Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Conversation Café

Last November my friend Kate emailed me. She works at Brock University in Community Learning which is a program that offers learning opportunities for everyone in the community to enjoy. One of the things that they do is organize Conversation Cafés. Conversation Cafés are created to encourage discussion and learning.  They are based on the principle that no one person has all the answers and that the knowledge of the group is much more rich than the knowledge of a single person.  Each Café is held at a local coffee shop and each Café has a different topic to be discussed. The conversation is run by a moderator and a guest with knowledge about the topic is invited to attend. The guest presents an overview of the topic and then participates in the conversation.

Next Tuesday, March 6th, there is a Conversation Café on the following topic:

How can we support the full inclusion of all people, including those with a developmental disability, in our community?

We all want safety, security, happiness and health. We all want the right to choose how we live out our lives. Being recognized as an individual and having the opportunity to make a valuable contribution is important to every person. Often however, people with a developmental disability can feel like they are on the outside of the community, looking in. In this public discussion, we explore how to create a community that welcomes all members.

Since I work with people who have a developmental disability, Kate asked me to review her summary to make sure it made sense. I made a few edits and sent it back with my approval.

She then asked me if I'd be willing to be the guest at the event.

I'm not a big fan of doing presentations and I'm certainly not a big fan of talking in front of a room full of strangers.  But I am a big fan of a good conversation and I am an even bigger fan of doing things that scare me so I agreed.

I just found out that my night is March 6th so I have a week to get my thoughts in order and be ready to talk for ten minutes about what community inclusion really means.  And what a disability label really means.  And what discrimination means.

In order to prepare myself I have been having little imaginary conversations in my head.  I imagine a conversation where people are asking me questions or challenging things I have said. In my head, I say my part first and then I try to think about what someone else might say to me so I can figure out how I might respond. 

Here's how one of these imaginary conversations went.  

Me: "people with developmental disabilities live in the community but they are not always part of the community. For example, if you or I wanted to join a bowling league, we would go to our local bowling alley and sign up.  If someone with a developmental disability wants to join a bowling league, they are told to join the Special Olympics bowling league. "

Other person: "Well, what's wrong with that? Joining Special Olympcis means that they get to be with other people just like them."

Me: "Just because people share the same label of 'disability' doesn't mean that they are all the same and that they are going to be friends with other people with that label.  I have Type 1 diabetes but, if I wanted to join a bowling league, that doesn't mean I'm going to go find a Type 1 diabetic bowling league.  People shouldn't be clumped together because they have the same label.  They should be able to be with people who share similar interests. "

No offense to all the other T1s out there but I just don't think I want to join a bowling league where I have to be with you just because our pancreases don't work.  We are more than our diabetes right?  I'll hang out with people with diabetes when I want to be part of that community. But I won't seek them out when I want to be part of the bowling community.  

Anyway, I've got my rough draft written for my presentation which leaves me with a few days to ruminate on it.  I've already made Doug pretend to be my audience once and I suspect he's going to be hearing it a few more times before the big night.  And if anyone is free next Tuesday night and wants to be part of the conversation - come on out! 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Seeing the Trees, Not the Forest

When it comes to most things in life, I walk with my head held high - ready to take on whatever life tosses my way.

When it comes to diabetes management, I keep my head down.

Not because I'm ashamed, or embarrassed, or overwhelmed.  Just because it's easier to look at the trees rather than the forest.

Let me esplain.  No there is too much.  Let me sum up.

Scully and I were emailing last week about crazy blood sugars.  I complained that I had sat at 23 for a few hours the night before, finally come down to a happy range and was back up to 16 again the next morning after breakfast.


When I am overwhelmingly busy at work, sometimes it helps to look ahead a month or a year and make a plan to tackle things.  When I am plotting out my running schedule, my budget, or my travel plans, it's essential that I look ahead at the challenges and plan for them. When it comes to diabetes, if I lift my head up and look ahead at the next month, the next year or the next 50 years, all I can see are blood sugar tests, medical appointments, stubborn highs and scary lows.  How fun is that?

So I don't.  If I take each number as it comes, I can deal with it.  I'm 23.  Deal with it.  I'm 2.5.  Deal with it.  Track things for a few weeks before Diabetes Centre appointments to look for trends but don't look further ahead or further back than that.

I'll be honest - if someone told me that they don't ever lift their head up and they just deal with every little thing as it comes - I will gently suggest that perhaps they should maybe consider investing for their retirement, or saving money, or getting an oil change, or squeezing some exercise into their day.  I'm not advocating the ostrich approach to life.

That's called refusing to cope with reality and believing that, if you can't see something, it won't come bite you in the ass. 

I'm just advocating that, for some things, it's important to see the forest.

For others, it's important to take it one tree at a time. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Love: An Interview

Perhaps it's because it's February, the month where we find ourselves surrounded by chocolate hearts, commercials for diamond rings and cupid cards, but in the last week alone there have been several blogs written by DOC members that talk about relationships...and the role diabetes plays (or does not play) in a new relationship.

Scully wrote last week about the challenges of dating someone new, about their lack of diabetes knowledge and about being honest with how well (or not so well) we are managing everything.

Kelly at Diabetesaliciousness wrote about the impact diabetes had on a past relationship.

Finally, Abby wrote a guest post at Six Until Me that talked about her fears re diabetes disclosure and how hard it is to 'come out' about diabetes.

Reading everyone's story got me thinking about my own relationship journey.

Just to give you a bit of background: I have been in three long term relationships in my life.  I was diagnosed with diabetes while I was in the first relationship.  The second one started off while I was on multiple daily injections and then I switched to the insulin pump.  In my current relationship with Doug I have been on the insulin pump the entire time.

From my perspective, as the pancreatically-challenged half of the relationship, I never put much thought into what impact diabetes would have.  Perhaps I'm naive or perhaps I only pick really understanding people but I just never figured it would be a huge issue.  Doug and I started out as friends and he knew I had diabetes and wore a pump.  But he didn't know much about it beyond that.  I figured I'd have to show him how the pump was attached to me, reassure him that, if he accidentally pulled it out, I'd be ok and tell him what the numbers on the glucometer meant.  Of course there would be a learning curve but I never felt it would have any real impact on our relationship, on what he thought of me or on whether or not he'd stay with me for the long haul.

All the blogs last week really got me thinking - what about the other half of the relationship?  Doug seemed to take it all in stride but I never really asked him how he felt about my diabetes before.

So I interviewed him.  He was puttering around the kitchen making lunch after his run and I peppered him with questions.  Being a good sport, he answered them all.

"When you and I were starting out, did you spend a lot of time thinking or worrying about what it meant to have a girlfriend with diabetes?"

No.  Everyone brings baggage to a relationship.  You and I both had stuff we had to overcome.  You didn't seem to worry too much about my stuff, and I didn't worry about yours.  I knew you had diabetes and I had seen you pricking your finger before races.  I didn't know much about it but it didn't seem to slow you down.

"What about the fact that I can't always do what I want, when I want?  Or the fact that I might have complications later in life?  Did you worry about that?"

