Friday, October 31, 2014

12 Years

Today is Hallowe'en.

Tomorrow is my 12-year diaversary.

Twelve years ago today, I woke up feeling awful. I woke up exhausted. I woke up thirsty. I woke up having probably lost a pound or two since the day before. I woke up craving sugar. I woke up knowing something was terribly wrong and hoping that the appointment I had made for November 1st would shed some light on the problem...even though I had pretty much figured out the problem already. I just didn't want to admit it to myself.

Twelve years ago tomorrow, I woke up in my own bed for the last time in a week. I would be misdiagnosed before noon, re-diagnosed correctly by about 4pm, in the hospital by 5 and in intensive care before dinner. I would have called my parents trying to be brave and broken down in tears before I could even say 'hi dad'. I would be put on an insulin IV and assured that insulin would make me feel better. It did. In fact by the time my parents showed up around 8pm I was already feeling better. Probably because my blood sugar was down to 20 rather than 35.

Every day has 24 hours in it. Every hour has 60 minutes in it and every minute has 60 seconds in it. Some days, some hours, some minutes have a bigger impact on our lives than others.

The day of my car accident when I was 16 years old aged me. In the hours, days and weeks that followed that horrible day, I grew up quickly. By the time I left that hospital, I was no longer the little girl who had gone in. I had grown up, matured and learned a lot of life lessons that helped me when I found myself in the same intensive care unit a decade later.

Some of the nurses recognized me from my last stay. I (thankfully) wasn't in the same room again but, as soon as those doors opened, I instantly remembered the smells, the sounds, the feeling of vulnerability and the stubborn refusal to cry no matter what happened next. At least not until my family had left the room.

That week 12 years ago was another one of those weeks where I was forced to mature quickly to adapt to my new situation. I came out of that hospital stronger and braver than I was when I went in.

I am who I am today because of many things. My ability to handle life's curveballs is due largely to that car accident and to that diabetes diagnosis. Those moments taught me how to handle physical and emotional pain with courage and how to separate the little things in life from the big ones.

I wouldn't wish either of those weeks on anyone. But I am grateful that they are part of my own history. My life would not be nearly as rich or wonderful if it wasn't for the moments that taught me what is important...and what is not.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


When I exercise regularly, which is most of the time, I look forward to exercising. On running mornings it's rare that I don't want to get up and run. On CoreFit and Tabata nights it's rare that I don't want to change, grab my mat and head across town for another crazy workout. When the little voice in my head suggests that it might be nice not to work out, the much louder one tells it to shhhh and there is rarely an argument.

Exercise begets more exercise.

For two weeks while I was sick, I did not exercise. At all.

This week, I'm back at it but only about 60%. I'm running but not quite as far and I'm back to CoreFit but only just. Swimming isn't even on the table yet.

The biggest lesson I learned is that not exercising begets even more not exercising.

The body gets used to whatever it does the most. When I exercise regularly, that becomes the norm and it is what my body knows and expects. It feels best when that pattern is maintained.

When I couldn't exercise, the first few days were tough. I felt awful but wanted desperately to go out for a run anyway. Didn't matter how long. Fifteen minutes was fine. I just wanted to move.

As every day went by, I became more and more comfortable not exercising and, in less than two weeks, not exercising became my new norm.

I knew I wanted to get back out there and run but it was my mind telling me to, not my body. My mind knew it was good for me. My mind knew that I would feel better and have more energy once I was moving regularly again. My mind knew I would use less insulin and have fewer highs once exercise was the routine.

My body was quite happy to sit on the couch after work. It was quite happy to sleep in until 6:30am, shower, eat and go to work. No 5am alarms.

I think I understand now how difficult it is for people to motivate themselves to exercise when they are not used to doing it. It's hard to get motivated. It's exhausting the first few times you do it and you're more tired afterwards. I don't think the endorphins come out to play for the first few weeks.

Only the fact that I know how good I'll feel once I get over the first few days gets me up when the alarm goes off. Only the fact that I have a vague memory of how much I love CoreFit convinces me to head out, in the dark, after work for a class.

For folks out there who are trying to find a way to motivate themselves to move more, here are my two cents for what they are worth. Use your mind to motivate you at the beginning - tell yourself all the reasons why it's important to walk, run, swim or whatever it is that appeals to you. Convince yourself of the value and talk yourself into moving. Once you get used to moving, your body will take over and motivate you to keep doing it.

Because, I have to say, it feels so darn good to be active. And the memory of feeling that good is what gets me moving again.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Neighbourhood Pharmacy

Monday after work, I popped in at the local pharmacy to get my flu shot.

For those of you who think I'm crazy for getting a flu shot, I don't want to hear about it. Well, actually, that's not very open-minded. Let me change that. For those of you who disagree with my choice to get a flu shot, I would love to hear your scientific arguments against it and I promise to read each and every one. 

Back to the story...

The pharmacy I chose to go to is the one I go to every year for my flu shot.

I like it there.

They are nice there.

