29 years: “Perfect storm for an eating disorder”

Apparently furniture is to be given for the 29th anniversary, but for me, all I got was guilt.

There’s a part of me I am not fond of; a part of me that scares me; a part of me I’ve feared, hated, fought and succumbed to; a part of me I don’t like discussing much, but a part that is very much there – always. It is something I have lived with for 29 years.

My relationship with food.

The other day I was chatting with a pediatric dietitian who works with young diabetics at a local hospital, and so much of what she said to me resonated. We were talking about the different methods of treatment specifically with diet, post diagnosis. There’s the Nazi-like conventional method: no sweets, no treats, you best be perfect or you’ll die. And then there’s the flexible method: make it personal, make it healthy, do what works for your child and the family as a whole, no labels.

When I was diagnosed it was Nazi style only.

As this dietitian said so perfectly: It’s a perfect storm for an eating disorder. Unrealistic expectations are being put on a child who just yesterday could eat what they wanted, when they wanted, how they wanted, and now you’re telling them nope, you can’t eat that, you can’t do that, eat more, eat less, if you don’t listen, you’re doomed.

My first trip to the hospital courtesy of Dear Diabetes.

So, my story.

For over two decades my moms has been telling people I was malnourished Ethiopian child thin for the first four or five years of the disease, so thin the doctors kept adding to my diet, telling my parents I needed to eat more, they had me on a 2,700 calorie diet, and when I did start gaining weight, they didn’t take me off, so by the time I was 15, I was hiding my suddenly soft frame behind baggy clothes.

bday cake
My 15th birthday. Look closely and you’ll see the low self-esteem.

And sure, yeah, that happened. But what also happened is I became the child who would throw her “healthy” lunches in the bushes; I became the child who hid under her bed eating Halloween candy after Halloween candy; I became the child who would sneak spoonfuls of ice cream every chance I got, and one time hid under the table with the whole bucket thinking no one would see me there; I became the child who found bakers chocolate in the cupboard and ran to my room, crawled under my covers and took a nasty chomp. I didn’t learn from that. I hid in my room with a mixing bowl full of raw cookie dough; I ate Christmas chocolates in the bathroom; and something I am so not proud of and have never told anyone, but am now telling all of you, I used to snake my way into my parent’s room, on my stomach, in the early hours of the morning, when my moms was having a bath, getting ready for work, and would steal money from her purse – to buy chips and chocolate at the high school canteen.

Seriously, I am so sorry moms.

My relationship with food was not a good one.

For me, when they closed the door on all things sweet, when they took my control away in what I could eat, when they forced me to drink milk, something I had loathed my entire life, and something I was allergic to up until I got diabetes, and something I still very much dislike, they took my personal power away.

They took a part of me away.

My only control was a full-throttle diabetes/me revolt.

Did I have an eating disorder?

Yes, I believe I did.

I didn’t starve myself, I didn’t regurgitate what I ate, but I binged. I struggled for years to get my eating under control, and ultimately to get my diabetes in control – on my terms. And even now, although I am now crazy healthy, and in complete control, I still struggle. I don’t gorge out on sweets and treats like I did years ago, but I question nearly everything I eat now as a result; I worry about the softening of my body; and sometimes I berate myself of indulgences. Not always, but it is there.

It doesn’t go away.

Dear Diabetes gets the thanks for that.

My relationship with food hasn’t always been a confident one.

Today, Aug. 23, is my diaversary. I have had this disease for 29 years.

Smurfette Part 2: The Bone Scan

Ohhhh, the déjà vu.

2011: I was training for my second marathon, and struggling with a sore ankle every time I ran. I spent months in physiotherapy with no relief. Dear Physio was getting frustrated; I was beyond frustrated.

2016: I haven’t run in 9 months. I’ve suffered horrid pain that’s become more a dull ache in my left foot for 12 months. I’ve spent thousands (note the plural) on physio, chiro, acupuncture, essential oils, and more with no relief. Frustrated. Desperate. Moody. Sad and envious as bloody hell.

Both outcomes resulted in bone scans. In 2011, it turned out I had stress fractures in both ankles. In 2016, well, as I’m currently writing this post in the waiting area of nuclear medicine, I don’t yet know the results.

