Monday, February 28, 2011

12,775 times

I remember the first time I had to give myself a needle.  In the hospital, a few hours before I was going to be discharged as a newly minted diabetic (sorry, person with diabetes).  I was shaking, I was scared and I was so afraid of...I don't even know what I was afraid of but I sure as hell was afraid.  After a few moments of mild panic, I sucked it up, sat on the edge of the bed in my lovely hospital gown and somehow found the courage to stick myself. 

Nothing crazy happened except that I quickly lost my fear of needles.  I mastered doing it in fancy restaurants, standing in line for a hot dog, driving on the highway, in the pitch black northern Ontario night in a tent and in all sorts of other fun places. 

That last sentence sounds a lot more exciting than it really should...

Anyway, I did the multiple daily injection (MDI) thing for seven years before I tried the insulin pump.  When I was MDI-ing, I took slow acting insulin in the morning and at night and rapid acting with every meal.  That meant that the minimum was five needles per day.  Sometimes more if my sugar was high or I wanted a snack.

365 days per year x 7 years x 5 injections per day = 12,775 injections

Trust me, you get over your fear and shame pretty quickly when you have to do something that many times.

Speaking of getting used to things...

I can wake up in the middle of the night, find my glucometer, insert a test strip, prick my finger, get a drop of blood, and get said blood into the test strip all without turning on a light.  And I can tilt the glucometer screen to just the right angle to read the number by moonlight. 

I can guess my blood sugar to the decimal place. I can figure out how many fig newtons to eat when I'm low and then guess what my blood sugar will be an hour later. 

But I digress. The whole point of this blog entry was to talk about getting used to things. It was inspired by the rain that's been falling, the huge puddles all over the streets and the idea that I'm going to have to get used to running in the rain again.  Get used to putting my pump in a ziplock bag so it doesn't short circuit when I am completely soaked through.  Get used to peering through rain-coated glasses and putting a towel down on the car seat for the drive home. 

My non-running friend that I wrote about a few days ago would probably take this opportunity to ask why the hell anyone would want to run in the rain.

My answer , I hope, would elegantly capture the almost religious experience of it all.  The exhiliration of being a part of the weather rather than a witness to it. The sensual feeling that makes me think of standing under a waterfall.  The smell of an impending rain and how it is unlike anything else.  Those crazy runs that start off with dark clouds, have you running through a downpour and then end with glorious sunbeams bursting through the clouds. If you're really lucky, a double rainbow will appear to guide you home.

Unlike those needles I talked about, I never get used to running in the rain.  It's an adventure, an experience and a gift every single time.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Controlled Change

It's a bit of a weird Sunday.  Not bad weird, just not a typical Sunday.

Doug and I opted not to cycle this morning since it was just going to be the two of us and we are getting a bit sick of lugging the bikes and trainers through the snow.  I also opted out of yoga because I believe one needs to be in the mood for yoga and I most definitely was not.  I was much happier outside shovelling in the early morning quiet.  Birds were out, I could hear church bells ringing and there was a hint of warm spring breezes in the air.

My family (parents, youngest sister and grandmother) came over for brunch.  Three gourmet quiches were on the menu.  Chicken, blue cheese and broccoli for the first, smoked salmon and brie was second and a crustless (aka gluten free) vegetarian one was third.  Top it off with my mother's delicious gluten free sticky toffee pudding and I'm pretty sure Doug and I will be having a very very light dinner tonight. It was nice and comforting to have everyone over  We had pots of spring plants on the table and there was a sense of change in the air.  Winter is holding on, but only just.

I like change.  Anyone who takes even a passing glance at my life knows that change is not something I'm afraid of.  But some types of change make me uncomfortable.  Seasons are one of those changes.  I'm not sure why because I love all the seasons in Canada.  What happens though is that I get used to the season that we're in and can't imagine anything else.  When winter was coming, I couldn't believe how cold it could get and couldn't quite handle the idea of snow.  Now that we've been buried in winter for a few months, it's what I'm used to and I'm comfortable there.  I love the cold, I know how to dress, I love running on snowy mornings and can't imagine running in warm and humid weather.  When a spring breeze was on the menu today I didn't quite know what to do with it.

So I went out to shovel.

It gave me a feeling of control over the winter and the snow.  A bit of an exercise in futility since everything started melting soon after but it felt good to methodically push piles of snow around.

I like to arrange my Smarties by colour.  My morning routine is very routinized and extremely comforting and I really like shovelling snow.

I guess, upon reflection, I like change as long as there is some degree of control over some parts of my life.  So, as spring continues to do battle with winter and as magnolia trees start bursting with buds, I'm going to hold on to my routines a little more tightly.  A few weeks from now, when we're firmly entrenched in warm breezes and playing spot the crocuses, I'll be ready to embrace the new season.  In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy every snowflake!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Just a Bunch of Nutters

I had a friend over last night for a glass of wine and some tasty cheeses.  Oh, and some marinated artichokes too.

We have a lot of things in common, things that we don't share with a lot of other people, so our conversations tend to focus on those topics.  It's nice and comforting and we laugh a lot. Kindred spirits. Recently, she has started working out, doing step classes at the YMCA, that sort of thing.  She was really proud to tell me that she has started running.  Nothing crazy she was quick to add, just running five minutes at a time on the treadmill.  Still, I remember how hard it was to start running so I was impressed and very supportive.

Then she started asking me questions.  Simple, easy questions like "do you listen to music when you run?" and "why do you have to wear special running clothes?"  My answers seemed simple enough to me but they seemed to create more and more horror for her.

Yes, I listen to music.  I have about four hours of music on my Shuffle.  "Four hours?  When the hell would you need four hours of music?"  Well, I will probably run for at least 3 1/3 hours for Around the Bay so four hours seems safe.  "Safe??  3 hours? Is it safe to run for that long?  It can't be good for your body, can it? Have you talked to your doctor?  I really don't think that's a good idea."  Well, it is a long time and it's pretty hard.  I take care of myself though, getting massages and seeing my chiropractor to keep my shins, calves and feet from getting too bad.  "WHAT? You have problems from running?  I really don't think you should be running that much."