I also like it because it's a pharmacy that is smack dab in the middle of several different neighbourhoods. Some of the most expensive homes in my city are within walking distance. So is much of the affordable housing. Doug and I live right in the middle of it all and I love that all sorts of different people live around us in a way that just seems to work. My 7k morning runs take me from one end of the socio-economic scale of our city to the other and back again.

I make a point of going to this pharmacy because it's one of those rare places where everyone feels welcome. It doesn't matter what you're wearing or how much money you have. It's open. It's accessible and nothing seems to phase the people who work there.

A rainbow of colours. People of all ages. Different accents. Tattoos. Piercings.

And that's just the staff.

I walked up to the counter and asked for a flu shot. I filled out the form and had to wait my turn behind everyone who had dropped off a prescription before me.

Two people had come in for their daily methadone maintenance treatment. They nodded at me when I made eye contact. They leaned against the wall casually waiting their turn to be called up.

A young mother covered in tattoos and piercings brought her young daughter in. She proceeded to open a chocolate bar and share it with her daughter while they tried on sunglasses, debated between Ninja Turtle and Barbie bandaids and waited for whatever it was they were waiting for. The mother kept yelling her daughter's name if she wandered too far and, instead of giving her annoyed looks, the other folks grinned at the precocious little girl who clearly had a mind of her own.

Seniors made their way in and each one was greeted by name. They looked at the little girl and then grinned at me.

University students with their strategically messy buns, pyjama pants and UGG boots were slumped in chairs waiting for their names to be called.

A woman dressed to the nines strolled in. She probably looked the most out of place. She too smiled when I made eye contact.

I choose to get my flu shot for my health and for the health of the people around me.

I choose to go to the pharmacy that I go to because it's a community that I enjoy being a part of.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Perfect. Just Perfect.

I went to the eye doctor last Friday for my annual exam.

I went because I am supposed to go every year to make sure that the diabetes complication gods have not been working overtime. I also went because I have been noticing that a) I can't see distant things quite as clearly with my glasses and I am also having trouble reading through my glasses. In fact I am now resorting to taking them off to read.

I went in thinking I'd come out with a clean bill of health eye-wise as well as a prescription for bifocals.

I was right on one count and wrong on the other.

My eyes, despite almost 12 years of diabetes, are perfectly healthy. There is no sign of damage whatsoever.

Sending out a big thank you to whatever diabetes gods out there are in charge of the Department of Complications. Obviously they've been sleeping on the job and I'm quite happy for them to stay that way for another 12 years. Hell, how about another 50 years?

As for the vision test - well I learned a thing or two about how my vision works.

I was put through all the regular eye tests. Close one eye and read the tiny letters across the room. Close the other eye and read this sentence in a book. And so on.

After the tests were done I was told, in no uncertain terms, that my prescription has not changed.

With my glasses on, I have 20/20 vision in terms of distance.

Without my glasses on, I have 20/20 vision in terms of reading.

So what is my problem?

Apparently, I'm just perfect.

I was told, with a smile, that my vision with my glasses on used to actually be better than 20/20. But, with age (sigh), they are no longer able to get me to see any better than 20/20. In other words, my vision is now just perfect rather than superduperperfect.

In terms of reading, I read perfectly well without my glasses. I can do the finest needlepoint without my glasses (if I actually did that sort of thing). But I can no longer do these things while wearing my glasses because it puts just a bit too much strain on my eyes and they struggle to see through the prescription lens. Take off my glasses and I am just perfect.

So no new prescription. And certainly no bifocals. In fact, I was told that I may never need them because I am near sighted and am 20/20 at that. Worst case: I get bifocals down the road where the reading part has no prescription whatsoever.

Perhaps I've been spoiled for the past 40 years with my superhuman vision but I have to admit that I'm not perfectly pleased with my perfect vision.

Guess I'll have to get used to the idea of settling for 100%.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Busy Weekend

Some weekends feel like weekends. Others, like whirlwinds.

The fact that it's Monday morning already is a bit of shock to the system but not at all surprising considering how busy our weekend was.

Despite a rather frantic pace, I did manage to fit in a few things to do with health and fitness.

I think, sadly, that we may have played our last golf of the season. We played nine holes on Friday after work and another nine holes on Sunday afternoon. Both games were cold and windy but the fall colours and the company made it all worthwhile. I also managed to post my two best scores of the season and drop my handicap by yet another number. Not a bad way to end the season.

I did get up and go for a run on Saturday morning. My first run in two weeks. I headed out aiming to run 5k. Two minutes in I felt so good to be running again that I switched my goal to 7k. Five minutes in I had dropped it back down to 5k again. Two weeks off is one thing. Two weeks off due to a nasty cold is another. My legs had the energy to carry me, my lungs were struggling with the exertion and my body was obviously not 100% yet. I stopped twice en route and both times, as soon as I stopped, the world began to spin. Just enough to remind me to take it easy and to stick to running on the sidewalk rather than the side of the road in case I tottered too much. I managed to finish 5k and felt better for it but it will be a few days yet before I attempt a 10k, that's for sure.

