Monday, October 31, 2011

9th Diaversary

Nine years ago today was the last day of my pre-diabetes life.

The day before the day everything changed.

I knew I was sick.  I knew something was terribly wrong.  Hallowe'en 2002 was the last day of my life without diabetes.

It's too bad that I was feeling too poorly to appreciate it.

The next morning, November 1st, I had an appointment with my family doctor.  Within hours I was in intensive care.  By the time I went home a week later I had learned what a glucometer was.  I had learned how to count carbs. I had forced myself to prick my own finger and draw my own blood to check my sugar.  I had sat on the edge of the bed in my open back gown with a nurse beside me - working up the courage to give myself my first needle.  I had had my first low in the middle of the night and had to ring for the nurse because I had no idea what was happening.  All I knew was something was NOT right.

Nine years ago, I went into the hospital as Céline and came out as Céline but everything had changed.

I was now a person with diabetes.  And, trust me, that was a very very scary thing.

I remember shaking uncontrollably when we stopped at the mall on the way home.  I was terrified to go in, terrified of having a low and not knowing what would happen.  I remember having my first low after I left the hospital and trying hard to ignore it in the hopes that it would go away.  It didn't.  I cried when I realized that willpower didn't work.  I couldn't push through a low.  I had to acknowledge it, stop whatever I was doing and deal with it.

I hated that.

I still hate that.

I also remember feeling better as soon as they gave me insulin.  I was looking pretty awful by the end.  Severely dehydrated, 35 pounds lighter that I had been in June, pale and weak.  As soon as my blood sugar started dropping I felt and looked immensely better.

Insulin is NOT a cure...

...but it is a miracle.

Nine years ago today, I had severe ketoacidosis and my blood sugar was around 35.  I was dying.  Dying of a disease that was a guaranteed killer before 1921.

Thanks to Drs Banting and Best, the Canadian doctors who discovered insulin, I was handed a new life.

One that involves a lot of finger pricking, needle pokes, medical appointments, highs and lows but a new life.

Many people never have an experience that shakes their world.  I had two by the time I was 22 years old. Each time taught me some pretty important lessons.

The first time happened in 1991 and it taught me the value of family and friends.  I learned to appreciate every moment because I had learned how easily moments can disappear and lives can change.

In 2002, diabetes taught me about priorities.  It changed my life and, in return, gave me the courage I needed to change my life.

I left the path I was on and forged a new life.  Along the way, I changed everything.

It's been nine years already.  I remember how overwhelmed I felt after I had lived with diabetes for only one week.  All the carb counting.  All the meal planning.  All the highs and lows. Then a month went by.  Then a year.

It's almost been a decade.

I'm starting to forget what life was like before diabetes.  What it was like to eat what I wanted, when I wanted, without worrying about anything.  What it was like to go for a walk without pockets full of fast acting carbs just in case.  What it was like to not have calloused fingers or needles in my purse.  What it was like to travel without an entire carry-on devoted to diabetic supplies.

Some things I can only imagine.  Like what it would be like to go for a run in nothing but shorts and a t-shirt.  I started running after diabetes so I will never know what it is like to run without fear of having a low.

Other things I would never have experienced without diabetes.  I would not have started blogging.  I would not have discovered the DOC.  I would not have started running, cycling or swimming.  I would not have taken up photography.  I would not have many of the friends I have today.

My life has been immeasurably changed with my diagnosis.  Some things have changed for the worse but most have changed for the better.  Because I learned, again, what's really important.

Nothing like a life-altering event to show you what the priorities are.

Next year is ten years.  I think that calls for a party don't you?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Addicted to Chlorine

I'd like to say that Wednesday morning dawned bright and beautiful but, at the time I'm talking about, dawn was a long way off.

Despite the dark, rain and cold, I popped up ten minutes before my 5:30am alarm.  It's crazy how my body bounces out of bed on swim mornings and yet refuses to wake up on the days I get to sleep in until 6:30.  Bizarre. 

Anyway, I bounced down the stairs, down the street, through the change room and out to the pool.  

Seven lanes were set up.  Six swimmers, including me, were milling around.  

Where's the swim team?  Where is the large noisy group of boisterous teenagers? 

We asked the lifeguard.  Nope, they're not coming today.


We looked at each other like little kids on Christmas morning.  We each get our OWN LANE! 

Best. Swim. Ever. 

I just put my head down and swam.  I felt my body move through the water.  I tried out different breathing techniques.  I thought about what my arms and legs were doing and tried to fix little things.  I swam fifty lengths without once worrying about anything.  

Even my swim cap seemed willing to behave and I would get 6 or 8 lengths in before I had to adjust things. 

It was absolutely lovely.  

When I finished the lengths and headed to the deep end to pool run, my friend Mary called out.  Céline, have you tried the new running clinic on Wednesday nights?

"It's awesome" yelled the lifeguard across from the pool.  "Best workout I've ever had in the water."


Apparently on Wednesday nights there is a one hour running clinic that basically involves vigorous pool running and other activities geared for runners. 

Sounds right up my alley. 

Is it crazy that I'm actually thinking about swimming on Wednesday mornings and then going back Wednesday nights for more?  

Mary does it.  The lifeguard loves it.

Why the hell not?   

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Little Miss Diagnosis

It probably sounds crazy to put it this way but I've been pretty lucky in terms of medical diagnoses during my fairly short but eventful life.

With my car accident, it took a while for the doctors to realize that there was a really big problem.  But, once they clued in, diagnosing it was a snap and figuring out what had to be done was pretty straightforward too.  I'm not saying it was easy, painless or without stress but the diagnosis part was cut and dry.

My type one diabetes diagnosis was also pretty easy to come by.  I know this doesn't happen as easily with everyone but I walked into my doctor's office, said I was insanely thirsty, had lost 30+ pounds without trying, and basically felt like death.  The nurse pricked my finger, told me I had a BG of 35 which meant nothing to me and I was in ICU and on insulin in no time.  Again, I'm not saying it was easy but it took less than a minute from describing my symptoms to figuring out what was going on.

This latest challenge is proving to be exactly that.  A challenge. The spot in my ankle that hurts is probably the size of a loonie.  Behind the ankle bone.  It seems so damn small compared to the other stuff I've been through.  Maybe I'm just used to being a medical drama queen who ends up in ICU every decade or so but I like to know what's going on.