Moving on...

"Why do runners wear expensive running clothes?" Well, lots of reasons.  For me, chafing is a problem so I try to get high quality stuff to reduce chafing.  "CHAFING?? Why the hell would you run if you chafe?"  Um, well, I put Glide on and it's usually ok.  But the longer I run, the more spots chafe so there's always a spot that I miss.  No big deal, I just put some aloe vera on and learn for next time.  Some people chafe really badly.  Go stand at the finish line of a marathon and watch the number of guys run across the finish line with bloody nipples.  "Are you kidding? Runners are crazy!  Why do you do things that hurt like that? I just don't understand why you want to do it"

This went on for quite some time.

I'm used to talking to runners about running.  They get it.  Chafing, shin splints, pain, hydration, four hour playlists, going to bed a nine pm on a Friday night.  No big deal.

I'm also used to talking to people who are impressed with running.  They might not do it but they think it's amazing when people do.  The horror stories are cool for them.

I'm not used to defending myself.  I felt like I was representing our entire race of runners and doing a piss poor job of it.  I think my friend left thinking that she should stick to her weekly step classes and leave the running to the complete nutters of the world.

Sorry my running friends.  I tried!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hurry Haaaarrrd!

Anyone watch curling last night?  Specifically the Scotties Tournament of Hearts?  Even more specifically, the match between Manitoba and Team Canada?  The stuff of movies that was.

First a quick curling lesson, then a quick synopsis of the story that lead up to the big game.

Curling teams have four players


The First throws first, the Second throws second.  The Vice throws third and is also responsible for dealing with scoring disputes and helping the Skip determine what shots should be thrown.  The Skip is the team's captain.  They call the shots, the sweeping and throw the last two (and often most important) rocks.

The relationship between the Vice and the Skip is pretty critical and requires a lot of trust.  So it was surprising when the Vice (Cathy O) from Jennifer Jones' (Skip) winning team was asked to leave the team.  Particularly after the team had won the Nationals three years in a row.  No reasons given, at least to the press.  Just thank you very much goodbye.

Cathy O fought back, formed a new team and stepped up to take on the role of Skip.  They won their way across Manitoba and made it all the way to the Nationals (Scotties Tournament of Hearts) which have been playing all week.  And, as it goes in all good dramas, Cathy O's Team Manitoba came up against Jennifer Jones' Team Canada last night.  All eyes were on the drama about to unfold between the Team Canada princess and the Manitoba underdog.

To that point in the tournament, Team Manitoba had won 2 of 8 games.  Team Canada had won 6 of 8.  Not looking good for Cathy O.

One more little aside.  The tournament is being held in PEI.  The arena was packed for the game and it was pretty obvious that the land of red soil and tasty potatoes was backing the underdog.  Cathy of Green Gables was their hero.

It was the game of a lifetime.  Team Canada won the first end, making it 2:0.  In the second end, Cathy had to make a perfect shot or they would lose the second end and Jennifer would get five points.  Cathy made the shot and the fans went nuts. It only got crazier from there.  Back and forth it went.  Team Canada winning, Team Manitoba winning.  So very exciting.

By the last end (10), Cathy's team was ahead by 3 and it was clear that Team Canada was crumbling under the pressure.  The last rock hadn't even stopped moving when the chanting of "Cathy O", "Cathy O" began.

Cathy picked up her broom as well as Jennifer's.  She made her way across the ice and raised her hand to acknowledge the crowd.  Everyone watched as she shook Jennifer's hand and passed her the broom.  Something she probably did countless times when she was Vice.  A little touch of class from one tough lady.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How to Hold a Fork

Everyone has their little quirks.  Mine include, but are certainly not limited to:
- not having much depth perception so I go up and down stairs very deliberately for fear of falling,
- not being able to manipulate three dimensional shapes in my head (you know: look at the patterns and figure out which one would fold up into a box),
- getting hiccups when I eat raw carrots or crusty bread, and 
- completely freezing when someone says something is 'easy'.

"Oh c'mon, you can do it, it's easy" is pretty much a guarantee that I will lose whatever ability I have to complete the required task. Someone once asked me how I hold a fork.  I immediately forgot how to hold a fork. No kidding. They laughed and said it was a very easy question.  I spent the next two days second guessing myself every time I picked up a fork.

There is just something about that word that makes it anything but.

So, this is our Easy Week for running. 

That means run a nice, 'easy' 40 minute run on Tuesday and Thursday and a nice, 'easy' 10k on Saturday.  After the last few week of running craziness that should be a breeze non? 

I headed out last night for my first easy run of the week.  I was so pumped for it to be 'easy' that I thought I might just cheat and run 10k for fun. 

Who the hell was I kidding? 

My feet seemed to forget what to do, I got a blister on my ankle from the zipper on my pant legs (seriously?!?), my legs couldn't decided if they were just tight or developing shin splints and my energy level was the pits. 

My easy, effortless, bound down the street like a gazelle run turned into something akin to running through molasses with random bits of stuff thrown in to cause blisters where I've never developed blisters before. I came home exhausted, had dinner, burrowed under a blanket on the couch and was in bed asleep by 9:30pm.

Only two more easy runs before the hards ones start up again.  Thank goodness!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Blood Spatter Analyst

I spent part of my morning at the Niagara Diabetes Centre.  I love going there because they always seem really happy to see me.  Perhaps because fit diabetics who take an active role in their diabetes maintenance are rare in Niagara, or maybe I'm just so damn cute, but my doctor and nurse are always pleased to see me.  Other staff will occasionally pop their heads in to ask about running or tell me about a cool website that I should check out. 

Aside from the social chatter and ego boost, I actually go there to get my quarterly blood work results and find out how I've been doing. 

Before I reveal the results, I thought this might be a good opportunity to provide a little diabetes lesson.  For those of you with the diabetes, it may be a good review.  For those of you without it, it may help clarify a few things.

