Friday, November 29, 2013

Twenty-Four Hours In

I've been attached to Mr. Dex for just over 24 hours now. More like 28. Here is what I have discovered so far:

1. He's not always in sink with my actual blood sugar. In other words, I might be 5.0 but he might think I'm 4.0. He hasn't been too far off, and he responds fairly well to calibrations, but at 3am, it makes a difference. My first night with him he went off about 8 times. He kept thinking I was 3.9 but I was actually hovering right around 5.0. How did I know? Because I checked my blood sugar 8 times between 9pm and 5am. That is 6-7 more times than I normally check - when I don't have a continuous glucose monitor attached to me. And I calibrated almost every time I checked. And yet Mr. Dex still kept freaking out. I turned off the noise so he just vibrated. I then tucked him in bed with me to keep him quiet. I finally resorted to sleeping directly on him to shut him the hell up.

2. I did not run on Thursday morning. Partly because I'm exhausted and a little too busy at work right now. And partly because Mr. Dex kept me up all night. So my blood sugar did not have to deal with a morning exercise routine. It was pretty sweet to watch the graph as I hovered around 6.0 between breakfast and lunch and hovered around 5.0 between lunch and dinner. I'm guessing those basal rates are pretty good - at least on days when I don't exercise.

3. Mr. Dex prevents me from making decisions I would normally make. Last night I was a little high two hours after dinner (11.0). I was hungry before bed and would normally have bolused and eaten a snack knowing I would go higher than 11.0 but then drop back down again overnight. I also know that Mr. Dex is set to alarm if my BG goes higher than 13.0 (or lower than 4.0 for the record). After the previous night's symphony, I decided I'd rather go to bed hungry than spend the night dealing with high BG alarms. It may have been a good decision since late night snacking is not typically encouraged but not a decision I would normally have made. So he will most likely have an impact on my lifestyle choices.

4. He's not nearly as annoying as I thought he'd be in terms of feeling him under my clothes or carrying around another device. I need to remind myself to grab him off my desk before I leave work or toss him in my purse before I leave the house but, otherwise, he's been pretty tame. So far. I'm expecting a few growing pains as we get used to each other but I think he'll slip into my routine fairly easily.

I'll try to post a few photos next week for those of you who asked where I put him or what he looks like. By Monday we should have bonded a little more and gotten used to each other's quirks. He'll have survived a curling bonspiel as well as a family reunion AND and a family dinner. How's that for an initiation weekend?

Stay tuned for more adventures of Mr. Dex.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mr. Dex Com

Monday, November 25th, was "The first day that the Dexcom was being shipped in Canada" Day.

I knew this because I received an email from Animas the Friday before to let me know.

When I received the email I called Animas and was able to connect with someone who could answer my questions and help me place my order. In answering my questions, she mentioned that the transmitter, one of the three parts of the Dexcom system, has a battery that, once it dies, cannot be replaced. Which means that, when the battery dies, I need a new transmitter.

Which costs $700.

"The battery is guaranteed for six months but some people have reported that they can get almost a year out of it" I was told.

That's better than six months but $700 every six months or (best case) every 12 months is more than I can afford.

So I hit the pause button on my Dexcom order and said I had to speak with my benefit provider first.

I called my benefit provider on Monday morning. I spoke with a helpful lady who listened to me explain the Dexcom and listened to me as I told her what the previous person I spoke with there had told me. I asked her to check whether the transmitter was considered a medical device (which means they pay once) or a medical supply (which means they pay over and over again like they do for test strips).

She checked and said that they do not pay for batteries so the transmitter would not be covered beyond the first one.

I corrected her and said that I didn't need a new battery every 6-12 months, I needed a new transmitter every 6-12 months because, once the battery died, it was time to replace it the transmitter.

She checked again and, this time, confirmed that it was indeed a medical supply and would be covered as many times as I needed with no maximum.

I repeated it back to her to confirm. "So the sensors and the transmitter are both 'supplies' and I can submit receipts every time I get them and you will reimburse me in full."


"Well that's great news now isn't it?" I asked.

She told me what paperwork I had to send and I thanked her.

I hung up and promptly called Animas to order the Dexcom. They took my order, I put $1840 on my credit card and it shipped on Monday afternoon. It arrived late on Wednesday.

I opened all the boxes. 

I laid out all the supplies and poured over the instructions. 

Tell me that doesn't look horrifying. 

I winced in anticipation as I pushed the needle in but it was nowhere near as jarring as the one I had used with my Medtronic CGM. 

Just like that, I was connected. I had to wait two hours for the sensor, transmitter and receiver to be able to speak to each other. Once ready, the pump beeped and I calibrated it by entering my BG and, not long after, headed to bed. I'm not exactly sure what to expect. It might be a restful sleep or might be a nightmare of beeping, vibrations and grumbling. We'll see. 

Don't worry. I'll let you all know how things go. 

Getting the Dexcom reminded me yet again that anything related to diabetes is never a win-win. I'm excited at the possibilities that the Dexcom gives me in terms of better management, spotting trends and having a back-up system to warn me of highs and lows.

On the other hand, I already hate having one thing attached to my body. Now I have two. I'm feeling decidedly robotic and decidedly unsexy.

I remember back when I got my pump and I know there will be an adjustment period as I get used to this new thing on my body. I also know that I will forget about it after a while but never really get over it. I'll just learn to live with it because, ultimately, having it makes it easier to live.

Just like I have gotten used to needles. Finger pricks. Late night gorging on Dex 4s. Pump site changes and the rather disgusting smell of insulin.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Goal Planning

My favourite multi-sport series just announced the dates for the 2014 triathlon season.

I have already been asked several times if I'm doing the Niagara Falls Women's half marathon in June 2014.

There are a few half-marathons early in 2014 that, if I sign up for, would keep me running when the weather gets nasty.

Around the Bay 30k is at the end of March and I need to decide if I'm willing to risk my stress fractures and my ear plugging to tackle the distance.

I want to focus on becoming a stronger and faster runner in 2014 which means I need to change how I train in order to see if I can get my half marathon time a little closer to 2:10 rather than 2:20.

I want to focus on becoming a stronger cyclist since that's my weakest of the three triathlon sports and yet it's the sport that takes the most time during a triathlon. So I need to get more focused on the bike and need to get more cycling in to my training schedule.

