Friday, November 30, 2012

The Loop

I was contacted by Medtronic a few weeks after the Global Heroes weekend and asked if I'd like to be a guest blogger for their blog: The Loop.

Of course I said "yes!".

So today's blog entry is one more click away.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Home Sweet Home

I've been away for almost a week. Living out of a suitcase. Sleeping in strange beds. Wondering if I should be worried about bedbugs...

What did I miss while I was away? Aside from the very obvious answer of Doug of course...

  • my fruit, yogurt, vitamin, fibre-filled delicious morning shake
  • my bed
  • moving
We put in three 13+hour days and I also spent hours driving to and from so, in the past week, I did not manage to squeeze nearly enough exercise into my schedule. I fit in two runs (one on Saturday and one on Tuesday) and that was it. No swimming. Not even a five minute walk. 

Days started at 6:00am and didn't end until after 9pm. I sat, walked down the hall, sat again. We had working lunches and working dinners. My brain got a fabulous workout but my body suffered the consequence. It feels swollen and decidedly unfit. 

My blood sugars held their own for the first day (thanks to residual exercise benefits) and did relatively ok the second day. After that, I fought constant highs because of the lack of movement and the food options. 

It was a great few days and I certainly learned a lot. But I'm glad to be home, in my bed, eating my breakfast shake and with the time to run, swim, stretch and just take care of my body as well as my brain. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

While I'm Away

It's been a crazy week away with long long work days and very little blogging time. I did not have time to write something wise or witty for this morning's blog. So I'm leaving you two short videos to watch that may inspire. Both videos are from the 2012 Global Heroes weekend that I had the honour of being part of.

This one is the Global Heroes 2012 promotional add. All those fabulous people running were the people I had the honour of meeting back in October. If you look carefully, I'm in there too...twice!

This is a slightly longer video that introduces the heroes and includes clips from our interviews. 

So meet my new friends, feel inspired and I'll see you all tomorrow. Friday at the latest. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Living on the Edge

I am away this week for work. The location I'm at and the timing of it worked well with Doug and I squeezing in a trip to Ottawa last weekend. We arrived late Friday evening and left on Sunday morning. Not much time but enough to squeeze in a trip to the Byward Market and the Art Gallery...and a run down the Rideau Canal.

We woke up Saturday morning and pulled on our running clothes. The Weather Network said 0 degrees with a bit of wind so I pulling on my running pants, long sleeved shirt, vest, hat, ear warmer thingie and gloves.

Ottawa is a lovely town. The Rideau Canal runs right through it and has beautiful paths on both sides for running, walking and cycling. The Canal heads straight for the downtown and takes you right by the parliament buildings. In the winter, when the canal freezes, it is used as a mode of transportation and Ottawatawans(?) actually skate to and from work. As we ran along, we spotted the cabins and warming stations that had already been set up along the riverside. The thin layer of ice forming in the more shaded areas of the river gave a hint of the freezing to come.

We made out way past Carleton University, past the University of Ottawa and into the downtown core. We saw the Ontario parliament buildings and the Château Laurier. I spotted a statue that my sisters and I climbed when we were kids. At 5 kilometres, we crossed over the river and headed back down the other side. We lopped along at a decent clip, a little faster than I would do on my own but not so fast that I couldn't hold it.

At 6.5k, I heard a faint beeping noise coming from my pocket. I knew I wasn't running low on insulin so the beep meant low battery. The cold weather had taxed my already aging energy source to the point where I wasn't sure it was going to make it home.


Who the heck carries spare batteries (and a quarter?) with them? Not I. I picked up the pace a little bit. We only had 3.5k to go so it's not like it would have been that big of a problem if I didn't get insulin for that time. My biggest concern was that, as far as I know from reading the manual, if the battery is completely dead for so many minutes (5?), all of the stored data on the pump (oh, like my basal rates and bolus calculations) are lost.


My battery has been stretched to the max twice - both times during long cold runs. Neither time did it completely die on me. But it got close enough to freak me out a bit.

Apparently not enough to actually write down the pump settings though.

Someday I really have to do that...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Strong Like Bull

Friday morning at the pool was all about resistance.

We were told to bring pants, a shirt AND socks. So we did. I didn't think adding a pair of socks to the now familiar pants and a shirt routine would be that big of a deal. Little did I know...

Christine went over the plan.

We were going to break up into two groups. One group had to put all of their clothes on. They had to swim 200m four times. The goal was not to go fast - the goal was to swim it well. Elbows high, proper entry, legs kicking etc.

The other group had to head to the deep end where the stretch cords were set up. Ten pulls had to be done. Each one involved pushing off the wall as fast as possible and swimming as far as possible. Once the cord was stretched as far as it would go, Christine would start timing. You had to hold your position for 10 seconds. She would gradually add time and, by the tenth one, we would have to hold it for 30 seconds.

I chose the clothing option first. It's a long, slow slog through the water and I figured it would be easier to do it while I still had the energy. As Leslie and I swam, I watched the boys who were working hard on the stretch cords. Sasha, our monstrously strong swimmer, was able to stretch the cord more than halfway across the pool. It doesn't look that impressive until you try it. I can get just past 1/4 of the way and it's a lot of work.

