Saturday, May 16, 2015

D-Blog Week Day 6 - Favourites and Motivations

Today we were encouraged to go back into our blogging past and re-post something that we have written. A favourite sentence or blog post. Well, after years of blogging, I still think that the post I'm reposting today is my favourite. If you missed it the first time, enjoy.

Diabetes - What it's Like on the Inside

It's always the same and yet it's always different.

Sometimes it starts with a dry throat and a gentle headache right between my eyes. The kind that makes me squint a bit and brings out those frown lines that I get when I'm thinking hard about something.

Sometimes it starts with a yawn. And then another one. And then another one. I usually start slouching in my chair a bit or get up to make some tea in an effort to wake up.

Sometimes my elbows start to feel a little less bendy. Like the fluid in my joints is starting to solidify.

Sometimes I get a funny taste in my mouth.

Sometimes the symptoms stop there. Sometimes they get worse and my dry throat becomes a crushing thirst, my gentle headache starts to pound, my yawns flow into each other and my joints all begin to join the stiffening chorus. Sometimes my hands start to ache.

Sometimes I clue in quickly. Other times I don't.

I always clue in eventually and grab my glucometer - knowing I'm going to see 16+ on the screen.

Sometimes my lips and tongue start to tingle just a bit. The way they feel when the freezing is coming out after a trip to the dentist.

Sometimes my heart starts beating a little faster and feels like a fluttering bird in my chest.

Sometimes I start to yawn. And yawn. And yawn. I go make a cup of green tea in an effort to wake up a bit.

Sometimes my limbs start to feel light, like gravity was turned down a notch. I become a little more awkward and clumsy than usual.

Sometimes little things annoy me. Things that didn't annoy me even a minute before and things that don't normally annoy me...ever.

Sometimes I clue in quickly. Sometimes I don't.

When I don't, my lips and tongue start tingling a lot - to the point where I can hardly feel them. My heart beat gets crazier and I start to sweat. It comes on fast and furious at that point and I can easily sweat through a hoodie and a jacket as well as my jeans in minutes. The yawns progress to the point where I can hardly get a sentence out between them. The world starts to spin. I need to sit down.

What I really need to do is grab some juice.

Diabetes is a textbook disease made up of numbers. Dosages. Ratios. Units. Time.

Diabetes is often summarized on a piece a paper with pictures of people drinking water or looking pale and shaky. It comes with warnings that a person is in one of the two ends of the blood sugar spectrum and helpful suggestions about what to do.

Diabetes is all of those things. And it's none of those things.

Diabetes is the horror of waking up drenched in sweat and hardly able to reach the Dex 4s on your bedside table and wondering, through the haze, "what if I hadn't woken up?"

Diabetes is the fear of going back to sleep in case it happens again. And it's the feeling of isolation when you get to the pool the next morning, tired and shaken, and no one has any idea what you've been through and how scared you were...and how important it was to get up early anyway so diabetes doesn't win.

Diabetes is the horror of struggling to control a blood sugar of 25 with dose after dose of insulin and feeling that every minute you spend up in the clouds is another minute that diabetes is doing damage to your body. The only body you have. And diabetes is wondering if this high will be the high that puts me over the edge to the land of no return.

Diabetes is the fear of going low 1500m from shore during a triathlon swim and yet still getting in the water because the fear of letting diabetes dictate your life is greater than the fear of an open-water low.

Diabetes is squinting at the tiny air bubbles in your insulin tube, carefully priming to get them out, and then wondering if anyone will do that for you if your eyesight fails and you are no longer able to do that for yourself one day.

Diabetes is listening to people talk about other people with diabetes and all the horrible things happening to them...and refusing to let that stop you from trying to be healthy even though it's just so easy to give up and hand diabetes the reigns.

Diabetes is about doing the same thing, day after day after day, knowing it's only going to work half the time.

Diabetes is about finding a way to be proud of the fact that you test your blood sugar in public and have tubes coming out of you as you walk around the change room after your swim. Because the alternative is hiding and that's not an alternative you're willing to entertain.

Diabetes is all numbers and ratios and signs and symptoms on the outside.

On the inside, it's a never-ending battle between fear and courage. Between motivation and depression. Between the will to fight and the urge to throw in the towel.