I want to do some open-water swim races, at least one 3k and perhaps (perhaps!) a 5k.

I want to do some sprint triathlons as well as a few Olympic distance triathlons in 2014 because I loved that distance last year and want to do more of it.

I seem to have a lot of goals for 2014.

I'm guessing the first goal I need to actually accomplish is to figure out what my goals are going to be eh?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Zone Championships

Last weekend I curled on Friday night like I always do in the winter months.

I then spent a good chunk of Saturday as well as Sunday morning at the curling club. Sitting behind the glass, with my heart in my throat and my hands over my mouth for most of it.

It's stressful watching the man I love compete in a curling tournament - when every game seemed to come down to the last rock in the last end and where millimetres really do make all the difference.

Doug curls a few nights per week and has been doing so for years. He's pretty darn good. This season, he joined forces with three other men to create a Masters team. Their goal was to compete in the Masters Zone Play Down. If they win, they go to the Regionals and then, if they win again, they go to the Provincials.

So last weekend I watched Doug in the Zone championship. There were 8 teams, three from his club and 5 from other clubs in our area.

The first game was on Saturday morning. I got up early to get my long run in and got to the club on time to see the end of the game. It didn't end well and Doug's team lost. That meant that they could not afford to lose again. Another loss and they were out.

The second game was Saturday evening so we ran a few errands, had an early dinner and headed back over. This time I watched every rock in every end. Doug's team dominated for the first few ends but the other team rallied and the last few ends went back and forth as they fought for points. It was nerve-wracking. The last rock in the last end clinched it and Doug's team won!

Sunday morning, we were back at the club before 9am for the final deciding game.

The first end, the other team scored two points.
The second end, Doug's team nabbed three.
The third end, the other team got one point to tie it all up again.
The fourth end, they took two more points to take the lead.
The fifth end, they took one more and were leading by three.
(This is the point where I texted my Irish mother and asked her to send some good luck leprechauns)
In the sixth end, Doug's team took three points to tie it up again.
In the seventh end, they took one more to take the lead.
In the eighth and final end, they got one more point to win!

Looks like we're off to the bustling metropolis of Forest, Ontario for the Regional Championships in a few weeks.

After that, if the leprechauns continue to do their jobs, we're going to Gravenhurst in January for the provincials.

I'm guessing the Olympics are the next stop.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Blood Test Results

Last Friday, on my much-needed day off, I headed over to the naturopath for my follow-up appointment.

I went in full of questions and left full of things to think about.

First of all, I got my blood work results back. After complaining about fatigue, I had been sent for the following blood tests:
- iron
- ferritin (think of ferritin like my iron stores)
- vitamin d
- vitamin b12
- thyroid

Being low in any of these things can result in fatigue so it was worth checking out. I figured I'd be low in iron, low in ferritin and wouldn't have been surprised to find out everything else was low too.

Instead, my iron was fine, my ferritin was fine, my vitamin d was fine, my thyroid was fine and my B12 levels were the highest he's ever seen in someone who is not getting B12 injections.

Well wasn't that nice to hear on a cold Friday morning in November? I asked if I was too high and he said no. Just higher than he is used to seeing. I asked how that was possible since I don't take extra B12 or do anything special to try to get it in my diet. He said I might just be absorbing it really well from my VEGA powder or my multivitamin. Whatever the reason, the blood results were fine which means I have a few less things to worry about.

He then told me that he thinks he figured out that weird thing that happens in my ears when I run. He said it was called 'exercise-induced eustachian tube disfunction'. A long name to be sure but it's not dangerous or problematic. On the other hand, there isn't much we can do to prevent it from happening either. It happens when I run for over an hour and goes away when I stop running. If I start up again, it comes back almost immediately. In my body's struggle to deal with it, it also affects my breathing and I find myself gasping for breath for a few minutes once I do stop.

(For the record, I googled it when I went home and read all about it. Sounds exactly like what I am struggling with. My GP, diabetes doc and my ear nose and throat specialist couldn't figure it out - I'm impressed my naturopath did and that he did it so quickly.)

So I have a diagnosis for my ears and confirmation that my blood test results were good. So what's up with the fatigue you ask?

Here's where things took a turn and I left the appointment with a lot to think about.

"Eustachian Tube Disfunction can sometimes be related to food allergies. So can unexplained fatigue. You're probably not going to want to hear this but I'm going to recommend you try an elimination diet to see if you have any food allergies."


He talked about the four most common food allergies (dairy, wheat, eggs and soy) and suggested that, ideally, I would eliminate all of them from my diet for six weeks and then reintroduce them one at a time. "If you're not willing to do that, at least try wheat and dairy."


I drove home and thought about it. I told Doug what the doctor suggested and we talked about it. I thought about it some more.

Pros: if I really do have a food allergy, doing this might help me identify it, make changes to my diet and feel better overall. Not that I feel bad - I just have ears that plug up on long runs and I personally think I'm more tired than I should be given the amount of sleep I get.

Cons: I turn my diet upside down for six weeks. Just in time for Christmas. I wouldn't be able to eat out (easily anyway), I'd have to rethink every meal I eat, I'd be the most annoying dinner guest ever (did I mention Christmas is coming?) and I'd be pretty annoying to live with because every meal would potentially involve two meals and a lot of discussion to ensure all my allergens are avoided. And for what? I have no other reasons to think I have food allergy so it could all be for not.

I did think about doing it after Christmas but we're traveling in February, spending a week with friends, and doing things throughout the year that would never make it easy to find a six-week chunk of time where I can eat every meal at home without too much fuss.

Don't get me wrong. If I had a legitimate food allergy, I'd make all the dietary changes I needed to make to be healthy. But, because all of this is hypothetical, I'm really hesitant.

So, after a weekend of thought, I emailed my naturopath. I said I would continue with everything else he recommended, I'd increase my veggie intake, perhaps cut down, when reasonable, on my wheat, soy, eggs and dairy but I would not be doing the elimination diet at this time.

I felt both relieved and disappointed as I hit 'send'. I also felt like a tiny bit like a jerk since I went to him for advice but didn't take it. It is, however, my life and, ultimately, I need to make the choices that make the most sense for all involved.