The 200m swims with clothing went ok, once I stopping fighting it. At first, you want to swim as fast and as elegantly as possible. You can't do either of those things well so it takes a while to settle into a rhythm. It's like running into the wind. It isn't until you accept the fact that you can't run your regular pace that you can find a grove. The extra weight that the socks added was surprising. My feet felt like there were weights tied to them. They kicked halfheartedly and it was easier to drag them behind than it was to kick them.

After Leslie and I finished our 800m we pulled off our wet clothes and headed across the pool to the stretch cords. The boys pulled on their cotton(!?!) shirts and pants and started swimming. It was hard not to feel sorry for them as they struggled through the water - they could hardly lift their elbows up.

I love the stretch cords. I love the short burst of energy that we had to do. I love working as hard as I possibly can knowing that we only have to do it for 10 seconds. I'm guessing it's sort of like power lifting in the Olympics. Focus all of your energy for a few seconds and then you're done.

After we finished our pulling and the boys finished their swim, Christine had us do a final four sprints on the stretch cord. Then she told us we had to sprint 100m. Just once, with no clothes or cords to hold us back. Having just completed an hour and a half of pulling and dragging, we were all pretty tired.

When she yelled "go!", I pushed off the wall. My arms immediately felt weak and my breathing was laboured. I was exhausted. I pushed as hard as I could but everything felt like it was going in slow motion. I was the last one to hit the wall and I expected Christine to yell out some awful time like 2:00 minutes. Instead she yelled "1:40!!" which is about the fastest I have ever swum 100m.

George and Leslie did it in about 1:35 and Sasha did it in 1:15. As Christine put it, it's like we were all springs - bouncing off the wall and flying through the water. I may have felt slow and tired at the end but apparently didn't look it.

Strong like bulls we were. As fast as fishies.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Monthly Cycle

Every fourth Wednesday I wake up the same way. I have a headache. My stomach churns and makes loud rumbly noises. I am bloated. I am exhausted. I always think I am getting a cold.

It's annoying and it's perfectly predictable.

I used to sleep in as long as possible on those mornings and drag myself to work, counting down the hours until I could go home and back to bed. By the next morning I would be right as rain.

Now that I swim on Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, I don't really have that option. Yes, I guess I could forgo my swim to stay buried under the covers for an extra two hours but I don't. Partly because I'm stubborn and partly because I paid for the class so I'm going dammit!

This past Wednesday was the day. I woke up with the headache and the rumbly tummy. I woke up exhausted and with a scratchy throat. I woke up at 4:55am and yanked myself out of bed with a grumble.

I got to the pool and read the workout for the day. It read:

Warm up
200m swim
100m kick
100m pull

8x50m swim (each 50m on 1:15)
8x25m kick (with fins - each 25m on 30 seconds)
2x100m swim (each on 2:15)
100m drill (which means a slow recovery swim where you practice a particular technique that you're bad at. I practice getting my hands to enter the water in the proper spot and I practice keeping my head down)

Ok, I could live with that workout - in fact it seemed rather easy for a Wednesday morning.

That's when I spotted the little 4x beside the workout. Which meant we had to do the entire set four times.

That would be a grand total of 4000m of swimming in an hour and a half.

You know my tummy is rumbly right? And my head hurts (insert whiny voice here).

I debated, as I do every fourth Wednesday, of telling Christine that I'm feeling poorly. I never do though, out of pride more than anything else.

Half way through the first 8x50m she yells "you're doing great, only four more!". I do the math in my head and debate yelling back "actually, we technically have 28 more" but I don't. Best to tackle the workout in little bites so we don't choke right?

Swimming is so bizarre in how it works. The first part of any hard set seems to be the hardest. By the 4th or 5th 50m sprint, I'm always exhausted and unsure if I can continue. I push through and, all of a sudden, I feel like I can go for a long time.

The first run through the set, I felt pretty crappy and my headache was like a vice around my eyes.
The second run through, I was so exhausted I was not sure I could finish.
The third run through felt great.
The fourth (which we didn't quite finish because of time) was not long enough and I was sad that we didn't get it all in.

I left the pool feeling a little less crampy, tired and headachy. I also survived the day with more energy in the tank than I normally would have had and I managed to stay up until 9pm.

Remind me of that in four weeks when the alarm goes off on a cold December Wednesday morning and I wake up feeling awful and convinced I'm getting a cold.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ants in my....

I dream a lot. Most nights I have, and remember at least for a few minutes after I wake up, all sorts of dreams. 

Most of them are just fun - like I'm traveling through Italy or making dinner. 

Some stretch reality a little bit - like I'm suddenly living in Tel Aviv with my sister. 

Others are high-blood sugar induced - like the time I dreamt that I was being attacked by fire breathing dragons

The dream I had the other night gave me the heebie-jeebies.

I dreamt that I had to check my blood sugar. I pricked my finger with the lancet and I squeezed to force a drop of blood out (which, let's be honest, is kinda heebie-jeebie worthy on its own). Instead of blood, I squeezed out a live ant. He popped out, fully formed and disgusting. 