Blood Glucose Testing: Ever seen a diabetic pull out a little contraption, prick their finger, put a drop of blood on a test strip and wait for a beep?  That's blood glucose testing.  What we're doing (in simple terms) is checking how much sugar is in our blood at that moment.  It helps us figure out why we might be feeling weird or what our number is because we need to calculate how much insulin to take for the meal we're about to eat. 

Someone without diabetes would have pretty stable numbers (betwee 4-6 normally) and these numbers wouldn't change much even after having a big piece of chocolate cake.  Trust me, I've tested people right after dessert - it's ridiculous how little their blood sugar changes. Someone with diabetes can see all sorts of crazy results. I've personally seen 1.2 (which is scary low and feels horrendous) and I've seen 30 (which is scary high and feels like a totally different kind of horrendous).  Sometimes we check to confirm what we already know, other times we check and are shocked by the results.  It's not always easy to feel how we're feeling.

I test fairly frequently - probably 10-12 times on any given day.  That may seem like a lot but it still means that there is a good part of every day when I don't know what my blood sugar is doing.  Is it climbing, dropping, staying still?  Hard to say. You can miss a lot of highs (and even some lows) simply by not testing at the right time.

(Aside: yes, there are continuous glucose monitoring devices out there but I've found them too expensive and too inconsistent for my lifestyle.)

So, to recap, blood glucose testing tells you what's going on at a given moment but not how you're doing overall.

That's where Haemoglobin A1C comes in.  This is a blood test that gives an average of our blood glucose level over the past few months.  Someone without diabetes would have an A1C of between 5.0 and 6.0.  Someone with diabetes has to set the bar a little higher than that depending on all sorts of other factors.

My doctor has me aiming for 7.0.  Anything lower would mean that I've had too many lows and anything around 8.0 is just too high.

Now, here's the trick.  I can get an A1C within range two different ways. First way: I can have lots of highs as long as I have lots of lows. Remember: A1C results are an average.  The second way is better and much less dangerous. Ideally, I get my A1C as close to 7.0 as possible without too many lows because that means that I didn't have too many highs either.  It takes a lot of monitoring, planning and control.  It's worth it in the long run because consistently good A1C results means lower risk of complications.  Not no risk but lower risk.  Heck, I'll take what I can get.

Today's result?  7.1

Yeah baby!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Journée de la famille

It's after noon and I'm still in my comfy clothes and nursing my second cup of coffee.  I'm watching the beautiful yellow and orange tulips that Doug brought home.  Every time I look up, they're more in bloom.  I may have to grab my camera to capture spring right here in my living room.

The snow has stopped, for now, and our little world is blanketed white again.

It's peaceful here.

I like peaceful. It gives me time to think.  Today, not surprisingly, I'm thinking about family.

My own family, my new family, my friends and their families, even fictional families from books that I have read and loved.

Some families just gel while others...not so much.  Being part of a family takes a lot of love and a lot of patience.  We don't typically get to choose our families the way we choose our friends.  And just because we share DNA doesn't mean that we were meant to be bosom buddies.

I am fully aware of how lucky I am.  I come from a family where unconditional love is the foundation upon which we've built amazing, strong, committed relationships.  It's safe there.  No matter what  announcement we have to make, road we've chosen or challenge we must face - my family will support, cheer or carry us through.  And through it all, we have a great ol' time and just enjoy each others' company.

My parents, still in love after 35 years. Still laughing, holding hands and inspiring all of us to be the best we can be.

My middle sister has moved across the world to be with the man she loves.  She inspires me to follow my heart while never losing sight of who I am.

My little sister is all grown up, strong, talented and fiercely independent.  She inspires me to take care of myself and try things that scare me.

Individually, we are strong. Together, we are fabulous!

Happy Family Day folks.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

An Opportunity Missed

I went to a funeral yesterday.  For someone I didn't know.

At least not personally.

I had heard stories, lots and lots of stories, so I knew that he was quite a character.  Loved fast, expensive cars.  Money was no issue - he just had to have them. Loved wining and dining his friends and spoiled them with tickets to The Masters and other extravagances. Spontaneous, often unpredictable, known for his over the top shenanigans.  That's the picture that had formed in my head from the stories I had heard.

Then I went to the funeral.

It was held at Ridley College. Standing room only. There was a shuttle bus to help get people from the distant parking lots to the chapel. As I was introduced to people, I began to understand how very narrow my view of this man had been.

As I listened to the three eulogies, I began to wish that I had had the opportunity to meet this man.

The first speaker had us in stitches as he spoke of the rebellious, brilliant, passionate young man who grew into a powerful, generous man of extremely high ethical standards.  The second speaker spoke of a friendship that spanned decades and shaped lives.  The third speaker, a notoriously cynical man, was reduced to tears as he spoke of the integrity, quality and commitment that this man inspired in others.

It was obvious by the end that every resident of St. Catharines has been affected by this man, whether they knew it or not.

I never met Henry Bartlett Burgoyne.  But I wish I had.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Traditions are important.

Today is one of those important traditions in my life.

It started when I was a little girl.  Lynn and Peter, friends of my parents, started a tradition of inviting us over for a Valentines Day dinner.  Christmas was always too hectic so this became a lovely evening to look forward to in the dark days of winter.  The table would be all decorated in red and white, beautiful flowers everywhere, bowls of salted cashews on the tables, and there was always a red chocolate Lindt heart at each place setting. Traditions.

Time passed.

Lynn and Peter's three sons and my two sisters and I grew up, went away to school and started our own lives and our own traditions.  Each year, there were fewer of us there.  But I always came home because I loved that dinner.  One year, when all the kids were gone, Lynn decided that she wanted to host a trivia night for Valentines Day.  My parents and several other couples were invited.  I was asked to be the quiz master (mistress?).  So I spent a few weeks preparing questions and spent the evening entertaining and being entertained by the guests. I loved it.  So did they.  A new tradition was born.

Tonight is trivia night.  I've lost count of how many times I've done this.  It must be going on a decade.  One hundred questions per year x ten years = a lot of questions.