The golf and the run was enough to kick start my metabolism again and, for the first time in two weeks, my daily insulin dose dropped below 50 units per day. In fact, on Friday I only used 38 units, on Saturday I used 40, and on Sunday I used 38. Ten units less per day simply by doing a bit of activity. Amazing how much a difference exercise makes. It's also less expensive in terms of supplies. I've been changing my pump every 3.5 days since I got sick. It will be nice to go back to changing it every 4.5-5 days.

We also found a few minutes to carve some pre-Halloween pumpkins. Guess which one I did?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Thirty Minute Goal

Guess what I'm going to do this tomorrow? 

I'm going to go for a run. 




No fuss. No muss. Just gonna tie on my shoes, head out the door and lope along my familiar thirty minute route. 

My goals? 

To not beak into an uncontrollable coughing fit partway through and be forced to walk home. 

To run the entire thing from start to finish. 

To feel good at the end. 

If it goes well, I might try the same damn thing on Sunday. 

If that goes well, I'm running 7k on Tuesday morning and, if the stars align, I'm back to CoreFit on Tuesday night. 

Swimming is going to have to wait another week I think. It's one thing to gasp my way through a run. It's another thing entirely to not be able to breathe 100% and to hop in the pool. 

This damn cold has dragged on for two weeks now but I'm definitely on the mend. I know because instead of feeling a desperate need to sleep, I'm feeling a growing need to move. 

She's baaaack! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ben Bradley

Ben Bradley, from the Washington Past, passed away this week.

He was the editor of the Washington Post at the time of Watergate. He was the man who had the courage to publish the first articles about Watergate that eventually led to Nixon's resignation in 1974 - 23 days before I was born.

Last night, we had dinner and then sat down to watch "All the President's Men". Doug knew all of the history. I did not and felt like a kid in history class who knew that she was about to learn something really important.

By the end of the movie, I understood what it must have been like during that time. I also developed a great appreciation for Ben Bradley and the courage he displayed by supporting the still unknown reporters who were coming to him with stories that ran so deep and implicated so many people that they seemed more fiction that fact.

I'm off to bed to let my mind whirl itself to sleep.

'night y'all.

Rest in Peace Ben.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

When Rights Collide

I talk a lot about rights at work. What rights people have. What rights they think they have but they really don't - no matter how much they might want them. And how to advocate for those rights. The biggest challenge with teaching rights seems to be those grey areas when my rights infringe on someone else's rights and how we know whose rights trump whose.

A conversation at work yesterday got me thinking about rights when it comes to diabetes.  We were talking about a situation that happened outside of work and chatting about how the rights of a person with diabetes have equal (not more or less) weight than the rights of those around them.

Case in point:

I strongly believe in not hiding the fact that I have diabetes. My pump is visible most of the time. I tell people I have diabetes. I blog about having diabetes. I check my blood sugar in public.

I don't personally feel that any of these things are a big deal. And I am perfectly confident in saying that I have the right to do all of those things.

Let's explore a little deeper.

I check my blood sugar in public. By that I mean that I don't go off to the washroom to check it where no one can see me. I don't wait to get home to do it. I don't go to my car to do it. Instead, I usually open my glucometer, plop it on my lap, prick my finger, test, lick off any remaining blood from my finger, put kit away, move on with my day.

Does anyone have a problem with any of these steps?

What if I were to change some of them a little.

What if, instead of putting the glucometer on my lap, I put it on the table?

What it I plopped it on the table and pricked my finger during a staff meeting, with people sitting on either side of me?

What if I did this while they were eating lunch?

What if I wiped my finger on the underside of the chair rather than lick it off? Or on a stark white napkin?

I have no doubt about my right to check my blood sugar in public.

But what about a colleague's right to have their lunch without having to watch me draw blood? What about the fact that my droplet of blood, which seems so innocent and familiar to me, is technically a biohazard for everyone around me?

I could easily argue that people have the right to eat in a safe environment free of biohazardous materials. And I could also argue that I have the right to check my blood sugar in public.

But in a simple example like this one, whose rights trump whose?

I could get all uppity about it and insist the I have the right to test right there on the table and that no one can stop me. I could insist on doing it in a place where everyone has no choice but to see what I'm doing - blood and needle squeamishness be damned. I could insist on doing it right beside people having their lunches.

I could do all of those things but I don't actually do any of them. I don't do them because I want my diabetes to be part of the daily routine at work without making it more than it is. Everyone knows I have diabetes - there is no need to rub it in their faces.

I know my solution. I came up with it years ago without any real conscious thought. I always put my glucometer on my lap. People may know what I'm doing but no one else see it. No one see the finger prick. No one sees the blood droplet. And no one sees the number flash on the screen either. My own little nod to the right to privacy.

I have the right to test in public. I have the right to privacy re the number that shows up on the screen.

My colleagues have the right to eat their lunches without seeing blood.

Fair is fair.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Me Too!

"We read to know we are not alone."

C.S. Lewis said that.

I first heard it in the movie Shadowlands and I remember thinking that it was a very powerful line.

I think we do a lot of things to know we are not alone.

We check Facebook more than we really need to.

We blog. We read blogs. We take pictures. We share silly videos. We buy the latest pair of boots that everyone else suddenly seem to be wearing. We read Fifty Shades of Grey (whether we liked it or not) so that we too could be part of the conversation.