No.  Sometimes you have to stop what you're doing to deal with a low blood sugar. I've learned to offer help when you need it and then sit back as you say "I can do it myself" (For the record - I can be a wee bit stubborn).  And yes, there could be complications down the road but I could also develop health issues. There's no guarantee with anything in life so why worry about it?  Let's just take care of ourselves the best we can and deal with things as they arise.

"What about the insulin pump?  Do you find it annoying that I have to be hooked up to something all the time?"

No.  When we went to that diabetes seminar in Toronto last year I couldn't believe how worried people seemed to be about the pump and whether it would affect their sex life.  I don't even notice it.  I've never gotten tangled up in it in the middle of the night and it's never in the way.  It's just part of who you are.

"What about understanding all the ups and downs of diabetes?  Did you find that hard?"

No.  You're really independent and you take care of 99% of it by yourself.  I'm constantly offering to help and occasionally you actually let me.  Otherwise, I just hang out and let you know I'm there if you need anything.  I'll hug you when you need to cry and get you juice when you ask for it.

"Do you have any words of wisdom for people who are starting a relationship with someone who has diabetes?"

Don't worry about it.  If you find someone attractive, if you find them sexy, if you like how they think and if they make you happy - you won't even notice the diabetes.  It's just part of the package.

"Anything else?"

It's nice to know you always have fruit chews in your purse and I can always count on you to give me the purple ones.

end of interview

Perhaps I'm have Pollyanna syndrome but I really think people worry too much about what others are going to think.  We can make diabetes a big deal and it will become a big deal.  We can make it part of our daily routine and, while it won't always behave, it doesn't have to limit you.

My advice for d-folks entering a new relationship?

  • teach the person the basics (1.8 = need sugar and 23 = need insulin) but don't get mad when they don't remember or don't get something.  We live with diabetes 100% of the time - they don't and hopefully never will.  They can't possibly understand all the things we need to think about before we head out the door for a run. 
  • let them help you but always be prepared to help yourself
  • keep them posted on how you're doing (mentally and physically) but keep diabetes at the periphery.  If it becomes 90% of your relationship, you'll both go crazy. 
  • bring more candy than you need so you can share.  Get stuff they like too.
  • don't make the pump a big deal.  You can have a very happy sex life while remaining 100% tethered.

I think we worry way too much about how people are going to respond. Sure some people won't be able or willing to handle life with a diabetic but I'm willing to bet that for every one of those there are 100 fabulous folks out there who won't bat an eye.

You are more than your diabetes.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Water Baby

I woke up at 5:30am and my blood sugar was 6.3.

I grabbed one peanut butter chocolate macaroon (10 carbs) and nibbled as I pulled on my shoes.

I drove to the pool, undressed, unhooked my pump, put my stuff in a locker, wet my hair and drenched it with conditioner, said hello the lifeguards, pulled on my goggles and proceeded to swim 90 lengths in 60 minutes.

I showered, changed, reconnected my pump and put a 150% basal rate for 90 minutes, drove home and checked my sugar again.


And that, my friends, is why I love swimming.

Well, that and the fact that, the minute I slip into the water, I can't help but smile.

I'm a water baby.

When my sisters and I were little, we were really lucky.  Our parents were both teachers so, when we were off, they were off.  Christmas holidays, March Breaks and, most importantly, summer vacation.  During the summer, they would take us to the public pool every single day.  My dad would bring his lawn chair and plant himself with a book while the three of us played around in the water for an hour or so, perfecting our handstands and triple somersaults.

For two weeks every summer, we would go on vacation.  We used to go camping near Ottawa and there was a lake there where we could swim.  Then we started driving to Cape Cod and camping there.  We had a lake in our campground and it wasn't a far drive to the ocean.  That's when I fell in love with the ocean. A few years after that, we started driving to New Smyrna Beach, Florida.  The ocean was mere steps away and we spent hours in it every day.

When I wasn't swimming in it, I was gazing at it, hoping to spot dolphins, sharks!, or perhaps a mermaid.

Then we grew up and summer vacations became a time to work so we could afford tuition fees and meal plans.  Despite going to school for marine biology, playing in the water was no longer a part of my life.  Instead of playing in it, I studied it in textbooks.

I graduated, got a summer job in social services and, without realizing it, 15 years passed.

Now, thanks to my late summer stress fracture, I spend three hours a week in the pool.  Being someone who preferred snorkelling and body surfing, I didn't think I'd enjoy swimming lengths.  Too boring and repetitive.  But my stress fracture forced me into the pool because it was the only physical activity I could do.

I was happily surprised to discover that it's the water I love, no matter what I'm doing in it.

My body feels good, my mind is peaceful and my diabetes seems to go in remission.

I feel like I've come home.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

NYC...Encore Une Fois

We're going to New York...again.

My first trip ever to New York City was a few short months ago.  I loved it.  I knew I would but I didn't know I would love it that much.

Happily - we get to go back - in November.

November 2nd to the 5th to be exact.

And it's all because of my marathon man.

This picture was taken last November at the Hamilton marathon.  Doug had set his sights on the NYC marathon for 2012 but didn't want to have to enter the lottery to get in.  The only other option was to get a qualifying time which, for those of you who don't know, is actually a stricter time than the one required for Boston.  To go to Boston, Doug needed to run a 4:00:00 marathon.  To get a guaranteed entry into NYC, he had to run a 3:45:00. Last April, he ran a 3:47:00 in Boston so he needed to shave a few minutes off that time.

He decided the tackle the Hamilton marathon and, by the time he crossed the finish line, he had shaved more than a few minutes - clocking in at 3:38:00.  The picture was taken about 50 metres from the finish.  If only we could all look so strong at the end of a race eh?

A few weeks ago he sent in his request to the New York Road Runners.  Last week, once they had verified his time, he received an email telling him that he was accepted into the NYC marathon.  No waiting, no lottery and no mad rush to book accommodations in April when the winners of the lottery are announced.  In fact, we've already secured our hotel which is a huge relief when I think of the thousands of people who will be descending on the Big Apple that weekend.

Did you know that over 100,000 runners apply to run NYC every year?  And just under 40,000 get in.

Check out this promotional video if you want to get a sense of the size and scale of this event.

The marathon is pretty historic and the route takes runners through all five boroughs (Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan).  The race starts on Staten Island, at the toll booths of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.  Runners are divided into three waves based on previous race times or their predicted finish time.  One wave runs on the lower level of the bridge, the other two run along the top.

The best of the best have run this race.  Grete Waitz, a Norwegian marathoner, famously won the race nine times between 1978 and 1988. Plenty of famous people have run it too.  Ed Norton, Anthony Edwards (Dr. Green from ER), Alanis Morissette, Katie Holmes, Lance Armstrong and Mark Messier have all crossed the finish line in Central Park.

Oprah did not, according to my research, run NYC (I thought she had).  She ran the Marine Corps marathon in 4:29:00 which has since become the unofficial time to beat for countless marathon runners.  Apparently "I just want to beat Oprah" is a fairly common phrase at start lines.

I'll be there on November 4th.  Watching the elite runners sail across the finish line and doing my share of celebrity spotting.  But there is only one runner I'll be scanning the crowds for and I can spot his gazelle-like gait even in a crowd of 40,000.