They're a tough bunch.  Retired teachers, lawyers and other academics.  They know their stuff and will call me out when my answer to a trivia question is, well, questionable.  I learned to steer clear of religion questions because there are apparently several versions of the Bible.  I avoid sports questions because nobody from that group knows much about it.  I've learned the crowd and they've gotten to know me.  Tonight, a group of people from different worlds are all going to be descending on a beautiful home for a wonderful evening.  Cashews, chocolate hearts, red wine, trivia questions and lots of laughs.

Bring it on!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Run for the Cure

I think I may have been cured today...just for a little while.  Diabetes-free for a day so to speak.

I ran 25k today, the longest I have ever, EVER run.  I had to run it alone, the day before the rest of the running group.  No support vehicle, no friends, no back up bag of supplies.  The lone wolf indeed.

Here's how it went.

My blood sugar was 5.4 when I woke up.  I ate and headed out the door.

At kilometre 17, I was 7.4

At kilometer 25, I was 7.0.

No highs, no lows.

I was a runner.  Not a runner with diabetes.  Just a runner.

It was nice.

The cure continued all day.  No post-run high, no low three hours later.

Tomorrow is another day and I'll take whatever it gives me.

But I kinda liked today.

PS - we kicked ass tonight at curling.  Won 7:2 :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Just Call Me Alice

Today felt a little like falling through the rabbit hole.

All that was missing was the floating cat with the cheshire grin. 

It all started when I was asked to step in for someone at work and do someting I've never done before.  Nothing crazy, just not a typical part of my day. 

The first thing I had to do was drive a big, really really big, van across town.  Just to give you some perspective, I drive a little Nissan Versa and that feels pretty big to me. Holy bananas! I had to walk up two steps to get into this van.  I needed two hands to climb up so first I had to toss my purse in. The damn van was so tall I didn't even see where it landed.  Once I was in, I could look down at the roof of the mini van parked beside me. I could see over fences and into backyards. Driving through the streets, I pulled up to a red light and found myself beside a city bus.  I was sitting about a foot higher than the driver. 

That was about the point when I felt like I had eaten some of Alice's magical cakes and become this teeny tiny person in a very big world. Or at least a very big van.

So I drove this beast across town to an elementary school.  I walked into the school and immediately felt that I had gone from being a wee little creature to being the jolly green giant.  Water fountains came up to my waist, bathroom stalls were much smaller than they should have been and the bench I was told to sit on came halfway up my shins.  It was a five foot drop down to the bench and, once I got down there, I felt like my knees were up near my ears.  If you want to feel graceful and ballerina-like, do NOT go into an elementary school and hang out with grade 2 students.  Seriously.

Leave the school and hop back into the magic alien bus. By the time I got back to work I felt like my hands and feet were too big for my body.  I walked into my office, tossed my purse on the chair (and missed), banged my knee on my desk (which I never do) and sat down waiting for the Red Queen to show up with her minions. 

It's a wild and crazy world out there folks!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

This Time I Listened

Learning to listen, really listen, to your body is not an easy thing to do. 

Which seems a little crazy because we live with our body every day.  How hard can it be to figure out?

Well, for me anyway, the first big challenge is that my body likes to play tricks on me.  It tells me it's tired or it's sore but, more often than not, it's just being crankypants. 

I am a runner and I love to run. And yet the number of times my body has told me not to go for a run vastly outnumbers the times it has sent me off galloping down the streets.  Quite often, I will head out feeling exhausted and sore.  I staunchly ignore all messages telling me to go home. I run through the stiffness, fight the familiar sluggish feeling and...guess what?  My body stops pouting by about kilometer 4, starts feeling pretty good by kilometer 6 and actually starts enjoying the run by kilometer 8.  I arrive back home full of energy and feeling great.  

That being said, occasionally there are times when my body says something and I snap to attention. 

Last night was one of them. 

I headed out for my 13k run. Three minutes in, I knew we had a problem.  There's a difference between tired, sore legs and the beginnings of an injury.  The difference is subtle but I've learned from past mistakes how to recognize it. 

I could have ignored my body.  It was sending the same message it always does: I'm tired, I'm sore, turn around.

Instead I stopped every ten minutes to stretch, slowed my pace and cut my run in half.   It takes strength to push through a difficult run but it takes savvy to know when pushing through is a very bad idea. 

My body and I have a long way to go yet before we cross that finish line on March 27th.  If we don't work together, we'll never make it.  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cultivate the Lone Wolf

Running is an exercise in solitude. 

It puts the body, mind and spirit to the test. 

It brings out the lone wolf.


Last week I wrote about hill training and that phrase that kept running through my head: "you can do ANYTHING for three minutes"

Hill repeats are one thing. Long distance running is an entirely different beast.  You might be able to do it for three minutes but can you do it for three hours?

Can you push your body when it's tired, your mind when it's making excuses and your spirit when it's ready to give up?

It's an important lesson to learn.  To run distance, you can't just train your body.  You have to train your mind and harness your spirit.  That way, when one of them is ready to give up, the other two can take the reins for a while.  Teamwork, balance, partnership, motivation - they must all come from within when you run. 

Because even in a sea of 10,000 runners, when you run, you run alone.  Even in a pack, you are responsible for yourself.  Only you can get yourself across that finish line.

Cultivate your lone wolf. 

Loping across the tundra.  Focused on the horizon.




Monday, February 14, 2011

My Heart's Intuition

When a part of us doesn't work quite right, that's the part we focus on. 

I am acutely aware of my pancreas and its challenges and, as a result, often forget all the other parts of the elegant system called my body. 

Today, I'm taking a break from my pancreas to focus on my heart.  I do a lot to take care of my heart.  It gets regular workouts and a healthy diet.  In turn, it rewards me with low blood pressure and a strong and steady pulse. We're a good team.

My heart also has a mind of its own and is quite intuitive. It knows what it wants and I've learned from experience that it's best to follow it. I'm the first to admit that the roads it has taken me down have been unorthodox and untraditional.  The journey has challenged me, sometimes frightened me, and often surprised me.  But it's our journey, my heart's and mine.