Last night I met up with a few people in Cambridge. I didn't know any of them and I felt bad because they had to put up with my coughing all through dinner. They are all involved, either as speakers or as organizers, in an event this coming November for women with Type 1 diabetes.

I have been asked to speak at this event. Last night we got together to talk about what the day would look like and what each of us would speak about.

Before I went, I asked Doug what he thought I should offer to talk about during my presentation. He had some pretty powerful suggestions.

Talk about how exercise and diabetes is really hard but that it's worth the effort. The dangers of a low during a run far outweigh the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. Talk about how living with diabetes is scary and how to use that fear to give you courage to do other things. To try other things. To say yes to things that scare you.

Talk about how people with diabetes just want to feel less alone. How they want to feel like everyone else. Talk about how people are often worried about using devices like insulin pumps even though those devices can make it easier to care for your health. Talk about how they are worried because they think they will be 'less sexy' if they wear a pump. Talk about how they worry about telling a new partner about their diabetes when they are starting a new relationship. Talk about the diabetes online community and how it helps to make you feel less alone.

The diabetes online community is like a big huge chorus of strangers singing 'me too!'. A chorus of people whose daily adventures and frustrations can instantly make me feel like I am not alone.

I read blogs to know I am not alone.

I speak to others about diabetes to know I am not alone and to show others they are not alone.

I wear my pump on my belt to show others they are not alone.

I want to add my voice to the big huge choir of people singing 'me too'.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Slow Road to Recovery

I feel like I'm heading into the confessional.

Dear friends,

It has been 11 days since my last CoreFit class.

It has also been 11 days since my last run - unless you want to count the 3k one I tried on Saturday morning.

It has been 10 days since I first started feeling a cold coming on.

As you might guess, I have not dipped one single toe into the pool.

If this continues much longer I'm going to start growing moss.

The worst diabetes day I have ever had didn't sideline me for more than a few hours. A day at the most.

Not 11 days.

Being real people sick sucks.

One positive thing is that I had decided not to run the Niagara Falls half marathon before I got sick. If I hadn't decided not to run, I would have been forced to decide not to run. That's never a fun position to be in. But the fact that I could not have done a long run last weekend or the weekend before would have forced me out of the running.

My goal for this week is to get better. To stop coughing incessantly all day and all night. To find some of my energy. To sleep through the night again.

I need to start moving again. My body does not like a sedentary lifestyle. One look at my insulin usage can tell you that. On a regular day, in a regular week, I use about 40 units of insulin. For the past 10 days, I have eaten less than I normally eat and yet averaged 51 units of insulin per day. It feels like all I have been doing is chasing highs.

I want to be able to try an easy half hour run on Tuesday. I want to be able to go to CoreFit on Thursday night. I want to be able to swim by next week.

Right now, none of those things are a good idea based on how aggressive my cough still is.

So I'm doing what I can to heal and waiting impatiently for the coughing gods to find someone else to annoy for a while.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Things That Stick in my Mind

One week ago today I was developing a cold but I didn't really know it yet. I guessed if I paid really close attention to the signs I might have noticed but I was still happily oblivious of what was coming 'round the corner.

One week later, I'm better. Not yet raring to go 100% but probably close to 80%.

Seven days.

Every time I get a cold, and I mean every single time, I am reminded of a line from the book Flowers in the Attic. Anyone remember that twisted story? Well, the evil grandmother who had the kids locked in the attic said that colds last nine days. Three days to develop, three days with full on symptoms and three to recover. She said this when the youngest boy got a cold. She was wrong in his case as it took him about 19 days to recover but he had been locked in an attic for several years so it goes without saying that his vitamin C and D levels may have been a bit down.

She was one evil woman but she did know a bit about colds. My colds, be they mild or be they nasty, usually take just over a week to run their course. So thank you V.C. Andrews for validating my recovery patterns.

I remember watching the Bourne Identity and Bourne talking about how he had memorized the license plates of all the cars in the parking lot, that he knew all the exits in the building and that he could describe everyone in the restaurant. My observation skills are nowhere near that highly developed but every time I'm somewhere that is even remotely uncomfortable I hear his voice saying that. And I pay attention to where the exits are, make sure I look at everyone in the room (in case I need to be hypnotized later because that happens in real life right) and try to memorize at least one license plate (mostly to see if I can remember it rather than to solve a crime).

Crazy lady who locks her grandkids in the attic taught me to be patient when recovering from a cold. Bourne taught me to slow down and take notice of my surroundings - especially when something doesn't feel quite right.

Claire, my favourite heroine from the Outlander books has a great line that she says when she's in a stressful situation. Actually she has a few great lines that she says such as "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ" and "Bloody Fucking Hell" but she also mumbles "Get a grip Beauchamp" under her breath in moments that require concentration and problem-solving skills under tense circumstances. Claire's voice pops in my head when I am feeling overwhelmed with phone calls and paperwork and demands. Get a grip Céline is all I need to say in order to stop, breathe a few deep breaths and go from frazzled to focused.

