Forever in my diabetes-thriving heart

Tears.

When I got the email two weeks ago, my heart broke into pieces.

We had been together for 21 years. I had chosen this man, picked him specifically from a lot of others. He was perfect in every way that my 18-year-old self desired. He had an American accent. He had a welcoming smile, a fit body – oh, those legs – a firm, warming handshake, and a delectably nerdy side too.

He had me at bow-tie.

We had grown comfortable over the years, familiar. There was a warmth between us. The awkwardness of new was long gone. Our conversations were easy, filled with laughter, and respect, dare I even say knowing twinkles in our eyes. I yearned to impress him. When not in his presence, I counted down the minutes until I next was. I always dressed the part, making sure my face, hair, clothes were as close to perfection as I could muster.

But now, all that is gone.

Dr. Hottie is moving on.

Yesterday was my last ever appointment with my crush-worthy endocrinologist. It was the last time I would ever feel his strong hands softly caressing, er, I mean, inspecting my neck for thyroid growth, the last time I would feel his warmth so close as he checked my racing heart, the last time I would have his eyes boring into mine, so invested in my words. It was the last time I would see that welcoming, inviting smile of his, so hypnotic you forget you’re talking to a doctor and share everything – everything. It was the last time I would giggle over his choice of bow-tie: a classy navy blue with blood red polka dots. It was the last time I would ever have his silky warm hands wrapped around mine; you better believe I lingered.

Yesterday was the last time I would ever hear Dr. Hottie boast again of my diabetes rockstardom.

The realization of that is where I crumble.

I have not always been a diabetes rockstar. There were several years in my teens and early adulthood where I repeatedly rebelled against this disease. I started seeing Dr. Hottie at 18; the first seven years were not my best years. He saw me at my worst, and yet, he never judged, just encouraged. He was the first specialist to see ME, not my diabetes. If I wanted to go out and drink myself under the table, he didn’t necessarily condone it, but he also didn’t live in a shell. He knew I was going to do it, and he gave me tips on how to do so without completely destroying the diabetes within me. If I wanted to eat the cruddiest food, he didn’t say no, he gave me options for better balance.

He talked with me, not at me. That was huge.

When I finally punched Dear Diabetes in the face and said Look, you don’t control me, I control you, I did it for me. But if we’re being completely truthful, and I think we are, the crush I have had on Dr. Hottie has been a strong guiding force in keeping Dear Diabetes under my thumb. When my hgA1c started on a trajectory towards near perfection, the excitement I saw in his twinkling eyes, and heard in his voice made me want more. I craved his exclamations:

“These are numbers to grow old with!”
“Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it!”
“You’re healthier than many without this disease!”
“You’re a rockstar!”

While I am still mourning the loss of this great specialist in my life, I am proud to say that we ended our relationship on a beautiful note. Yesterday’s hgA1c was 5.3. To put that into context for those without this disease, the hemoglobin A1C for a “healthy” non-diabetic is less than 5.7.

Yep, I am a rockstar!

Goodbye Dr. Hottie, you will forever be in my diabetes-thriving heart.

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     About men, indeed 😉                                                                                     (Photo retrieved from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/44592535@N04/)

An inspired mom’s day perfection

It has been 214 days since I last ran a race. I haven’t been itching to get out there. Some of my runs have been serious struggles. Mental struggles more than anything. They haven’t been the great fun they once were. In fact, it was only just this week that I had a run I thoroughly enjoyed from tip to tail. The weather was perfect, not too cold, not too hot. The speed wings were soaring. My breathing was heavily laboured. My eyes were focused forward. There was no stopping, just go, go, go.

Both Big Ring and Little Ring have been champing at the bit for me to get back to my racing roots; Little Ring mostly because he remembers the juices he used to get at my races. But personal eagerness hasn’t been there.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, I switched roles.

Yesterday, I got up early.

Yesterday, I went to the race start.

Yesterday, I cheered my beautiful niece out of the gates and back to the finish line.

My 25-year-old niece ran the Shoppers Drug Mart Run for Women 10 km race at Westbrook Mall near UBC. She used to be quite active in the running scene back in high school, but after an extended hiatus only began running again two months ago.

I made a sign.

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We got laughs 🙂

I cheered for all the runners: “Have a good run! Run hard! Run fast! Run smiling!”

I nearly peed my pants when I saw my niece pass by, jumping up, clapping so hard, super excited.

Little Ring was cheering too: “Bye! Bye! Bye! Bye! Bye! …” He totally sounded like the pelican from Finding Nemo.

When I saw my niece at the race clock’s 57 minutes, I knew she could see the finish. Her face was hard and focused. The muscles in her arms were flexed tight. Her body was perfectly positioned. Her legs rotating with impecable cycle.