Here are the developments from the last few days.

 Last Friday, I went to my family doctor.  I described my running injury and, bless her heart, she didn't tell me to give up running forever.  She checked me out, asked some questions and then told me that I'm doing exactly what I should be doing to heal so she doesn't want to send me for any more tests.  In fact, she said, whatever you do - don't stop running.


I very politely told her that I would, under no circumstances, be running until my ankle felt better.  She disagreed.  I argued back and we left it there.  She was worried that I would lose my muscle fitness.  I was worried that I would do more damage because we don't really know what's wrong.  She told me to take ibuprofen for a week and keep doing what I was doing.

I left frustrated but a little reassured because she didn't seem too worried about it.

Then I saw Geoff on Tuesday and told him that I would not be going for an MRI, ultrasound or bone scan anytime soon.  He said that I should really get a bone scan asap to rule out (or rule in I guess) the possibility of a stress fracture.


I thought he thought I had a sprained calf muscle?

Stress fracture is a whole other ball game.  Eight weeks off minimum and a long slow healing process.

Bloddy hell.  Good thing I didn't sign up for the Ottawa marathon in a fit of passion yesterday.

So Geoff and I talked about how to get me a proper diagnosis and he recommended that I call a local sports injury doctor who could prescribe a bone scan.  And yes, I did wonder why I was being told about this doctor five weeks after my injury occurred.  But I guess we were working on the assumption that I had a sprain which didn't really require a major intervention.  I called and, lo and behold, I'm in on Friday morning at 8:30am.  

Yep, this Friday, as in tomorrow.

So we'll see what this Dr. Prince says about everything.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Easy Versus Hard

Three more weeks until I can run.


Once I can run I have to ease back into it by running one minute and walking one minute - repeat ten times.  

If it feels ok, I build up from there.  If it doesn't, I take more time off. 

Best case scenario is that I can run for one hour by the end of 2011. 

What do you call it when I can't run, won't be running for a while and yet am trying to decide which spring marathon to train for?  



I'm not signing up for anything just yet but it does help to think positive thoughts. Make plans. Have something shimmering far off on the horizon to look forward to. 

What is it about running?  

Now that I've discovered cycling and swimming, I am very very aware of how much pounding running puts on the body.  Cycling and swimming don't hurt.  Sure, I could get repetitive motion injuries in my shoulders after months of swimming but right now I don't feel anything after a workout other than refreshed. 

I don't have to ice my shoulders or my legs.  I don't have to stretch for an hour or take ibuprofen to keep the pain in check.  

I just do the workout, shower and get on with my day. 

And yet when I'm cycling or swimming, I'm thinking about running.  

I want to run.  

Why?  Why do I want to pound my body so hard?  Why do I want to do something that is so difficult?  That takes so much time?  That requires massage and chiropractic treatments, icing and stretching just to keep going? That makes my blood sugar go crazy?  

Swimming = easy on the BGs, easy on the body, easy on the pocketbook.

Running = the opposite of swimming. 

I love them both very much.  But if I were forced to choose, I'd pick my running shoes, my shuffle and the open road. 

No question. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Like a Fish


I seem to have taken to it like a fish.

Perhaps it's my orca tattoo?

Or my marine biology degree?

Or the fact that I have big hands and feet that propel me through the water?   I mean really, with size 10.5 feet, who needs flippers?

I can say with 100% certainly that it's not the damn swim cap.  That thing needs a blog of its own so it can tell stories of all the things it did every day to make me crazy.  I've even got a name for the blog picked out.   What do you think of "Head Games"?

I have diligently tried all suggestions as well as a few MacGyver tricks of my own but nothing keeps it in place for more than two lengths of the pool.  One trip back and forth across the pool and my ears are uncovered and the cap has slid off my forehead and partway off the back of my head.  I have to stop and adjust every single time.  It's enough to drive me batty.

Other than my swim cap challenges, swimming is great fun and my body seems to love it.

After three weeks of swimming, I feel taller.

Does that make sense?

I'm even kinda sorta starting to like the chlorine smell.

Last week, I swam on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Each time, in addition to pool running, I swam 40 lengths.  Forty lengths equals one kilometre.

Yesterday morning, I swam 50.  My arms were a little floppy by the last few but I did it. Looks like 50 is this week's distance of choice.

It's so crazy how little after effects I feel when I swim.  I'm not tired. I'm not sore.  In fact, by lunch on Monday I was thinking back and wondering if I had really swum that morning at all.

Then I sniffed my hands and found the unmistakable smell of chlorine.  Yep, I swam that morning.

The weird thing is that swimming also seems to have very little effect on my blood sugar.  Some people (Lindsay and Katie I think) told me that this is how it works with some people.  I've now got to the point where, unless my blood sugar is 7.0 or below, I don't eat anything.

No carbs at all before a 60+ minute full body workout.

How is that possible?  A 30 minute run would have me dropping from 7.0 to 4.0 in no time.

Swimming has absolutely no lingering effects on my blood sugar.  There are no mid-afternoon lows.  No rebound highs.  It's like I didn't do any exercise at all.  I do not adjust my basal or bolus insulin at all either before or after a swim.

After the diabetes roller coaster that is running, not having to worry too much is quite refreshing.  I still diligently place two juice boxes at the side of the pool but I don't even check my blood sugar when I finish a swim.  I just shower, hop in the car and head home for breakfast.  How nice.

On a running note, it has been exactly three weeks today since my last run.  I am now halfway through my estimated recovery period.  I say estimated because I have to brace myself for the fact that it may take more time than that to get back out there.  That being said, it's been three weeks off and so far, so good.  I haven't lost my mind.  I haven't gained 20 pounds.  My ankle feels better all the time.  A few twinges after I spend too long on my feet (oh, like Sunday when I photographed runners for hours on end) but otherwise, it's definitely getting better.

Soon I'm going to have to figure out how to fit running into my swimming schedule.

How quickly life changes.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Niagara Falls International Marathon

This post is being posted a little later than usual but yesterday was a really busy day and there was no time to write.  It was a weekend to experience.