I pricked another finger and squeezed out another ant. 

Everywhere I tried, ants began crawling out of my skin. 

I held out my hand and I could see them moving under the skin - this constant, rippling movement that covered both hands and moved up my arms. I woke up, thankfully, before I felt my face. Because the only thing worse than having ants in your fingers is having ants in your face. 

I check my blood sugar for real this time and I was perfectly normal. No high to explain the weird dream. 

Which means that I dreamt that I had ants in my fingers all by myself with no help from the blood sugar gods. 

My skin has been crawling ever since. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pool-side drinks

Every morning at the pool starts off the same way.

We all shuffle from the locker room to the supply room to grab a pull buoy and a board. We all shuffle to the dry-erase board to check out what our warm-up will be. We all place our pull buoy and board at the edge of the pool next to our drink of choice. In my case, that's also where I leave my flipflops and my ziplock back containing my juice box and my emergency gel (which, after 13 months, I have still not needed!).

For the first few months of Masters class, I was the only one without a poolside drink. Everyone else had their favourite energy/electrolyte drink at the ready. I didn't because I refused to drink or eat anything that might mess with my blood sugar and I wanted to avoid taking insulin before my swims if I could help it.

Weeks into the class, and weeks of being gently asked by Christine why I never had a drink with me, I suddenly remembered that I had a sample pack of NUUN in my sports cupboard. NUUN is an electrolyte drink with almost zero carbohydrates in it. Which means no blood sugar spike. I had bought it to try as a running drink but had, at the same time, discovered edisks and found them much easier to carry than a bottle. So the NUUN sat neglected...until last week.

Early one morning, on the way out the door, I grabbed one of my running belt bottles, tossed a NUUN tablet into it and filled it with water. It immediately began fizzing which was shocking after the rather boring non-fizzy eload I was used to. (Mind you, at 5am, anything out of the ordinary (like seeing my own shadow against the wall) is rather shocking. I startle easily in the wee hours.) I tried to put the lid on the water bottle but the fizzing caused some pressure to build up and bubbles started oozing out of every little opening.

Day one lesson: mix drink immediately upon entering the kitchen to allow tablet to dissolve before trying to put the lid on the bottle. It makes the walk to the car much less awkward.

I arrived and proudly put my bottle poolside next to my pull buoy and board. I make a point to stop and take a sip every few minutes. It was tasty and certainly nice to have something to drink but I'm not sure I noticed much difference. I had no more energy but, then again, I didn't really expect to since there aren't any carbs. I felt no less dehydrated or tired after the workout. I'm sure it's doing me some good - just quietly, in the background, keeping my electrolytes in their happy place. I have been drinking it during every swim for the past two weeks.

Happily, my blood sugars continue to remain wonderfully stable during my swims. That alone is reason enough to stick with my new friend NUUN. Still, it's worth tossing a question out to the DOC. My dear pancreatically-challenged swimming friends - do you have any other magic drinks or snacks that you recommend? Unlike running, my blood sugar doesn't drop when I swim so I want to avoid high carb things like gels or powerbars.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


"It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows." Epictetus

I was driving to Toronto on Sunday morning to meet up with my two childhood friends Brigitte and Pam. En route, I was happily listening to Michael Enright on CBC. He began an interview with that quote and my brain immediately forgot to pay attention to the rest of the interview. Apparently it preferred to ponder the quote rather than listen to the voice on the radio.

Is it impossible for a man (or woman - to be fair) to learn what he (or she) thinks he (or she) already knows?

Is it impossible to see a person for who they are today when we have a preconceived notion of who they were years ago?

Is it impossible to recognize that ones opinion of something might not be the only reasonable way of looking at it?

Is it impossible not to judge someone when they do something that we believe to be wrong?

I spent a few hours with Pam and Brigitte. I didn't mention the quote but the flow of our conversation gave me new examples.

Two out of the three of us are in mommy-mode so we talked about babies, specifically breastfeeding. More specifically the frustration of feeling judged for not breastfeeding and facing downright nasty looks for other mothers when they spotted a bottle of formula.

Is it impossible for the owners of those nasty looks to fathom that perhaps there are very good, and perfectly healthy, reasons for not breastfeeding? Is it impossible for those people to imagine that a person may have medical, physical, emotional, logistical or any number of reasons for not breastfeeding? Even if they went to class that discussed the pros and cons of all newborn nutrition options, I'm guessing it would be hard for a breastfeeding advocate to consider that there might be other comparable options.

Just like how it's hard for people not to make assumptions the second they hear the word 'diabetes'. I've been on the receiving end of the looks and been asked the questions. "Wow, you must be really out of control if you're on the pump" being one classic example.

Where do these beliefs come from and why is it so hard to unlearn them?

Later the day, Doug and I were watching Sixty Minutes and there was a story about a study done on babies. Using stuffed animals and bowls of cheerios, they were able to prove that babies are born with an instinct to favour those who are most similar to them and to be ok with punishing those who are different. From as early as 3 months old, these behaviours were evident.

Is it impossible to learn that what we think we already know?