My heart has led me to a quiet, unassuming man. It saw something there and just knew. I was helplessly carried along for the ride.

It led me to someone who shares my love of health and fitness.  Someone who loves to experiment in the kitchen and who brings fresh flowers home every week. Someone creative, romantic, spontaneous, funny, comforting and inspiring.

Most importantly, someone who is there at 3am when my sugar drops and who is willing to leave a warm bed to get me a glass of chocolate milk.  Someone willing to learn what diabetes really is, understand the challenges and the risks, and love me anyway.  Someone who sees my insulin pump as a friend rather than an annoyance.

Life is a journey made up of conscious choices, random chances and a wee bit of luck thrown in. My heart has led me to where I am today and I am very grateful for the man who has chosen to walk down the road with me.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Never Too Young

Apparently I'm too young to nap.  I guess, depending on your perspective, I'm also too old to nap.

I'm getting a little ahead of myself.  Let me back up a bit.  Here's the story: our curling team got together today for a practice session.  Afterwards we shared brunch before heading off in our separate directions.  As we enjoyed our post curling snack, a lovely couple stopped by our table on their way out (they had also come in for a Sunday morning curling practice).  During the conversation they made a joke about napping and said that they may be old but they're not that old...yet.

Little did they know that I was already dreaming about my own Sunday afternoon nap.  Confession time: I'm an under forty napper.  Not a nap on the couch during a tv show kinda napper.  Not a fifteen minute power napper. I'm a undress, climb under the blankets and wake up two hours later kinda napper.  

I love naps.  I love falling asleep in a sunlit room.  I love waking up feeling rested.  I love the laziness of it all.

I don't nap every day or even every week.  My body tells me when I need a nap and I am only too happy to oblige.  Today, I knew I was going for a nap as soon as my alarm went off at 6:30am.  So, after curling, I burrowed under the covers and emerged 2 1/2 hours later (insert purring noise here).  I definitely needed that.

I woke up to the sound of chopping in the kitchen and the smell of freshly cut vegetables wafting up the stairs.  Dinner preparations were underway and chef Doug was in charge tonight.  Chicken with red pepper sauce over pasta.  So delicious!

Ever helpful in the kitchen, my job was to sit at the counter, sip my red wine and ask questions about golf as today's Pebble Beach ProAm played in the background.  I'm not a golfer but I do like learning about it.  Especially from someone with the patience to answer my endless questions.

Today was a great day.  A lovely balance of fitness and laziness, friendship and love.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Where's My Medal?

I ran a half marathon today.

Unlike every other half marathon I've run, I did not dutifully sip eload for two days beforehand. I did not eat a balanced dinner last night of protein and carbs.  I did not buy two bags of ice for my post-half ice bath.

I also did not get my picture taken, cross a finish line, hear my name announced over the loudspeaker or get a new medal to add to my collection.  And, I will not be taking two weeks off to recover.

Today's run was just another Saturday morning LSD run.  Before you get any ideas, that would be a Long Slow Distance run.  Today's was 22k.

Runners tally their races but not their training runs.  I've officially run two 10k races.  But I've run 10k probably a hundred times by now.  I don't even think about it anymore. It's just a distance I run...a lot.

I have only run 6 half marathons - until today.

By the time I hit the start line for Around The Bay, I will have run the half marathon distance three times and will be running it a fourth time on race day.

I will have almost doubled my half marathons yet my total of 6 will not have budged.

Do I care?  I don't think so. Not enough to make my own bib number and finishers medal for the next few Saturdays.  (Although that would be kinda fun!)

I think I'm just becoming aware how far outside of my comfort zone this race is pushing me.  I'm running distances regularly that would have been daunting last fall.  13k on Tuesday, 13k (with hill repeats) on Thursday and then 22k today.  Holy Bananas!

I guess the half marathon distance is going the way of the 10k.  It's going to become just another distance that I run.

30k - now that's a distance to brag about...

...until I decide I'm gonna run a marathon.  

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Hills are Alive...

My running friend Michelle is motivating, inspiring and, occasionally, downright annoying in her positivity.  And I love her for more reasons that she'll ever know.

One of those reasons is that she helped drag my ass over the Boxing Day 10 Miler finish line in record time.  Towards the end of that race, we realized we were going to have to push hard to make the crazy finish time I had foolishly suggested we aim for.  I was already exhausted and now she wanted me to run faster.  She yelled at me:  c'mon Céline, you can do ANYTHING for three minutes!

I laughed out loud, plucked up my courage and pushed to the finish.

Thanks Michelle, for that day and for that now famous line.

It got me through last night's hill workout.  800m x 10 repeats with 60 seconds off between each rep.  I've never done more than 6 repeats on that particular course.  Ten seemed more than a little daunting and the now familiar Canadian winter weather (-20 with a biting wind) was not going to help.

I started my first repeat with what felt like lead in my shoes.  I really wondered whether I'd be able to do six, let alone ten.  Michelle sailed past me going up the hill and, despite her silent exterior, I heard her voice ring out in my head.  "C'mon Céline, you can do ANYTHING for three minutes!"  I giggled and trotted up the hill.  One done!

I saw her on every hill and heard her voice on every hill.  I finished my ten repeats and felt strong enough to do a few more.  Not crazy enough to actually do them mind you but I swear I could have!

I don't think people realize what an impact they can have on others.  So it's important to tell them.

Thanks Michelle!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Third Time's a Charm

I'm pretty lucky.  I have diabetes but, so far, none of the complications that go with it. 

This is how many appointments a healthy,complications-free person with diabetes has to go to every year:

Endocrinologist - 3 times per year
Nurse + Dietician appointment at the Diabetes Centre - 3 times per year
Opthamologist - once per year
Dentist (yep, diabetes can cause dental issues too!) - four times per year
Family Doctor - once per year minimum (normally 2-3 times)

Visits to the Endo and the Diabetes Centre also means visits to the local LifeLab for blood work.  Blood work means fasting...for 12 hours. 

Not an easy feat for folks of the diabetic persuasion.