What I do know:

At 9 a.m. I was injected with a blue radioactive tracer containing phosphate and technetium. The phosphate is treated by the body as a building block; anything broken, stressed, out of alignment, not as it should be is a hot spot trigger for the phosphate and will glow brightly under the scanning camera. They took a few pictures right off the hop to see how the body reacted to the dye, if there were any blood irregularities, etc. These pics, which I could see forming on the screen, made my feet look like sparkly glass slippers.

Cinderella! Cinderella!

From 2011: Injecting the blue dye

Then I waited… and waited… and waited. Waiting, pretty much an apt description of getting bone scans done. Because you’re injected with such a small amount of the radioactive tracer, and because it’s got to travel all the way down to the feet, you’ve got to give it sufficient time. The injection was at 9 a.m. and the scans didn’t start until 2:40 p.m.. In between, there was a whole lot of water drinking (to flush out the kidneys) and tea drinking (because, well, I love tea) and studying (same thing for 2011, except this time it’s for college chemistry and last time it was high school chemistry).

The scan itself was only about 20 minutes!

From 2016: The masking tape chronicles

The fellow doing my scan was great. As soon as he saw my insulin pump, he started telling me about how all four of his sisters have type-2, and his brother-in-law in Finland has type-1 and takes daily pen injections. We talked about Canada’s medical system (which by no means is as free as many in our country and others believe it to be) vs. Finland’s. This came as a shocker to me given how great the country is with its educational system, but apparently in Finland, the cost of diabetes is based on a weigh scale; those overweight pay way more than those not. This man’s brother-in-law pays in the thousands (Canadian equivalent) every week!!!

“He likes his sweets,” the tech said.

Don’t we all!

He took three photos of both feet (to compare the two): one of the top of the foot, one of the bottom, and one of the side. The photos took five minutes each and you had to stay still for the full five minutes. I was good for the first two photos; I think because we were talking so much it took my mind off it (plus, for one of the photos, my feet were taped with masking tape). But the last photo, I don’t know. You know when you’re told to stay still, but try as you might, all your body wants to do is move. That’s how I was! The last two minutes of that last photo, I could feel my feet and knees starting to twitch, and I kept thinking no, no, no, be good, be perfect, follow the instructions, don’t you dare move, dammit, stop, stop, stop. I tried taking my mind off what was going on by looking at the skeleton feet forming on the screens and trying to figure out which ones belonged to which foot, and wondering if that glowing line was normal foot bones or Princess problems. When the musical ding finally rang, I nearly shouted Hallelujah!

Apparently my doc will have the results in a week’s time.

Hopefully there will be some answers, something that will get the recovery process on the right track. Because seriously, I just want to bloody fricken well run!

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 🙂

Clips: The Bane of my Cycling Existence

Alright my cycling-loving readers, how many of you struggle with clipless pedals?


I’ve been riding clipped in for six years now; my first ever ride in clips was on the Belgian cobblestones on a proper Flanderian cold, wet day, which was all sorts of scary, especially when the sirens of an ambulance started blaring right behind me in a funky roundabout moments after I started riding and I had no idea what to do beyond veering right and pretty much riding into a parked car to stop myself.

Least I didn’t fall over.

Least there was no one in the car.

Belgium 2010: My first foray with clipless pedals.

But I digress.

So yeah, six years, and for the most part I’m pretty okay in them. At times I struggle getting my right foot clipped in after a stoplight, but usually the left foot, my leading foot, I’ve got no issues.

Until recently.

I don’t know what the heck’s been going on, but my goodness, neither foot seems to want to clip in. At all. Seriously, practically every time I clip out, I’m struggling to get back in. Sometimes it feels like 5 minutes before I finally hear the desired click of the pedal to cleat.

And let’s just say, that moment you feel like you’re clipped in only to realize a JARRING second later that you’re not when you slam down into your hard-as-heck seat as your foot flies off the bloody pedal – not cool. Ohhh, my poor, poor nether regions!


I thought maybe it was just one ride, I thought maybe it just wasn’t my day, but nope, it was consecutive rides. One ride, I nearly ripped the bloody pedals right off the bike. Not exactly the most rational act, I mean, without pedals, it’s a strider, and, well, I think I’m a little too old for that style.