People often feel that they know what is best and they force those assumptions on other people, places, things, technologies, religious or political choices. It becomes very difficult to unlearn those assumptions. To the detriment of all those who are unfairly judged.

Wouldn't it be nice if every day started with a clean slate and an open mind?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hardly Easy

Doug and I often watch a home improvement show on Saturday evenings. Typically we're puttering in the kitchen together and it's fun to watch old, decrepit houses in Boston and New York transform into castles while we transform a bunch of ingredients into our supper.

This past weekend, two of the main characters in the show took a bit of time off from shims and drills to try their hand at rowing - the sport of choice at Cambridge apparently. They had a lesson on land and then took to the water. As they tried to steady the boat and move it through the water with some degree of grace they both exclaimed "wow, this is A LOT harder than it looks!".

I immediately thought of curling and how, the first time I tried it, I thought the exact same thing. It WAS a lot harder than it looked.

So was running.

Swimming definitely was too.

Ditto for cycling.

Golf was SO hard when I tried it that it has taken me 2 1/2 years to feel like I might want to try it again.

So I turned to Doug as we sat down to our beef barley soup dinner.

"Can you think of any sport that is EASIER than it looks?".

He thought for a moment and replied with "No. No, I can't think of any sport that is easier than it looks".

Neither could I.

I could think of plenty of people who could make the sport look easy.

Is that part of it? In order to be good at a sport you actually have to make it look easy?

Or at least make it look easier than it is.

I do know that the people I know who excel in a particular activity are most often the ones who look like they are not working as hard as the rest of us. They glide through the water, float along the road and slide across the ice with a grace that completely hides the fact that what they are doing is really quite difficult.

I don't know if this observation can translate into greater speed or grace on land and in the water but I did think it was rather interesting.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Infinite Loop

On October 12th, I dropped two packages in the mail.

One headed off to Canada Revenue Agency and contained my application for the Disability Tax Credit.

The other headed to my health insurance company and contained an application to have continuous glucose monitor sensors covered.

I have not yet heard about the Disability Tax Credit and don't expect to hear for a few more weeks at least.

I did hear back from my insurance company.

Before I tell you their response, I will explain the process I had to go through.

1. I called them to ask if continuous glucose monitor sensors are covered. They said no.

2. They then explained that, if something is not covered, I could complete an application form and submit a quote from my pharmacy for the cost. They would then decide whether or not to cover it.

3. They would review that application and let me know within 7 business days of their decision.

Make sense?

Here is what happened.

1. I completed the application, obtained a quote from my pharmacist AND wrote a very lovely cover letter to explain the need for CGM sensors.

2. I mailed it in on October 12th.

3. I waited 12 business days (which is way more than 7) and then called them. They said that they had received my application and had no idea why it would take so long to decide. The promised that I would hear back within a few days.

4. Seven days later I received a letter in the mail that stated: we are unable to accept your claim because your contract does not cover this type of appliance / service.

Well no kidding folks.

We all knew after the original phone call a month ago that my contract doesn't cover it. That's why you told me to complete the application to have it covered.

They don't cover it - they tell me to apply to have it covered - they tell me that they won't cover it because they don't cover it.

Insert never-ending loop infinity and beyond!

So of course I will be calling them to find out if there is a better explanation than that and to find out what the next step might be in the appeal process.

The story does not end here and I will certainly keep you posted.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Backing Up the Backups

As I mentioned yesterday, I was away at a conference for a few days. It was two hours from home and in the middle of civilization. In other words I was not hours from a hospital or drug store and I was not in a foreign country.

So I did the bare minimum of packing when it came to diabetes. I didn't bring three insulin pump changes. I didn't bring enough carbs to save my life 50 times. I didn't bring three containers of test strips...just in case.

I brought one set of pump change supplies.

I brought one vial of insulin.

I brought one pack of 25 test strips and a ziplock bag of carbs.

Tuesday night I went to bed with 11 units of insulin left in my pump. When I woke up at 6am for my pre-conference 6k run I had half an hour of insulin left. I figured there was no point in wearing my pump for the run since I would run out part-way through anyway so I unhooked and ran naked. For the record, running naked is extremely liberating!

I returned to the room to a completely empty pump. No surprise since I knew I was low but I just want to reinforce the fact that my pump was completely empty. Not a drop left.

I pulled out my insulin pump supplies and my vial of insulin to prepare for a set change. That's when the little voice in my head started chirping.

"You only have one vial of insulin. If anything happens, you have nothing left." "You only have one set change, if you kink your cannula you don't have a backup."

Gulp. It was seven am. Even if I could find an open pharmacy at that hour there was no guarantee they would have the supplies I needed on hand and no guarantee they would even give them to me without a prescription.

That little vial of insulin suddenly became very very precious.

I carefully opened the packaging on the reservoir and I carefully began drawing the insulin into the reservoir. I was so careful that I actually became more clumsy than usual and ended up dropping the glass vial of insulin and the attached reservoir into the sink.

Nothing broke, thankfully, and I yelled at myself in my head.

"Céline relax! Stop being ridiculous".

I have never dropped an insulin vial. I have never kinked my cannula. I have never screwed up a pump change - not in 3 1/2 years.