So fast.

So strong.

I started jumping. Little Ring was clapping. She was laughing. All of us smiling.

The clock had just ticked over 58 minutes when she crossed; her goal was under an hour. Oh my gosh, the pride this auntie had for one of her first littles, wow, my heart was near bursting!!!

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So, so, so proud!!!

And that, my friends, was the inspiration I needed.

MOTHER’S DAY RUN:
• 10:30 a.m. BG before: 6.4
• Temp. basal: -50% 1.5 hours (started 1/2 hour before)
• Fuel: 4 dried apricots
• Time: 39:54 minutes
• Distance: 6.29 km
• Average pace: 6:20 min/km
• Workout:
– 10 min warmup: 6:20 min/km
– 10 x 1’ fast, 1’ easy: 4:39; 4:34; 4:56; 4:35; 5:26; 5:16; 4:51; 4:48; 4:38; 4:30 min/km (fast)
– 10 min. cool down:
• 11:30 a.m. BG after: 6.1
• Temp. basal: +50% 1.5 hours

To kick off Mother’s Day, Little Ring and I went out for speed intervals this morning; he’s training for a cycle race this summer 🙂 and me for what may come. It was fantastic. Again, I felt my speed was great: Little Ring kept me in line; my fast twitch muscles cycled my feet with optimal turnover; and the rest of me surged with a smiling lightness.

It was Mom’s Day Perfection!

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Instead of celebrating the day in a loud, over-crowded, stuffy, over-priced restaurant, I suggested we have a Parisian-style picnic with supplies for making baguette sandwiches obtained from our local bakery and deli. And because it was cool and grey at the lunch hour, we transformed our living room into a bistro and had the most lovely, tasty, un-stressful, super smile-worthy indoor picnic.

It was Mom’s Day Perfection!

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And then to cap the day, we went into the city for a park adventure and the most tasty afternoon ice cream treat at Earnest Ice Cream. I had my go-to Whiskey Hazelnut (I sample and sample but always go for the same). Little Ring had Seriously Chocolate (and it is!). Big Ring had Blackberry Cheesecake (Super decadent. Super good.)

It was Mom’s Day Perfection!

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The boy’s first with Earnest; he’ll be back again!

This boy makes me want to do everything better: running, schooling, adventuring, ice creaming, everything ❤

And so much of the goodness in me is this woman, which I spent the full day with on Friday.

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Love! Love! Love!

Together, they have made me the best me!

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Huge credit to this man for helping to make this day the full specialness it is ❤

Happy Mama’s Day everyone!

Chronicles of a MRI arthrogram

I have run two marathons.

But this, I was scared.

I kicked serious butt in the birthing room.

But this, I was scared.

I quit a successful career and went back to school at 36.

But this, I was scared.

I have lived with type-1 diabetes nearly my whole life.

But this, I was scared.

Yesterday I had a MRI arthrogram to try and sleuth what the hell is wrong with my groin. I had been told ahead of time this would be a most unpleasant experience, that the dye injection would be inserted into my hip, and that various movements would be employed to purposely initiate pain in the area. I was told I would not be released without someone there with me, but not told why. I was told I would be transported via wheelchair from radiology to the MRI clinic, but again, not fully explained why.

I googled MRI arthrogram.

Big mistake.

Lots of horror stories.

I was scared.

Honestly, I had nothing to be scared of.

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Except maybe the poo-coloured pants they made me wear!

The freezing agent that was injected into my leg wasn’t the greatest feeling, but it didn’t hurt, nor did it burn as the radiologist indicated it would. It just felt like a lot of pressure. I didn’t enjoy it, but I was more wigged out than anything. Same with the contrast dye injection. I could feel that there was something there, and I knew they were doing stuff, and my eyes were squinted shut, and my nails were digging into my hands, and my left foot (the opposite side they were working on) kept vigorously flexing back and forth – but there was no pain.

Big Ring described it perfectly: it was the same feeling I get and actions I do when in the dentist’s chair. I know they’re doing stuff, and I know there should be pain, and I’m waiting for that pain, but that pain never comes. Just a whole lot of wigging out for nothing.

Mental pain.

The MRI, however, was a test of strength. I do have slight claustrophobia, although I kept telling them I didn’t when they asked, almost as though I was trying to will it away. They gave me earplugs and headphones with music to try and take my mind off the ridiculous loudness of the machine. As they were pushing me into the machine (full body), the guy suggested I close my eyes. Well, of course I now wanted to open my eyes. (Yes, I was that kid.) I took a peak…

I WAS IN A BLOODY COFFIN!!! And the walls were closing in on me! Holy freaking hell, I squeezed those eyes back shut as tight as they could go.