Finally, there is the famous Canadian author Margaret Atwood. She has enough brilliant lines to fill a library but there is one she said once that is forever carved into my mind. She was talking about being the youngest daughter in a family of pretty impressive parents and siblings. She said that it took her a while to realize that 'the youngest in a family of dragons is still a dragon from the point of view of those who find dragons alarming'.

There are things about that line that I really like and things that I really don't. But, at the end of the day, I come back to it often and it reminds me that I am who I am because of the family of dragons I was born into and raised alongside. Those who find dragons alarming may be uncomfortable with some or many of the things that I stand for but I am quite proud to belong to my flight of dragons.

Crazy lady, Bourne, Claire and Margaret - thank you for the little things you say and do that stick with me through the years. You four have helped shape me into who I am today - for better or for worse.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


I have been hooked up to a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) since late November 2013. November 26th if I remember correctly but I could be off by a day or two. 

Since the day I first started using Dexter, I have not been without him. Not for one day. The only time I don't have a steady stream of blood sugar data coming my way is when I have to insert a new sensor, or restart a zombie one, and must wait the two-hour start up time. Other than that, I am hooked up all day every day and receive blood glucose updates every 5 minutes. 

The difference that Dexter has made in my life is pretty significant. From giving me peace of mind to letting me track patterns to helping me fix problems before they start, Dexter is probably the most important tool in my diabetes arsenal. 

When I first received my CGM supplies in the mail, I was given a box of sensors and a transmitter. The sensors get replaced every 1-2 weeks, depending on how long I can stretch them out. The transmitter, I was told, would last anywhere from 6 to 9 months. Once it died, I would have to order a new one. 

I revved my first transmitter up on November 26th, 2013 and figured I was good to go until at least the end of May 2014. After that, who knew what would happen. 

The transmitter did a fine job until the 6-month mark and then kept humming along beautifully through June, July and August. We were now past the 9-month mark and fully into unknown territory. 

In August, I ordered a back up transmitter. I felt like I was now on borrowed time and I did not want the old one to kick the bucket on a Friday afternoon, leaving me hanging until the following Monday. 

When the new transmitter arrived it was tucked away in the diabetes cupboard for the rest of August, all of September and half of October. 

On Monday morning of this week, I was woken up by a vibrating pump. When I reached over to check whether I was high or low, I discovered a new message on the screen: 'CGM transmitter battery low, replace immediately'. 

No advanced warning. No two-week heads up. Just a vibration telling me that Dexter was running on fumes. 

After my shower I padded downstairs, pulled out the next transmitter, entered the serial number into Rose and revved it up. Two hours later I was back in the game again. 

I love my Dexcom. It works well 90% of the time and all of its parts last much longer than the product information tells me that they will. 

November 1st will be my 12-year diaversary. November 26th will be my one year Dexaversary. 

Dexter takes great care of me and we are a very good team. With him at my side, literally, it makes celebrating my 25 and 50-year daiversary look a heck of a lot easier. 

Here is to a long and happy life together. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Real People Sick

Last Friday afternoon I left work just before 2pm, headed home quickly to change and the Doug and I rushed off to meet friends for an end of season round of golf. It was sunny and crisp outside with brightly coloured leaves crunching underfoot as we walked. It was lovely and we had fun.

As we walked, my nose started running. Which made sense since it was kinda cold out. Just enough to need a constant supply of tissues for dabbing the nose drips. By the time we finished the game, it was pretty cold out. The warm air inside the clubhouse was a welcome relief but I went from sniffling to outright sneezing. I figured it was the temperature change wreaking havoc on my sinuses. 

I yawned my way through dinner despite animated company and delicious food. Wow, I must be tired after a long week at work. 

We came home, watched an episode of West Wing and I crawled into bed just after 9pm. As I lay my head down on the pillow, I noticed that my throat was feeling swollen, and a little sore. 

Oh dear. I think I'm getting real people sick. 

I woke up Saturday morning and knew at once that a cold was taking hold. While Doug headed out for his long run, I mustered up the energy to shower and make breakfast, doing my best not to sneeze or cough on anything. 

Sunday and Monday were pretty much the same. Heavy-headed, sneezing, sore throat and no energy. I managed to host a family Thanksgiving lunch as well as attend a family Thanksgiving dinner but, other than that, it was hot drinks and comfy socks for me. 

I didn't run all weekend despite some beautiful sunny days. I got my clothes ready for a Tuesday morning run but cancelled that after my fourth fitful night's sleep. Tuesday night CoreFit was also tossed out the window as I knew I wouldn't have the strength after a full day a work. 

You know, there are plenty of things I don't like about diabetes but, for the most part, I can handle the blood sugar roller coaster and still live the life I want to. Still do the activities I want to do when I want to do them. 

Give me a measly cold and I'm knocked out for four days, missing two runs and my favourite CoreFit class. It takes me days to find my energy again and a week to be back to where I was before I started sniffling. 

Being Real People Sick sucks. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

CoreFit Challenge

When to folks in the lab coats develop things to make living with diabetes a little easier - like pumps and continuous glucose monitors (also known as Roses and Dexters) - I'm pretty sure they have to run them through a whole barrage of tests.