So I did.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

D-Blog Week Day 6 - Favourites and Motivations

Today we were encouraged to go back into our blogging past and re-post something that we have written. A favourite sentence or blog post. Well, after years of blogging, I still think that the post I'm reposting today is my favourite. If you missed it the first time, enjoy.

Diabetes - What it's Like on the Inside

It's always the same and yet it's always different.

Sometimes it starts with a dry throat and a gentle headache right between my eyes. The kind that makes me squint a bit and brings out those frown lines that I get when I'm thinking hard about something.

Sometimes it starts with a yawn. And then another one. And then another one. I usually start slouching in my chair a bit or get up to make some tea in an effort to wake up.

Sometimes my elbows start to feel a little less bendy. Like the fluid in my joints is starting to solidify.

Sometimes I get a funny taste in my mouth.

Sometimes the symptoms stop there. Sometimes they get worse and my dry throat becomes a crushing thirst, my gentle headache starts to pound, my yawns flow into each other and my joints all begin to join the stiffening chorus. Sometimes my hands start to ache.

Sometimes I clue in quickly. Other times I don't.

I always clue in eventually and grab my glucometer - knowing I'm going to see 16+ on the screen.

Sometimes my lips and tongue start to tingle just a bit. The way they feel when the freezing is coming out after a trip to the dentist.

Sometimes my heart starts beating a little faster and feels like a fluttering bird in my chest.

Sometimes I start to yawn. And yawn. And yawn. I go make a cup of green tea in an effort to wake up a bit.

Sometimes my limbs start to feel light, like gravity was turned down a notch. I become a little more awkward and clumsy than usual.

Sometimes little things annoy me. Things that didn't annoy me even a minute before and things that don't normally annoy me...ever.

Sometimes I clue in quickly. Sometimes I don't.

When I don't, my lips and tongue start tingling a lot - to the point where I can hardly feel them. My heart beat gets crazier and I start to sweat. It comes on fast and furious at that point and I can easily sweat through a hoodie and a jacket as well as my jeans in minutes. The yawns progress to the point where I can hardly get a sentence out between them. The world starts to spin. I need to sit down.

What I really need to do is grab some juice.

Diabetes is a textbook disease made up of numbers. Dosages. Ratios. Units. Time.

Diabetes is often summarized on a piece a paper with pictures of people drinking water or looking pale and shaky. It comes with warnings that a person is in one of the two ends of the blood sugar spectrum and helpful suggestions about what to do.

Diabetes is all of those things. And it's none of those things.

Diabetes is the horror of waking up drenched in sweat and hardly able to reach the Dex 4s on your bedside table and wondering, through the haze, "what if I hadn't woken up?"

Diabetes is the fear of going back to sleep in case it happens again. And it's the feeling of isolation when you get to the pool the next morning, tired and shaken, and no one has any idea what you've been through and how scared you were...and how important it was to get up early anyway so diabetes doesn't win.

Diabetes is the horror of struggling to control a blood sugar of 25 with dose after dose of insulin and feeling that every minute you spend up in the clouds is another minute that diabetes is doing damage to your body. The only body you have. And diabetes is wondering if this high will be the high that puts me over the edge to the land of no return.

Diabetes is the fear of going low 1500m from shore during a triathlon swim and yet still getting in the water because the fear of letting diabetes dictate your life is greater than the fear of an open-water low.

Diabetes is squinting at the tiny air bubbles in your insulin tube, carefully priming to get them out, and then wondering if anyone will do that for you if your eyesight fails and you are no longer able to do that for yourself one day.

Diabetes is listening to people talk about other people with diabetes and all the horrible things happening to them...and refusing to let that stop you from trying to be healthy even though it's just so easy to give up and hand diabetes the reigns.

Diabetes is about doing the same thing, day after day after day, knowing it's only going to work half the time.

Diabetes is about finding a way to be proud of the fact that you test your blood sugar in public and have tubes coming out of you as you walk around the change room after your swim. Because the alternative is hiding and that's not an alternative you're willing to entertain.

Diabetes is all numbers and ratios and signs and symptoms on the outside.

On the inside, it's a never-ending battle between fear and courage. Between motivation and depression. Between the will to fight and the urge to throw in the towel.

Sometimes I'm the one on the left. Sometimes I'm the one on the right. 
Depends on the day. 

The View From The Couch

I have a warm bean bag on my tummy, a blanket over my feet, a glass of red wine and a bottle of water at hand and two cookies sitting on a plate waiting patiently to be eaten. 

I'm on the couch with my laptop on my lap (fitting non?) and I'm all set to write my next blog. 

Problem is that I don't feel like writing about diabetes.

Or running. 

Or swimming. 

I don't feel like writing about what I had for dinner or what I'm doing this weekend. 

Curling isn't doing it for me either. 

I glanced around my living room looking for inspiration. I don't typically need ideas as they tend to flow easily but sometimes I stare at my screen feeling rather stumped. 

Here's what I saw.

I saw the cover of Vanity Fair with Nicole Kidman on it. It made me think about the upcoming Hunger Games movie and how very excited I am to see it. December 5th has already been booked as Hunger Games night and I'm trying to figure out what colour to paint my nails and how crazy to do my eye shadow so I can keep up with Katniss Everdeen. So fun! 

I saw the plate of cookies and was glad that this is not the week I have to write down everything I eat for my naturopath. I did that two weeks ago. And, on Friday, I'm going back for my second appointment. I'm going to find out my blood test results and get some feedback on my eating habits. I'll let you know next week how that goes. 

I saw my iPad and realized that I'm really liking having easy access to books and magazines. I have iPad subscriptions to several magazine and download books regularly. I love the variety and I love that busy week when all the new issues of my magazines come out. That was this week so I'm overwhelmed with choices of what to read: fashion, politics, financial tips, triathlon training, running or cycling. It's great having so much information at my fingertips. 

I saw my baby sitting across from me, quietly reading on his iPad. I realized it's been a rather busy week and we haven't had as much time together as we might like. 

Tonight we have a fun adventure and won't be home until late. Friday I took the day off work and look forward to sleeping in a bit. I don't blog on weekends and, since I have an extra-long weekend, I'll see you folks on the other side. 