I had to keep perfectly still.

And suddenly all my nerves started twitching, and bones cracking, and muscles involuntarily spasming. Stop it!

After the first picture, they told me to remember to breathe lightly.

So naturally I start hyperventilating. Stop it! And I can’t swallow. Stop it! My body wants big gulps of air. Stop it! And I’m trying to sing Sunday Bloody Sunday to take my mind off of it all.

Finally 40 minutes passes. It feels like 400 hours.

I get the results in two weeks.

Running reboot: injury be damned

This blog is lonnnnnng overdue. I started writing it back in January, but was sidelined (and subsequently pummeled) by integral calculus, which took pretty much all my focus. The post was pushed to the side, only to be revisited today – four months after I started my official running reboot, and three days out from getting an arthrogram MRI to see what the heck has plagued my groin for the past nine months.

Let’s go back in time, shall we.

Bloop-bloop-bloop…

Jan. 15, 2017: It wasn’t a blip in the pan. It wasn’t fly by the night. It was real.

I went for a run. I did not know what to expect on this run. I was still injured. I still am injured. My leg feels sharp stabs of pain daily. The groin ache is still there. At this point, I don’t know if it will ever go away. What I do know: when I run it’s not there.

I am a runner. Injury be damned.

The significance of this is huge.

I have not run since October 5, 2015. First taken out by a foot injury; later by the attack of the femur.

Let me do the math for you:

That is more than 15 months – a total of 441 days of no wearing out running shoes; no soaking up technical shirts; no squeezing into sports bras; no searching for Garmin-controlled satellites; no dodging puddles; no squinting through the blinding sun; no speed-induced power thoughts; no hill climbing stress relief. Nothing.

And it was killing me.

Not even pregnancy could keep me out of the sneakers that long.

I have gone to multiple physiotherapists; I have done the muscle-firing IMS; I have done the less invasive acupuncture. Nothing has helped. My current physio suggested it is either femoracetabular impingment or a labrel tear in the groin. Scary words.

The x-rays came back negative. I was put in the cue for a MRI arthrogram.

I tried resting it. The groin injury presented itself last July; that is solid resting. I iced. I heated. I did ibuprofen. I did heavy duty Nsaids. None of it worked.

So last week I straight up asked the sports med physician what the harm would be if I started running. I told him this semester was full of math. I told him I could not survive this semester without running relief. I told him I was ready to chop the bloody leg off and get a prosthetic if that meant I could run.

I also told him that while squatting and sitting and stretching all caused pain, my brief sprints to catch the morning bus did not.

He gave me a thumbs up, but with the clear warning of take it easy, go slow, do not overdo it.

I followed doctors orders. I started out real slow, real tentative. I listened to every moan or groan my body made. The first run was 10 and 1s, running 1 minute, walking 1 minute, plus a 10-minute dynamic warmup and cool-down. It was a happy, happy day.

Bloop-bloop-bloop…

April 28, 2017: I am still not at the level of running I would like to be. The furthest distance I’ve reached is just shy of 7 km, my pace is sometimes slow as mud, and my stamina is lacking. I feel the need for walk breaks. I don’t know if it’s in my head or real. It’s discouraging at times.

But, I’m running.

It’s been a learning curve: again figuring out my diabetes with the level of running I’m at; figuring out what to eat; what to set my temporary basal rates at during the run and post run; how much to reduce my breakfast bolus by if I’m running in the morning. I don’t always succeed. It’s frustrating at times.

But, I’m running.

The pain, well, it seems running has loosened it – significantly. I no longer have the feeling of debilitating shards of glass cutting through my thigh multiple times a day. I no longer uncomfortably ache during exams. I sleep at night, pain free. That all began with running. The pain is still there, but it is no longer an ugly force, just a weak reminder there’s still something wrong. I don’t have the flexibility I used to. Squats and sitting cross legged are still challenging.

But, running was the near cure.

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Running reflection.

The unthinkable

The unthinkable happened.

Seven years ago I had feared the worst. My first marathon, it was pouring rain. The marathon had yet to start, and I was in the porta-potty for the umpteenth time when I heard a loud, stomach-dropping splash in the grossness below. I thought it was my pump. It was not. Thank freaking every god in the world! It was one of my electrolytes bottles.

From that day forward I have been beyond careful. I am, unequivocally, the slowest person when it comes to washrooms. About a month ago I was in a long washroom line with a friend. We were the next up for the two available stalls. She told the girls behind us not to worry, she was quick. I gave them an apologetic look: I’m not.