The Niagara Falls International Marathon was yesterday so the entire weekend seemed to revolve around a race that I was not running.  But one that I was determined to experience in whatever way I could.

First stop, the race expo on Saturday.  I wanted my damn shirt but that meant that I had to go through the entire rigamarole of clearing customs (it's an international race so they check your passport before you get your bib number) and picking up my race number.  I couldn't just sneak in, grab the shirt and sneak out.  I had to face everything.  The excitement of all the runners, the words of encouragement from all the volunteers, the endless "Are you running the marathon" questions - to which I answered 'yes' because I didn't know what else to say.  And all the jackets, hats and shirts that I was going to buy but didn't because I hadn't earned the right to...yet.

Doug went with me and we didn't get there until around noon.  I figured that, by then, most of the people I knew would have already come and gone.  Not that I don't love them, I just didn't think I could hold it together if I had to face the "I'm so sad for you" look.  As it was we had to make several detours into quiet corners so I could get the emotions back under control.

My race number would have been 244 which, for anyone who knows me, is about as perfect as it can get.  My name was spelled right but, as usual, they forgot the accent.  It's Céline!

I got my race shirt and my crazy black and neon yellow toque and we headed home.

I had texted Scully earlier to offer her a ride to the start.  I figured she'd appreciate not having to take the bus PLUS having someone counting on a ride would mean that I could not back out of going to the race if I had second thoughts.

Race morning dawned cool, crisp and beautiful. Scully, Dan and Steve met me at 7:15am and we headed off Buffalo. I had declared myself the unofficial official Runners' Edge photographer and, from 8:00am until 3:45pm, I chased runners around and tried my best to document their day....

...and live the race through them.

It was everything a good race should be.

It was fun and full of energy.

It was emotional.

It broke my heart to see people I cared for struggling.  Yet it was amazing to watch the troops rally around a struggling runner, give some words of encouragement and send them off again.

I didn't see everyone on the route but I heard the stories.  The story of Geoff who ran out to find some of the last runners and run them in, holding their hands and kicking their asses.

Angie and Alain, who planned to run together but, after 30k, knew they would have to finish it alone. Angie was running a great race and went on ahead in tears.  Alain struggled through his own tears as his body and spirit broke.  Then he put the pieces back together and finished the race on his own terms, beating down some pretty tough demons to do it.

Scully got to the start line after a nasty night fighting the diabetic gods.  She was already in trouble before the gun even went off.  She ran the entire race on her own and we saw her go through every emotion.  We saw her focused, happy, in tears and completely nauseated and exhausted.  And we screamed and cheered as she crossed the finish line - rocking her insulin pump and looking no worse for wear.

I'm so glad I went.  

Being on the route and being part of it all was cathartic. 

The moment that got me? 

When Mike rounded the last corner, saw the finish line and was overcome. 

I was proud, I was honoured to be a witness and I tried my best to capture it for him...

I shed tears of joy and of solidarity...  

...and a few for what might have been. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Getting My Ice Legs

Curling starts next Friday.

Last January Doug convinced Janice, Chris and I that we should join the Friday night curling league.  Doug has curled for years and knows what he's doing.  We had no idea what to expect.

Not a clue.

So we signed up, had a practice and then started playing on Fridays.  We loved it.

This season, we're playing from October until April and we have recruited four more players so now we have two teams of runners curling.

Curling runners?

Whatever we are, it's fun.

Last night we went to the curling club for a quick practice - to get our ice legs back.  It's amazing how slippery the ice felt after five months off.

It's also amazing how much my quads hurt after a few minutes of sliding around.

When we started sweeping - I was overheated and shaking from exertion within minutes.

Curling is hard work folks and apparently it's going to take a few times before my body gets used to it again.

The funny thing was that I am usually struggling to get my rocks across the ice.  This time, I was struggling not to hit the other side.

Somehow my arms and legs got stronger since last spring.

Could that be from all the running?



Whatever it is, I'm going to have to learn to control it a bit or Doug's going to stop giving me the finesse shots and start giving me all the takeouts.

Good Curling folks!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Sea Turtle and the Dolphin

Everyone knows the tortoise and the hare.  Great little animals and their story translates so well for running tales.

What about swimming tales?  Then who are the characters?  The sea turtle and the dolphin?  Marlin and Dora?  Ariel and Flounder?  The shark and the guppy?

Well, whoever they are, I'll be the slow one.

Wednesday morning is a swimming morning so I dutifully woke up at 5:20am - ten minutes before the alarm goes off.  I think it's a guilt thing because I don't want Doug to have to wake up to CBC chatter when he could snag another hour of sleep.  So I wake up early, turn off the alarm and sneak out.

Anyway, I got up, did my thing and headed to the pool by 5:45.  Instead of the usual three cars, there were more like ten.  Plus a slew of tired looking parents dropping off tired looking kids.  Swim team practices on Wednesdays too apparently.

By the time I got to the pool, all three lanes reserved for lengths had three swimmers in them.  I must have looked a bit panicked because a nice looking gentleman said that I could join them in their lane.

Four swimmers in one lane?  Perhaps I should have read the book on swimming etiquette...

He quickly explained that they were swimming in circles so I could just join the circuit.  Swim up on the right side and back down on the left.  Repeat until just before drowning.

So I joined the back of the line.  There was no time for a few lengths of breast stroke.  These folks were fast!

We'll call them the dolphins.

I quickly realized that just because I can swim faster than the elderly ladies in lane three doesn't mean I'm fast.  So let's call me the sea turtle.  Here's how it went. I would start at the back of the pack, swim up one side and back down the other.  By that point, the lead swimmer had almost caught up to me so I'd stop, let the three of them pass me and join the back again.  Up one side, down the other, get passed by all three swimmers and repeat.

We repeated this twenty times folks.  I swam my little heart out and did forty lengths (one kilometre again). And I was passed twenty times.

Good news is that being with such fast swimmers pushed me to keep my ass moving so I knocked five minutes off my world record time of 35 minutes from Monday.

The great thing that I discovered is that swimmers are just as nice as runners.  You can't talk as much because underwater chatter doesn't work well but, once the swim is done, people hang out at the edge of the lane for a bit.  So I chatted with the guy who let me share the lane.  He did fifty lengths during my forty.  I was mightily impressed.  He was equally impressed when he found out that I had only been swimming for two weeks and could swim forty.  Apparently he couldn't swim across the pool when he started.  Just like running I guess. Everyone starts somewhere and builds up from there.