Hopefully this time I can refrain from screaming like a madwoman long enough to take his picture.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Last Friday was, as it always is, curling night.

We've been doing pretty well this season so far.  Don't quote me on this but I think we've won our last 12 games.  Sometimes it's a slaughter, other times it's down to the last rock in the last end, but we've won much more than we've lost.  Our winning streak has been pretty validating since three of four members of our team are complete neophytes.  We try hard but, more often than not, Doug saves us by throwing two fabulous rocks at the end and getting us a few points.  The rest of us just try not to make too much of a mess for him to have to work with.

Last Friday, the final score for the game was 13 to 0.

Pretty impressive non?

Too bad it was the other team that got 13 points.

We, to put it mildly, sucked.

In fact, we were so ridiculously bad that, once we realized there was no hope, we could do nothing but laugh at ourselves.  

The other team stopped marking down the points after about three ends because it would have been too embarrassing.

I threw a lot of rocks that were right on target in terms of aim and amount of curl but my muscles seemed to have atrophied.  It took Klari, Steve AND Doug sweeping like mad to get the rock even close to the house.  Klari, who usually has a light touch, kept throwing rocks that sailed right across the ice, through the house and hit the boards on the other side.  Steve alternated between throwing the wrong weight and missing on the aim.  And Doug, our saviour, had caught my cold from hell and couldn't make a solid shot no matter how hard he tried.

At the end of the game, he got off the ice, sneezed a few times and then walked over to Chris and Janice, held out his wrists and asked them to put him out of his misery.  (Thankfully he's feeling much better now and has climbed back off the ledge).

Luckily, we play Friday night curling - a friendly game that has no strings attached and always ends in a few rounds of drinks.  Klari and I consoled ourselves with the thought that, because we were losing, we get free wine at the end. For the first time in about twelve weeks, I didn't have to buy the first drink.

Thank goodness for small mercies.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Week of Meals

I had a few vacations days left to use up before the end of our fiscal year so I booked the four days after Family Day off and found myself with a week vacation in February.  I'm not going anywhere and am looking forward to a quiet week of catching up on things I've been meaning to do, naps and runs in the early morning sunshine.  As the week takes shape however, it seems to be turning into a week all about food.

Now let's be honest here.  My entire life revolves around food.  I love food AND I have diabetes - so there really is no choice in the matter.  I'm either eating, thinking about eating, planning my next meal, preparing my next meal or feeding a low - food is never farther than a few steps away.  Ever.

But this week revolves around out of the ordinary food - and lots of it.  It started in Saturday in Toronto.  I had breakfast before the sun rose and then headed to T.O.  My sister and I ate brunch (read: eggs, fried meat products, fried potatoes and lots of coffee).  We ate lunch (a slab of cornbread stuffed with avocado, chicken, cilantro and other yummy things) and dinner (lots of sushi).

Sunday, Doug and I were supposed to prepare a lunch for his daughter and her boyfriend but our house is so full of cold germs we decided to go out instead.  So I happily order moules frites (translation: a huge bowl of mussels with a side of fries) and shared sticky toffee pudding.

Sunday night I went to my parents' house for dinner where we enjoyed boeuf bourguignon and, unbelievably, more sticky toffee pudding (yay!).

Today, I'm making lunch for a friend.  Wednesday and Thursday I'm going out for lunch with my mom and a prof at Brock University (respectively) and this Saturday I'm heading to Toronto to meet up with some university friends and we'll be pot lucking it.

So this week is all about food and I am not for one second complaining about any of it.  But I am wondering how to handle it all.  Insulin-wise, I will be SWAGing a lot (that's Scientific Wild Ass Guessing for those of you who are not up on your diabetes lingo).  Weight wise, I will be doing my best to keep control of the portion sizes and trying to avoid lows which just mean more unwanted calories.

I'm not one to obsess about food but I try to be aware of what I'm eating and find a balance that keeps my weight stable and my tummy happy.  A big Sunday night dinner means a light Sunday lunch.  Dessert at lunch means no dessert at dinner.  Give and take.

This week though, I feel like I need to be extra cautious or I could end up inhaling hundreds of extra calories without much trouble.  I'm already keeping a hawk eye on my blood sugars to make sure I don't go low.  I've got my workout schedule planned so that I get a run or a swim in every morning.  I'm looking at the day as a whole rather than going meal by meal and will be focusing more on protein than carbs in my meals.  Why? Because the less carbs I eat in a sitting, the less insulin I need to take.  Which means less of a chance of messing up the carb count which means less of a chance of going low later and needing more food.  So I eat cheese without the crackers and fish without the rice, lots of salads and not a lot of dessert.  I don't usually avoid carbs and I have never been a proponent of avoiding food groups.  In fact, I'm the poster child for the Canada Food Guide. But carbs = glucose = insulin so on days when I absolutely need to keep things in check, I cut down on carbs and things get much easier to manage.

Here's to a week of family and friendships...and food!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sister Dates

Happily holiday weekend folks. In the US of A it's President's Day today.  In Canada it's Family Day - our newest statutory holiday.  Either way, I hope you're enjoying a little extra fun this weekend.

My little sister and I had a sister date on Saturday.  Ten hours in Toronto with my little sis always means a lot of coffee, a lot of yummy food, a lot of fun stores and a LOT of walking.  This time though, he entire day revolved around my Christmas present: a 3-hour makeup class at the Asha School of Makeup.

After brunch and lunch, my sister and I showed up at the address listed on the Groupon.  She had been told to call a phone number once we got there.  It felt a little sketchy as we stood on the steps of a Queen Street building but, after several minutes, a beautifully made-up woman came down to let us in.  Apparently make-up schools are high security areas.  Must be all those brushes...

We were not sure what to expect.  I pictured a classroom setting with lots of lights and mirrors where we would all get to practice on ourselves.  Geneviève just hoped we could sit at the back so she wouldn't be singled out to answer questions.

Neither of us expected to be taken into a tiny room with a desk littered with makeup supplies and five stools in a circle for the students to sit on.  We were given a piece of paper and a pen to take notes and a magazine to provide something to write on.  Within a few minutes we were a room full of strangers sitting in a circle, all without makeup and too embarrassed to say what they did and did not know.


The instructor asked one lady to be her model for the five-minute 'going out to the grocery store' look.  It took about twenty minutes to do because she was explaining so much but I couldn't believe how much a little blush and sheer eye shadow could transform a person.  We sat there in awe.

The next look was the 'evening' look which was all about eye shadows.  I was selected as the model for that one because I apparently have a lot of room around my eyes which really shows off the colours.  So I perched on the stool and tried not to let my eyes water too much as I was 'painted'.  Metallic browns and golds were applied and blended and, within a few minutes, I was ready for the red carpet...

..well, except for my purple vest, jeans and runners.

It did look pretty cool.  We tried to take a picture but it just didn't do it justice.  Apparently it's all about the subtleties - which are lovely in person but don't show up well on camera.

A third girl was the model for some pretty impressive eye liner tricks.

Once the demonstrations were over, the room of five quiet girls bombarded the instructor with questions.  About brushes and textures and tricks.  It was crazy.  I feel like I've been given the secret password into a brave new world.

