Friday, February 13, 2015

A Bientôt!

This has not been a stellar week of blogging by any means and for those of you who check in every day, I do apologize. I try very hard to write something from Monday to Friday but there are weeks when life simply has other plans.

That being said, it's going to be pretty quiet at Running on Carbs for the next two weeks.

Doug and I are heading south in the morning for another one of our wonderful road trips. By the time we get back we will have explored five different states, played at 7 or 8 different golf courses, run through orange groves as well as by the US capitol buildings.

I have managed to squeeze clothes for every possible temperature into my suitcase.

We have a carload of healthy snacks and I have made a double batch of Glo Bars to keep us happy.

I have packed a ridiculous amount of diabetes supplies because, well, you never know how many rogue doorknobs I may encounter.

We're going to museums, gonna check out some rocket ships, explore some charming towns and drive all over the place.

I'm guessing we're going to have some pretty tasty food too.

No promises on my blogging frequency but I do promise to take all sorts of photos along the way and share some of my favourites with you.

Talk to y'all on the other side.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Canadian in Winter

The piles of snow at the end of our driveway are making it hard to see my car.

The state of the roads on my drive home every day dictate whether I will be running or cycling the following morning. My regular running days are no more. Now I run when I can and I cycle when I can't. 

Despite a near-obsession with hand cream, my hands are dry, my nails are brittle and my skin continues to beg for more more more moisture. 

I wake up every morning with a dry hoarse throat that cries out for a drink. 

Every Friday night I crawl into bed a few hours after our curling game, still half frozen from being out on the ice. 

Every pair of pants I own seems to have salt stains on it from once again leaning up against my filthy car. 

It's winter in Canada and everyone I talk to seems to be grumbling about it. 

I, on the other hand, think it's lovely. 

The bright white snow makes everything beautiful. 

The wind howling at night brings a strange sort of comfort. 

The cold makes me feel alive. 

The smell of smoke from wood stoves as I run by houses in the early morning hours reminds me of childhood camping trips. 

The extra daylight in the evenings brings with it the promise of spring even as it lights up the snow with a golden glow. 

It's a wonderful time of year to be a Canadian! 

That being said, this time next week I will be happily settled into our adventure in Florida. We will probably have played two games of golf, spotted more than a few gators in the water hazards and seen more orange groves than we can count. 

And I'm quite ok with that. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Winter Heart Rate

Sometimes, in hindsight, we end up looking pretty smart.

I decided a few weeks ago to start running using my heart rate as my guide rather than my pace.

In hindsight, deciding to slow down my running speed smack dab in the middle of yet another Canadian winter was a pretty smart idea.

I would have had to slow my pace anyway. Depending on the day, the damn streets are covered in snow, ice, slush or, lately, all three. For the past few weeks I couldn't have sprinted even if I had wanted to. It's just too treacherous to do anything but run at a steady, sure-footed pace, always scanning for icy patches and keeping away from the painted lines on the road.

Deciding to slow down in May, when the air is warm, the birds are singing and I'm finally running in shorts again would have been pretty tough. I'm hoping by May that I'll be back to running at my usual pace again...with a lower heart rate.

These days, I head out on cold February mornings, take one look at the slippery streets, and have no problem convincing myself to just settle into an easy pace and run for an hour or more.

Two Saturday's ago I ran 13k easily, without stopping, at a very comfortable pace.

This past Saturday, I did the exact same thing. I changed my route up a bit but, otherwise, it looked pretty much the same. My heart rate stayed fairly steady in the zone that I've been trying to keep it in. My energy held up the entire time. My legs didn't complain.

The strangest pattern I've noticed to date is that my pace goes up and down by about 1 minute per kilometre even while my heart rate holds steady.

Guess we'll have to wait until the snow melts and the roads are clear before we can know whether the unsteady terrain has anything to do with the fluctuations.

In the meantime, I'm liking my new running routine. I'm enjoying the fact that I can run for 90 minutes, eat, shower and feel like I could do it all over again.

Also, even though I don't think this has much to do with heart rate, I just want to mention that I woke up on Saturday morning with a blood sugar of 4.4. I ate two dates and two clementines. I ran for 90ish minutes and was 4.4 at the end. I love runs like that.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Bizarre Evening with Dear Diabetes

There are plenty of adjectives that can be used to describe diabetes.

It's not often that I would choose the word 'bizarre' but the other night, that's exactly how I would describe what happened. 

I had a very tight window between the end of my workday (5pm) and my CoreFit class (5:30pm). I had to drive home, change and then drive across town in those precious 30 minutes. 

Problem number one: I had gone to work with what I thought was enough insulin but ended up being down to 1 unit in my pump at 5pm. Not enough to get me until 7pm when I would be home again. 

Solution? I turned my basal rate down to 10% for one hour. I figured I was working out anyway so I wouldn't go too high. Plus it was only one hour so I could just take a bit of extra insulin with dinner to make up for that difference. 