And we all cheer each other on.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fourteen Days

Two weeks ago today, I hobbled in from a 20 minute run in tears, knowing that Niagara was not going to happen.

Two weeks ago, I could hardly stop crying as I weighed the pros and cons of trying to run or dropping out.

Two weeks ago, I took down the training schedules and the 42.2 stickers that I had posted in my kitchen and at work because the sight of them was enough to cause another breakdown.

Two weeks ago, I was really really sad.

Two weeks ago, I could not imagine having the strength to go watch the Niagara Marathon.

One week ago, my ankle still hurt despite a week of not running.

One week ago I told my family what was going on and cried on the back deck while they listened to the story.

One week ago I had just had my first go at pool running and swimming lengths.

One week ago, I wanted to be as far away from Niagara Falls on October 23rd as I could get.

Today I can talk about the race without crying...well hardly crying anyway.  

Today I can swim one kilometre.

Today I cycle three times a week and swim three times a week and my body feels great.

Today my ankle feels about 70% better and I can walk up and down stairs without pain.

Today I decided that I will be going to the race expo to pick up my package and my shirt (or coat or whatever we get).  Because I got close enough to see the start line and I want my damn shirt!  Even if I have to write "I almost ran this race" in permanent marker on it.

Today, for the first time, I think I might want to go watch the marathon and cheer on my friends who ARE running.  Because even though my goal has been postponed, theirs has not.  It's real.  It's looming.  It's exciting and terrifying.  I know because I was close enough to feel it too.

They are my heroes.  They overcame every challenge, climbed every hill and battled the worst heat and humidity that summer could throw at them.

Scully, my type 1 friend, did her runs on her own.  All of them.  She ran hundreds and hundreds of kilometres by herself with her diabetes paraphernalia, her cell phone and the heart of a lion.

Brian, my superhero, struggled in the heat.  Struggled with self-doubt.  Struggled with challenging run after challenging run.  And won.  Not only won but kicked ass.  A few more days sir and you will be a marathoner.

Nancy and Christine worried about their pace.  "Are we too slow?" they asked.  "They're going to close down the race before we finish.  This is hard.  This is too hard."  And yet here you are, mere days from the start line.  You did it ladies!

Darlene and Mike.  You did what you always do.  You ran beautifully.  You looked on the bright side.  You were grateful for the runs that were wonderful and you learned from those that weren't.  You made it look almost easy.  You will be fabulous on race day.

I am proud of all of you.  

I am proud to be your friends.

And I will be signing up to run all the way Around the Bay in 2012.

Who's with me??

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When Irish Eyes are Smiling

No Retinopathy!  No damage of any kind to my eyes!

Yay me.  Another year - another checkmark.

I guess it was worth all the drops, dilated pupils and day-long headache to get the good news.  Oh, and being teased all day about being a drug addict because of how crazy my eyes looked.

I had one lady come into my office several times asking if I could please let her turn the lights on.  NO! Bright light!

I was worried that my headache would get worse if I turned the lights on.  So I sat in a dark office all day trying not to look at my computer monitor.

Anyway, all the complaining to say that my eyes are still in good shape and have not yet begun to suffer the ravages of diabetes.

So let's talk about swimming shall we?

Oh, that reminds me of one more thing - I swam this morning and, despite my best efforts with the soap, the chlorine smell was wafting off of me as I sat in the ophthalmologist's chair.  He practically had to sit in my lap to get close enough to check out my eyes.  Normally I just keep thinking "omigod, he's WAY too close!"  This time, all I could think was "should I apologize for the chlorine smell??"

So swimming.

Apparently today was the day that the school swim team starts practicing at 6am.  So my peaceful morning swim was transformed into a boisterous pool with three lanes for the swimmers like me and 3 lanes for about 40 high school kids to share.  It got so steamy in there that they opened the floor to ceiling windows (I had no idea they could do that) to let the 8 degree wind howl through.  My body was toasty but, if I kept me face out of the water too long, my nose got cold.

Since there were so many swimmers - I couldn't have a lane for pool running so I decided to see how long it would take me to swim one kilometre.  Might as well have a challenge right?

I have learned that one length is 25 metres and it takes 40 lengths to swim one kilometre.

A month ago, I would have guessed that I could probably swim 5-6 lengths.  C'est tout.  Now I was going to attempt 40 after only two previous swim sessions.  The first session, I swam 20 (12 of which were breast stroke) and the second time, I swam 30 (again, 12 of which were breast stroke).

Today I did four lengths of breast stroke to warm up and then decided that I had to do the remaining 36 as front crawl.

It took 35 minutes to do it, including a few breaks to catch my breath and fix (gawd it drives me crazy!) my swim cap.

I have no idea if that is a good pace or not but I swam a kilometre today.  Holy bananas!

By that point, the lanes had emptied out a bit so I headed for the deep end with my floatation belt for twenty minutes of pool running.  As soon as I started, a lady in the next lane swam over.  "You're the girl who does the pool running" she said.  "Yep!".  "Why do you do that??"

So I explained my passion for running, my injury and the rationale behind pool running.  She liked my answer and seemed to appreciate my willingness to explain.  I waved goodbye as I left and she smiled.

I have a pool friend!

I figure it will take her one or two more mornings before she gets up the courage to ask why I carry juice boxes with me and what the heck my infusion site is.

Best of all, I had the good sense to get out of the pool at 6:55 rather than 7am so I had already snagged the best shower by the time all the high school girls showed up.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Medical Week

Some weeks, I don't think about diabetes a whole lot.  I just check my sugar and get on with my life.

Other weeks, it's front and centre.

This will be one of those weeks.  I have two medical appointments this week - both of which are the types of appointments that I do not look forward to.

Some appointments are fun.  I love going to the Diabetes Centre because they all seem so genuinely happy to see me.  I think they like talking to patients who know their stuff, try really hard and do what they're told.

Others appointments are tolerable - like going to the dentist every few months for a cleaning.  I just go, close my eyes and let my mind wander until it's over - keeping my fingers crossed that I don't have a low while the hygienist is doing her stuff.