Once we were done, we headed back out to Queen Street.  We walked to the Eaton Centre to the new Sephora store (I experienced my first Sephora in New York - omigod!).  Then we went to M.A.C. where apparently their newest colours are crazy because all the sales ladies were sporting kermit green eye shadow.  We finished at Shoppers where we asked a few questions of the very helpful drag queen working the makeup counter.

So, despite our fears of turning out looking like this:

...we came out looking pretty much like ourselves - with a little bit of je ne sais quoi.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Running Injury Update

Well, I didn't quite reach my goal of running 40 minutes by the end of January but I am still running relatively pain free so I can't really complain.

I did complain a little bit though because I have been feeling a little stagnated.  I had been progressing nicely in my recovery program until I reached 30 minutes of running.  I did that three times in a week and suddenly my shin pain was back.  Not my stress fracture pain but my ol'faithful shin pain.

Geoff's instructions were very very clear.  Repeat the week - do NOT add any time to ANY of your runs.

Yessir! (I almost saluted and clicked my heals as I said it).

I repeated the week.  There was still pain but it was less.

Repeat it again he said.


I repeated a third time.  Still pain but less again.

Then I got sick and was sidelined for a week.

So for the last month, I have been running thirty minutes runs, three times a week, like a gerbil on its little wheel.  Round and round my neighbourhood.

Shoot me.

I went to see Geoff last night and he explained that I should, you guessed it, repeat the thirty minute runs again for one more week.  He was happy with my progress but he's being super cautious with me.  I get it. I want to recover and be stronger than before.  I don't want to be sidelined because I pushed too far too fast.    He explained about tolerance zones.  He doesn't want me to take on more time or distance until I build up my tolerance for the 30 minute zone.  Once I can run 30 minutes without pain, that means my body has adjusted to that distance.  Then I can move on to the next level.  It makes sense.

I get it, I really really do.  And, while I may ask a lot of questions, I'm a really obedient patient and will do as instructed.

This time though, I pushed a bit.  "Geoff give me something man.  I've been running 30 minutes for so long I'm going to lose it soon.  Tell me to run 31 minutes.  Heck, 30 minutes and 45 seconds. Anything but 30."

So he told me to try 35 minutes.  If the pain increases at all, back off.  But I'm allowed to try it.


I went home last night and ran, unbelievably, 30 minutes.  I know - I'm a wuss.  I just wanted to make sure I could handle that after a week off before I pushed beyond.  Sunday though - watch out.  This wild and crazy chick is going to be running for 2,100 whole seconds.  That's 300 seconds more than last week.

Oh, and I told him my secret wish to be able to run the Women's half marathon in June.  He said we'd have to see but it's a definite possibility. 

Cue the happy dance music!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Diabetes vs Real People Sick

Well, after a week of feeling pretty damn awful, I can officially announce that I am over the cold from hell.

I am now almost 100% healthy again...

...well, except for that chronic disease that seems to always be hanging around.

I had a lot of time to think over the past few days (in between fits of coughing) and I spent some time comparing being diabetes sick to being real people sick.

Diabetes is never-ending (hence the term chronic).  It's like a barnacle that takes hold and never ever lets go.

The thing with barnacles is (according to the humpback whales I interviewed for this story) you get used to them.  Sure, they affect your ability to swim.  Sure, they're itchy sometimes.  But if you get over the fact that they're always there and will sometimes slow you down, they're relatively easy to live with.  In fact, after a while, you even start forgetting about them for little bits of time.

Real people sick is different.  When a cold or flu does strike, it totally sucks.  You feel that tickle in your throat and you think "no, No, NOOOOO!!!!.  I don't want to be sick!"  You start sucking back vitamin C and anything else that people tell you to try but it's no use.  You get all stubbed ub and can't tahk white. Having a cold disrupts work routines and it disrupts exercise regimes.  Food becomes tasteless and sleeping for more than an hour at a time becomes nigh on impossible.  For days.  Everything revolves around the fact that you feel crappy.

In fact, I decided at one point that I would take diabetes any day over being real people sick.  If I could never have a cold or flu again - I'd take diabetes.  Without a doubt.

And then my blood sugar dropped to 1.8.

And I drank two juice boxes.

And tested again.

And it was 1.9.

So I drank two more.

And tested again.

And finally it was 3.1

That's when I realized that I was wrong.  I do not prefer diabetes to cold and flus. Yes, colds and flus are really annoying and they make people feel really crappy for a while.

But diabetes is scary.  It's unpredictable.  And it's deadly.

And just because we get used to it doesn't mean it's not any of those things.

One. point. eight.

Oh. my. god.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

And The Grand Total Is...

It's income tax time folks.  I'm patiently checking the mailbox every day waiting for one more piece of mail before I can sit down at the table with my Big Red pencil, my calculator and my 2011 tax package.

Normally, my returns are pretty straightforward.  I have one T4 and I have my RRSP contributions.  I spend 45 minutes plugging in the numbers and get pretty much the same amount back that I got the year before.  Easy peasy.  I then spend ten more minutes on the phone using Telefile.  It's faster than mailing in my return and it's free.  All I have to do is punch numbers into my phone as requested by the familiar, soothing, male voice who always helps me work my way through the system.

This year, I decided to add up all of my medical receipts to see if I spent enough out of pocket to claim medical expenses. I had toyed with the idea for the past few years but never felt it would make much of a difference so I didn't bother.  Since I was home sick on Monday I figured I could handle sitting at the table for a while working out the numbers.

I opened my diabetes cupboard and grabbed my bag full of receipts.  For the past three years, every time I get prescriptions filled, I toss the receipts in there.  First step was to sort the receipts by year.  Then staple them to their corresponding credit card statements.  Then create a spreadsheet that allowed me to enter three amounts for each visit to the pharmacy: the amount I spent on insulin pump supplies, the amount I spent on other prescriptions and the total amount paid.

The reason I separated them out was that I, like other Ontarians on the pump, receive a quarterly cheque for pump supplies (the reservoir and the infusion set).  So even though I pay out of pocket for the supplies, I am reimbursed later so I can't claim those costs (unless I spent more than I am reimbursed).  I can only claim costs for other prescriptions (insulin, test strips, etc).

As I entered the numbers, a picture began to form. It's pretty incredible when you see it laid out in front of you.

In 2011, I spent almost $900 in prescriptions.  That's how much I spent AFTER my benefits took care of 80% of things.  I did some quick math to figure out the total cost of all the prescriptions (what I paid plus what my benefits covered).  The total cost was $4500.  That does not include my insulin pump supplies which cost an additional $2000.00.

So a total of $6500 was spent last year (by myself, my benefit provider and the Ontario government) to keep me alive and healthy.

I can only guess at the cost of all the visits to medical professionals (multiple visits to the Diabetes Centre, ophthalmologist, family doctor, and clinics for blood work).

I exercise six days a week. I eat well and take care of myself.  I work hard to stay healthy because I believe strongly in the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Imagine what I would cost if I didn't?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Photo Contest and a Little Bit of Love

The Region of Niagara has been recognized as a 2012 Cultural Capital of Canada.  Yay us.