It worked. My pump didn't alarm during class to tell me that it was out of insulin. In fact, it waited until I walked into my kitchen before making a peep. Unfortunately, just as I walked into my kitchen, it alarmed for three things, one immediately after the other. 

Alarm 1: pump is out of insulin
Alarm 2: blood sugar is above 10.0
Alarm 3: blood sugar is rising quickly (double arrows up)

Alright, the blood sugar spike was a little dramatic but I figured I'd be fine as soon as I changed my pump and took an extra large dinner dose. 

Problem number two: I removed my infusion site. That's the part of the pump that is stuck to my skin like a bandage and there is a tiny plastic tube inserted under my skin so the insulin has a way to get into my body. Usually I peel back the infusion site and either nothing happens or a small droplet of insulin leaks out. This usually happens if I change my pump too soon after taking a dose of insulin.

Never in my life have I removed the infusion site and seen blood gush out. And by gush I mean a spurt followed by an alarming amount of blood leaking down my abdomen. I grabbed a nearly tissue and pressed it hard against my side. Doug passed me the box and I added about five more to the pile. I soaked through all of them. More tissue. More pressure. It was a good five minutes before the bleeding stopped to a trickle and a few more before I felt confident that I could put a bandage on and not ruin my clothes. 

In the meantime my pump kept alarming. The no insulin alarm and the blood sugar rising too quickly alarm. I was now 14.8 and still double arrows up. 

Once the gushing stopped, I put a bandage on and then proceeded to refill my pump and put in a new infusion site. I bolused 1 unit for dinner (it was pretty low-carb that day) and 5 units for my spiking sugar. 

By the time we were finished dinner I was 20.9 and still climbing.

It took me three more insulin doses and several hours to climb back down below 10.0 resulting in a rough night and a missed morning run. 

None of it makes any sense to me. 

One hour of reduced insulin is not enough to cause that kind of spike. My numbers were fine at 5:30pm so it's not like I was high to begin with. My CoreFit classes usually cause a dramatic drop in sugars, not a spike. 

And what the eff was up with that gusher? It's like I had hit an artery and the only thing holding in the flood was a tiny plastic tube. Remove the tube and, well, it looked like a scene from Dexter. 

At the end of the day I am grateful that my site didn't decide to gush before I pulled it out. Like in the middle of CoreFit class or during my work presentation. How dramatic would that have been as a bright red mark slowly worked its way across my shirt while I stood in front of a group of horrified onlookers completely oblivious?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I Was Never Told

I remember when I was first diagnosed with diabetes and trying to come to terms with what it all meant. Trying to figure things out. Trying to sort through the information that I was given by supportive, well-meaning diabetes educators who, more often than not, did not have diabetes themselves.

I learned a bit from the people who were there to teach me. But I learned the most from just living the experience. I learned. I adopted that knowledge into my new reality and then forgot that I didn't always know it.

Like learning what a low feels like.

I was told that low blood sugars feel like this:

I was not told a bunch of other stuff and ended up having to figure it out on my own:
  • I was not told that low blood sugars can happen when you're full from dinner. And you will have to gag down food when you really don't want to. 
  • I was not told that they often happen at the worst time. I was not told that I might have a dramatic low while in the shower and would have to get out with shampoo still in my hair, stumble to the bedroom for juice and then sit on the side of the bath dripping wet for ten minutes before I could stop shaking enough to rinse my hair. I was not told that lows can happen in the middle of presentations at work. While making love. In the middle of eating lunch (I'm already eating for heaven's sake! Piss off!)
  • I was not told that those fast-acting carbs that you need during a low are rarely healthy and that, if you have too many lows you could actually put on weight because of all the empty calories you take in. I mean really, no weight maintenance program in the world says you should have 2-3 juice boxes per day.  
  • I was not told that all the doctors and nurses I met would put the fear of having complications first and foremost in my mind. And that this new-found fear would make it seem like a good idea to have lots of lows if it meant avoiding highs. And that lows are really not good either.
  • I was not told that lows can happen no matter how hard you try not to have them - and that you are not a bad person or an incompetent diabetic if you have them.  
 I was not told about the ignorance I would have to face. From people I work with, or golf with, or meet at the gym. I was not told that real life doctors and nurses would ask me questions like "is your diabetes well controlled" and that it would take me several years to go from feeling guilty when asked the question to becoming an advocate and explaining patiently why this question was not at all a question they should be asking patients. And that I would have to explain it again the following year when the same doctor asks me at my annual exam. And the year after that.

I was told how to count carbs and inject insulin and treat lows. I was not told that doing all of the stuff they told me to the absolute best of my ability would not produce results anywhere near what they actually wanted to see. That there is a difference between textbook diabetes and real life diabetes. 

I was not told that there were other people like me out there. And that it might be a good idea to find some. Because they will understand all of the above.

I learned all of this on my own. In hindsight, that is probably best. I do better when I learn from experience. And I've certainly done better with every year that has gone by as I add more and more to my real-life experience purse.