Lows after running, lows at 3am, lows for no apparent reason - lows are a fact of life.  And the only solution is to eat something.  Not eating for 12 hours takes some careful planning, and a few trial runs. 

I tried for Tuesday morning.  I did not run on Monday night so that was one less variable to contend with.  But I did go to my parents' for dinner. We had a feast - red wine, tourtiere, grilled pineapple salad, potatoes, ginger cake with ice cream for dessert.  I arrived home with my sugar in a happy range. Yay! I went to bed...and woke up around midnight with a low.  I sighed, ate two fig newtons and knew that Tuesday morning's trip to the lab was cancelled.

Tuesday night I ran - far.  I was super cautious with my insulin so that I would not have a low but wouldn't go too high either.  I went to bed and slept through the night.  No lows!  At 6:30am I checked my sugar.


Seriously? Damn. Too low - I'd have to eat something.  No trips to the lab that morning. 

Wednesday night - no running.  No crazy dinners.  Well controlled sugar.  Ate a banana before bed just to be safe. Slept right through to the alarm.  Blood sugar?  7.4


Jumped out of bed, showered, packed a breakfast and a lunch.  Left without my morning coffee (sadness) and headed to the lab. 

The lab opens at 7:30am. I've arrived at 7:15 to be 20th in line.  The Lords of Kobol were on my side today because I showed up at 7:20am and was number 4.  They took my blood, I peed in a bottle and was sitting at my desk by 8am, Timmies in hand, with barely a headache to show for it. 

Another bloodwork mission accomplished. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Crazy Thought

Last night's run was not for the faint of heart.  Snowy, slippery sidewalks, -21 degrees with a biting wind, and 13 kilometres to run...alone.  By the time I got home I was half frozen.  My legs felt...well to be honest, I couldn't really feel them.  They were quite numb. 

When I realized how cold they were, I had a thought. Not a what the hell am I doing running in -21 degrees alone in the dark kinda thought.  A hey, I wonder if running in -21 degrees might actually be good for me kinda thought.   

Stick with me on this - it's crazy but kinda makes sense.

You see, running causes all sorts of challenges - shin splints, sore muscles, plantar faciitis and so on.  My typical pattern is that, once I reach 18k, things start hurting.  That's when I call my massage therapist in a panic and spend the rest of the training icing, stretching and trying to make it to race day in running shape. 

Well, I've run 18k and 20k and things still feel pretty damn good. No major pain, no daily icing, no panicked phone calls. What's up with that??

That's where the crazy thought comes in.

It occurred to me last night that running in the cold may actually be helping my legs.  Kinda like running in an ice bath. It prevents my muscles from overheating, swelling and then acting up on me.  Who would have thought?

Looking back, my legs are always at their worst by about August.  Weekly massages, shin splints, and Advil take over my life.  I just figured it was because I had been training hard since January and my legs were tired.  But maybe it's because, by August, I've been running in the heat for a few months.  Heat and humidity = lots of swelling.  

So my new hypothesis is: my legs do better in the winter because the cold keeps the swelling down.

Guess the next few weeks will prove whether or not I'm right. It's gonna suck if I have to move up to the Yukon during the summer months but it's a small price to pay for happy legs.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

This is What I Know

What I know:

I know that people almost always surpass their own expectations when they push themselves.

What I don't know:

I don't know what makes people push themselves?

I know that you can ask ten photographers to photograph the same subject and you'll get ten very different photos. I don't know what makes people look at the world so differently.

I know that there will be at large group of runners out on Saturday morning to run 22k.  I don't know why some of them will have a fabulous time and others will complain about the cold for 2 hours.

I know that most people who get married do so expecting to be together forever.  I don't know why half of those marriages won't survive.

I know that I see patterns everywhere but I don't know why those patterns exist.

We all start out essentially the same - naked, crying, covered in gooey stuff but it doesn't take long before we head off down our own path with blatant disregard for where other people might like us to go.  Along the way, we touch, taste, smell, see and listen to the world as it molds and shapes us.  By the time we are able to pick up our first camera - we have learned to experience the world in a way no one else does. 

It's really quite amazing.  

It also makes it a wee bit challenging when trying to understand someone else. 

How people respond to challenges, grief, change, love, illness, snow or credit card bills isn't always clear or least to the outside observer.  Expecting people to respond the way we would is not reasonable or fair.  Yet our ability to understand and sympathize with another person's experience really depends on our own experiences up to that point.  How do we see beyond our own view of the world in order to really see someone else's?

Therein lies the challenge.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Yoga Approach

I have a pile of vacation to use up before March 31st.  I thought about taking a week off and, trust me, it was pretty tempting.  A week to play, try new recipes, sleep in, go for runs in the middle of the afternoon, meet my mom for lunch and just not think about work.  Nothing to complain about there.

Instead, I opted for taking seven Fridays off. 

Typically, I prefer big chunks of time off but, for some reason, the idea of having four day weeks for almost two months was pretty appealing. So today is the first day of my first four day week.  Pretty freaking exciting!

By noon, I was already starting to second-guess my decision. 

First of all, I found out about a fabulous videoconference being offered by Dave Hingsburger, an amazing disability advocate.  It's called Pride and Prejudice: Getting Past Shame, Moving Into Rights.  I would love to attend but guess when it's being offered?  That's right - this Friday. 

Then I got involved in a discussion about how to revamp our system for tracking staff training.  It's a discussion that is long overdue and a lot of decisions need to be made in order to develop a system that will be effective, meet all of my requirements as the Quality Control girl and be easy for staff to update.  No time to finish the discussion until, you guessed it, Friday.

I have to reschedule a CPR refresher that staff missed because of last week's snow day.  The only dates that work for everyone are Fridays. 


When I have a week off, I find it really easy to just waltz out the door and not look back. 

I'm discovering that taking one day off a week may prove to be a challenge.  When you're already used to working Fridays, it's easier to be convinced to come in to the office...just for a bit.