Have a good one! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hurry up eh?

Some days I have time for diabetes.

I have time to cajole the high blood sugars back into range with hourly tests and reasonable boluses.

I have time to bolus ten minutes before a meal to allow the insulin a head start.

I have time to test every waking hour of the day in order to stay on top of things and try to prevent the diabetes gods from getting a foothold.

Those are the days when I'm willing to deal with the never-ending highs that won't budge. I'm not happy about them but I deal with them by the book.

Other days I don't have time for diabetes. And I have even less time for following the rules.

Don't get me wrong. I always make time for the essentials. I test before meals. I test when I feel off. I carb count. I bolus. I test two hours after eating.

The difference is that I cross my fingers that the numbers are where they should be because I'm testing at a red light, one minute before I walk into yet another two hour meeting. I'm testing in the parking lot of a high school right before I walk in to a meeting with five teachers, two behaviour therapists and a host of other people. I'm testing as I walk out the door, bolusing on the way to the car and eating my sandwich and apple as I drive to the next meeting.

The last few weeks have been like that and the next few weeks will be the same, or worse. I run from meeting to meeting, eating lunch on the fly On the surface it's all good. I'm eating healthy meals - albeit in the car. I'm testing. I'm bolusing. I'm correcting.

But the only reason it's working is because, most days, the diabetes gods behave. Sure they have their mini tantrums. But overall they listen and do what they're told with a minimum of threats.

It's times like these when I realize how much I'm looking forward to getting the Dexcom. I can't wait for a time when I can glance down at a screen and have a sense of what my blood sugar is doing...instead of wondering if now is a good time to reach under the table, root around through my purse,  and dig out my glucometer - trying not to draw attention to myself.

I do what I need to do but it will be nice when I have a little device that helps me do it on those days when things are a little too hectic.

I'm guessing it won't be long before I can't imagine a life without it.

Hurry up Dex. Canada is waiting...

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Choices We Make

Some weeks it's pretty easy to fit in all the workouts I want to fit in. I get my three swims done sans problème. I get my three runs in without missing a beat a step.

Other weeks, like last week, things seems to conspire against me.

Last week I had a workshop on Wednesday morning that prevented me from getting my swim in.

I also had an early appointment on Friday morning that prevented me from getting my swim in.

I could have gone to the pool on Thursday morning instead. There are masters classes every morning so it's not a problem.

I could have skipped my Thursday run in exchange for a Thursday swim.

But I like my Thursday runs. A lot.

I like them as much as I like my Wednesday and Friday swims.

So I missed two swims out of three but got all three of my runs in.

I can also tell you that if I had had Tuesday and Thursday meetings last week, I would have missed two runs but got all my swims in.

You could argue that I'm a little too entrenched in my habits.

You could also argue that I should have done two runs and two swims rather than three and one.

You could be right.

I would argue that I did what my body felt like doing. I've had a bit of down time lately in my running routine as I recovered from my half marathon. I am enjoying getting back out there and loving my crisp, early morning, quiet time.

I would also argue that I don't have any scheduled 'easy weeks' at the pool. Every workout is different but they're all pretty tough. So the only down time I get is down time that I create. I figured two days off would make it an easy swim week.

There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to workouts. At least not at my elite level. My body benefits from a variety of workouts, some hard weeks and some easy ones. I made my choices.

The runners among you might agree with them.

The swimmers might argue that too many days out of the pool is never a good idea.

The cyclists might wonder where my cycling workouts were (fair enough).

Luckily the week ahead looks clear in the early mornings so I'll get all three swims and all three runs in. And I'm working on convincing myself that I really do want to head down to the spider-filled basement for my cold-weather 'Bending Crank Arm" workouts.

I'm just really enjoying my lazy Sunday morning routine right now...

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Week Without Bullet Points

What happened this week?

I rediscovered my love for Margaret Atwood. I am rereading Oryx and Crake (which is just as good the second time) and have the next two books in the trilogy lined up and ready to go. I am endlessly fascinated with the way she writes - the language, the undertones of irony, the societal warnings, the humour. Such a Canadian treasure.

I showed up to work on Thursday wearing purple. It was World Diabetes Day which means I should have worn blue but I only have two blue tops and neither were really warm enough for the day. I figured no one I worked with would really care since I'm the only pancreatically-challenged one of the bunch. I arrived to discover that one of them had discovered the importance of blue on November 14th and sent an email out to the rest of them. Almost everyone showed up at the staff meeting in blue. So nice!

I renewed my Canadian passport. It expires in early 2014 and we are already planning a winter escape so I figured I'd better get on it. I got my photo taken and application submitted within 40 minutes. The new one arrives in 10 days. And won't expire until I'm, wait for it, 49 years old. Eeep!

I discovered that regular nail polish can survive two swims in the pool before it really starts chipping. Metallic ones, as pretty as they are, don't survive one chlorine dip. I put on a pretty copper colour on Sunday evening. I went swimming on Monday morning and every nail has chipped or worse by the end of the swim. Sad day. Guess I'll have to save that colour for weeks when the pool is closed.

I was reminded what happens when we close up the house and turn the heat on. I wake up every single morning convinced I am getting sick. My throat is dry, my lips feel cracked. Then I have a few sips of water and remember, again, that it's the dry heat that kills me. Instead of grumbling about the heat, I thank the gods I'm not getting sick fix the problem with a few extra gulps of water.

I run in the dark now, like a vampire, with my red light flashing on my toque and my reflective vest warning cars that, yes indeed, that is a human approaching. Tuesday morning there was a light dusting of snow on the rooftops, the sky was clear and the stars were twinkling. On Thursday morning the wind was howling and the sky was full of clouds. Both mornings I dragged myself out of bed and spent the next 30 minutes trying to convince myself not to crawl back in...until I walked out the door. The wild, unpredictable and beautiful weather this time of year is my favourite. Funny how I forget every time the alarm goes off and yet NEVER regret forcing myself out of bed once I get out into it.

I realized that Christmas is in something crazy like 42 days and I haven't even thought about Christmas gifts. For anyone. I'm just so excited for my family to be together, to meet my new nephew who I have yet to actually see in real life, to spend time giggling with my sisters - I don't care one whit about the presents. Bring on the hugs!!