"Yes but you have changed your pump and then prompted walked by a door and yanked the fresh new cannula out by hooking it on a doorknob...."

Shut up!

With shaky hands and a sense of doom, I managed to change my site with no more near misses.

I did spend the entire day checking that my tubing was tucked in and at no risk of catching on doorknobs or other innocuous conference items.

The conference ended and I survived the trip home. I made it back on time for dinner with no mishaps.

I learned a lot at the conference. Including the fact that, even in the midst of the Canadian urban jungle, it's a good idea to bring a back up for your back up.

Because you really just never know.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Diabetes Travel Guide

Diabetes and traveling are not always friends.

Sometimes they work well together - sometimes they don't.

I'm currently away at a two-day conference and diabetes is playing nice so far. No highs and no lows - despite sitting all day and eating weird food. Not fried snake weird. Just fewer fruits and veggies and a lot more empty carbs than I'm used to. It's only two days though and I have a run planned for the wee hours so things should be fine.

Being with a lot of people that I know but who don't see me regularly means that they know I have diabetes and are comfortable enough with me to ask questions.

A brief roundup from the day's conversations:

"You have diabetes - so you can't let your sugar go below 7 right?" Nope. Shouldn't go below 4 but I've been as low as 1.0 before. Still alive. "Oh, well my aunt can't let her sugar get below 7. Are you sure you can?". Pretty sure.

"You're having dessert?" Yes indeed I am.

"Are you allowed to drink?" Because I have diabetes or because I'm driving? Yes to the drinking with diabetes. No to the drinking and driving.

"So if your sugar goes too low, what happens?" Call 911. And there is a glucagon needle in my purse if you're feeling keen. "Don't we just give you juice?" Only if I'm conscious. Otherwise I would choke. "Ok, so, if your sugar goes below 7, we give you the needle?". Nope, if my sugar drops so low that I am no longer conscious - then give me the needle. If it just drops a bit and I'm still conscious, juice is fine. But only if I'm below 4, not 7. I'll tell you if I need juice.

"Your pump controls things though right?" No, it doesn't. I just tell it what to do and it does it. It doesn't make any decisions on its own. (Insert loud beeping noises from pump as it proudly announced that I was down to 20 units of insulin).

"How long have you been on the pump?" Three and a half years. "Is that when your diabetes got really bad?". No, the pump is simply another way to take insulin. It works better for me than needles but lots of people prefer the needles. It has nothing to do with how 'bad' my diabetes is (or isn't).

I love that people feel comfortable enough to ask me questions.

It does make me realize how little people know and understand about diabetes though.

And then I start thinking that, if people know so little about diabetes, which is not that uncommon, how little we must know and understand about things that are less common. And how frustrating it must be for people affected by those things who put up with questions and judgement every day.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lost in the Middle

There is something odd about how the number of years that you attach to a particular activity defines you. I've been running for five years now which is not long enough to be impressive but no longer short enough to be impressive.

As in, I've only been running for a year and I already ran my first half marathon impressive.

I'm now just one of the running gang. I have not yet been around long enough to say things that make people gasp like "I've been running for 25 years".

Swimming has been fun for the past few months because I've been able to tell people that I've only been swimming for a year and I'm (kinda) keeping up to the faster, more experienced swimmers.

Curling has also been fun because I could claim that I had only been curling for 8 months. Our team did relatively well on Fridays despite the inexperience of three out of four members so only curling for 8 months seemed like a big deal to people.

Now swimming is entering year two - which means that I'm no longer the new kid on the block and yet haven't been swimming long enough to be a veteran. I'm now one of the gang who has not yet been around long enough to know everyone.

Curling is entering year two as well - so I'm now expected to know what I'm doing. No more 'wow, you've only been curling for a year - you look like you've been curling longer than that'. Translation: 'wow, you haven't fallen on your a$$ once tonight. Good for you!'. Now I'm sparing for teams who have decades of experience and the fact that I don't fall on my a$$ when I throw the rock isn't going to cut it anymore. There are now expectations to be met.

So in all my favourite athletic pursuits I have now officially passed being a newbie and yet have nowhere near enough experience to stand up and be counted.

Is there a name for that phase?

Never never land?

Middle age?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Last Rock

We're three weeks into the curling season. 

I've curled 6 times so far. 

I've won 5 games and lost one. 

The ones we won were won well. Some were hard-fought down to the last rock. Some we dominated from the first rock. 

When we win, it's tradition for the winning team to buy the first drink for the opposing team. So I've been buying a lot of drinks. 

On Friday, we were scheduled to play against our good friends Chris, Janice, Benny and Leslie. We decided to switch it up a bit and went with a good ol'fashioned girls against the boys game. 

The boys team: Chris (lead), Benny (second), Ian (third) and Doug (skip). 
The girls team: Cathy (lead), Leslie (second), me (third) and Janice (skip). 

The experience teeter-totter was significantly heavier on the boys side but we made up in ambition what we lacked in skill and experience. 

So we hoped anyway. 

We play a six end game on Friday nights. 

By the end of the fifth end we were losing 13 to 0. 

You'd never have know though because the scoreboard said we were tied 5-5. The boys were kind enough not to broadcast to the world the real score. 