A few weeks back, I wrote about life life balance - trying to balance all of the people, interests and activities in my life.  I'm guessing that the next seven weeks will be more of a work life balance struggle for me.  Do I preserve my time off, refusing to come in on a Friday even if it means missing important meetings or key training opportunities?  Or should I be willing to come in on days off if it means learning something new or being part of important decisions? 

I want to stick to my guns and not set foot in the office on a Friday until my vacation runs out.  And yet, people who see the world in black and white drive me batty so I should probably strive to be a little more flexible in my approach rather than walking around refusing to budge on the Friday thing. 

On the other hand, it wouldn't be too hard to be convinced to come in every Friday because there will always be something that just HAS to get done...

Balance is never an easy thing to achieve, especially when new, unexpected and often attractive variables are thrown in to the mix.  I think I'll try taking the yoga approach: flexibility, strength and balance. Flexibility to adapt to unexpected changes + strength to stand up and say no when necessary + balance to make sure I don't fall too far on either side of the work/life line.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cow Face Pose

I love Sunday mornings.  There are two different kinds in my world and they're both wonderful for completely different reasons.

Some Sundays are days of rest.  Typically, those days happen when it's pouring rain or blizzarding (I may have just invented a new word).   There are no alarm clocks and there is no pressure to do anything. Waking up and being able to luxuriate in bed is one of life's great pleasures.  When hunger finally wins out, it's down to the kitchen we go for a yummy breakfast with some classical music playing in the background.  Those Sundays are warm, peaceful and good for the soul.  

Most Sundays involve a 6:30am wakeup, a quick shower and breakfast followed by the loading of two bikes, two trainers, two yoga mats, two changes of clothes, snacks and a laptop into a very accommodating NissanVersa.  Then we head off to Runners' Edge for the Sunday morning cycling group followed by a yoga class.  

Cycling and yoga are great cross training options in an otherwise heavy running schedule.  My legs are always tight and sore from Saturday's long run but, after a stint on the bike and some crazy stretching, they feel long and limber again, if a bit wobbly.  

Yoga is a very humbling activity.  So is running, just for the record, but in a completely different way.  In yoga, we are a room full of runners trying to increase our flexibility.  Facing each other on our yoga mats, there is no place to hide. Everyone gets to watch as we struggle to find our centre of balance and to straighten our damn legs.  Thankfully, we all know each other so the room is always full of good-natured laughter and teasing.  

Most people in the class have one particular pose that they are really good at.  Doug has great balance and rocks the tree pose.  John's hockey has helped him master the bound angle pose.  I discovered that I have very flexible shoulders which means that I'm good at cow face pose.  

Yes, I did indeed say cow face pose. 

I'd prefer to excel at a pose with a prettier name but such is life. 

Today's cycling workout and yoga class were great but we had a few added twists thrown in.  Namely, several centimetres of snow.  We arrived home three hours after we left - weak in the legs and ready to eat.  But first - we had to shovel.  

Shovelling is normally one of my absolutely favourite chores.  It's outdoors, it's cold (I'm always overheating so cold is good), it's invigorating and you can immediately see the fruits of your labour.  I even shovel things I don't need to shovel just 'cause I want to. Today, I was so tired and hungry that our wee driveway and sidewalk just about did me in. 

By the time we got inside, I thought I'd exceeded my physical limit for the day and that I would have to crawl back into bed for a few hours.  

But no!  

One bagel sandwich, one homemade larabar and several glasses of water later, I'm reenergized and basking in that happy endorphin glow that follows a good workout.  

I may be sound asleep in bed by 8:30pm tonight but, for the moment, I feel fabulous! 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Positively Diabetic

The diabetes blogs I follow are all abuzz about the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).  It seems that the JDRF is moving away from trying to find a cure for diabetes and moving towards better technology to manage it.  People are apparently up in arms about it.

It's understandable. I can imagine that if you are the parent of a child with diabetes, you don't want a better insulin pump - you want a cure for your child.

Maybe I have a different perspective because I was diagnosed as an adult.  When I was first diagnosed, I just wanted to learn everything I could so that I could understand how diabetes works and manage it.  I think I just decided that, if I put too much stake on a cure, I wouldn't take diabetes management as seriously.  So I put all thoughts of a cure out of my mind and just set about learning how to live with it.

Of course I'd like a cure.  Hell, I'd love it.

But today is probably the first time I've thought seriously about it since I was in intensive care back in 2002.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not a pessimist. I'd bet money that there will be a cure one day.

But in my lifetime?  No way to know but I'm not sitting around waiting for it.

In fact, diabetes has been really good for me in a lot of ways.  Ironically, it keeps me healthy.  I eat really well and I get a ton of exercise.  I keep a firm grip on my weight, I get my annual physical, my eye exams, and regular blood work.  I meet with a dietician twice a year, I keep my blood pressure down and watch my cholesterol.  In fact, I'm probably healthier than most people.

Except for that damn diabetes.

Diabetes keeps me honest - there are just way too many people looking at my bloodwork results, blood glucose logs and food intake summaries.  Without all that scrutiny, I may be tempted to stay on the couch, eat those tempting salt and vinegar chips, or let my weight creep up.

So yes, a cure would be nice.  In the meantime, I'm too busy staying healthy to worry much about it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Uncharted Territory

20k run in the morning.

I haven't run that far in five months.  Not since the Run for the Grapes 1/2 marathon back in September.

We're entering uncharted territory folks.

I've mastered (as much as that's possible) what to do when I run 5k, 8k, 10k, 13k.  I know how to adjust my basal, I know how much to eat before, I know how many snacks to carry. I can extend a bit and do 15k using the same bag of tricks.  Anything farther than that gets tricky because I don't run those distances often enough to work out all the kinks.

20k in the morning.

22k next Saturday (I have only run that distance once before)

25k the Saturday after (I have never run that far)

Couple weeks later, it's 28k then 30k.

Thank goodness for friends.  Chris and Benny will be out there tomorrow morning in the car, keeping an eye on the runners, and carrying my bag of emergency supplies (I like to bring enough to save about 10 diabetics).