Sometimes I'm the one on the left. Sometimes I'm the one on the right. 
Depends on the day. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

D-Blog Week Day 5 - Foods on Friday

Today is all about food. Specifically the food I ate yesterday. So y'all are getting a glimpse into a day in the life of CĂ©line's stomach.

I'm up and ready to run. My blood sugar was 4.6 so I ate two dates. Two fresh, plump, delicious medjool dates.

Run done and breakfast is warmed up and ready for eatin'. My favourite breakfast these days is steel cut oats (cooked ahead of time and then put in the fridge in one-serving batches for easy heating). I warm them up with some almond milk (plain, unsweetened and fortified). Once heated, I toss it all into a bowl that already has 1/3 of a cup of All Bran buds ready and waiting. I stir it all together and then top with 1/2  of a banana (sliced), 3/4 cup of plain greek yogurt, 6 walnut halves broken up into bits and, when we have them, some berries on top. Yesterday there were several blackberries and raspberries adding some zip and colour.

Lunch time! I didn't eat anything between breakfast and lunch because a) my blood sugar was well-behaved and b) I was in meetings and it wasn't easy to snack. Lunch was leftover greek chicken salad (chicken, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, lemon juice and olive oil) topped with an avocado. I followed that up with 1 cup of kefir (delicious) and a small green apple.

Peanut butter chocolate chip Larabar (I was golfing at 4:30pm so this was my pre-golf snack)

9 holes of golf done and I was eating dinner at the golf course with the ladies I golf with on Thursdays. Dinner was the Urban Sombrero salad with flank steak on top. The salad is made up of quinoa, black beans, veggies and cilantro with a chipotle orange dressing. Topped with a few pieces of avocado. Oh, and a 9 oz. glass of red wine.

Home and settled in for another episode of Bloodline on Netflix. A frozen yogurt bar (chocolate fudge flavour) kept me company.

Rose buzzed. I was dropping. Two fig newtons later I was topped up and heading back to sleep.

And that, my friends, is what this T1osaur ate yesterday.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

D-Blog Week Day 4 - Changes

Today's topic: changes.

Specifically, changes that we would like to see in the diabetes world or changes that we have been through since we were diagnosed.

Well the first thing that popped into my head when I read the topic was the change in attitude that I have experienced when it comes to insulin pumps.

Like most people, when I was first diagnosed, I started off on multiple daily injections (MDI). I had two different insulin pens (needles). One with long-acting insulin that I took in the morning and again at night. The other with fast-acting insulin that I took every time I ate something with carbs in it or when my blood sugar was high. And heaven help me if I mixed them up.

I did all of the calculations in my head (40 carbs for breakfast, 1 unit of insulin for every 8 grams of carbs = 5 units.  Plus perhaps an extra unit or two because my sugar is high. Or perhaps only 2.5 units because I'm going for a run etc etc).

When I first heard of the insulin pump, I had a visceral reaction to the very idea of it.


My mother and I were having dinner together one night and she asked me why I was so opposed to the insulin pump. She had read about them and said they sounded like a good alternative. I said that I didn't want to have something attached to me all the time. She probed a bit more and, to the surprise and horror of both of us, I started crying. Right there in the restaurant.

See, years ago I had been in a nasty car accident and had to undergo some pretty major surgery that saved my life. I had a temporary colostomy which was successfully reversed a few months later. I thought I was over the ordeal but, when pushed about the pump, I suddenly realized why my reaction to it was so visceral. Having something attached to my body, that was somehow both on the outside and on the inside at the same time, reminded me too much of that really painful, difficult time. It fell into the category of 'colostomy' and I wanted nothing to do with it.

My mother understood and didn't ask again. I went on with my MDI routine.

I had not yet discovered the Diabetes Online Community (DOC). I did not know anyone else with diabetes. I certainly did not know anyone on the pump. Still, it was hard to avoid the information and posters I would see when I went to the Diabetes Centre. It took me a few more years before I would even consider a pump but I slowly opened up to the idea.

When I heard about a pump info session in my community, I took a deep breath and went.