I only got one swim in this week. I missed two due to early morning commitments that I could not escape from. I dislike missing one swim. I hate missing two. I'm already looking forward to Monday morning so I can slip back into the water again. I hope I remember how to do that body roll I'm working on...

I did, however, have two wonderful runs (see above) and am looking forward to squeezing in a quick 12k run before Doug and I head to Toronto for a day of family visits, friends and trips to fountain pen stores.

For those of you who care about such things, did you see what is coming out very soon?

Pretty! Soooooo pretty!!! 

And this week I made a date with three fabulous ladies to go see the second Hunger Games movie. Dinner first. Then wicked movie. We're all so excited that it's almost funny. 

Except it's not. 

Because we're just so excited. 

Talk to you all on Monday eh?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Any. Day. Now.

I feel like I'm poised, legs slightly bent, ready to spring.

I have done my research, got my doctor's note and called my insurance company. I'm poised and ready to spring the second they announce the Dexcom's release in Canada.




I've done my research and narrowed down my selection for the new GPS (running/cycling/swimming) watch (watches?) I want to buy. Now I'm scouring websites and waiting for Black Friday deals. Pre-Christmas deals. Boxing Day deals. Waiting for the price to drop to a point where I'm ready to buy.




It's getting colder in Canada and I've traded in my running shorts for my winter running tights...which are just a bit too bit. Not too too big but big enough that, even when I tie them up tight, I have to hike them up a few times on runs. I'm waiting for the December sale at our local running club to buy a new, smaller pair.




I've diligently written down everything I ate for a week. I'm religiously taking my digestive enzymes before every meal. I've gone for bloodwork. I've found a website that sells the stuff I need at a pretty decent price. Now I'm just waiting patiently for my second naturopath appointment at the end of next week to see what they say about everything and what they recommend I continue to take.




I'm working to improve my swimming speed to go along with my new and improved swimming stroke.

I'm waiting for the late fall Clinique Bonus Days at Holt Renfrew so I can get a fabulous gift when I buy more face cream.

I'm looking forward to my trip to Toronto this Saturday so that I can stop in at a new fancy pen store to buy more ink for my fountain pen...and maybe buy that lovely kelly green fountain that just came out.

I try hard to live in the moment but sometimes it feels like I'm spending more time looking down the road thinking:




Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Four and a Half Hours

Monday mornings are especially dark. Darker than any other morning of the week. They are especially cold as well. It's just the way it is.

On Monday morning I woke at 4:48am and looked at the alarm. It was going to start singing at 4:50am so I reached to turn it off so as not to wake Doug. Doug, at the same moment, shifted and got up for a quick bathroom trip before I went in. He crawled back into bed. I crawled out. He whispered "have a nice swim baby" and I whispered "I'll try".

Another week had begun.

There were more of us than usual at the pool. We warmed up for 1050m and, while we worked our way through the warmup, the main set was being written on the board and buckets were being tied together for us.

The main set was the following:
3x50m (with buckets) on 2:00
8x100m (without buckets) on 2:00
3x50m (with buckets) on 2:00
4x200m (without buckets) on 4:00
3x50m (with buckets) on 2:00
1x400m (without buckets) on 8:00

Keep in mind that this is the third workout using my 'new and improved' body roll. I am still in the growing pain stage where nothing feels quite natural and my feel for the water is non-existent.

There were three people in my lane, including me. It didn't take long for them to figure out that I should be third.

The part of the set with the buckets went fairly well because everyone is really slow and it's as much about power as it is about technique. I made up in power what I lacked in technique and managed to keep up.

During the no buckets part of the set, I fell behind but not horribly so. I got every one done under the cutoff time and the person in front of me never got more than about 30m ahead.

During the 8x100m I was told that I did one of the 100m in 1:49.

I know it's only been a week of swimming slowly but I have already lost track of my 'old times' and didn't remember if 1:49 was good or not. I think it's acceptable but nowhere near my faster times. I feel like 1:42s was more my speed...but I could be wrong.

I had been three workouts now since my stroke correction.

I still lag behind...but not as much.

It still feels depressing that I push as hard as I can and still feel sloppy and slow...but not as much.

I still miss my old, comfortable stroke...but not as much. Partly because I'm caught between my old and my new one and neither feels quite right anymore.

The good news is that there is enough of an improvement after each session that I'm excited for the next one to see how much better I can get with another hour and a half worth of practice. Twelve hours is apparently the magic number of hours of practice it takes to make a real change in a swimming stroke. I'm up to 4.5.

Getting there.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Moving from Advanced Beginner to Beginning Intermediate Feels Like Both a Step Up and a Step Down.

Three and a half years ago, Doug brought me to the curling club one Sunday afternoon and taught me how to walk and slide on the ice. How to aim for the broom. The difference between an in-turn and an out-turn and how to come out of the hack without falling on my face.

Or my behind.

It was humbling. It was awkward. It was, as everyone says, way harder than it looked on television.

We joined the Friday night league with two other running friends and played the second half of the season.

The next year we joined again and played for the entire six months.

The following year we recruited four more running friends and formed two teams and we've played together for two seasons in those teams.

I am now two weeks into my fourth full season of curling.

On Sunday morning, Doug and I went to the curling club to take part in a three-hour intermediate curling lesson. It was put on by members of the Brock curling team and led by the coach of the women's team.

We reviewed the fundamentals and went through some exercises to help improve our delivery, our balance and our aim. They broke the delivery down into small steps and we practiced each one - trying to do what we were told without collapsing in a heap.

They even put two rows of small pylons on the ice and had us aim so that we slid between them without hitting them. Again, easier said than done

After that session we headed back into the lounge for some lessons on strategy and tactics. I held my own for a good 45 seconds and then felt my knowledge fail. When I started out I learned how to curl and how to throw my rocks where I was told to throw them. I learned how the game was played but I never really learned the strategy of the game. I understand why one would want to throw a take out or draw to the button but never realized the layers of thinking that go into calling every shot.

It was confusing and fascinating. I quickly realized that I am glad I am not a skip but also quickly realized that I want to learn more.

Like any sport I've ever done, the first step is to just learn how to do it. Learn how to run for five minutes without dying. Learn how to swim across the pool a few times without drowning. Learn how to actually hit the damn golf ball.