This week, I have my annual ophthalmologist appointment on Monday and my annual physical on Friday.

I dread the eye test stuff because

  • my eyes are so sensitive that all the drops, gusts of air and touching my eyeball with weird gadgets has me exhausted by the time I leave and
  • one of these times, I'm going to be told that I have the beginnings of retinopathy - one of the lovely side effects of diabetes. 

This might happen today.  This might happen in 20 years.  But I never know until he tells me so it freaks me out.

Being ok with diabetes takes a lot of work.  Being told that diabetes has caused damage despite my best efforts will not be easy to hear.  So I hope today is not the day that I hear it.

On Friday, I get to see my GP for my annual physical.  The physical part is fine.  The diabetes part I dread because she has a much different way of managing diabetes than my diabetes specialist does.  My specialist manages the ins and outs of my diabetes care but my blood test results get sent to my GP.  That means that, when I get there, she looks at the last year's worth of results and then gives her opinion.  I do not always like her opinion.

When I see my specialist - she's always pleased with my A1Cs, my cholesterol, my blood pressure and all the other stuff.  My GP almost always tells me that my A1C is too high, that my cholesterol is too high and that I should be on several medications that I would rather not be on.

Plus this time I also have to ask for some sort of test (MRI, ultrasound or whatever) to see what's really going on with my calf and ankle.

I don't mind going to medical appointments and I go to every single one that I am told to in an effort to stay as healthy as I can.  But I'm guessing that, by Friday, I will have had my fill of doctors for a while.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Disabled List Update - Week One

I guess Friday is as good a day as any to give an ankle report.

It's been a week (and two days) since my last run.

My ankle has been sore pretty much non-stop the entire time.  Nothing awful but it's just always there in the background.  Cycling and swimming help loosen it up and it feels good for a while afterwards but then it starts acting up again.  I'm constantly walking around with a mild limp which pride makes me try to hide. I guess that's why I'm supposed to take six weeks off - if it felt awesome after one week, I'd be pissed off.  I know that sounds weird but if I'm taking time off, it better be for a damn good reason.

So week one is up and I'm still sore.

I saw Janice on Wednesday and she gave it a good working over.  Last night Doug and I went for a bike ride.  I pushed it from start to finish and my ankle felt fabulous after.

My blood sugar, on the other hand, did not.  I've never (to my memory) had a low because of cycling.  I rarely have lows running either.  I guess I'm lucky that way.

Well, I did my usual routine and started the ride at a BG of 10.0.  Perhaps it was the extra effort I put in during the ride but about 3k from home, I started feeling shaky.  I feel like that during exercise if my sugar drops even to five so I figured I had a bit of a window before I was officially low.  Two kilometres from home, I felt a little shakier but it seemed silly to stop when we only had a few minutes left.  One k from home, I knew I was low but by then I just wanted to get home so I pushed it.


I wobbled down my street, dropped my bike in the driveway and mumbled something about sugar.

I was 2.5 by the time I stumbled to the fridge for chocolate milk.

I guess all the cycling has made me a bit stronger and my faster pace eats up glucose a little more aggressively.  I'll have to remember that for next time.

Next friday is my appointment with my MD.  I'll see if she sends me for a bone scan (to diagnose a stress fracture), an MRI, an ultrasound or nothing at all.  Hopefully by the time I go see her there has been some progress in terms of how things are feeling.

In the meantime - I am loving my new cycling and swimming routine.  I won't mind another few weeks of this.  Hopefully the weather holds up for me - I won't be quite as enamoured if I'm stuck riding on my trainer in the living room.

By the way, thanks for all the shampoo advice.  I went on a shopping adventure and ended up going to four stores before I managed to find any of the suggested bottles.  Apparently Ultraswim is no longer available in Canada and Erin, I have no idea where the heck they sell Aveda. Selena - I managed to find your AG Renew so I got that one.  I also got one called Fairy Tales (who can resist that name?) which is apparently a little more natural as it's designed for kids.

Is it wrong that I'm excited to shower at the public pool??

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Growing Gills

Wednesday morning.

The alarm went off at 5:30am.

I was in the pool by 6:02am.

Impressive eh?

I got up, did the morning routing thing that no one really wants to read about, pulled on my bathing suit and grungy clothes and headed downstairs.

I checked my blood sugar and it was 12.2.  Yikes!  That's pretty high for me in the morning - I'm usually somewhere between 4 and 8.  I'm guessing it's the two dates I ate before bed because my number seemed a little too low.  Should have known better.  Should have at least clued in from the strange dreams I had and all the tossing and turning.  Nope, did not know better and did not clue in.  

Anyway, I was 12.2.

I did nothing.

I had not set the alarm for 4:30am to lower my basal rate.  I did not eat anything and I did not take any insulin.

I drove two minutes down the street to the pool, took off my insulin pump, got my swim cap on in one try, grabbed my two juice boxes and headed in.  I told a lifeguard (monitor I think they call themselves) that I have type 1 diabetes and am bringing juice in with me in case there is a problem.  She nodded.

I had the lane to myself.  I strapped on the floatation belt and started pool running.  It took me about ten seconds to get into the rhythm and I slowly went back and forth in my lane.  When I finally swam to the shallow end to check the time - it was 6:40.  I did 40 minutes of pool running without getting bored or overly tired.  It's kinda soothing actually and it lets me enjoy some quiet time in my head.

I decided to try 20 minutes of lengths.  I started with the breast stroke and practiced what Klari had taught me.  Apparently arms, legs and breathing can be synchronized!  It's like my brain had spent the last three days assimilating the data and it figured it out.  Suddenly I can do the breast stroke!  It's not super fast or perfect by any means but I did eight lengths without once inhaling under water or grabbing the side of the pool.

I switched to front crawl so see how that would go and I managed four lengths of that without drowning or without my arms or shoulders giving out.  I alternated four lengths of each for the entire 20 minutes.  If I counted correctly, I did twenty lengths.  I have no idea if that's good or not but I did it.

I hopped out at 7am, showered, headed home for a quick breakfast and made it to work for 8am.  Not bad.