The game was fun but it got really interesting when we were down to the last rock in the last end. The boys were poised to take 3 or 4 more points. The only possible way we could stop them was for Janice to throw a hail mary kinda shot. She had to squeeze her rock through two of their rocks and hit one of ours on a perfect angle to send it through two more of their rocks and settle nicely on the button for us to get one point. 

It's not like we had a chance of winning so we decided to give it a whirl. The experienced boys didn't even think it was possible but they had enough sense to stand back and let us try. 

Janice got into the hack. I held the broom for her to aim at. Leslie and Cathy were ready to sweep on command. 

Janice threw. I dropped down to get a view of the line. It had to hit perfectly and with the perfect weight. I help up my hand to let them know not to sweep. I watched the rock. It began to slow just a hair and I yelled "Yes!! Hard! Now!!". 

They swept. Hard. 

Janice's rock squeezed through the boys' rocks and hit ours at the perfect spot. That rock then squeezed through two more of the boys' rocks and settled absolutely exactly where we wanted it to. 

We lost 13:1. 

But you'd never guess from the way we screamed and celebrated and the fact that it was the only shot any of us talked about as we shared drinks and food.

It was the kind of shot you see on television. Not at our little curling club on a Friday night. So we enjoyed our free drinks and milked the memory of that heroic shot for all its worth.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

Swimming the Distance

So, um, I may have signed up to swim across Lake Ontario next August.


I should just end my blog post there and watch the comments come pouring in.

"What?!?" (from Erin)
"Are you crazy?" (from Scott)
"That's freakin' awesome!" (from Jeff)
"Where the heck is Lake Ontario and why is that such a big deal?" (from my non-North American friends)
"Aren't there lampreys in the lake? EWWWWW" (from Janice)
"So, like, what if you have to poo while you're swimming?" (from Scully)

Honestly, I signed up to swim across Lake Ontario next part of a relay.

This is Christine's latest brainchild. You know Christine, the lady who ties us up and makes us swim with our clothes on? That one.

She wants to form a team of six swimmers to do the relay plus a support crew. We would each swim for an hour at a time and rotate from one end of the lake to the other. The entire distance ranges from 40-52km depending on the route chosen. It can take from 15 to 24 hours to do it.

So I'd be swimming one hour out of every 6. I could be swimming in the middle of the night, the early morning, under the beating sun or at sunset. I'd probably have to do 3 to 4 legs of the relay which would mean 3 to 4 hours of swimming within a 24-hour period.

That feels pretty doable to me.

Figuring out blood sugar details would be a challenge but also quite doable.

And it would certainly give me enough of a taste (literally) of lake swimming to tell me if my top secret, don't tell anyone about it yet dream about being the first T1 to swim the lake is completely crazy or not.

So I'm swimming across Lake Ontario next summer - sort of.

And 2014? Who knows? I may consider trying the entire distance on my own.

And yes, if you have to poo, you just go in the water. Like the fishies do.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Radio Silence

On Sunday morning we were pretty quiet. I kept imaging where we should have been. Doug would be on Staten Island, I would be just getting up.

Doug would be heading to the start line. I would be heading out with my backpack and camera. I would be wearing my bright red Canada hoodie, ready to grab a coffee. 

Doug would be crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. I would be walking up First Avenue to secure my spot at the base of the Queensboro Bridge at Mile 16. 

Doug would then head up First Avenue and I would head to Central Park for his big finish. 

We would meet up at the rendez-vous and head back to the hotel - Doug and I nattering away about our unique experiences of the day and everything we had seen. 

Instead we were sad. We were quiet. 

We packed up our suitcases and got them ready by the door. We had managed to change our flight from Monday to Sunday and needed to leave before noon to get to the airport. 

We headed out in search of muffins and coffee. It wasn't long before we saw people running. I saw a group of Asian runners heading towards us. A group of runners from another country were coming up behind us. The groups cheered when they saw each other. Maratón!!

We saw runners in their orange marathon shirts wearing their race bibs and timing chips. Some had their race bibs on upside down. As a joke? Or in protest? 

I fought back tears. Doug was somber. 

Some people chose to run the marathon route anyway - on their own and without support. 

Some people ran around and around Central Park until they had clocked 42.2km. 

Some headed to Staten Island to volunteer where they could. 

We walked the streets taking it all in and then headed to the airport. Because the tunnel was still closed, we had to take a slightly longer route which took us, of course, over the Queensboro Bridge. We hit it at just about the time Doug would have been running over it. The sun was shining. The weather was perfect. 

And we were heading home. 

There has not been any word yet from the New York Road Runners about what the next steps will be. No word yet as to whether runners get guaranteed entry next year. No word yet whether they will be reimbursed for this year's entry fee or whether next year would be free. No word yet to even acknowledge how many runners were affected by the way the decisions were made and the timing of their announcements. 

It has been radio silence. 

So we wait to see what the options are. Wait to see if we can go back next year and at what cost. And then I guess we decide if we want to. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Language of the Maratón

Saturday morning was sunny and beautiful.