Like how well the infusion sites stick.

Do they hold on after a shower? After two showers?

Does the CGM receiver receive a signal when the transmitter is on your stomach and you are sleeping face down under a mound of blankets?

How much pulling can the infusion site take before it rips off? Can it survive if you drop the pump and it's dangling at the end of the tubing? Can it survive if the tubing gets caught on a doorknob as you stroll by? As you run by?

How cold can it be before everything stops working right? How hot?

If someone sleeps on top of their insulin pump, while buried under a pile of blankets, for oh, say, 8 hours, is that hot enough to cook the insulin into uselessness?

So many things to test - no wonder it takes so long for new products to reach the consumers.

After the last few weeks, I'm working if I should contact Animas and Dexcom to let them know about a few more tests that I've been running on their products.

I like to call them the CoreFit Challenges.

The Pressure Test: Take a stability ball. Lie on it with all of your weight on your stomach. Ideally, directly on top of the Dexcom transmitter. Bend forward to put as much pressure on the transmitter as possible. Lift up using your back muscles. This will stretch out your stomach and pull the skin as tight as possible. Hope like hell the transmitter does not rip off. Repeat, oh, I don't don't, 10,000 times.

The Pump Clip Test: Clip your pump to your workout shorts. Begin class. Move pump around to the back in order to lie on your side. Then move pump back to the side in order to lie on your back. Move to stomach in order to lie on your side. Move from stomach to back in order to lie on your stomach. Hope clip is strong enough to handle 60 minutes of sweaty-palmed not-so-gentle manipulations. Repeat twice a week until pump clip disintegrates.

The Up and Down Test: I could probably get a job at Dexcom or Animas right now simply based on the knowledge I have re what happens to diabetes products during a long run. Running involves a lot of bouncing up and down but it's an up and down forward motion. I have never tested these things in a purely up and down fashion while waving my arms in various directions. As in while doing jumping jacks. Or while jumping up, spinning 180 degrees and landing. After each set I reach down to check if Dexter is still there because all the bouncing makes it feel like he's ripping off.

The Vibration Test: I dislike beeping noises so I have switched every pump alarm I can on my pump to vibrate. I never miss an alarm when I'm sitting at my desk. I rarely miss one while sleeping (although Doug may argue with that statement). Can the vibrations be felt while madly doing jumping jacks? While doing football runs? And, more importantly, will the vibrations cause me to lose my balance while in a side plank with one arm and one leg in the air?

Dexcom. Animas. If you have any questions about how your products performed during the CoreFit Challenge, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Not Feeling It

When I started my CoreFit classes a few weeks ago, I decided not to go swimming the morning after. 

The classes are on Tuesday and Thursday nights. I was so sore the following morning that it made no sense to get up at 4:45am on Wednesday and Friday morning to head to the pool for a 90-minute workout. 

So for the past few weeks I have been swimming on Monday mornings but then taking Wednesday and Friday mornings off. "Just until my body adjusts to CoreFit and then you can get back into the pool" I told myself. 

Since I wasn't swimming before work, I slept in a bit on Wednesday and Friday mornings. I wasn't too worried about the lack of activity because I was golfing 9 holes most Wednesdays after work and 18 holes most Fridays. Fifteen kilometres of walking between the two days and those walks did wonders to loosen up my tight squatting muscles. 

This past Sunday night I went to bed thinking "I really don't want to swim in the morning". That is a rather unusual thought for me but I listened to it and I didn't pack my swim bag. It turned out to be a good decision since I spent the night waking up every half hour as Rose vibrated me awake to tell me that I was STILL hovering above 10.0 despite 2, 3, 4 and finally 5 correction boluses to bring it down. I woke up at 6am exhausted and grateful that I had planned to sleep in a bit anyway. 

I went to bed last night thinking "I don't want to swim in the morning". So I didn't. 

I may go to bed on Thursday night thinking the same thing. I may not. But I feel like my body is looking for a) a break from swimming and b) a break from getting up early every day of the week to exercise. 

I'm listening to my body but I'm doing so with a cautious ear. 

My body tells me when it is tired and needs a break. It also happily settles into a less active routine and will need a swift and brutal kick to force it back into gear again. There will be some complaining that I will just have to ignore. 

So I am allowed to take this week off from the pool. I will be taking the following week off as well since a) Monday is a holiday and b) we are away later in the week. 

The week after that though, I will be setting the alarm whether I want to or not. Because it will be time to kick it back into gear and get my body moving in the pool before it forgets how. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Changing of the Guard

The golf season is quickly coming to a close. If you had told me last year how sad that would make me, I would not have believed you. And yet here I am writing about how sad that makes me.

The days are getting shorter which means that it's harder to squeeze even 9 holes in after work before it's too dark to see the ball. The weather is getting rainier which means that, more often than not, the times that I can golf it's raining which means I can't. The temperature is dropping which means that, soon, it will be too darn cold.

