Category Archives: Travel

Canada, America, Europe, and beyond

Travelling with the diabetes beast

I should have written every blood sugar reading down. I should have noted my basal rates going in, and my basal rates leaving. I should have kept tabs on my insulin dosages every time I ate, and the foods and activity that accompanied every dose.

I should have, but I didn’t.

About two months ago, I suggested Big Ring and I go on a four-day getaway within the two-week break between the end of winter semester and the start of summer semester. I’d been going hard with my studies for nearly two straight years; I needed a break, something to free my mind and refresh me before the attack of yet another summer of chemistry hell, er, I mean, awesomeness 😉

It was between San Francisco or Portland. Initially Big Ring was championing for San Francisco as he’d only previously seen it on a day-trip during our Sonoma County/Levi Leipheimer adventure four years ago. But Portland has always been a go-to for us. We love the neighbourhood we stay in; we love the walking culture; we love the people; the shops; the relaxed vibe, and the fact we find something new every trip we go.

Plus, Portland = my happy place.

Dear Portland, PoP has arrived!!!

The thing about travel and diabetes though, it can be a beast. At least, for me it is. Pretty much, I am challenged with non-stop low blood sugars from the moment I step off the plane to the moment I get back on.

This trip was no exception.

A lot of the foods we ate are not typically foods I eat regularly, nor the times we ate them at. And happy hours every night, most definitely not the norm! And because travelling is mostly a restaurant culture, I don’t know the exact carb counts for what I’m eating so I’m having to guess my intake of carbohydrates, meaning I’m also guessing my intake of insulin.

Carb counts anyone? Anyone???

And maybe I’m just a cruddy assed carb-guesser, because my blood sugars were crashing practically every two seconds. Although, I find that highly unlikely as I’m fairly decent at it when need be at home, and I was a superstar at it before going on the insulin pump. More likely it’s the endless walking we do when vacationing. Oh, and the fact Portland is home to the BEST North American ice cream EVER (Hello Salt and Straw!!!) and the fact said ice cream was ohhhhh like a five-minute walk from our hotel, and the fact, we were being so insanely debauched eating Salt and Straw at like 10:30 at night – yeah, that can totally mess you up too.

One night, there was Salt and Straw with a craft brew chaser; like I said, totally debauched!

And we weren’t the only ones; every night, lineups out the door and around the corner!!!

The entire trip, my blood sugars averaged 4.2. There were a lot of borderline lows, some slight lows, and one massively horrible, freak the ugly crud right out of me low.

That night we had a late dinner at a tapas restaurant. I had the paella. Now, I’m pretty well versed in what it does to my blood sugars as we have it frequently at home during the summer months. Paella is a rice-based dish (we use arborio) that generally shoots my blood sugars up if I don’t first load myself full of insulin. So I did just that. My blood sugars were 5.7, and I calculated a conservative 60 grams of carbs for the meal based on the successive lows I’d already been having. After dinner, we walked for about 20 or so minutes before deciding to stop in at Salt and Straw to which I ordered a lovely split scoop of their Strawberry Honey Balsamic Black Pepper and Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache ice creams (Yummm!!!). My blood sugars pre-ice cream were 4.7. I knew I was in a bit of a pickle. My blood sugars were dropping, but if I didn’t give myself any insulin they would surely shoot up from the ice cream later.

What I should have done was eat the ice cream, wait until my blood sugars rose, and some of the dinner insulin wore off, then give myself a half dose and test a couple hours later to see if a further dose was required. That’s what I should have done. But I didn’t. Nope, I gave myself the half dose before taking my first mouth-watering bite.

How can you possibly think straight with that staring at you, waiting for you to dive in???

Retrospect is a bitch.

Before bed, my blood sugars were 3.7. I chewed on 5 salt water taffies courtesy of the hotel, and was feeling thoroughly ill at this point. I turned the lights out, and flitted off into an unsettled, herky jerky sleep. About 30 minutes later I opened my eyes with a start, and I don’t know what it was about the way I was feeling, but something had me fumbling for the light switch, needing to test my blood sugars. They were 2.7. I didn’t believe it. My mind was bouncing all over the place, my words were nonsensical, I was stuttering, getting half sentences out. I told Big Ring I needed to wash my hands and retest; he tried reasoning with me that I would only need to do that if my blood sugars were high. I stared at him; I didn’t understand what he was saying. I couldn’t eat anymore sugar, my body couldn’t take it. He grabbed an apple and told me to chew.

Slowly, the haze lifted, but the fear and shame of the low didn’t; I should have known better.

As much as I Iove travelling, and oh man I do, I do NOT like the diabetes beast it often presents.

If only I had the diabetes brain of saaaay Linus Pauling!!!