During this year long celebration there will be a wide variety of events and projects going on to highlight our area.  One of these is a textile art project.  A call went out across Niagara looking for photographs that highlight the rich textures and natural beauty of the Niagara Region.  Chosen photos will be used as the design inspiration of the collaborative textile and mixed media art project.

Now, I don't pretend to know what all of that means or what the final product might look like.  I just got all excited at the idea of submitting photos of Niagara and perhaps having one of them chosen to be part of the final product.

We are allowed to submit five photos and the submission date is February 15th.  My original plan was to hunt through my existing photos for a few good specimens and then ask my friend Breanne (hi Breanne!) if she wanted to go on a photo date to see if we could snap a few winning shots.  Sadly, as the weekend approached, I felt myself getting sicker and sicker. I was forced to toss my photoshoot plan out the window (sorry Breanne).

Instead, I sat in front of my laptop on Sunday afternoon with my box of tissues and my Halls and I went through my photos looking for five to submit.

I was looking for photos that highlighted the beauty of Niagara (either on a grand scale or on a macro one) and photos that had texture of some kind (I figured they'd be looking for that).  On top of that they had to be photos that I loved.  I settled on five (three that were taken in the last year and two that are several years old but are my favourites).

Photo contests are always tricky because everyone has a different idea of what makes a winning photo.  So, here are my submissions for your review.  Let's see if any of them make the cut eh?

This photo (and the one below) were taken last May.  It was freezing cold and ridiculously rainy outside but Doug and I really wanted to capture the spring trees in full blossom.  So we bundled up, put raincoats on our cameras and headed out into the storm.  

This is a purple coneflower, one of my favourite flowers.  I remember perching beside a flower bed and trying to snap a photo as the flowers were buffeted by a strong breeze.  After multiple attempts I finally got one in focus and was thrilled with how it turned out .

Last spring, when it was still snowy and grey outside, Doug bought some irises at the market to brighten up the house.  I decided to do a little photoshoot but wasn't having much luck photographing the flowers.  So I tilted my camera down a bit and discovered the beautiful curves of the vase. 

I used to live near Port Dalhousie.  One night I happened to look out my apartment window to see a particularly spectacular sky.  I grabbed my camera and drove like mad to get to the pier.  It was windy and unwelcoming out there and the only people crazy enough to venture out were photographers.  

This was not one of the photos I submitted but I love it.  Doug took it when we were out on the freezing cold May afternoon together.  I think the look on my face captures the joy in our relationship.  The world is a much happier place when we are together and even the worst days are made better when he is there. 

Happy Valentines Day baby.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Mess of Bubbles

"Well the good news is that it's not strep" said the nice doctor at the walk in clinic.

I had been kinda hoping it was because then at least there would be medication I could take that would start the healing process and kill the pain.  Nine am on Sunday morning and I was the first person at the clinic after a night of gargling with salt water and fits of rather painful coughing.  After hours of feeling like I was swallowing shards of glass I finally got up at 1am to check the walk-in clinic times and research do it yourself remedies for strep.  Gargle with salt water and take acetaminophen were the recommendations.  I did and managed to snag about three hours of fitful sleep.

"I'm going to prescribe a gargle for you.  It's very important that you use it exactly as I tell you to.  Gargle for four minutes.  Set a timer.  Do it right before you're about to eat your next meal.  Spit out the gargle, eat your meal and then don't eat again until the next meal.  No snacking."

"Well, that may be a problem because I have type one diabetes.  If my blood sugar drops I have to eat.  Is there a problem with eating?"

"Type one diabetes?  Well, you shouldn't have to eat between meals just because you have diabetes."

"If my blood sugar drops too low I most certainly do have to eat something."

"Does your blood sugar drop between meals?"

"It could.  One never knows when these things are going to happen."

"Well, if you need to eat, of course you can eat.  But if you don't gargle first it's going to hurt.  And yes, you're still contagious so don't go kissing anyone."

Sad. Day.

So I left the doctor who was very kind but didn't seem to be up to speed on his diabetes lore and headed to the clinic pharmacy to have my prescription filled.

The pharmacist handed it to me and told me to gargle for as long as I could.  "The doctor told me four minutes.  Does that make sense?"

"That sounds about right" he replied. Followed by "now you need to wait at least 30 minutes after you gargle before eating."

"Ummmm, the doctor told me to eat right after I gargle."

"That is not recommended.  It numbs your throat so there is a risk of choking."

So I plodded home with my gargle in tow.  I set the timer on the microwave, poured two teaspoons of green liquid into my mouth, tilted my head back and began.  My plan was to gargle until I ran out of oxygen, tilt my head down, inhale, tilt head back and carry on.  Repeat as necessary for four minutes.

No one mentioned that the stuff bubbles like crazy.  Within about five seconds it was erupting out of my mouth like Mount Vesuvius on a bad day.  I ended up having to put a paper towel over my mouth so that I wasn't completely covered in green bubbles.  The prescribed amount lasted precisely 2 minutes and 30 seconds before completely evaporating into bubbles.  By that point my lips were numb and my throat was numb.  Kinda nice after the pain I was in but I figured I had better wait 30 minutes before drinking my coffee...just in case.

No point in burning myself right?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Lady Dior

In case anyone had any illusion about this - I am NOT a runway model.  I do not own any Calvin Klein, Gucchi or Coach.  Nor do I aspire to.  I have never done any modelling and I don't believe that I need to be a size zero with perfect hair to be beautiful.  But, just in case anyone was wondering, I just want to make it very clear that I do not spend a lot of my time and money trying to keep up with the latest fashions.

I own two pairs of jeans that I wear seven days a week (yes, of course I wash them - gawd!).  I own about 7 long sleeved tops and about that many short sleeved ones and I recycle them too.  It's a very fine art of not wearing the same top more than once a week and not wearing the same top on the same day of the week every week.  I have regular weekly meetings with people and if my Thursday group only ever see me wearing my jeans and my blue corduroy shirt they might wonder if I own any other clothes.

I wear running shoes seven days a week (75% to take care of my feet and my shins and 25% because they're just so much more comfortable than other shoes).

So don't be calling me for fashion tips.

When I found out at Christmas that we were going to New York, I bought the newest copies of Vanity Fair and Vogue on a whim.  I wanted to look at pictures of people wearing clothes that I might actually see.  I figured it would be fun.

Then I turned the page and spotted an ad for this purse.

Omigod!  The colours were gorgeous! I don't usually love purses but I loved this one.  How much fun would it be to have something like this?

When we were in Bloomingdales, I decided to check out the Dior boutique to see what the purse cost.

In my fashion naiveté I figured it was probably really expensive.  You know, like, five HUNDRED dollars.

There was no price tag on it (didn't clue in at that point).  So I lifted the purse up to check it out (the sales lady and the security guard came a few steps closer (still not clueing in).  "Um, how much does this cost?" I asked.  Thirty five hundred dollars was the response I got.

Actually it might have been thirty four hundred, or thirty six.  I don't remember the exact details but, since I didn't have $3000+ in my Levi's I didn't think it much mattered.  All I could do was put it down without dropping it.  Scratching it.  Or doing anything else that might force me to sell my car to pay for it.