And my blood sugar you ask?  Well, I was 12.2 when I got in the pool and 7.4 when I got out.  Not bad.  The goal for next time is to wake up around 5 or 6 so I can have a small snack.  I was starving by the time I finished.

So, swimmer friends, here are my next questions.

Question one: how do you get rid of the chlorine smell??

I showered - washed my hair twice and went crazy with the soap.  After the shower, everything was fine.  Hours later, I could suddenly smell chlorine on my skin and in my hair.  What's that about?? Is it coming out of my pores?  How scary is that? Any tips to avoid smelling like a swimmer?

Question two - any tips on shampoos and conditioners that will save my hair from the ravages of pool chemicals?  Even with the swim cap, my hair still gets kinda wet and I can already feel a difference after two swim sessions.

Other than that, I'm pretty proud of my pool prowess and can't wait for Friday morning when I get to do it again.  I'm liking this new sport of mine.

Swimming, cycling, running - they should find a way to combine the three into one event.  That would be fun...

Oh, and I did mention curling starts in two weeks?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Thanks for the Tips!

I forgot to mention a few things in yesterday's Finding Nemo blog about my first swimming adventure.

First of all, I want to thank several people whom I have never even met.  I tossed a question out to the universe and received several very helpful answers from the DOC (that stands for diabetes online community for those of you who aren't pancreatically challenged)

I asked what I needed to know about swimming, pool running and diabetes.

Lindsay from Lindsay on the Go and Tei jumped right in to tell me what aquatic activities do to their blood sugar and what to do with my insulin pump.  Taking it off is apparently the best option.

Scully suggested that I email Katie from Princess of Pavement which I did.  She replied with three different emails detailing how to get a proper workout pool running (or aqua jogging as they apparently call it in BC), how to deal with the diabetes details and even sent a few encouraging words re getting over an injury.  

Thanks ladies!

I also learned that swimming, when it comes to diabetes management:

  • is just like running
  • is kinda like running and 
  • is nothing at all like running 

Swimming, just like everything else in the world, apparently affects people's blood sugar differently. All I can do is listen carefully, start somewhere in the middle, cross my fingers and jump in the pool.

Some people don't adjust their basal at all.  Others reduce it completely (like I'm talking 100% reduction).  I decided to try reducing it to 50% - same thing I do when I run.

When Klari and I got to the pool, I took off my pump, put two juice boxes within reach and told her that if I ask for juice - to get it.  NOW!

To her credit - she did not look too panicked by that request.  Not everyone would be that cool about being told that they may have to play a part in saving me if things took a turn.  Happily, there were no emergencies on Day One.

My BG before we started was 12.4.  After 45 minutes of pool running and swimming it was 10.0.

Not a bad start.  A little too high both before and after for my taste but I'd rather play it safe for the first few times.

The next trick will be to see what happens when I do the 6am swim.  There is no way I'm setting the alarm for 4:30am just to reduce my basal insulin.  So I'll be keeping my blood sugar up with food rather than with lower basal.  It's the same trick I use when I run in the morning before work.  Let's see if it holds up in the water.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Finding Nemo

It's been six days since my last confession run.

I thought it would be harder than this not to run.

All summer, my days revolved around running.  Getting my runs in.  Recovering from runs.  Wearing the right shoes.  Fitting in massages and chiropractic appointments.  Cycling on Sundays to help my legs heal so that they could run again.

I was (and still am) worried that I would lose the conditioning and fitness I worked so hard for over the summer.

The superficial part of me is also worried that the weight I lost while running will pile back on.  I like being a few pounds lighter.  Clothes fit better and I feel better.  I want to stay right here thank you very much.   How does one maintain a new weight that was only reached by running 45+ kilometres a week?

To stay fit and to keep my weight in check - I need to keep moving.

In the six days since my last run I have cycled four times and had my first go at the pool.

Let's start with cycling.  Cycling, for the past two years, has been primarily about becoming a stronger runner.  I cycled once a week (Sundays) and that was it.  The whole point was to flush my legs and recover more quickly from my Saturday long run. Now it's about becoming a stronger cyclist.  It's a different mentality but I'm getting used to it.  My new routine is that I head out to the country and make sure that whatever route I take has several tough climbs to test my legs and several descents to test my courage.  I can already feel a difference.  Because it's just me out there, I go where I want.  I zoom down country roads looking for beautiful fall colours, horses, vineyards and vistas.  I come home an hour and a half later relaxed and pleasantly tired.  Best of all, my ankle doesn't hurt.

Swimming is an entirely different beast.

Step one was to get all geared up for this new sport.  Thanks to a trip to Sport Check, I am now the proud owner of a sleek black swim cap and cool blue goggles.

On Sunday I spent a good ten minutes practicing putting on the swim cap before heading to the pool.  I quickly sent up a prayer to the swimming gods asking them to please make the actual sport of swimming easier than putting on the cap. I think swim cap donning should be an olympic sport.  If you can get it on in less than three minutes without ripping it, straining your neck or it popping off your head - automatic gold medal.

Seriously?  My head is not that big is it?  The thing popped off twice before I managed to get it to stay and then it was so tight I got an instant headache.  One size fits all my ass.

Anyway, my friend Klari generously agreed to meet me on Sunday afternoon at the pool.  She gave me a swim cap lesson (her head is so small that it pops off - crazy!).  Then she taught me how to pool run (or aqua jog - what is the proper term?) and we did a few lengths of the pool. And I thought I was a slow runner.  Pool running moves at a glacial pace and I quickly learned to lower my standards.  When I finally get to run on the road again - I'm going to feel like a Kenyan.  So pool running is not super exciting but it does get the heart pumping.  And if it keeps me in running shape - I will pool run baby.  And I'll learn to LOVE it.

Once we bored of working hard but hardly moving, Klari gave me lesson number one in breast stroke.  I quickly learned that I can coordinate either:

  • arms and legs
  • arms and breathing 
  • legs and breathing

Synchronizing all three had me completely flummoxed and things immediately fell apart.  How can it be so hard to get things moving all together?

Klari, to her credit, did not laugh once.  At least while my head was above the water to hear...

She broke it down into manageable steps and, by the fifth or sixth length, I was getting it.  I wasn't moving very quickly but at least I understood what I needed to make my body do.