I did, however, get the diabetes equation right one night: the night we took advantage of our in-suite kitchenette and whipped up omelettes – a travelling staple of ours 🙂

Pretty much, every adventure has us making omelettes at least one of the nights!

Next time, I’m making graphs… at least, that’s what I say now 🙂

Until next time dear Portland…

Ps. If you want to read more on our actual trip, here’s a lovely post from Big Ring’s blog all about keeping it weird 🙂

Thai and oysters, oh my

It wasn’t Paris, Florence, Ghent, or Berlin. It wasn’t even Sonoma County. But it was an adventure!

Last week Big Ring and I went on our very first vacation with Little Ring. This was a huge deal for us. We had no idea how Little Ring would fare away from his regular routine, or for that matter how WE would cope. And as much as I had longed for Europe, tried my best to convince the more financially sound person in this marriage (take note, it’s not me) that a trip to London, the Amalfi Coast, and Amsterdam would be the best thing we could do, even manipulating Christmas into a travel theme (guess who got a new suitcase, fancy leather  ID tag, passport holder and travel books under the tree!) But alas, with me on a maternity leave pittance, that just wasn’t in the cards for us this year. Instead, we opted for Seattle.

I’ve never really viewed Seattle as a getaway, not with it being just a few hours drive away. But, I tell you, this trip changed my mind. Seattle is chock-a-block full of cute neighbourhoods, unique alleyways, great boutiques, and a spectacular waterfront that had me feeling like we really were on a proper vacation. Plus, it’s also home to the flagship REI store, which was pretty awesome!

And just like seemingly all our other trips, this one also had us discovering new cuisines. In Paris, we discovered a chorizo sausage and chicken pasta that makes for a great winter meal; in Florence, it was Margarita pizza, and a Mediterranean meal of chicken with rosemary and a side of angel hair pasta with a sprinkling of olive oil and Parmesan that has become my regular dinner before a long run meal. In Barcelona, it was paella. And in Berlin, for me, it was Bratwurst. Eating is a HUGE part of our travel adventures!

130524travelfoodFrom right to left: Paella in Barcelona; Cheesecake at Versailles; Funghi pizza in Florence.

Just a block away from our hotel (The Maxwell Hotel, which, for a hotel, was super cute… almost as good as the Inn at Northrup Station in Portland) there was a Thai restaurant that had the most succulent smells wafting out its doors every time we passed. There was just no way we could walk away.

Not knowing anything about Thai, I asked the server what he would recommend. And unfortunately, he confused me more than anything. Every question I asked, he’d throw a question back at me. Seriously, my head was spinning with confusion. Out of desperation, I opted for a red curry dish with pumpkin and chicken. I figured I liked pumpkin, so why not go for it. He told me medium heat wasn’t hot at all; he lied. My eyes were burning, my nose was dripping, but other than that, ohmygawd, it was freaking amazing! Seriously, I kept thinking about it for days after!!!

The next day, I ticked oysters off my to-try list. I don’t know what got into me, but I swear, almost as soon as we arrived in Seattle, I had a hankering that just would not go away. And so, we hit up an oyster bar at happy hour, and while Big Ring was more conservative with his choice of calamari, I went all out with oyster shots.

130524oystersOysters slithering down my throat one by raw one.

They were good, but, I don’t know, I didn’t see the greatness in them, they weren’t something I would dream of, or for that matter go out of my way to try again. If they were in front of me, sure I’d suck them back, but to order them again, nah, there’s far better things I’d much rather eat.

And so, there you go, another tasty vacation on the books 😀

Diabetes… and company

Full disclosure part 2: My diabetes SUCKED the 10 days we had company.

I realized rather quickly in my mother-in-law and niece’s stay that having company was in no way the same as going on vacation. Not just because I wasn’t the one experiencing a new place, but also because when Big Ring and I travel we are predominantly the ones choosing where we eat, what we eat, when we eat. And we are walking miles and miles throughout the day so if I choose a sweet treat or a meal that might be frowned upon with those in the old-school diabetes hood, it’s okay – because it’s balanced.

Berlin 2010, Brandenburg Gate: Now this is my kind of vacationing!

While we had hoped to tickle their taste buds with some of our favourite haunts, it became quite apparent that, for the most part, was not going to happen. You see, our guests were quite a bit more food picky than Big Ring and I.  (I pretty much eat anything as long as it’s not pork, and the only food items he turns his nose up at are root vegetables (???) and pie (he used to have an addiction :))). And so, the foods we ended up eating the majority of the visit, were uhm, dare I say, not quite as healthy or a lot more heavy than what I’m used to.