Not sure how hard or easy it's going to be in the morning.  But I do know that it's going to be ok.

And that's pretty damn comforting.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Stubborn as a Rock

Sometimes I wonder how many of my little quirks are due to diabetes...and how many are just me.

I've been running for three years now.  Which means that running has always gone hand in hand with diabetes. I did not have the opportunity to do a controlled study: pre versus post diabetes running.  

I am prone to very tight calves, shin issues and plantar fasciitis.  My massage therapist and chiropractor take great care of me but things never really clear up - they just get better, then worse, then better again.  I thought that was just me until my massage therapist tossed out the possibility that it might be due to poor circulation.  Diabetes.

That put a whole new spin on things.

It also pissed me off.  If she's right - then it's not just about finding the right shoes or stretching more, it's diabetes.


I also get tired a lot.  It's always a struggle to get a restful sleep and a week of good sleeps can be undone by one bad night.

Is that just me?  Or some other weird side effect of diabetes?

My hair grows really fast, my nails grow really fast, I'm prone to dry skin and low iron. Is that just me?  Or the diabetes?

I like single malt whisky, neat.  I cry easily.  I get all indignant about things that aren't fair.  I make a mean chicken squash curry.  I love the colour blue. I have dissected sharks, chased whales and can say deoxyribonucleic acid without stumbling.  


Absolutely not.

I'm am who I am.  Made out of something stronger than rock and softer than sand.  Diabetes can challenge me and reshape me.  But good luck changing me.  I'm too damn stubborn for that.  

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

This is my Pancreas

Someone saw my insulin pump yesterday and asked me if it was some sort of funky mp3 player.  They stared harder - maybe a pedometer?  What IS that thing?

I made the introductions.  Dave, this is my pancreas.

Dave and I had a great little chat about how it works, whether it's better or easier than needles and he quickly sympathized about how hard it must be to be tethered to something all the time.

It is hard, and it's not.

I look at diabetes management as an exercise in tooth brushing.  If someone told me that, for the rest of my life, I would have to brush my teeth every single morning and every single night, I would not have been impressed.  Seriously?  Brush my teeth EVERY day??

Yet we all do it with hardly a thought.

We prepare and eat three meals a day with hardly a thought.  We shower, get dressed and do countless other things every day and rarely, if ever, consider not doing them.

Diabetes management is like that - most of the time.  29 days out of 30, you just do it.  Get up, shower, brush teeth, check blood sugar, decide on breakfast, bolus, eat, check sugar again later, adjust if necessary.  It's just part of the routine.

One day out of 30, I want to hurl my pancreas, glucometer, monster box of supplies, quick acting carbohydrates, A1C results and carb counting books into some fiery hot lava pit and watch them burn.

Us folks with diabetes may make it look easy - but it's NOT. It's complicated, it's imprecise and it's downright scary sometimes.  Blood sugar levels misbehave for so many reasons that the idea of having tight control is almost laughable.  My period's coming, my period's finishing, I'm fighting a cold, it's cold outside, I'm tired, I'm stressed, I ran yesterday, I ran this morning, I haven't run for three days, I had a glass of wine, I sat on the couch for three hours, I watched a sad movie, I miscalculated the carbs, there's an air bubble in my insulin tube, my body decided to change its basal requirements and it takes me three days of highs (or lows) to clue in.

I could go on all day.

But I won't because, most of the time, it's not a big deal.

Back in my university days, before the diagnosis of Type 1 came, I took a class called The Discovery of Insulin.  At the time I was fascinated to learn how the pancreas worked, how lack of insulin affected the body and how absolutely deadly Type 1 diabetes used to be.  A diagnosis was a death sentence.  That was it.  No amount of healthy living, exercise, or medical attention could save you.  Then came Drs Banting and Best who, in 1922, discovered insulin's role in treating diabetes.  Learning about the discovery of insulin and how it saved people's lives was inspiring.  Such a simple, elegant solution to this insidious disease.

Little did I know that, less than ten years later, my life would be added to the list of those saved.  Thank you Dr. Banting and Dr. Best.

My insulin pump and I have become good friends.  He lets me live the life I want to live and does his best to do what I ask him to do.  He sits on the counter while I shower but, otherwise, we're rarely apart for long.  The odd day, when I'm feeling the need, I run around naked for a while.  It gives me an incredible sense of freedom.  But I cannot survive without my pump and feel better when we're connected.

Thanks Dave, for asking about it.  It was a reminder of how much a part of me my pump has become.  And how very cool it is that I can wear my pancreas on my belt and live my life.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Lone Runner

I usually run alone, even when I'm running with a group.  It's because no one runs the same pace that I run plus I'm not a very chatty runner.  Trying to breathe is enough of a challenge for me.

So I usually run alone.

I'm quite ok with that.  I like being alone in my head - my mind wanders, I solve problems I didn't even know I had and I get a little better at negotiating with my inner non-runner who'd rather be home on the couch.

On Boxing Day, a gaggle of runners drove to Hamilton to run the Boxing Day 10 miler.  From the first step until we crossed the finish line, I ran with my friends John and Michelle.  They ran a pace that was just far enough outside my comfort zone that I spent the better part of the race trying to come up with a polite way of telling them to just leave me alone so that I could collapse in a heap.  I never did find the words and, as a result, I crossed the finish line in a time that I will forever have trouble beating.  It felt amazing. I was so proud and so grateful to have been carried along.  It taught me the power of running with other people.

Tonight I headed out for a run in the snow.  Doug headed out at the same time.  That rarely happens.  We were going the same way and running the same distance.  That also rarely happens.  I figured we'd run together across the bridge and then I'd watch him disappear as I found my comfortable pace and he found his.

Tonight we ran together.  I decided that I would use the opportunity to push myself like I did on Boxing Day. I'd run a pace that was not comfortable, but not deadly either, and see what I could do.  If that was fast enough for Doug, fabulous.  If not, he was always welcome to pull ahead and head off on his own.

I pushed.  He stayed.  We didn't talk much.  I was completely exhausted when we got home.  He gave me a high five.

It was a great run.