Good lord!

So much for that plan.

Anyway, I learned a lot that day as I wandered around Bloomingdales with my jaw down to the floor.  I learned that there are a lot of absolutely beautiful things being created by some extremely talented fashion designers.  I also learned that one of the reasons they are so appealing is because the cost make them inaccessible to most humans.

In an effort to better understand this industry I curled up on the couch last night with my take out Spicy Thai Tom Yum Soup (great for curing colds!) and watched The Devil Wears Prada.

What an interesting movie.  I learned that I never want to be caught up in that ridiculously expensive world.  And I also learned that it's a beautiful world to watch from the outside.  It's gorgeous to look at in magazines, and it's a lot of fun to admire the photography and the creativity.  As long as I can do it while wearing my blue fuzzy socks, recovery pants and Runners' Edge hoodie.

And just for the record, isn't this lady amazing?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Real People Sick

Diabetes not only means that I get to poke my fingers in public, it means that I get to experience a whole slew of extra bonuses.

High blood sugars can mean that I get random and unexpected headaches.  And nausea.  Fatigue, irritability, excessive thirst and, should the high happen in the middle of the night, bizarre dreams about dragons.

Low blood sugars can mean that I get to sweat through my clothes or my tongue might go numb. I might feel dizzy, shaky, confused, cold, or ravenous.  The world my tilt by 10-15 degrees or I may be unable to go 10 seconds between huge yawns.

Probably about 80% of the not so good feelings I feel are the direct result of diabetes.

But sometimes even us diabetics get real people sick.

You know like we get colds and flus and stuff.

They were not caused by diabetes - they were caused by germs that somehow broke through my hand washing, healthy living barriers and decided to have some fun.

I think I'm getting real people sick.

My first clue was that I had ridiculously high blood sugars on Saturday and Sunday.  There was no getting them down below 15.0 no matter what I tried.

Sunday and Monday night I didn't sleep well - second clue.  I'll often have one bad night but then the next night will be blissful as I catch up on what I missed.  Two bad nights in a row are never good.

Monday morning I woke up with a sore throat.  Gawdammit.  It's training weeks - I don't have time for this.  I went swimming anyway because I thought I could jump start my immune system by swimming for an hour.  I felt better afterwards and was encouraged.

Tuesday I woke up with a worse sore throat.  Doubledammit.  I drank lots of water, dutifully ate my oranges and soldiered on.  Ran for 30 minutes after work.  I felt tired but did the same distance in the same amount of time so figured I wasn't too bad.

Wednesday morning, the sore throat was even worse.  I drank a ton of water and headed to the pool.  I was a little slower than usual and ended up doing six fewer lengths than I normally do but the fact that I did as much as did was encouraging.

At this point I'm not really sure what's going on.  I feel like I'm fighting a boxing match with a cold virus.  It takes partial hold over night and then I hop out of bed, drown it in water and surprise it into submission with vigorous activity.  We go back and forth throughout the day and then I go to sleep and let my guard down again.

We'll see over the next few days who is ultimately gonna win but, in the meantime, I think it's fun to announce that I'm feeling real person sick.

Not a regular occurrence in my world.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Save Our Pool

There is a movement afoot to save our local pool. The one I never paid attention to until a few months ago and the one I now spend several hours a week immersed in.

Our pool is a municipally owned pool that is attached to a high school.  The high school is on the potential chopping block and discussions are underway at the moment to determine which local high school(s) will be closed.

As for the pool, the Kiwanis Club of St. Catharines is building a brand new, shiny Aquatics Centre complete with an 8 lane 25m accessible pool, a leisure pool with for children and seniors and a new branch to our public library. The facility is slated to open later this year and our rapidly deteriorating current pool is to be closed.

That’s the plan anyway.

There are several problems with this plan.

The new pool is at the other end of town. The current pool is in an area of town where there are a lot of people who cannot afford the car or the bus pass they will need to get to the new facility.

St. Catharines is a fairly large community and, based on its size, could accommodate several public pools. According to the numbers, we could accommodate four municipal pools. We currently have one. If our pool closes when the new one opens, we’ll still only have one.  Yes there is a YMCA but the fees there are much higher and it is on the same side of town as the new pool.

So there is a movement afoot to save our pool.

Now, I’ll be perfectly honest with you. Our pool is old (almost 50 years old to be exact). It was originally built as an outdoor pool but was enclosed back in 1973. The humidity is killing it. Maintenance and repair has not been kept up so it’s deteriorating quickly. The pool is still functional and has a certain charm but, according to a report that was published yesterday, it will need at least $2 million dollars (possibly up to $4 million) in repairs to bring it up to snuff. It will then require $500,000 a year just to maintain it.

There is a small but active group of folks trying hard to save the pool. I see Ken (the force behind the movement) every morning at the pool and have been getting regular updates on the progress. They have collected 3050 signatures. They organized a meeting (that was held last night) and have had a lot of publicity in the local papers.  Doug and I went to the meeting last night.  The gymnasium was packed.  The mayor was there.  The two councillors were there as well as several others who are not even from this part of town.

I wasn't sure what to expect but I was dreading an hour of mudslinging and heckling.  Instead, Ken pulled off a very well-organized presentation and most of the speakers presented very valid points.  The same ones I would have said if I had had the nerve to stand up at the mike.  Points about health, transportation, accessibility, and community need.

I’m not really sure how I feel about the whole thing. Yes, I love the fact that I can drive to the pool in under five minutes. That makes a big difference at 5:45am when I need to be at work at 8am. I love the fact that our pool is relatively quiet in the mornings and I don’t have to fight for space in a lane. I love the fact that I paid $40 for a three month unlimited pass.

On the other hand, I don’t love the fact that I have to wait five minutes for the shower to start spewing hot water. I don’t love the fact that lots of things don’t quite work right and yet aren’t fixed. I don’t love the fact that the pool deck sometimes smells of weird chemicals because they’ve had to glue a few tiles back on. I don’t love the fact that the pool does not meet accessibility standards.

I'm not emotionally attached to the pool the way many people are.  I would just like to have a municipal pool in my end of town.  I'll be happy if they keep our current pool and fix it up.  I'll be happy if they go crazy and decide that a brand new facility is what's needed.

I’m not sure what is going to happen but I'm sure we'll have a better sense after the next council meeting. I may find myself driving across town at 5:30am and having to change my work schedule to 8:30am to accommodate the extra driving time. I may find myself paying a lot more money to swim in a much busier pool.  Even if they decide to save the pool, I'm realistic enough to know that it will probably shut down for an extended period of time while the repairs take place.  So we'll still be driving to the new Aquatic Park.

That being said, the discussion was good and it was nice to be part of something that seems to be gathering momentum by the day. I’m joining the movement and we’ll see how far we can go.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mojitos On The Rocks

Does anyone remember the Simcoe Shores relay I blogged about last August?  The one where I helped support 8 runners as they ran from Barrie to Collingwood with a wee detour through Orillia and Wasaga Beach?  Our team was called The Mojitos and we could be spotted anywhere thanks to our bright green singlets, limes and beads.