Gone were my plates filled with beloved greens and in their place: Pasta, pizza, stir fry, potatoes, meat, meat, meat. Don’t get me wrong, I love my meat, but there was just so much of it, and so much brown, my belly was seriously looking like I were a normal person’s 6-month pregnant from the constant bloat.

And the blood sugar readings, they were horrid! My gawd, it was as though I had been jet setted back to my rebellious teenage years with the roller coaster ride I was on. There were major highs then major lows. I was getting stressed, which resulted in even more of a roller coaster. Every time I pulled my meter out, I hid it from the view of curious eyes, and I honestly feared what each reading would present me – just like I did back in my teen years. And on the last day of the visit, I did something I don’t think I have EVER done since getting the pump nearly 4 years ago (although, it is something I feared I would do):


Back in the day when I was all anti insulin pumps, I used to argue that there was no way I would forget jabbing myself with a needle before every meal (it’s kind of something you don’t forget), but I figured clicking buttons on the pump was something akin to popping a pill every morning, and I was sure I would forget to do it more times than not. But I didn’t. Nope, I’ve been a star at dialing up the dose. Until we had company.

I clearly remember that morning. I clearly remember calculating the carbs of my breakfast, steel cut oats and all the fixings with a half apple on the side: 49 grams of carbs. I clearly remember testing my blood sugars, which were 5.3 (Note: I was only showing BG perfection after getting a hit of insulin at 2 a.m. to combat that hour’s 11.7 reading). I clearly remember inputting the carbs and BG into my bolus wizard. But three hours later, when I was ready for a morning snack, my blood sugars read a whopping 18.1!!! Are you freaking kidding me? I went back into my pump’s history and sure enough there was no insulin dose for the morning – I forgot to hit GO on the pump!!! Three hours to go up. More than 6 hours to go down. And a nasty low in the mix. Awesome.

I don’t blame our guests for forgetting to take my insulin, not at all, it was hands down my fault, but I do blame the state of exhaustion I was in. We are now six days out from when our company left and I am still actively taming the diabetes lion. Me and my diabetes, we need a holiday!

Florence 2009, gelato outside Santa Croce: Go figure, a holiday where I was averaging TWO gelatos a day, and my blood sugars cooperated more!

How do you manage diabetes when company comes for a visit?

IN OTHER NEWS: Stay tuned for a MAJOR announcement coming to a blog post near you 🙂

A feast without poison

Brrrr! I’d forgotten what it was like to run in the snow!

On Monday, Big Ring, Little Ring and I went for an evening run. It was Big Ring’s first run of the season; Little Ring’s first run ever; and my first run with a stroller… mind you, Big Ring took the reins on that front, so in this post we’ll focus on the snow.

Excited to be cross training for the upcoming cycling season

I knew it had snowed, I’d gotten a morning text from Big Ring stating just that, I’d heard on the radio there was snow, and Facebook, my gawd, it was like scroll for the snow. But because I hadn’t stepped out of the loft all day, that snow didn’t fully register when dressing for the run. I dressed just as I’d been dressing for all my other runs: One base layer, plus an extra wicking shirt, long tights, arm warmers, running fleece, thermal socks, ear warmers and cheapo $1 mitts. And oh man, was I cold! My face was so frozen I couldn’t talk properly, my nose glowed like Rudolph’s, and my hands felt as though they’d crack off if I even so much as lightly bumped them against another object.

Cold or not, though, that run was so much fun! (You did see my snow angel post right :)) The flakes exploding in my face, the uninterupted chats with Big Ring, and Little Ring snug as a sleeping bug in his BOB. It was just what I needed.

Walk break

However, there was a slight problem. I’d get so caught up in telling Big Ring a story from the day that I completely forgot I was only supposed to be running four-minute intervals and before I knew it, my old Timex was showing we’d been running for six or seven minutes. Oops. And as much I’d love to say it only happened once, that I had wisened up for the following intervals, I can’t – it happened three of the four segments! Good thing Coach NZ is in New Zealand right now, hey 😉


  • 3:30 p.m. BG before: 6.7
  • Temp. basal: none (but 4 crackers with peanut butter, no bolus)
  • Distance: 4 times 4 minutes running/1 minute walking
  • 4:30 p.m. BG after: 4.4

In other news… the annual Hope-I-Don’t-Poison-My-Husband Birthday Feast was held on the weekend. This year, instead of pasta, I tried my hand at cioppino, which I was first introduced to (thanks to one of my favourite running chicks) when in San Francisco for the Nike Women’s Run in 2011. And guess what? WE DIDN’T DIE!!! And guess what else? It was actually good!

A whole lot of fishy goodness!