You see, I don’t hide my insulin pump. It is almost always clipped to my belt loop, or when I’m not wearing a belt, the waistband of my pants or skirts or shorts. That means nearly every time I go to the washroom, I am not only pulling down my pants, but I’m also either unclipping my pump and holding on to it, or trying to ensure the weight of it doesn’t cause my belt to unloop and drop to the seriously unsanitary grounds below.

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The other day, I was not wearing a belt. I was wearing high-waisted jeans. My brain was in a post finals fog; I had only just finished minutes prior. I peed. I grabbed some toilet paper. I heard a clang.

The clip on the back of my insulin pump had wriggled free of my jeans. The infusion was in my stomach. It was the 43 inch tubing attached instead of the 23. Had it been the 23, it might have been saved. But no…

It was in the toilet bowl – the pee-filled toilet bowl.

Oh. My. Freaking. Ewwwww!

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Sure, I’ve heard that urine is “supposedly” sanitary. I learned from one of my lovely campers back when I was a camp counsellor in Maine years ago that pee is the cure for athlete’s foot. Still, that knowledge did not give me comfort. This thing is vital to my life; it should not be covered in pee.

And the worst thing, it actually proved waterproof. That means, no new pump for me.

Ewwww!

Exams and diabetes

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I was freaking out.

I was a couple days off from my first final of the semester, and I was completely wigging. It was an upper-level research course. I had been doing well. I knew the material. By all accounts, I should have been confident. But no, I was in full-blown freak-out mode. I don’t like exams, and no matter how well I know the material, I generally get over-run by anxiety. But this time was different. This time was worse.

Dear Diabetes had gotten in my head.

Not surprising, really. The midterm was a bloody gong show. Normally my blood sugars run high for exams. It’s that whole anxiety thing setting up the fight or flight response, shooting up the adrenaline – and the blood sugars. But for the midterm, Dear Diabetes decided to take me on a different kind of roller coaster. Instead of high blood sugars, they bottomed out 10 minutes prior to the start of the exam. I scarfed down handfuls of dried apricots. It was no use.

High blood sugars, as long as they don’t go above 13 mmol, I can deal with. But low blood sugars, no.

The first 30 minutes of the exam was awash. The words bounced all over the pages for the first 10-15 minutes, and then the next 15 minutes, it was a mumbo of confusion. I couldn’t make out the research abstracts. I didn’t understand what the questions were asking. I knew time was ticking. The anxiety rose. I started to sweat. It was all I could do to stop from hitting my head in all-out frustration.

My moms, and all her hippie friends voices filled my head. I closed my eyes for what felt like an hour but was likely only 2 minutes, doing everything in my power to calm my mind, my heart, my blood sugars.

Finally, the words made sense.

So, the final. I studied the slides. I studied my lecture notes. I asked friends in the class for clarification on some of the smallest details. I studied my diabetes. I looked for trends. I made adjustments. I planned the day’s fuel, and made sure I cut and measured the carbs of the apple for complete bolus accuracy. If Dear Diabetes had plans for me, I was going to be ready, I was going to be beyond prepared – both in material and body.

Dear Diabetes was not going to win this battle. Not this time.

The final was last Tuesday.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t safe from the anxiety; the blood sugars continuously creeped up prior to the exam. I bolused an insulin-correction 10 minutes before going in. As long as they didn’t go too high, though, I’d be safe from nausea.

The highs don’t cripple my brain.

As for the exam, I was 5,000 per cent solid. Results were posted the other night; I scored 91%.

Dear Diabetes: FACE!

Sometimes…

Sometimes I don’t want to stop.

Sometimes I’m in the thick of a really great book, and I don’t want to stop.

Sometimes I’m in the middle of writing a killer sentence, and I don’t want to stop.

Sometimes I’m climbing down the Eiffel Tower in the twilight hours, and I don’t want to stop

Sometimes I’m in the depths of a needed sleep, and I don’t want to stop.

Sometimes I’m at 8.5 km of a strong 10 km run, and I don’t want to stop.

Sometimes I’m hurting with joy, giggling so hard with my boy, and I don’t want to stop.

I can see the words on the screen go blurry.

I can feel the letters in my book as they punch me in the face with every bounce across the page they make.

I can sense the happy flutters in my belly being strangled into sickening worry.

I try to control the shakes.

I try to ignore my heated cheeks.

I squint at the screen.

I cover one eye, hoping it will empower the other.

All for just a few more minutes.

A few minutes without Dear Diabetes.

But then, the full-body sweats come. Reality sets in. I cannot ignore Dear Diabetes. I cannot shove him off to the corner, not even for a few seconds. He is there. He will always be there. He won’t ever let me forget it.

The other day my blood sugars dropped to 3.0; I felt as though they were 2.0.

I didn’t want to stop.

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