Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Clear Language

We had a clear language workshop at work yesterday. During this workshop, we learned the importance of writing in a way that makes the message we are trying to get across very clear. We learned to avoid using the passive voice, crazy fonts and things that can DISTRACT!! the reader. Bullet points are helpful. Long, run on sentences with big words and lots of semi-colons are not.

We also learned not to use technical jargon and, if we must use it, to explain what it is we're actually talking about.

I immediately started thinking about Running on Carbs and all the technical stuff I throw in on a daily basis. I do try to take the time to explain things that only a swimmer (or runner, or curler, or pancreatically challenged person) would know but I don't always.

So I decided to make a list some of the terms I toss out that perhaps require a wee bit of extra detail. Because, apparently, just because I know what they mean doesn't mean you do.

Swimming - I swim three times a week so many of my stories have to do with the adventures we have in the wee hours in the morning. I think I've explained all the terms below at different times so you might as well get a recap all in one spot. Since the only stroke I know is the freestyle (front crawl) you can assume that it is the only stroke I am talking about.

  • Pull - this is when we swim using only our arms. We put a pull-buoy between our legs which allows them to float but prevents us from kicking. 
  • Pull Buoy - this is the device we squeeze between our thighs when pulling so that we can't kick. It also helps our legs float
This is a pull buoy. 

  • Drag - similar to pulling in that we only use our arms. This time, however, we do not use a pull buoy. This makes it harder because our legs tend to sink without a nice floaty thing to hold them up. We have to use our ab/back muscles to try to keep our legs from hanging straight down. Some of us are better at this than others and it is important not to laugh (out loud) at those whose legs are dragging along the bottom of the pool. Some of the more hardcore swimmers keep their legs tied together with a rubber loop thingie. I tried it once but the inability to kick my legs freely made me panic - it felt a little too much like getting your legs tangled up in weeds which is a fear of mine when swimming in open water...
  • Drill - drills are things we do to work on a particular part of our stroke. There are drills to keep your head down, to keep your elbows up, to keep your shoulders in the proper position or make sure your arm enters the water at the proper place. When we have to drill for 50m, we choose one of the drills we have learned and slowly swim back and forth, working on that skill. For me, it's as simple as swimming slowly and trying to breathe without lifting my head. Other times, I have my arm sticking straight up in the air while swimming on my side. Most drills look rather odd to the observer but make sense to the person doing them. 
  • Skull - skulling is when you lie face down in the water. You extend your arms out at your sides (like a crucifix). Then, bending at the elbows, not the shoulders, you bring your arms in towards your chest. Then back out again. Then back in again. This really works your arm muscles. There is no kicking involved so imagine a bunch of swimmers all lying face down, moving up and down the lanes at a snail's pace.  
  • Build - build means that you start off on one side of the pool swimming slowly and gradually build up so that, by the time you get to the other side of the pool, you are swimming as hard and as fast as you can. Christine yells at us if we're not churning up the water. I had a hard time learning how to increase my speed at the right pace and discovered that what works for me is to increase it every third stroke. By doing that, I can start off leisurely at one end and end up going full tilt by the other end. 
  • Explosive - this is the opposite of build. We launch off the wall like rockets, swimming as hard and as fast as we can. About halfway down the length of the pool, we begin to slow down so that we are swimming at a reasonable pace by the time we get to the other end. Christine likes to have us swim 100m repeats that are broken down into 4x25. The first 25m is build, the second is explosive, the third is fast (which means swimming like mad the entire time) and the fourth is easy. 

Curling - I curl twice a week. I don't write as much about curling as I do about running and swimming but it does get its fair share of blogging time.