On Thanksgiving monday (Canadian Thanksgiving that is) we have to take our golf bags home for the winter. They are stored at the golf club all summer but all that changes next Monday. The clubs go back to their homes, the storage area is scrubbed clean and then our ice maker starts transforming the room for curling season. The air condensers will be turned on the floor that held all the golf bags and carts will be flooded with water and, within two weeks, we will be sliding across it in our curling shoes - trying to remember how not to fall.

Running is one of the sports that I get to do in all seasons. Swimming is too thanks to the miracle of indoor pools. Cycling moves inside to the trainer in the colder months but it's still possible to bend those crank arms when the wind is howling in February. But golf doesn't happen during the Canadian winter and curling doesn't happen during the Canadian summer.

It's almost time for the changing of the guard.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Autumn Harvest

I bring my lunch to work five days a week. I'm not a big fan of buying my lunch partly because of the expense but mostly because I prefer what I can whip up at home. It's tastier and healthier. So making my lunch every single day is part of my morning routine.

During the summer months, I am content to forage in the cupboard and the fridge. I'm happy to bring any combination of Rivita Crackers with almond butter, some cottage cheese, some veggies, perhaps kefir and granola, fruit or an avocado. I try to make sure I have carbs, protein, healthy fats, fruits, veggies and calcium options. But I don't worry too much about making a 'meal' out of it.

As soon as autumn hits, things change. The cooler temperatures combined with the farmers markets overflowing with the bountiful harvest kick start my domestic goddess genes into actions and all I want to do is make delicious, warm, healthy meals with tons of leftovers.

On Saturday I met up with my sisters and we headed to one of the many markets in their area. We spent almost two hours exploring all the booths and, between us, we slowly made our way back to my car, weighted down with 8 large bags overflowing with local produce.

Once we had divvied up our purchases, I headed home with four sweet potatoes, a huge bunch of kale, some yellow beets and a butternut squash. Doug had already stocked the fridge with local apples or I would have bought a bunch of those too.

Sunday, after I ran outside in single digit temperatures for the first time in months, I headed into the kitchen and started pulling out pots and roasting pans. I cut two of the sweet potatoes into thick slices (leaving the peel on of course), drizzled them with olive oil, sprinkled a bit of salt and pepper and set them in the toaster oven to roast. I put on a pot of quinoa to boil and I steamed 2/3 of the kale. Add a can of black beans and some goat cheese and I have tasty, nutrient-dense lunches for the week.

Next on the menu will be a pot of squash soup which I'll make partway through the week once my lunch stash gets a little low. I'm also thinking I'll try roasting beets for a salad. I'll toss in the remaining kale into that, add some pumpkin seeds and be good for another day or so.

Next weekend, I'll head to our local market and grab some of those colourful bunches of carrots. I've been meaning to try my hand at homemade hummus (like the kind I feasted on in Israel) and I have a bag of dried chickpeas ready to go. Some carrot sticks, naan bread and a few other local veggies should make for a tasty appetizer on Thanksgiving weekend non?

My biggest challenge this time is year is pacing myself. Most often than not I end up making too much food and can't get through it all before it goes bad. So this year I'm going to try to space things out a bit so things stay fresh and delicious and I get through one batch before moving on to the next one.

That's one of the benefits of cooking with autumn produce like squash and sweet potatoes. They last a wee bit longer than the spring asparagus and baby spinach leaves do.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Playing in the Sandbox

It's been almost 12 years since I discovered that my pancreas was sputtering to a halt. Twelve years since I stepped into the role of Pancreas CEO, with nothing on my résumé to indicate that I was ready for the job - well other than a love of numbers and patterns, a degree in biology (which helps a lot actually), and a desire to learn and do well.

So, after 12 years, you'd think I'd know that there is no formula to predict how blood sugar will react to a situation - particularly a new one. Say, like a one-hour CoreFit class that happens at night rather than first thing in the morning. A new activity at a time of day that I rarely choose to work out. What could possibly go wrong?

I have 12 years of experience living with diabetes. I have been running with diabetes since 2008. Cycling with diabetes since 2010. Curling with diabetes since 2011. Swimming with diabetes since 2012 and golfing with diabetes since 2013.

So why was it so surprising so discover that my blood sugar did something completely unexpected during the first class? Or that it did it again the second class because I didn't think my blood sugar's behaviour during my first class was, I don't know, characteristic?

My blood sugar drops during all the sports I listed above. A lot during running and curling. A little during cycling and golf. Even less during cycling.

Guess what it does in a CoreFit class?

According to Rose it spikes from 9.0 to 15.0 within the first 15 minutes. With double arrows up and vibration alarms aplenty.

Guess what happens after I learn this and decide to take a wee bit of insulin before class because I'm so smart?

I drop, double arrows down, within the first 15 minutes, have to eat a package of fruit chews partway through class and then I spike back up to 15 by the end.

On Tuesday, during my fourth week of this, I thought I had it pretty figured out. I ate a snack before but it was entirely protein (not the best pre-workout plan I know but I didn't want the spike again). I made sure I had no insulin on board. I made sure my blood sugar was hovering around 7, nice and steady.