We sat in bed for a while devouring every marathon story in every newspaper we could find. The same three messages were everywhere:

1. runners understood why it was cancelled
2. runners were (furious, upset, angry, overwhelmed etc) about the timing of the announcement
3. runners were even more (furious, upset, angry etc) that they had been told to come and then the decision was reversed.

We read stories about people who overcame huge odds to get there.

One woman was coming from Italy but there were problems with her flight. So she flew from Italy to Hong Kong and then to New York just to get there on time. She found out as soon as she landed in New York.

One group of runners from Europe had spent $30,000 to get there. They found out at the Expo that they should have stayed home.

We dressed and headed out. We figured we might as well enjoy our day in New York City. We strolled around exploring the famous spots. Some we had seen together in January - others we discovered for the first time.

Look who was in town for the race? Apparently he was NOT happy to find out their rules against running with sharp objects. 

Our midmorning snack was a muffin (or in my case a piece of baklava) and some coffee.

Notice Ebenezer's Eyelash Extension across the street? 

We made our way to the New York Public Library where Doug was supposed to join thousands of runners at 5:30am on Sunday morning. We talked about how crazy that would have been - up to a thousand busses were going to be needed to shuttle everyone. How much fun would it have been to watch that orchestration? 

We settled on a photo at the base of one of the huge pillars. Notice his orange gloves? The name of each of the five boroughs the race goes through are written on the fingers. A fun little souvenir from the Expo the day before. 

We're getting much better at the whole aim the camera and take a picture trick. 

We went for lunch. I was wearing my Medtronic jacket and was approached by a Spanish-speaking runner. He pulled out his Medtronic pump. I pulled out mine. We grinned. He explained that he was from Spain and was there with a group of 15 runners - all of whom have Type 1 diabetes. They came with a support crew of 15 others. They were part of a study of how long-distance running affects blood sugar. They were, of course, supposed to run the marathon. 

We walked to Rockefeller Centre which was all set up at Democracy Square in preparation for the November 6th election. 

A map of the US painted on the ice and American flags flying everywhere. Methinks there is an election going on. 

I met one of the candidates. He was so charming that I brought him back to my hotel. Was that wrong? 

We went to the Apple Store which had a line up down the street to get in. 

Apparently this little gadget is quite popular at the moment. 

We played with puppets. 

We marvelled at the size of candy bars in the US. 

If I ate these two peanut butter cups I would need to take 40 units of insulin to cover the 240 carbs in it. I get kinda panicky when I take more than 10 units at a time... 

We walked through Macy's, Times Square and the Art Brown Pen shop that we love. 

Everywhere we went we saw runners. Many wearing their orange race shirts. Every runner seemed in tune with every other runner. In a town that has drawn together because of Sandy, I felt like the runners were developing their own special bond. Marathon sounds a lot like maratón which sounds a lot like maratona. Mention the word and people responded with sad eyes as they pointed to themselves or the person they were with. 

Nobody was happy but, like it or not, we were in this together. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


"If you had to describe this weekend in one word, what word would you use?", I asked as we drove home from the Buffalo Airport at 11pm on Sunday night.

"Disappointing", replied Doug. 

And so ended his dream of running the 2012 New York City Marathon. 

Let's back up a few days though because there are lots of stories between now and then that really need to be told. 

Hurricane Sandy started it all. She hit and she hit hard. Particularly on Staten Island where the marathon begins. People on the mainland were flooded and lost power but people on Staten Island lost everything. 

The city was a mess and the marathon was days away. Runners from around the globe were set to travel in New York. What to do? What to do? 

On Wednesday night, Doug, and all 47,000 other runners received an email from the New York Road Runners. The race would go on. It would be dedicated to the recovery effort in New York and runners were encouraged to donate to the cause. We were going. We didn't know what to expect. We didn't know if our hotel would have power or if they would have to reroute the race but we were going. 

We arrived at JFK airport on Friday at 11am. We took the Airporter to Grand Central Terminal and walked about 12 blocks to our hotel. Police officers were stationed at every intersection to control traffic because there was no power. We walked past 3rd Avenue - no power. Fourth - no power. Fifth Avenue - the most famous street in NYC - no power. It was full of people but eerily quiet as all stores and restaurants were closed with signs saying, you guessed it, no power. 

At Seventh Avenue, there was power. Our hotel was between 8th and 9th and, with a sigh of relief, we discovered that we had power and running water. The lobby was crawling with runners. There were signs posted in Flemmish (?) and French as apparently a contingent of 30 runners from Belgium were staying in the hotel. As were runners from Germany and France. We unpacked and headed to a little café for lunch were we found ourselves sitting between people from New Jersey. They had made the trip to Manhattan because they had been without power and running water for several days and needed a shower. One guy was a massage therapist who couldn't work because his office had not power. He had several full days of massages booked with marathon runners. None of them were going to get their pre-race massage - from him at least. 

After lunch, we headed for the Expo.

It was Friday afternoon and it was throbbing with excited runners. We heard so many different languages and saw huge groups of people who had obviously come from all over the world to be there. They had team jackets made. They were buying up all the swag at an alarming rate. Alarming for me but not for Adidas I'm sure. 