But I do know that there are many people out there who may not figure this stuff out for themselves. Who may do everything they are told to do and then not understand that it is not their fault when the wheels still fall off the cart on a regular basis. Who may feel personally responsible for every low. For every high. For every up and down.

Those are the things that make me feel like we really need to take a good look at how support is provided to people.

Because while there are times when I think I am doing well because of the support I have received, more often I think I am doing well in spite of it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I Forgot to Stop

On Saturday morning I headed out for a run. Time was tight. I had to be home by 10am so I could eat, shower and be in the car on time to meet an old friend from my university days.

I went out with no expectations of distance. I figured I had time to run 90 minutes so I would run for 45 minutes, turn around and come home again.

Just like last Saturday's run, this run was all about heart rate. This time I was ready. I was ready for the fact that I would have to run slowly and I was ready for the fact that I would have to keep slowing down even when I thought I was already running slowly.

For long runs, my heart rate should ideally be between 149-153 beats per minute. After last week's experience, I figured I'd be happy if I could keep it under 160.

Imagine my surprise when, for the first few kilometres, I actually found my heart rate to be too low. I kept having to pick it up a bit because I would look down and see 145 bpm on my watch.

By the third kilometre I was settled into a zone that seemed to hold steady between 153-157 bpm. It felt easy and yet not painfully slow. I was grateful for the snow-covered roads that helped temper my pace without making me feel like I was crawling along.

Two things happened on the run.

First of all, my body has already adjusted enough to the lower heart rate that I could feel without looking when I creeped up above 160 bpm. My breathing would suddenly become audible when before it was quiet and easy. I'd look down to confirm what I felt and then slow just enough to bring my breathing and my heart rate back to the 158 zone.

The second thing was most least in my books.

I ran 6.5k before it was time to turn around. I ran 6.5k back. The light at every intersection turned green just as I got there and there were so few cars that I never needed to slow down and let them pass before I darted across the street.

I ran 13k and never once stopped. Not even for a second. Not to blow my nose or fix my hat or let a car go by.






The most amazing thing about it was that I didn't realize that I had done that until I was telling my friend about my run later that day. I told her that I ran 13k....without stopping. We both looked at each other with our eyes wide. We both realized how big a deal that was.

Usually on runs that go longer than an hour I have to play games with myself in order to finish the run without stopping. My body and my brain fight it out as my body comes up with any number of reasons to convince me to stop. Often it's just stopping at a red light but it's enough to catch my breath and lower my damn heart rate.

On Saturday morning I never once thought about stopping. I never felt the need to. I just ran. Because I never once felt the need to catch my breath and lower my damn heart rate.

It was lovely at the time and, in hindsight, it was pretty amazing.

When I did the math afterwards, I realized that I had run 13k in 90 minutes. There are only 8 more kilometres to bring that to a half marathon. I can run 8k in 50ish minutes while still keeping my heart rate in check. That would give me a half marathon time of 140 minutes which is just about the time it currently takes me to run a half marathon. The difference is that I usually run a half marathon much faster and then crash by about 15k which means that the last 6k are usually a nausea-filled walk run.

This heart rate logic is starting to make sense.

Wouldn't it be lovely if I could run a half marathon at a slower, easy pace, and still finish in the same amount of time?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Made it to Barrie!

It's hard to believe that January is already done and over with. It seems like only yesterday that I was setting goals for the year.

Well, we are one month in to 2015 so it's time for my first checkin of the year.

So far, running has been going well. I am not training for anything specific at the moment but I'm keeping my mileage up at a point where I could slip into half marathon training without too much difficulty.

In January I ran 12 times and covered 104k in 12 1/2 hours. I like months where I manage to run 100+k. There is something fun about putting that kind of distance on my shoes. Particularly in the cold dark months of a January in Canada.

Cycling has also been going well. I have been much more consistent on the bike in the winter months than I was last summer.

I managed to get 6 rides in and covered a total of 106k in 5 1/4 hours.

Corefit and Tabata
I just finished my fifth straight month of CoreFit and Tabata classes and it's quite clear that these classes are a great addition to my workout schedule. I'm much stronger than I was and I do believe they have made a difference on my runs.

I did 6 classes in January - I missed one due to life and I missed a second one that was cancelled due to snow. I did work out at home that night but didn't count it simply because it was nowhere near as intense as it would have been had I had someone telling me what to do.

Swimming has been good in the sense that I actually made it to the pool which is more than I could say in November and December. But I'm still not feeling any desire to get back in there and must force myself. I managed to swim three times for a total distance of 6.7k.

Nothing to brag about to be sure but a goal to try to beat in February I guess.

So how were things overall?

One month in and I have covered 216km.

My goal for this year was to walk, bike, swim and run the distance from our front door to Regina, Saskatchewan which is a grand total of 2747k.

My 216k takes my from our front door to the other side of Barrie, Ontario.

Slow and steady folks, slow and steady.