So I'm working on channeling my inner Nemo and am beginning to think that six weeks off running is going to go by pretty quickly.  

Who knows - I may hit the streets again in better shape than when I left them.

Friday, October 7, 2011

We Are More Than Diabetes

Today is No D-Day.

No D-Day was started by Ninjabetic and (to quote him) "it is a day when our online interactions avoid diabetes completely. Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, MySpace (lol), and anything else you can think of. Not a peep about that dumb disease. For one day."

So,  let's get started shall we?

I am more that diabetes. 

I am a daughter.  The first born daughter of two amazing people.  A fiery Irish mother and a strongly principled perfectly bilingual French Canadian father. Because of them I am a traveller.  I am a voracious reader.  I am not afraid to try strange foods.  Because of them I was able to conquer my childhood stutter and can now regularly present in front of large groups of staff.  I survived a major car accident, impacted wisdom teeth, divorce and relationship turmoils with their help. I go to the theatre, take the time to cook delicious meals, speak my mind and stick to my guns - because of them.  

I am a sister.  The eldest of three girls.  We giggle over Bridget Jones and quote Steel Magnolias and The Three Amigos.  We fight over the Holt Renfrew Clinique Bonus gift packs and share a love of planning family surprises.  We are so different and yet so alike.  I am ridiculously proud of both of them and they are a constant source of inspiration and support. I feel 100% when all five of us are under the same roof, with the cat and the dog underfoot. 

I am one half of a great partnership.  We found each other when neither of us was looking and we never looked back.  

I am a friend.  For someone who is naturally quiet and shy, I have a wonderful group of friends - from elementary school, high school, university, college, work and running.  Somehow it all works and I am so very lucky to have them all in my life.  

I am a photographer.  I bought my first camera in 2003 and was shocked to discover how much I loved it.  I say yes to every request and, as a result, have photographed weddings, babies, boudoirs, aerials, pro golf tournaments, races, community events and all sorts of amazing landscapes.  Check out: if you're so inclined. 

I am a runner.  I 'discovered' running while in Ottawa.  I happened across the CIBC Run for the Cure 5k and was so inspired by all the runners crossing the finish line that, as soon as I got home, I immediately went to the local running store to buy a pair of shoes.  I started running the very next day and my life changed completely. 

I am a Mac girl.  We got our first Mac when I was probably about 12 years old and I was hooked.  Right now there are three working Macs in our house and three not so working ones.  Oh, and two iphones and a couple of shuffles.  And a ipod mini (remember those?).  

I make a mean pot of soup. 

I was a vegetarian for 18 years and the first thing I ate when I craved meat was an entire steak.  

I have three tattoos.

I have never dyed my hair.  It's getting greyer by the minute but I kinda like it that way.

I have always wanted a nose ring but never had the nerve to get one.

I have a degree in marine biology.  

I work in social services with adults who have a developmental disability.  The first day of work scared me because I had never known anyone with a developmental disability before.  By the second day I was hooked.  The people I am supposedly there to help have taught me more than I could ever hope to teach them.  

If something scares me - that means I have to do it.  

Because of that rule I have done all sorts of crazy things - bungee jumping, rock climbing, public speaking, scuba diving.  Swimming starts next week. 

I do not have a bucket list.  I do not make New Year's resolutions.  I do not believe in fate.  

I take life day by day and am very aware of how precious and precarious it can be.  

I live every day.  Really live it.  I fall into bed exhausted and climb out the next day ready to do it all over again. 

I am who I am.  And who I am is way more than diabetes. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Swimming Tips?

Today's blog is below. 

This is a question for my T1 friends. 

I'm going to start swimming and pool running.  Any tips?

Some specific questions:

What should I do with my non-waterproof insulin pump while in the water?

Tips for basal rate adjustments (is swimming more like running or cycling in terms of how you adjust your insulin?)

Other things for me to think about before I start?  I've never swum for fitness before so assume I know nothing and tell me everything.
Thanks folks!

C'est Fini

It's over folks.

My running shoes have been put away and I am officially on the disabled list.

My run on Tuesday was proof positive that I am not in any condition to run 10k let alone a marathon.  I could push and try to survive race day but the damage I would do is just not worth it.

Apparently that decision makes me a very wise woman.

Hopefully I will feel wise once I've had a few days to get used to the idea.  Right now I just feel empty and really sad.

What's the plan you ask?

Six to eight weeks of no running, an appointment with my MD, hopefully an MRI or ultrasound to see if I've torn something and lots of r.i.c.e.





Good news:

I can cycle.  In fact last night I headed out on the country roads all my myself for a 30k ride up and down the escarpment.  It felt really good to push my body after two weeks of not pushing anything...other than my luck.

I will also be researching the hours at the local pool and we'll see how well I do swimming lengths and pool running.  Never having tried either, it should be quite the learning curve.  And I have no idea how the hell I'm supposed to get all my hair in a swimming cap?!?

Wonder if it comes in purple??

As for race day - I am glad that the decision has been made.  It's been an emotional two weeks and at least now I can focus on doing things that are going to help me heal rather than focusing on what I need to do to survive marathon day.

I am so proud of all my friends who will be running.  I wish I was there running with you.

I want to say that I will be out on the course with my bike and my camera.  I hope to be.  I want to be.  We'll see as it gets closer as to whether I feel like I can do it with a smile on my face rather than tears in my eyes.

I'll try - I promise

To be honest, I cannot wait for October 23rd to be over.  Even though I will not be running that day it is still looming large and I want it behind me.  

I want to look to the future but it's hard when the immediate future holds a day that I've been working towards for four months.  Get over that day and the slate is clean again.

Then I can start checking out 2012 marathons and deciding which one will be the one I choose as my first.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Stop The Ride - I Wanna Get Off!!

This is a graphic representation of what the healing process for my calf should be:

This is a graphic representation of what the actual healing process has been like:

If you would like a graphic representation of the emotions that accompany this healing process, please look again at the picture above.

Bloody hell!

What a roller coaster these past 2 1/2 weeks have been.  

Every run since my 30k has been a complete unknown.  Sometimes I try for 6k but can only hobble through three.  The run two days later feels great and I run 6k no problems.  Two days after that I run 15k - again no major issues.  Three days later, I head out for 8k and am back to hobbling for three.