I tried on an infusion site. I wore it all day. I lay down on it, I put clothes over it. I bent and twisted and moved around and I realized that it was nothing like I thought it would be.

So I signed up and got a pump.

A pump that does all the insulin to carb calculations for me. And the pump actually remembers when I took my insulin and how many units I took in case I forget. And it tells me how much insulin is left in my system so I don't have to guess. And it lets me fine tune my insulin doses which makes all the sports I do much easier and safer.

It's not perfect and there are days when I curse having to be attached to something. But I don't think I would ever consider going back to MDI.

In fact I am the first person to promote insulin pumps. Anyone I talk to who is considering one gets gushing reviews from me - the girl who once cried in horror at the very thought of wearing one.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

D-Blog Week Day 3 - Clean it Out

Today's topic challenges us to look for diabetes-related things that we are holding on to. It might be physical belongings or it might be emotional stuff that we can't seem to let go of. What are these things, why are we hanging on to them and what are we going to do about them?

Yesterday I struggled a bit with the blog topic and today I seem to be doing the same thing. 

In a physical sense, I really don't hang on to too much diabetes stuff. I have my diabetes cupboard where my supplies are stashed and there is usually a pretty good supply stashed. But I use it all and I feel better when there are weeks of back up stuff stashed in there because one just never knows when that pesky zombie apocalypse is going to hit. 

But other than having a good supply of things I use, I really don't have a lot of extra stuff kicking around for no reason. 

Oh wait, that might not be true. 

Actually, when I think about it, I may still have every single glucometer I have ever used tucked away on the bottom shelf of that diabetes cupboard. 

I may also have boxes of lancets for each of these devices that are still 3/4 full because, let's be honest here, you don't go through too many lancets when you only change them one per season. 

Oh dear. Now that I think about it, I may still have all of the start-up information for my Medtronic pump. The pump I used to use before I switched to Animas several years ago. 

And, since we're being honest here, I may also have gotten into the habit of saving the little pump plug thingie that I use when I am unhooking my pump for a shower. I keep one in the bathroom, two in my toiletry bag for when I'm traveling and a few in my swim bag for the pool. And then, for about 5 years, I used to toss every new one I got into a plastic bag in my diabetes cupboard, just in case. And when you consider that I get a new plug thingie every four days when I put in a new site, I have a lot of them. 

I'm proud to stay that, in the last year or so, I have stopped saving them. But I did post this picture a few years ago and it might be worth looking at it again. 

By the way, this is one of those gimmicky wine glasses that holds an entire bottle of wine in it. There are a lot of those plug thingies in there. 

Ok, so maybe I really do need to take a look at my diabetes cupboard and toss a few things out. 

As for emotional baggage that I am dragging around, since we are all being honest here, there is one thing that does make me kinda crazy. 

I am finding it increasingly difficult to respond respectfully to people who say things about diabetes (be it T1 or T2) that are ignorant or hurtful. Most of the time I am able to hold myself back because I know the person and I know that they are not saying these things to be hurtful, they just really don't understand. So instead of snapping at them, I try to patiently educate so that, hopefully, the next time they think something negative about diabetes, they hear my voice in their head saying "don't judge. Just don't. You have no idea and what you just said is very hurtful. If you're curious, ask the person. But for heaven's sake, don't judge." 

But I have to say that, after 12 years of this, there are days when it's really difficult to put on my nice girl pants...because what I really want to do is give them a good smack and say "oh for heaven's sakes, you have no idea what you're talking about, you are spreading negativity and you sound incredibly ignorant. So how about you stop spewing inaccurate information and making things worse for everyone."


But you and I know that the second response does not make the world a better place. Only the first one does. 

And I'm all about making the world a better place. 

So while I am getting increasingly frustrated by the lack of accurate diabetes knowledge out there, I am also committed to changing that when I can. 

But let me tell you, there are days when I want to toss all of my pump plug thingies out and check to see if that wine glass really does hold an entire bottle. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

D-Blog Week Day 2 - Keep it to Yourself

For this second day of D-Blog week we were challenged to talk about some of the aspects of diabetes that we keep private. Those things that we don't blog about and those things we don't tell our family or our friends about.

This topic was a tough one for me because, to be honest, I had trouble thinking of something to write about.