A few months ago, on a whim, Klari put our names in the lottery for the Cabot Trail relay.  She figured it was a crap shoot as to whether or not we made the cut so there was no point in worrying about details (like where to find 17 crazy runners willing to travel to Baddeck Nova Scotia) until we actually got in.

Well, we got in.

Of course we got in.

It sounded so crazy that I knew without a doubt I'd find myself the co-captain of the Mojitos on the Rocks.

Thankfully the East Coast of Canada is my favourite place to be so I can think of worse things than spending the last weekend in May with my camera and a car full of runners.

The Cabot Trail Relay is a little bigger than Simcoe Shores.  Instead of 245km, the race is 276.33km (apparently it's the point three three that'll kill ya...).  Instead of 24 legs that are between 5-11km each there are 17 legs that range from 12-21km in length.  Instead of one nasty uphill leg and one nasty downhill one this race takes runners through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park and, to add to the fun, many of the hardest uphills and downhills happening in the middle of the night.  Finally, instead of 28 teams (which means roughly 168 runners plus 28 support vehicles on the road) there are 70 teams (which means over 1000 runners plus 70 support vehicles).  Any of you driven along the Cabot Trail?  There isn't much room to manoeuvre on those hairpin turns.  Add a few moose to the mix and it's gonna be tight.

The planning has already begun. Klari has found a place for all of us to stay.  She's booked our flights (with a group discount to boot) and we have three vans ready and waiting for us when we arrive.   We have 13 runners signed on and we're hoping for a few more.  We don't necessarily need 17 runners but many of the legs are so challenging that most runners won't be doing more than one (unlike Simcoe Shores where everyone ran three legs).

My job is to help work out all of the logistics.  How to coordinate runners and vehicles.  How to ensure that the proper runner gets to the proper start point on time.  How to support people on the course.  How to coordinate who will be doing our volunteer stint at the water station (I believe we got the 4am shift for that!).  Once we get there I will be a driver and will be shuttling runners to their stations and making sure they are ready to run.

And in case anyone was wondering - no, I will NOT be running.  We have got ourselves a team of pretty elite runners.  They want to win and I am happy to do my part to drive them to victory.  But I will not be tying on my Brooks Adrenalines - I know what I'm good at. Keeping a minimum ten minute mile pace on flat ground is not one of my skills - never mind doing it while running up or down a mountain.

 Keeping people organized, on time and focused on the job ahead is what I do.  So I'll be doing just that at the end of May - at the end of the world.  Apparently they don't even have cell phone towers out there and Rogers service is nowhere to be found.


Monday, February 6, 2012

How To Support Me

Last week, during our staff training weeks, we spent two days learning about person-centred thinking.

We learned all sorts of tips and tools to help us get a better understanding about the things that are really important to a person as well as the things that are really important for a person.  Because, you see, those things can be quite different.

Some things like running, sleep and diabetes management are important to me and they are also important for me.  Other things, like wearing sensible shoes every day, are important for me but, let's be honest, it annoys me to no end to wear running shoes every day - with every outfit.  And then there are things like red wine, blogging, lazy mornings in bed and fuzzy socks that are important to me, regardless of whether or not they are important for me.

One tool that I really resonated with during our training was called the One Page Summary.  Not a very catchy name but it was a pretty effective tool.  You see, where I work, we support people with a developmental disability.  Not everyone we serve is able to tell us who they are as a person, what is important to them, how to best support them, and what makes them happy.  So we use a combination of guesswork, experience, intuition and voodoo to figure those things out.  Once we've figured out some of these things, the trainers suggested that we create a One Page Summary.  The summary would typically include a photo (or photos) of the person and would provide a quick overview of who they are.  The headings are: what people like and admire about me, what is important to me and how to support me.  The information provided allows other people to read it and get an idea about who the person really is.  This tool has proven to be very effective in our field but also in other places like hospitals, retirement homes, long-term care facilities, hospices etc.  It speaks for a person when they can't always speak for themselves.

It got me thinking about my own One Page Summary and what should be on it.  Here's what I came up with.

Who I am and what is important to me: 
  • I love to run and swim.
  • I have type one diabetes and wear an insulin pump.
  • I love reading books and I love talking about them.  If you want to make me happy, ask me lots of questions about what I'm reading.
  • I love movies.  Don't talk to me about it before I go see it but, once I've watched right 'til the end, take me for coffee or wine and let's discuss.
  • I love to cook and try new recipes but I always worry that what I made doesn't have enough flavour.  Don't lie to me if it's bland - just tell me and I'll add flavour if I can.
  • My parents, my sisters and my grandmother mean the world to me and there isn't much I wouldn't do for them.
  • I love Doug very much.  So much that I let him take care of me (which is really hard for me to do).  Since he walked into my life it has become about as close to perfect as it can get.
  • I like to watch curling on television.
  • I love CBC radio one.
  • I love photography (taking pictures, looking at pictures, camera equipment - anything to do with photography is wicked).
  • I hate loud music, loud television and loud noises of any kind.
  • Chocolate, peanut butter, pomegranates, plain yogurt and red wine are my favourite foods (and drinks).

How to support me: 
When you find out that I have Type 1 Diabetes, do not say:
  • "Oh, you have the bad kind" 
  • "Oh, but I thought you were healthy" 
  • "What did you do to get it?"
  • "Yes but there's a cure right?" (ummm yes, I'm just wearing the pump 'cause I think it's cool)
  • "Omigod I could never give myself needles, if I got diabetes I just would die." 
  • "My grandmother had diabetes.  She lost her leg, went blind and was on dialysis.  She's dead now."
  • "I saw Steel Magnolias.  Are you as bad as her?  She died you know?"  
  • "Can you eat that?" 
  • "Are you sure you should be eating that?"  
  • "Have you tried cinnamon?  That's supposed to cure diabetes."
  • "So, now that you take insulin you are completely under control right?"
  • "Oh, you're on the pump? That must mean your diabetes is really out of control."
  • "You've had it for ten years?  And you still have it?" 
When I check my blood sugar, please do not hover over me trying to see the number.  It's really none of your business.  Only a very privileged few get unfettered access to my blood sugar results.  The rest of you do not.  If that feels hurtful, imagine the feeling of me standing by your bathroom scale as you step on to it in the morning.  Do you really want an audience?

When I check my blood sugar, do not ask me what the number is in front of a group of people.  I will always respond with the same answer "it's fine" whether I'm 2.4 or 22.4.  Don't ask in front of people.  Again, if you think I'm being rude, just imagine me asking you in front of a group of people "so, did you weight yourself this morning?  What was the number?"

If you have honest to goodness questions about diabetes: what causes it, how to manage it, what I can and cannot do, how my pump works, how running affects it etc etc, please ask.  I am always happy to explain and to educate. But for goodness sakes, don't say ridiculous things like "well, you probably got it because you ate too much candy as a child".  There is no telling when it will happen but, at some point, I may go postal.  If your question is the once that puts me over the edge - I may kill you...

...and I will blame it on low blood sugar...

...because we all know that low blood sugar causes diabetic people to act drunk and belligerent. Since I cannot be responsible for my actions it won't be my fault.