Once you can run for 30 minutes or swim a kilometre, or hit a golf ball more often than you miss it, you realize that all you've managed to do to that point is go from absolute beginner to beginner plus one.

Now you have to learn how to run well. Learn how to improve your swimming form. Learn how to actually aim the golf ball where you want it to go.

I've gone from absolute beginner in curling to advanced beginner. I have now moved from advanced beginner (near the top of the heap) to absolute intermediate (bottom of a new heap).

The intermediate heap, from what I can tell, looks a lot more difficult to climb.

Thankfully it also looks a lot more interesting.

Monday, November 11, 2013

What Our Bodies Tell Us

When I checked into the hospital 11 years ago I had lost a lot of weight and was looking pretty awful. I was newly (as in less than two hours before) diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. An endocrinologist was assigned to me. He came to visit me in my room and we chatted for a few minutes.

He then stood at the foot of my bed and asked me to look at him.

I did.

He asked me to turn my head to face the window.

I did.

He announced that I was severely dehydrated.

"How do you know?" I asked, thinking that I drank more water at that point that the rest of my family combined.

"Your nose" he replied.

He had never seen me before so had no idea what my nose normally looked like. But he was able to, correctly, determine that I was severely dehydrated based on what it looked like. He transferred me to Intensive Care, put me on insulin and looked at my nose every time he came to visit. Within a few days, he was happy with how it had 'filled out'.

I have known people whose doctors have diagnosed a deficiency in one thing or another by looking at their fingernails and the ridges that formed there. Horizontal ridges mean on thing, vertical ones mean another.

I find that kind of stuff fascinating.

It's obviously not going to work with every possible diagnosis but our bodies tell us much more than we realize.

The other night I was telling my sister that my naturopath put me on digestive enzymes. She laughs and said that her naturopath did the same for her.

"Did he look at your tongue?" she asked.


Apparently the colour of one's tongue gives a good indication of their digestive prowess. A rich, red colour means, as she puts it, a person can digest a tin can. A pale tongue means that they have difficulty digesting food that isn't cooked.

At a yoga retreat she attended a few years ago, everyone had to show their tongues and they were told what percentage of their diets should be raw and what percentage should be cooked. So interesting.

It sounds part voodoo but also makes sense. My tongue, like my sister's, was pretty pale when we compared to others around us. I do have difficulty with large amounts of uncooked veggies and, like her, would probably have been put on a 90% cooked diet at that yoga retreat. Even the fruit was cooked, just a bit, to help aid in the digestion.

Noses, tongues, fingernails. I'm guessing I haven't scratched the surface on the little hints our bodies give as to how they are doing.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Admitting is the First Step

I was driving home yesterday afternoon and listening, as always, to CBC Radio One.

It's a rare day when I'm am not fascinated by what they are talking about.

I missed the beginning of the interview and didn't catch who exactly they were interviewing. Whoever it was was talking about the growing number of people out there who are using some form of alternative therapy. My ears perked up when she said ''naturopath".

The speaker did not have any problem with naturopaths but she did say that many traditional family doctors do.

Because of that, many patients keep that information from their family doctor. They also, often, refrain from mentioning that they are taking fish oil. Or Coenzyme Q10. Or any other non-traditional supplement which, according to the speaker, can interact with pharmaceutical drugs in unexpected ways.

The message was not to stop taking supplements. Nor was it to stop taking pharmaceuticals.

It was to be open with everyone about who you are going to see, what you are taking, and why.

It's interesting.

When I went to the naturopath last week, they asked me to fill out a form with all the medications I was taking and the doses. I didn't hesitate and put every little pill down. I even put down the Vega powder I put in my breakfast shake because it's pretty high in a lot of things and I didn't want them recommending something that might lead to my taking too much.

On the other hand, when I go to my family doctor and they ask what I'm taking, I have no problem listing all the medications that they, or my diabetes doctor, prescribed. I do, however, refrain from mentioning my Vega powder. Or my iron pills.

I haven't seen my GP since I saw my naturopath but I'll be there early in the new year. I already know I'm going to think several times before 'admitting' that I'm taking a teaspoon of fish oil in my breakfast and digestive enzymes before meals.

Because I'm pretty darn sure I'm going to get a sigh and a polite lecture.

I also know that I'm going to think twice about telling my diabetes doctor because I've asked her several times about supplements for people with type 1 and she has always insisted that I only need Vitamin D and nothing else.

I'm not sure what the problem is exactly. I'm a firm believer that I am responsible for my own health and that the doctors, nurses and dieticians I see are there to help me make good choices and understand my options. They are not my bosses and they don't have the right to tell me what to do or not do. They can make recommendations and provide information to help me make my own choices.

And yet I am not thrilled at the idea of telling them about the naturopath in my life and the fact that I'm giving their advice as much weight as everyone else's. I won't do everything they recommend either but I'll certainly consider it seriously.

I have a few months before my next 'traditional' appointment which should give me enough time to get used to the idea that I'm going to have to look my doctor in the eye and say 'yes, I'm taking fish oil and enzymes'.

Do we have a problem?

Thursday, November 7, 2013


"On a scale of one to ten, one being low and ten being high, how stubborn do you think I am?" I asked sweetly. 

"In general or when you want to be stubborn?" Doug replied. 

"When I'm actually being stubborn" I said. 

"Olympic caliber baby. With bonus points." was the response. And then he darted outside with the recycling before I could argue with him. 

It's true. I pride myself on being flexible and quick to respond to change but, when I have a reason to be stubborn, I'll dig my heels in so deep it takes some pretty heavy machinery to dig me back out again. 

A funny thing happened at the pool on Wednesday morning. My stubborn streak kicked in big time. The only problem was that I wasn't exactly sure what I was being stubborn about. What I was refusing to budge on. What I was unwilling to yield. 

I just knew it was something.

I mentioned in Tuesday's blog that I was working on changing my swim stroke from barge to speedboat. I mentioned that, on Monday, I had found a drill that worked well at getting me to move the way I was supposed to move without feeling too unnatural. 

The only problem was that I was doing this drill in slow motion. 