What the hell?!?

I get a bit better.

I get a bit worse.

I give up on the marathon.

I get excited because it looks like I'll be able to do it.

I give up on it again.

I have no idea what happened between Saturday's 15k and Tuesday's 3k but my ankle was not happy.  I ran one loop of my neighbourhood, stretched out my calf and ran a second loop.  At that point I gave up and headed home.

Tonight, I'm heading out for a bike ride.  I've been holding on to the hope that I'd be able to increase my running distance but running 3 to 5k two days a week is not going to keep my cardio up and my body in shape.  So I'm hitting the road on a bike and riding up lots of hills to keep my heart pumping.

If the trend holds, I'll hobble around a bit today, feel better on Thursday and be able to run 20k on the weekend.  Next week, I'll hobble through 3k again, cry, give up, wake up the next day with no pain and then feel the faint glimmer of hope reignite once again.





I'm glad there is only 2 1/2 more weeks before race day.  Come what may, once the day is over, the pressure will be gone.  The pressure is self-created of course - I just want to be in good enough shape to run my first marathon.  If I can't, then I can't but, until race day, there's always the hope that I can.

Also, once race day comes I won't have to run those damn loops around my neighbourhood anymore.  I've run that 1.5k loop 24 times in the past two weeks.  The neighbours are starting to wonder, the same dogs bark at me every time I pass their house and I'm beginning to feel like a stalker.

Or perhaps one of these little guys

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why Are YOU Running?

October is marathon month.

That means two things:

  • everything in our running store is 26.2% off (yay!)
  • there are a hell of a lot of marathons going on this month

I have a lot of friends running marathons over the next three weeks.

Some are running Chicago this Sunday.

Others are running Toronto in two weeks.

A whole bunch of us are running Niagara Falls in 19 days.  Oh yes folks, we have gone from 126 days to a mere 19.  Yikes!

We may not have been there together for every run but we were all training together and the support in person and online has been tremendous.

Now that we are so close to race day(s), the posting of inspirational running quotes, posters, photos and videos on Facebook has started and will continue until the last of us cross the finish line.

Many, like me, are running our first marathon.  Some are running because this year is a special birthday year (40, 50 etc) and they want to run a marathon to celebrate.  Others are doing it to cross it off their bucket list.  Some are running because the marathon happens to fall on their wedding anniversary (hi Brian, hi Nancy!) and what a great way to celebrate.  Some jumped on the marathon bandwagon and figured what the hell?  I'm sure a few are asking themselves why the hell they ever thought this was a good idea.

I am running Niagara because of this poster:

I saw it when Doug and I were in Boston for the marathon.  He ran the marathon - I took pictures.  Well, except that I missed taking HIS picture which I'm still being teased about.  "I was just so excited to see you I forgot to take a picture!"

Back to the poster.  This picture does not do it justice in terms of how huge and dominating the poster was.  I just stopped and stared up in awe when I saw it.

I was already caught up in marathon fever - it's hard not to be when you're in Boston on marathon weekend.  I had been mistaken for a marathoner several times already - hard not to be when you're walking around in running gear.

I looked up, saw the poster and decided then and there to try a marathon.

I don't know if I'm a marathoner the way some people are.  I know several people who run multiple marathons every year.  They are always either training, tapering or recovering so that they can start training again.

Am I a marathoner? I won't know until I try.  My first race of any distance is usually pretty challenging and yet I've always wanted to do another one when I crossed the finish line.

I may fall in love with the marathon.  I may curse it forever.

What I do know is that I fell in love with the training.  The distances that felt so overwhelming are now no big deal.  I am so much stronger than I was back in June when this craziness started.

The training has already won my heart.

Let's see what the marathon does.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Have you ever seen a tilt-shift lens?  I don't have one but they're pretty cool.

Here's what they look like.

Tilt-shift lenses are neat because they let you change how you focus on a subject to create all sorts of interesting effects.

Here's an example:

Here's an even cooler one:

I feel like my life has been tilt-shifted the past two weeks.  The focal points aren't where they were, things that took centre stage were pushed off into the wings and things that I took for granted are no longer even in the picture. 

Things I took for granted two weeks ago: 
  • I was running a marathon on October 23rd
  • This marathon would be hard and I would struggle but finishing was never a question
  • Diabetes management was just as important as running fitness and both had to be worked on with equal dedication. 
Add a tilt-shift lens and suddenly reality looks very different. 
  • I have no idea if I'll be running a marathon (or any distance) on October 23rd
  • If I do start, finishing is not a given.  In fact, I may have to drop en route if my ankle decides to have a blowout. 
  • Diabetes management gets tossed to the side when an injury enters the picture. 
During the past three months, I have become a walking diabetes experiment.  Every long run was as much about learning what I needed to do to keep my blood sugar under control as it was about building strength and endurance.  I would try things out during a 22k run, learn the hard way about something, tweak my plan and test it again at 24k.  I would learn a few more things and try again during 26k and 28k. For 30k, which I ran two weeks ago, I decided to pretend it was race day and do everything the way I would during the marathon.  

Things worked well and I learned a few more things I wanted to try during my longest run - 35k.  

Add an injury to the mix and things changed focus...completely. 

I never did run 35k.  That means that the most important training run never happened.  My body was never put to that test.  My marathon diabetes management also never got that final trial run either.  

During the past two weeks - every run was an unknown.  I would go into them with a distance in mind but often came home before hitting it.  Some runs went from 10k to 3k.  Since different running distances and different running intensities require different diabetes management tricks - it's been a challenge.     

What did I do?  

I did nothing.  

I did not lower my basal rates.  I did not change what I ate or adjust my bolus insulin.  I just brought lots of food with me.  If I only ran 2-3k, I didn't have to do anything.  If I ran 5-6k, I would have a date or two part way through.  On Saturday I ran 15k (yay!!) but didn't know if I'd be able to.  So every 5k I had a gel to get me through the next 5k.  Not the best way to do it but unknown distances mean that I can't use my tried and true tricks. 

During the past two weeks, as I focused on my injury, my diabetes routine took a back seat.  That means that, by race day, I will have lost two weeks of running AND two weeks of diabetes experimentation.

It's going to be quite the ride.