscle-burning weight training session. I forgot how much I used to enjoy that. 

I'm giving myself a few days to recover and will be doing it again on Thursday.