The class started and I climbed up to 9.0 before slowly moving back down to 7.0 again by the end. I ate the second half of my dinner when I got home. I spiked up to 15.0 (bah!) but then slowly and steadily dropped back down over the next few hours (I was asleep but Rose told me what happened).

So the newest plan is to avoid eating too much before class to keep a steady number heading in. Then the plan is to take a full bolus with my post-CoreFit dinner (which is kinda scary because I go to bed not long after but I have to trust the patterns...and Rose to wake me if I'm horribly wrong).

I don't have it down to a science quite yet and, as soon as I do, the diabetes gods will certainly throw in something to eff it up anyway, but I do think I'm getting the hang of my latest fitness pursuit.

One day soon, diabetes and corefit may play happily together in the sandbox.

Until then, I'm keeping my candies at the ready and waiting the full 20 minutes to eat after I bolus for my dinner.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

CoreFit - Week Four

It's hard to believe that I have already been to four weeks of CoreFit sessions. Or as Doug calls them, my Hercules classes. It feels like only yesterday that I finished my first class and woke up the next morning to discover that I could not sit down or stand up without support and could not get out of bed without rolling off the edge of the mattress.

How young and innocent I was back then when I first walked into that big empty gym and grabbed my fitness ball and my weights. How little I knew about what lay ahead, how hard it would be and yet how quickly I would adapt.

In four short weeks I have gone from being unable to hold those tippy-toe squats to trying not to throw up while I held them to kinda wishing we did one more before we move on. 

I have gone from being unable to hold the plank for the allotted time to being able to lift weights while planking (oh yes, it is indeed possible).


In fact this week I even managed a side plank while hoisting weights up over my head. Not once but 15 times.

Sorta like this

My arms, legs, abs and back all feel stronger and, for the first time, feel like they are working team rather than every muscle for themself. And the challenge-seeking part of me enjoys the fact that every week we do a few new things that continue to keep us pushing hard and laughing at ourselves. 

For example: at the end of Tuesday's class we were asked to lie down on our stomachs. Put our hands into fists and plant them (knuckles down) firmly on the ground on either side of us - right near the bottom of our rib cage. Plant our toes. Tighten all of our muscles and, in once graceful motion, lift ourselves up into a plank.

Most of us lay on the ground laughing because we couldn't raise our bodies at all without our abs and arms turning into al dente spaghetti noodles. Our instructor however made it look so easy and motivated me at least to want to be able to do it. 

By the end of the class, we were promised, we would be strong enough to be able (or almost able) to do that move. Yay! A new goal.

Four weeks in, eleven to go.

Come back tomorrow to find out how well CoreFit and Diabetes play together in the sandbox.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

September Roundup

September is the new August. I have heard that a few times, often in jest, but this year it is most definitely true in Southern Ontario. Last week, when we were off, we enjoyed blue skies and temperatures in the mid 20s every single day. It was glorious. Here is hoping it lasts well into October.

Well, since it's the last day in September, I guess I owe you all a summary on how the month went in terms of activity. Here's how it shook down:

I swam twice. That was due to a) the pool being closed at the beginning of the month and b) my not swimming last week when I was off. That being said, I did get 3 hours in the pool and managed to swim 6350m.

Cycling continues to be abysmal and I have pretty much given up on the entire activity until next spring. Or at least until I head down into the bowels of the basement and do my mid-winter Bending Crank Arms videos that I love to hate.

I cycled once and covered 36.5k on the ride. C'est tout.

Running went much better since a) I'm pretty religious about it most of the time and b) until last week I was right in the middle of half-marathon training. So I logged exactly 100km of running in September and ran for a total of 11 hours and 15 minutes. The runs went well for the most part and I plan to continue with the routine with a few changes for October. I want to go back to doing interval and hill training. I enjoyed that for a few months but then stopped once I started increasing my long run distance since my shins can only take so much pounding. And I plan to keep my weekend runs up in the 12-16km distance so I am ready for the Boxing Day ten miler on, you guessed it, Boxing Day.

CoreFit and Tabata
I started CoreFit and Tabata classes in September for the first time ever. I crawled home after the first week, I shuffled home after the second week and I bounced home after the third. After only three weeks I can tell I am stronger and my body is able to handle all the planks and tippy-toe squats we have to do. I enjoy it and am glad that I will have these classes to keep me moving in the winter months.  So in total I did seven one-hour classes in September.

Golf continues to be my new-found passion and I love it more with each game. The weather has been so lovely that I have been able to play a lot. And by a lot I mean that I played 10 games (3 9-hole games and 7 18-hole games). I spent 31.5 hours on the golf course and walked a total of 77km. I brought my handicap down one more notch which is both frustrating and satisfying all at the same time. If we're lucky we'll get one more month in before it gets too cold to play. And then all I can do is dream until the buds are back on the trees...or convince Doug that we really need to head somewhere in February to play a few rounds. You know, to keep our edge.

In total I did 32 different workouts on 22 different days. I doubled up on several days by running in the morning and then going to CoreFit or Tabata after dinner. Heck, last Tuesday I managed to run 7k, play 18 holes of golf and get back on time for CoreFit. It was crazy but fun.