Doug got his race packet and his orange race shirt. 

We explored the expo, nibbled on chia bar samples and chatted with, oh yes my friends, the Tel Aviv Marathon folks. I was thrilled to see them and proudly informed them that I would be running the 2013 half. They were in turn pretty excited to hear that.  

Gillette is the main sponsor - maybe we get free razors or leg shaves before the race??

We marvelled at the number of people there and commented on how the race organizers had made the right decision to go ahead with the marathon. If for no other reason than the surge of money that the runners and their families bring in to the city. 

We walked back to the hotel, excited and chatting about everything we had seen. 

Doug settled at his laptop to reply to a few emails. I settled on the bed with all the race books to go over every tiny bit of instruction for Sunday - like the 8-step process for attaching the timing chip to your shoe. Halfway through the first book I logged in to Facebok and spotted our friend Cathy's post: "New York City Marathon will not be held this weekend. We heard this 20 minutes after we picked up our bibs." 


We hopped on the internet. We turned on the television. We discovered very quickly that this was not a joke. 

We were stunned. We were so sad. We completely understood why the decision was made but were upset by the timing. THEY said it was on. THEY told us to come. WE came. 

If they had announced it on Wednesday - thousands of people would not have made the trip. By announcing it on Friday - most of the runners were already in town or en route. Runners began hearing the news at the expo, on the street, on the internet, in their hotel lobbies and from friends. 

Runners broke down and cried. Runners were furious. Runners were relieved and sad and hurt and...disappointed. 

It might have been the right decision but it was not handled well. 

We called and changed our return flight to Sunday afternoon. We headed out for dinner. We saw runners and their families everywhere we turned - looking lost and upset. We sent emails to let people know what was happening. 

We went to bed. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Staten Island Cries

Start spreading the news (ba ba da ba ba)

We're leaving today (ba ba da ba ba)

We want to be a part it.

New York! New York!

That's right folks. Just a few days after Hurricane Sandy shut down the New York subway system and wreaked havoc at the airports, we're heading to NYC. It was touch and go for a while and they only made the official decision to hold the race late Wednesday night.

They changed the deferral regulations to allow runners to defer as late at Saturday night at 11:59pm. There will not be 47,000 runners and there will not be 2 million spectators. They may need to change the course. They still haven't confirmed how they will get everyone to the start line since the subway system is still not up and running. But there will be a marathon

I'll be cheering.

Doug will be running.

Coming in to the finish at the Hamilton marathon last November, the race where he qualified for an automatic entry into New York with his stellar 3 hours and 38 minute run. 

It's a controversial decision to hold the race. A lot of New Yorkers have been hit really hard by Sandy and a lot of New York is still trying to recover and will be for weeks. As of Thursday morning Central Park was still closed as well as most of the subway system and La Guardia airport. Many people think that holding the race after such destruction is rather tasteless. Many others think that it sends a message of perseverance and resilience. Others think that the influx of runners and spectators will bring much needed money into the city.

We have decided that we are going. Our flights and hotel have been booked for months and Doug is ready to run. I'm bringing my camera to take photos and a strong back in case we have to help clear trees out of Central Park. It might not be exactly the race we've been imagining for the last year for but it will certainly be memorable.

We'll be back next week and I'll have a race recap on Tuesday or Wednesday.

See you on the other side!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Choose Life


Ten years.

Ten years ago.

Ten years ago today...

...I woke up at home, drove to the doctor, had bloodwork done and headed to the hospital to spend five days in intensive care while they tried to get my diabetic ketoacidosis under control and get my blood sugar below 36.

I had lost 35 pounds. I was desperately sick. I was scared. I thought I was dying.

Ten years ago today I heard the words "you have diabetes" and my entire life changed.

I learned how to count carbs. I learned how to check my own sugar. How to give myself 5 needles (and often more) a day, every day. How to deal with terrifying lows (because they are all terrifying in the first few weeks).

I learned that I could sweat through all my clothes if the low was bad enough. I learned that yawns meant I was dropping...or I was climbing. Either way - yawning became a key signal for me that something was up. I learned that, when everyone and every thing suddenly become very annoying, it's because my sugar is dropping...not because it's really annoying.

I started carrying a purse for the first time in my life and I stuffed it full of candy, juice boxes and a million test strips.

I ordered a medic alert bracelet and I found out that I could not longer donate blood. I cried when they told me that. For the first time in my life I was afraid to be alone.

Ten years ago today, my life changed.

And despite all of those things I mentioned, it changed for the better.

Diabetes taught me fear but from that fear sprang courage. Courage to try new things that used to terrify me. Courage to look at my life and decide that I needed to change it. Courage to say yes to things I never dreamed I could do.

Maybe it's because I suddenly felt mortal. Perhaps a diagnosis taught me that life can change on a dime. Or my priorities changed because I realized that my body will not make it without a lot of help from me. It is probably all of things, and more.

But my life now is what I make it. I take charge, I make things happen. I don't wait around for things to happen to me. Because I hear the clock ticking in the background and it reminds me every day to choose life.

And so I do.

Ten years ago today, I thought I was dying.

Little did I know I was about to come to life.