For dessert: My famed Juniors’ cheesecake, which is usually a 5-hour process, but this time, due to a Little Ring in the mix, it was more like 7 hours. Worth every last minute 😀
To read about my past once-a-year kitchen excursions, click the link:

And don’t forget to enter the draw for iBungee stretch laces. All guesses, whether right or wrong, get entered into the draw.

For the love of Vespa

Seven years ago, when I first saw that pastel pink Vespa (a princess in her own right) in the display window of a shop downtown, I was instantly in love. How could I not be? Her cupcake pink hue, her gleaming chrome, her style – I had to have her. And every opportunity I got, I would go down and stare at that little princess, envisioning myself atop her, with a smile that could only be accented by Marilyn red lipstick, and a rosy glow on my wind-flushed cheeks. The logistics of my commute, however, just didn’t work for a Vespa lifestyle. And soon, my pink princess was sold.

Fast forward a few years and the love for the Vespa hit me again, smack hard in the face. Big Ring and I were in Nice at the time, checking out an Italian festival. While his eyes were drawn to the shiny red Fiats on display, mine were instantly magnetized to the sparkling red Vespa in the centre of the courtyard. Ohhh she was a beauty.

Visions of me in a short red flowing skirt, white top, scarf around my neck, red sunglasses and a red and white helmet on my head danced before my eyes. And I kid you not, it was as though I had reverted back to a five-year-old with exclamations of “I want! I want! I want!”

But again, the sound person in this relationship (take note, that is not me) reminded me of my hour plus commute to work and noted that we live in one if the rainiest places on earth, regrettably flushing that stylish dream down the hole 😦

But then, earlier this week, she came back full force by way of a black beauty named Bellina.

MacGuiver, Super Stylish NYC Girl and Bellina

This weekend, our New York friends (who are more truck-driving nomads than New Yorkians these days) came into town for a quick lunch visit between loads. Rather than come in on their big rig, which admittedly would be a nightmare to park in our community, they spun in on their Vespa beauty. And instantly they became the object of my envy.

Ohhh, you better believe I was getting on her 😀

One day, my friends, one day…

A princess perfect vintage


And you know what that means…

A deliciously insane amount of DQ ice cream cake!

I might share 😉

A whole lot of Princess perfect spoilage:

Seriously, alien thumb-sucker is loving the Lululemon these days, which is crazy because before pregnancy I was anti the product, but now, I can’t get enough of it… or pretty new shoes!

A crazy amount of Big Ring spoilage:

Season 4 True Blood… iPad… tickets to John Mellencamp… oh my!

And new birthday adventures … whether they be exploring new restaurants (for me at least) like Chambar in Gastown, where Big Ring took me for my pre-birthday, birthday dinner, which features a deliciously tasty Belgian menu (I highly recommend the lamb shank and rhubarb-infused salad), or reminiscing about old adventures ala Belgium style, or making plans for another European adventure next spring…

Big Ring exploring the Belgian beer… they actually had one bottle for $125!!!

As many of you know, I am a firm believer of the three-week birthday. I mean seriously, how on earth can we contain the best time of the year (your birth, hello, how perfect is that) to one day? We can’t, so why even fight it? So while others are lamenting the fact they’re getting a year older, I’m loving every second of it. And why wouldn’t I? I’ve aged well!

From duck to swan: Me at 18. Me pre-pregnancy.

Seriously, I’m like a delectable vintage wine; I just keep getting better and better with age 😉


Hiking the vacation away

Well, that time has come. The holiday is officially over and tomorrow I am back at work, and a long day at work at that 😦

I’ve got to admit, going into this holiday, I was a little concerned it would be a bore; it’s the first holiday Big Ring and I have had where we haven’t traveled anywhere … we like to consider ourselves jet setters 😀 But we made a pact to try new things, get outside, not sit at home. And the weather was perfect.

Belcarra: Trying to smile when you’re huffing and puffing is no easy task let me just say!

So, while I didn’t tour the Amalfi Coast, or eat Neopolitan pizza in Naples, or drool over Mark Cavendish while watching a live stage of the Giro D’Italia – I did tour several hiking trails of the West Coast (10 hikes in 2 weeks to be exact!); I did eat wood-fired funghi pizza at Nicli Pizzeria in Gastown, of which the owner was born in Naples, and imports ingredients from Italy; I did watch Cavendish fly to his third win in Stage 13 of the Giro – on the computer mind you; and I did eat the most delectable rhubarb (made with fresh, organic rhubarb!) ice cream bar, covered in dark chocolate – oh yum!

(My apologies for the crap quality… damn compression!)

So no, it was not a bore of a holiday, it was a gloriously rich one. But still, my mind has been working in overdrive these past two weeks planning our next European adventure 😀