On Wednesday morning we got to the pool and were told we had a 'fun' set to do. It was a tough set in terms of distance but the kind of set I normally like. It looked like this: 

Warm up
200m pull
6x50m breast arms with freestyle kick
150m pull

Main set (also known as a pyramid set)
100m fast
200m (4x50m kick)
500m tempo
700m (400m build, 4x50m fast, 100m fast)
700m (400m build, 4x50m fast, 100m fast)
500m tempo
200m (4x50m kick)
100m fast

I put my hand up (like I do when I have a question and also to be funny). "Do you want me to swim fast or to swim well?" I asked. 

"I want you to swim well but push your speed. Keep working on your body roll" was the response. 


We started. I swam as fast as I could while keeping my body rolling the way I had figured out on Monday. I was lapped in the 100m. 

I lead during the 200m kick set because I'm a pretty fast kicker. 

I was lapped several times in the 500m tempo. In fact, they didn't even wait for me to finish before heading into the 700m set. 

Here's the thing. I was swimming significantly slower than I normally do and yet it felt harder. I no longer had my 'feel' for the water and felt like I was really struggling to move forward.  I was out of breath. It was not pretty. 

It was during the 500m that my stubborn streak kicked into high gear. I will NOT lose my roll. I WILL push to keep the form I'm learning and I will NOT allow my body to go back to the way I always swim. I kept moving. Kept panting. Kept feeling like a new kid at the pool flailing about ungracefully. Kept being lapped by my swimming friends who usually beat me to the wall by seconds, not minutes. 

I got to the 700m part and the other ladies were already more than 200m ahead of me in the set. I pushed harder and harder while forcing my body to keep rolling back and forth, stubbornly refusing to sacrifice form for speed.  

I got to the 4x50m section and my coach told me to swim them "fast!!!". "Dammit" I thought. "I am trying to swim them fast. Can't you see how hard I"m trying??"

I did the first 50m in one minute. 

One minute!!!

Not 50 seconds. Not 48 seconds. 

One. Whole. Minute. 

It was starting to get depressing. Body roll is supposed to reduce drag and help you move more quickly though the water. Not lumber about like a seal with one flipper tied behind his back. 

The next 50m took 58 seconds. The third took a minute. 

Bloody hell! I was getting so frustrated at myself and then at my coach who kept saying 'faster'. 

For the fourth 50m, my stubborn streak kicked in. A different one this time. I pushed off from the wall and purposely fell into my old stroke. My comfortable stroke. My barge stroke. I flew through the water, hit the wall, flew back and touched the wall in 53 seconds. It felt fabulous. 

"That's better!" she said. 

A third stubborn streak kicked in and I thought "no it's not! It's faster for sure. But it's the stroke that you've been on me about to fix for a year."

So I stubbornly went back to the body roll and struggled through the next 700m. It took so long that it was 7am and I still had 800m to go. 

"I'm done!" I said, trying to keep the frustration from my voice. 

"What happened today? Was it your blood sugar or the stroke correction."

"Stroke correction." I said crisply. "I would have stopped if I had blood sugar issues."

"Well, it takes time. Give it two weeks and you'll notice a big difference."

"I sure as hell hope so" I thought as I headed to the shower. Because it's pretty darn tempting to drop this whole thing and go back to being fast. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I Don't Want to be a Barge Anymore

My swimming goal is to go from this: 

to this: 

I apparently swim like a barge and need to learn how to swim like a super streamlined boat. 

Ideally, when a swimmer swims (freestyle that is), their head stays in the same position but their shoulders and torso should rotate up and down. It's called a body roll. This allows the water to flow more easily past the swimmer - causing less resistance. 

It looks like this: 

See how one shoulder is up and the other shoulder is down? That helps make the swimmer more streamlined in the water. Which translates into faster with less energy used. I'm down with that. 

Sadly, I do not rotate up and down. At all. My shoulders face the water straight on - creating a lot of drag. Even when I think I'm rotating, I'm not. 

When we do various drills to work on specific swimming issues, I am always given drills that help me practice rotating from side to side to allow the water to flow by me more easily. 

I always get 100% on the drills. In slow motion, I can rotate from side to side beautifully. It's only when I speed things up that it falls apart and I go back to being a barge. 

On Monday, at the pool, I was given yet another drill to do but, this time, I was able to translate it into real swimming. It felt weird and awkward but I was able to transform what I learned during drills into actual swimming. 

It happened at the end of Monday's workout, about five minutes before I had to leave. I'm excited to see if I can hold on to what I somehow figured out and bring it into Wednesday's workout. 

Wish me luck! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Beats That Inspire My Feet

By the time this post is posted, I'll have finished my first post-half marathon return to running run.

An easy thirty minute trot to test out my legs...and my new sissy-coloured running shoes.

I'll have my music playing quietly enough to still hear the birds waking up and the train whistles blowing in the distance. Loud enough to work its way down to my feet and inspire them to move a little faster for a little longer.

Music is the background to my runs. I can easily go with out it but I do enjoy the soundtrack that carries me down my beloved country roads. My songs are so familiar that a few notes heard on the radio are enough to make me want to put on my shoes and run. There's probably something Pavlovian about it but I just really like tying music to my journeys because the songs enrich the journey and later help bring me back.

Two weeks ago I wrote about updating my running playlist for the Niagara half with songs that get me moving and keep me motivated. Playlists are a pretty personal thing - kinda like favourite shampoos or eye creams - and what inspires me might nauseate someone else.

That being said, I was asked by a few people to share my playlist.

So I'm sharing.

Feel free to be inspired by my musical choices or laugh at the things that I find inspiring. Either way, it's one more way for me to tell my story. I like stories and there is one behind every song I chose. They remind me of people I love. People I loved. Moments I shared. Moments I witnessed.

Every time I hear a song it brings me right back to another time and another place - and the strength of those times and places keep me moving through my days.  