Friday, February 3, 2012

My Promise

I write a lot about myself in this blog.

When I started back in January of 2011, I wasn't sure where it would take me.  In fact, I didn't even know if it would last a month.  And yet here I am over a year later, dutifully writing five posts a week about what it's like to run, swim and live with diabetes.  Along the way I've made a few new friends, learned much more than I expected and discovered the camaraderie of the Diabetes Community.

Sometimes I think I share too much.  About the people in my life, about the things in my head.  Other times I think I don't share enough.  That I'm not being fair to people who tune in every day for updates.  You see, I share in my blog the way I share in Facebook.  Certain themes are an open book.  I will write about running without holding anything back.  I will write about diabetes and I never fudge the numbers or exaggerate the stories.  I write about what happened - period.  When it comes to exercise and diabetes you get the good, the bad and the ugly.  Because I think those two themes deserve 100% honestly.  To do anything less is unfair to the people who read.

Other topics are kept well protected.  They never make news on my Facebook wall.  They never make even a mention in my blog.  Not because they're bad, not because I'm ashamed or hiding stuff.  Just because I'm very protective.

Of the people I love the most.

Of their privacy.

And therefore of my privacy.

I'm sure a lot of bloggers censor what they write - I sure hope they do anyway.  Not every reader out there is good and kind and they should not have unfettered access to our lives.  I don't think the world at large should have access to my innermost thoughts or my life's challenges.  So I censor.

Dear readers - you don't know what you don't know so you don't know how much of my life I share and how much I don't.  You take what I write at face value and you comment and return day after day to see how I'm doing, to learn a little more and to perhaps find some inspiration for your own lives.

My promise to you:  I promise that, while I may not write about every part of my life, the things I do write about will be honest and true.

You deserve nothing less.

And thanks for coming along for the journey so far.  It's an honour to be in such fine company.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Comfortable in my Comfort Zone

Anyone remember back in the fall when I was learning how to swim?

Blog after blog about trying to figure out breathing, trying to figure out technique, trying to find the endurance to swim back and forth across the pool FOUR times before taking a break.  I loved it.  It was hard - it was humbling - at times it was downright embarassing - but I loved it.

I like forcing myself to do something outside of my comfort zone.  I like discovering whether or not I can do it and I love surprising myself when I go further than I thought I'd be able to.

When I started swimming I wasn't sure what my goal was because swimming is different than running.  When someone decides to learn how to run, it's not too big of a stretch to set a goal to run 5k.  Once they've done that - running 10k is a pretty natural next step. And so on...

With swimming, I didn't know what kind of goal to set (other than not drowning - or worse, almost drowning and having to suffer the embarrassment of being rescued from a public pool).  Do I set a time goal - swim for 30 minutes?  Do I set a distance goal - swim 40 lengths?

Not knowing what else to do, I just kept moving forward - forcing myself to swim more lengths between rests, forcing myself to swim more lengths period.  I increased from 20 to 80 lengths by adding 10 per week.  It kept me in a constant state of discomfort because I no sooner got (sorta) used to a distance when I pushed it a little further.

So, here's my dilemma.  I am now swimming just about as fast as I'm going to swim.  Yes, yes I'm sure I can improve my technique and shave seconds off my time but it's no longer about minutes.  I don't rest between lengths at all any more. I just hop in the pool, swim back and forth 80 times and hop into the shower.  I can't add any more lengths to my routine because I have to get to work and I'm cutting it pretty tight as it is.  So I've maxed out how many lengths (give or take one or two) that I can squeeze into the 50 minutes I have in the pool.

Diabetes-wise, swimming has proven to be a godsend.  My rough calculation is that I've gone swimming between 50 and 60 times.  I have never had a low blood sugar.  Not one.  Not even close.  Even when my blood sugar is 4.0 before I hop in the pool.  I eat two dates and would bet $100 that I'll be 7.0 when I'm done.  I always am.  It's like a gift from the diabetes gods and it more than makes up for all the crazy blood sugar battles I have to fight every time I go for a run.  The biggest gift that swimming has given me is not increased fitness.  Not weight loss.  Not helping to heal my stress fracture.  When I swim, I don't think about diabetes.  I don't have to.  I think about diabetes when I'm sitting in a staff meeting, when I'm driving my car, when I wake up at 2am to pee.  It's always there.  Except when I swim.

When I swim




I feel normal for the first time in over 9 years.  Three times a week, before the sun rises, while the rest of the world is asleep, I climb out of bed at 5:30am because I get to do something that makes me feel normal.

For the past 6 weeks I've been swimming 80 lengths three times a week.  That distance has gone from hard to comfortable.  But I know that I am no longer pushing my body the way I was in the fall.  I love swimming but it's gone from a challenge to an easy, relaxing workout.

Problem is that I am in my comfort zone and no longer want to get out of it.

I could mix things up by learning another stroke (right now I only do freestyle).  I could do drills.

Both very good options.

But, after all those weeks of struggling I'm pretty happy to just swim for a bit.  I don't wanna get out of my comfort zone just yet.

I will soon though - I can feel the urge to be uncomfortable building up again.

Any tips, swimming friends, on what I should try next?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Toast

Last week I wrote a blog about juggling.  In particular, juggling family and friends with all of the other demands in our lives.  I was lamenting that I had been so busy with my family over the past two months that I was missing my friends.  Well, here's the update of what's happened since then.

- I had lunch last weekend with my friend Elison.  She's a great friend from my university days.  In between fits of laughter we realized that it has been almost 18 1/2 years since we met.  I first laid eyes on her when we moved into residence in first year (September of 1993 - gasp!).  She and I ended up moving in to the same floor in residence.  Two doors down from each other.  Our residence floor was famously called The Morgue - because it was all girls and a very studious (i.e. no loud parties) floor.  In fact, we all had to fill out an application form before we got there to confirm that we did indeed want to live on an all-girls floor full of studious folks.  Sounds boring for first year but, trust me, we had a ball.

- During lunch, Elison and I decided it was high time that the Morgue ladies reunited again.  It's been about three years since our last gathering and there have been plenty of babies and other monumental life changes that occurred since then.  I sent out an email with a few possible dates and, within two days, 5 out of 7 ladies replied that they could indeed make it.  Yay - a Morgue reunion!!  We're meeting in Vaughn at Allison's house because, unbeknownst to me, she had a baby two weeks ago.

- I then sent out an email to my two high school friends (Brigitte and Pam).  We haven't seen each other since Pam's wedding in November so we're due for a catch up too.  We have lunch planned in a few weeks so we can check out the wedding pictures, hear all the crazy stories about Brigitte's kids and I will, as per usual, horrify them with my crazy running and swimming schedule.

- Scully - I'm still waiting for a few dates from you so we can plan our get together with Erin (hi Erin!).

As I watch my weekends fill up with reunions and lunches, I have to make sure I leave time for family visits and Doug time.  Otherwise, I'll be writing a blog in two months about never seeing the people I love the most.

But I must say that it's wonderful to have so many long-lasting, strong friendships that survive the test of time and distance.

I propose a toast - to friendship.