  • Hack - the hack is the place where the person throwing the rock throws the rock from. It's a little rubberized mat that you place your foot on. Right foot if you're right handed, left foot if your left handed. It allows you to push off when throwing the rock. 
  • House - the house is the bullseye at the opposite end of the ice from the person throwing the rock. 
  • Button - the button is the spot at the centre of the bullseye. The team with the rock that is closest to the button after all rocks are thrown has won the end. 
  • T-line - the t-line is the line that goes through the centre of the house - perpendicular to the sheet of ice. When the person throwing is asked to throw t-line weight, they should try to throw a rock that will stop at the t-line...rather than go flying through the house and hitting the boards on the other side. This is where the finesse of the game comes in.  
  • Take-out - that's when you throw your rock and knock out an opponent's rock. The rock tends to fly down the ice in a pretty straight line and, if you did what you were supposed to, bangs right into the opponent's rock sending it careening out the back of the house. 
  • Draw - a draw is when you throw the rock so that it slows down and curls to a particular spot on the ice. Typically, the rock will curl around one or more rocks and hide behind them which can be pretty impressive when done properly. The most famous expression is to "draw to the button" which means that you throw the rock at the perfect weight and angle for it to slow down and curl, stopping perfectly on the centre of the bullseye. I usually draw to the button several times during a game but, more often than not, I wasn't supposed to. So it might look impressive but is actually a mistake.  
  • Sweep - to help the rock move further down the ice or stay in a straight line, we sweep the ice. Sweeping melts a thin layer of ice which allows the rock to slide more easily. The harder you sweep - the more impact you can have on where the rock goes. Sweepers can work up quite a sweat and many are down to their t-shirts by the end of the game. 
  • Curl - the curling rock weighs a lot (Doug knows exactly how much but isn't home right now for me to ask). It's shocking actually when you first try to move one. When the rock is thrown, it sails down the ice in a pretty straight line but, as it slows, it begins to curl. The direction in which it curls depends on the spin that the thrower put on the rock (clockwise or counterclockwise). If the person throwing didn't put a spin on it, then the direction is spins in will be completely random (ie. not a good thing). As it slows and begins to curl, the rock can actually curl behind other rocks - hence the name of the game eh? 
  • Skip - the Skip is the captain of the team. They decide where they want the rocks thrown and hold their broom at the spot they want the person throwing to aim at. Oh yes, and they yell at the sweepers to tell them whether or not to sweep. "Hard!!" is a frequently shouted word on the ice. You'll also hear a lot of "No! Yes!! Stop!!! Yes!!! HARD!!!!" which would sound ridiculous anywhere other than a curling rink. Doug is the skip for our Friday night team and his responsibilities also include trying to save the end after we've botched up many of our shots. The other three players on a curling time are Lead (they throw the first two rocks), Second (they throw the third and fourth rocks) and Vice (they throw rocks 5 and 6 and they also hold the broom for the Skip when they throw). 

Diabetes - did I mention that I have diabetes? And that, no, I didn't get it from eating too much candy as a child. Sigh. I talk about diabetes a lot so I might as well explain a few of the things.

  • Insulin - my pancreas does not produce insulin. At all. No amount of exercise or healthy eating (or cinnamon or prayer beads) is going to change that fact. I cannot live without insulin. 
  • Insulin pump - Insulin cannot be taken orally because it breaks down in the stomach. It needs to be injected (although I've read the odd mention of trying to develop an insulin that can be inhaled). I'm not holding my breath on that one (ha! Get it?). Some people take insulin via needles. Others use an insulin pump. I'm one of those people. The insulin pump looks like a pager (remember those?) or a garage door opener. It does not think for itself. I have to program it and tell it when I need more or less insulin. 
  • Infusion site - the insulin from the pump goes from the pump, through a thin tube and into my body. Where it goes into my body is the infusion site. 

My pump attached to my belt. See the tube running from the pump? It's tucked into my pants and then comes back out again to the infusion site that's on the back of my hip. 

  • Blood sugar - basically, the amount of sugar in my blood. For someone without diabetes, their blood sugar stays between 4 and 6 pretty much all the time. My sugar is ideally kept between 5 and 7 but anyone with diabetes knows that is pretty impossible. I've been as low as 1.2 and as high as 35. Anything under 4.0 is problematic and I have to eat sugar to bring it back up. Anything over 12 (give or take depending on a host of other factors) I would take insulin to bring the number back down. 
  • Basal - our bodies need a regular stream of insulin and this is called basal insulin. I set the basal rate on my pump and it changes throughout the day. I arrived at this rate through trial and error and it's never perfect. I'm currently struggling with highs in the morning so I'm working on adjusting my overnight basal rates to fix that problem without causing lows. 
  • Bolus - any time that I eat carbs, I need to take insulin. The insulin that I take for food is called a bolus. Last night for dinner I had salmon (no carbs) and orzo pasta with veggies (20 carbs). I took a bolus of 2.5 units of insulin. An important thing to note is the the insulin is the same whether it is basal or bolus. The role is plays is slightly different but I only have one medication, not two. 
  • Insulin On Board (IOB) - insulin takes a while to get out of my system. Typically it lasts about 3 hours. So when I bolused for my pasta dinner last night at 7pm, the insulin was still working at 9:30pm. Insulin on board is the amount of insulin left in my system. So I took 2.5 units at 7pm and, by 9:30pm there might have been 0.8 units left. It's not an exact science but it does help figure things out. 
  • Glucometer - this is what I use to test my blood sugar. I prick my finger with a lancet (needle thing), get a drop of blood, suck it up with a test strip that is inserted into the glucometer. Five seconds later, I know my blood sugar. 
  • Control - control is an imaginary creature, kinda like faeries and elves, that causes a lot of problems. See, people without diabetes believe that blood sugar control exists and, if we only try a little harder, is perfectly attainable. People with diabetes know full well that control is something wonderful to dream and beautiful in theory but impossible in real life. This can lead to a lot of frustration, depression and missed medical visits. 

In an effort to make my writing more clear I may have written the longest and wordiest blog post of my life. Hopefully it helped a bit. If there is anything else I write about and have taken for granted that you know (but you don't) - say the word and I'll be sure to elaborate.

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