Jai Ho (from Slumdog Millionaire)
You Shook Me All Night Long (AC/DC)
Rolling in the Deep (Adele)
I'm in a Hurry and Don't Know Why (Alabama)
I've Seen a Little (Alan Doyle)
Keep the Car Running (Arcade Fire)
Sk8er Boi (Avril Lavigne)
Anything but Ordinary (Avril Lavigne)
Cruise (Barlow)
When the Night Feels my Song (Bedouin Soundclash)
I Gotta Feeling (Black Eyed Peas)
Thunder Road (Bruce Springsteen)
Born to Run (Bruce Springsteen)
Marry You (Brune Mars)
Summer of 69 (Bryan Adams)
Forever (Chris Brown)
Chariots of Fire (from, you guessed it, Chariots of Fire)
Viva la Vida (Coldplay)
Fix you (Coldplay)
Rain King (Counting Crows)
Holiday Road (The Dahlmanns - from Vacation!!)
When it Come my Turn (David Myles)
Tiny Dance (Elton John)
The Rain (Garrity)
Standing Outside the Fire (Garth Brooks)
See the World (Gomez)
March On (Good Charlotte)
The Good Catches Up (Gowan)
Ordinary Day, Sea of no Cares and When I am King (all by Great Big Sea)
The Rainmaker (Hans Zimmer from Power of One)
We are Unbreakable (Hedley)
Galileo (live) (Indigo Girls)
Lord of the Dance (The Irish Symphonia)
Good Mother (Jann Arden - Live with the VSO)
The Authority Song (John Mellancamp)
Southland Concerto (Johnny Clegg from Power of One)
In the Beginning and Wavin' Flag (K'naan)
The Gambler (Kenny Rogers)
Human (The Killers)
Walking in Memphis (Marc Cohn)
Tuesday Morning and I Run For Life (Melissa Etheridge)
I Believe (Nikki Yanofsky)
What Makes you Beautiful (One Direction)
Who Knew (P!nk)
Graceland (Paul Simon)
500 Miles (Proclaimers)
The Show Must Go On (Queen)
Fidelity (Regina Spektor)
What I Like About You (The Romantics)
Waka Waka (This Time For Africa) (Shakira)
This is the Moment (Shaye)
Meet You There (Simple Plan)
Eye of the Tiger (Survivor)
Change of Seasons (Sweet Thing)
Dynamite (Taio Cruz)
It's not Unusual (Tom Jones)
Where the Streets Have no Name (U2)
This is War (30 Seconds to Mars)
Defying Gravity (from Wicked)

Thanks for listening!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Road to Hope 2013

A long long time, I can still remember how their music used to make me smile...

...the musical sounds of the pounding feet of my Runners' Edge running group that is.

I started running on my own several years ago but quickly decided that I would benefit from joining a running group and learning how to run properly. I joined Runners' Edge and spent the next few years getting stronger, getting faster, learning how to run up hills...and making great friends.

I haven't run with my running friends in a while simply because the times they run don't work well with my schedule - work, diabetes and eating schedules that is. But I do so enjoy the moments when I'm able to meet up with my running peeps. Especially when there is a race involved.

A week and a bit ago, I ran my half marathon and proudly sported my Runners' Edge vest. I was cheered at almost every corner by someone from the group.

Yesterday, it was Doug's turn to race, at the Hamilton Road to Hope half marathon. I grabbed my camera and spent a few hours chasing him and a bunch of my Runners' Edge friends around the course.

The gang minutes before the start. It helps that they wear such easy to spot clothing. As that they pose in clusters based on their outfits. 

This is at the 5k mark, right before they turn on to the highway and run down the escarpment. It's also right after Doug high-fived a big shark. 

A little over an hour later, here he is mere seconds from the finish line. Going so fast he looks like he's flying. Looking no worse for wear.  

Every runner has a story as to why they were running that day. Most stories I will never know. A few I have the honour of reading a chapter or two. 

My friend Judy, who was running for herself and in the memory of her father. 

My friend Prudence (on the left) who was about to run her first marathon. She rocked it by the way. And my friend Melanie (on the right) who has improved as a runner more than anyone else I know. 

My friend Shane, who has been, literally and figuratively, transformed by running.

My friend Vince, who set himself yet another lofty goal for this race and met it. 

And Doug, who ran the Road to Hope marathon two years ago with one goal: to quality for a guaranteed entry to New York. 

He beat the cutoff time by a mile and, exactly one year later, we were in New York for the 2012 marathon that never was. 

Now he was back in Hamilton again - on the very same day that 48,000 runners were toeing the line in New York for the 2013 comeback. How bittersweet the first weekend in November has turned out to be.  

So many stories. 

So many moments. 

So many reasons to be a runner. 

So many reasons to document their journeys. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

November 1st - For Better and For Worse

November 1st. It's always an important day in my world.

It's the day when all the Hallowe'en candy is marked down and I join the other sale-happy shoppers at 7:30am at Wal-Mart. I stock up on perfectly sized bags of emergency carbs that come in the form of sour patch kids and sour cherries.

It's also, ironically, my diabetes anniversary. (And no, I didn't get diabetes from eating too much candy thank you very much) Today marks my 11th year living with the big D and, as always, I'm surprised at how much time has passed, slightly annoyed when I think of all the time, energy and money that this crazy disease takes up, and eternally grateful for all the things that it has helped me to do. All the people I have met. All the changes I have made in my life. All the adventures.

Today is a bittersweet kinda day where I let myself feel sad for just a little bit and then do my best to celebrate the fact that I'm still here, still strong, still healthy, and still fighting the good fight.

November 1st, 2013 is an even bigger day than usual. Two more things are happening today to help make my day all that much brighter.

First of all - guess what starts tonight?

That's right folks. Another curling season is about to begin. 

Even more exciting that dusting off my broom and curling shoes is that today is the day that an article I wrote is being released - internationally. You may remember a few months back that Dave Hingsburger over at Rolling Around in my Head asked me to write an article about how to support someone with a developmental disability who has diabetes. Well, today is the day that the article arrives in inboxes around the world. It's exciting to think that perhaps, because of what I've written, someone takes the time to ask the right questions and say the right things. It's exciting to think that a few more people will offer support instead of judgement. That they will take the time to check out the DOC and help people connect with others who truly get it. It's exciting to think I might make a difference. 

I can't put the article up on my blog yet but will be able to in a few weeks. Thank you to everyone who sent me suggestions of things to include. 

So yes, today is a big day in my world. And yet, as is often the case, I celebrate it in a small way. With at early morning swim because I can. With friends at the curling rink. Laughing over snacks and drinks. Curled up in bed with the man I love. Grateful, as always, to have been given another year.