My immediate thought was that I don't really keep diabetes-related things private. There are plenty of parts of my life that I never blog about but I don't tend to pull any punches when it comes to diabetes. The good the bad and the ugly bits of diabetes all take turns starring in my blog.

Then I told myself to think harder. That there must be something I don't share, some aspect about diabetes that, consciously or not, I don't share. I told myself that I just need to be really honest with myself and I'll find something.

I'm honest about my blood sugars. I write about the tough days, the emotional days, the easy days. I write about the scary moments and I write about the inspiring ones. I talk about the times when I'm angry at the diabetes gods and the times when we are getting along and can go out for drinks together.

Then it hit me.

I don't whine about diabetes.

I resolutely refuse to complain about anything to do with diabetes.

I think it's important to share the challenges but I try very hard to do it in either an entertaining or an informative way. I want others to learn from my adventures and I want people to find comfort in knowing that someone else out there gets it.

But I have no patience for people who complain for the sake of complaining. Complaining rarely makes anyone feel better and usually ends up dragging other people down. Complaining feels destructive rather than constructive.

So, no matter how I am feeling on any given day, about any diabetes-related situation, I won't complain about it, on my blog or to the people I care about.

Even on the toughest diabetes day, when the roller-coaster seems to be running non-stop, there is always something I can do to make it better. So while I might drop the odd f-bomb, I refuse to wallow and I refuse to stop trying.

Monday, May 11, 2015

D-Blog Week Day 1 - I Can...

I have had the honour of speaking in front of various groups about how I live my life with type 1 diabetes.

I usually start off by telling them my diagnosis story so that they know a bit more about who I am and where I am coming from.

Then I tell them the story of the day I decided to become a runner. I talk about the journey from that day to the day that I ran the Run for the Grapes half marathon.

And I tell them the very important lesson that I learned while on that journey.

Life is scary.

Diabetes is scarier.

And I live with diabetes every single day.

I talk about how diabetes is scary in the immediate sense when we have one of those awful lows that comes out of nowhere and scares us for days afterwards. And I talk about how diabetes is scary in the long term sense as we hear and read about those complications we might develop despite our best efforts to try to manage without a functioning pancreas.

I talk about how scary diabetes is and I talk about how brave we are because we deal with that fear every day.

And then I talk about how, since I started to look at life from that perspective, I started saying yes to things that scare me. Yes to cycling. Yes to swimming. Yes to trying a duathlon. Yes to trying a triathlon. Yes to doing motivational speeches in front of a room full of strangers. Yes to golf. Yes to golf tournaments. Yes to curling. Yes to curling bonspiels.

Life is scary.

Diabetes is scarier.

And I live with diabetes every single day.

Diabetes has helped make me so brave that I have said yes to things I would never have said yes to before. My life is richer and fuller now that it would ever have been if I had not been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 12 1/2 years ago.

So yes, you're damn right I can...

Friday, May 8, 2015

Here Comes D-Blog Week 2015

Next week is D-Blog week.

In fact, it's the 6th annual D-Blog week. 

And it's my 5th annual one. 

I missed the first one because I had not yet heard about the DOC, had not started my blog and really had no idea that anyone on the planet other than me actually had type 1 diabetes. 

Now I know that there are a whole bunch of us out there with more voices joining the choir every year. And as much as I would love it if type 1 diabetes did not exist, it does. And since it does, I sure am glad to be a member of such a lovely, vibrant, passionate group of people. 

D-Blog week, for those of you who don't know or remember, is a week of diabetes-related blogging. 

It goes something like this: 

A list of topics are given to us to write about. One for every day of the week, beginning next Monday. We write a blog about that topic and then we posts a link to our blog on the topics page. Anyone interested can click through the list of links and read blog after blog about the same topic written by different people all over the world. If you're interested in writing for, or reading blogs about, D-Blog week, go visit Karen over at Bitter-Sweet Diabetes. She's the wonderful host of this great event. 

It's a wonderful way to discover new blogs as well as rediscover ones I used to read and lost track of along the way. It's also a great way to challenge myself to write about topics I would not normally write about. 

So come back next Monday for the first instalment of Running on Carbs' D-Blog adventures.