Big Ring says I’ve been thinking about it too much, focusing too hard on the act of clipping in, and not just letting it come naturally. Maybe I was, maybe he’s right, but wouldn’t you be putting all your energy into it too if say you were stuck at a bloody light for TWO crossings because you couldn’t get your feet in??? Okay, so maybe that was an exaggeration 😉


Since getting back on the bike this season, I’ve tried to have a goal with every ride: don’t get lost; keep good form, back straight, shoulders down, belly sucked in; push the legs; etc. And so, with recent pedal issues, yesterday when I went out for a quick solo ride, I took Big Ring’s words to heart and decided not to overthink the clipping in process. And you know what, the veteran cyclist was bloody well right – not ONE clipping in issue!!!

Now, don’t go thinking I’m gonna start taking everything he says as gold right off the hop; I am stubborn after all 😉


• 1:15 p.m. BG before: 9.8 (had lunch with a partial bolus an hour earlier)
• Temp. basal: -70 per cent
• Distance: 21.92 km
• Time: 1:21:34
• Average pace: 16.1 km/h
• Ride BG-FUEL: @45 min: 2.9 (yikes!!! 6 Honey Stingers; temp. basal -100%)
• 2:30 p.m. BG after: 6.4
• Temp. basal: +70 per cent (2 hours)

Home is the Mountains

I didn’t want to call him.

Big Ring was expecting it; I know he was. He didn’t say he was, but the implication was there. This is the way you need to go,” he said, his eyes boring into mine. These are the roads you want to be on,” he emphasized, sloooowly. “Do you know where you’re going? Do you know where you’re going to turn around? Do you know your landmarks,” he asked, the volume of his voice increasing with every new question. And finally, “I’ll be around for an hour or so if you need me,” he called out as I was shutting the door behind me.

Big Ring isn’t usually this over-protective. I have a history of getting lost; no matter how detailed the directions, 98 per cent of the time, I somehow get completely twisted around on the road, and in the mind. I’ve done it countless times both driving and running, so much so it’s a given I’ll be calling him to help unlose me. But this time I wasn’t driving or walking, I was cycling. It was to be my first solo ride to the city, and I don’t know why I wanted to go against my nature, but I was determined to not get lost, to not need outside assistance, to not call on Big Ring.

Holly GoQuickly: It’s just you and me baby!

Years ago, when I first started riding again, I was riding solo all the time, but that was when I was still living in the valley, where I grew up; if I got lost there, it didn’t take much brainpower to figure out how to reroute myself back to an area I was familiar with.

City cycling is a whole other can of worms.

In the city, I’ve only ever ridden with Big Ring and a friend of ours, never alone. And I’ve only ridden to the city a handful of times; the other times, I’d drive and meet up with Big Ring on the bike before starting. It never once crossed my mind to go it alone. I ran alone in the city all the time, but cycling, that was a Big Ring and I thing to do.

But then we had Little Ring…

Riding together was becoming harder to achieve.

And then I couldn’t run….

I needed to learn to go it my own.

And so, I waved a worrying Big Ring goodbye and set out on my solo adventure. And at first, it was going well. I was following the B.C. Parkway, which essentially no one (except for maybe me) can get lost on as it follows the Skytrain the entire way into the city. As long as I could see the Skytrain tracks above me or to the right, I was good.

Central Park: Wahoo! Made it to Burnaby without getting lost!!!

I veered off at Central Park, away from the Skytrain line, and was to follow the Ridgeway path into the city; as long as I saw the green signs that said Ridgeway, I was good. There was one, mini hiccup where the sign was posted just past the street I was to turn on, so I kept going straight thinking I was to turn on the next street, only to realize seconds later I should have already turned, and then when I turned around, I turned left, which I quickly realized I should have turned right. Oops. No biggie.

I was only planning on a two-hour ride as we were heading out of town the next day and I had some packing to do. I thought 20 km out would be a good place to turn around, but when I saw a turnaround road that Big Ring had mentioned, I was only at 18 km, so I kept going figuring I could hook up with the next turnaround road at Heather.

At this point, I was feeling pretty proud of myself.

Minutes in to the turn, something didn’t feel right. Big Ring and I had ridden on Heather coming out of the city the other day, but we were going the opposite way that I was currently going. Hmm… I kept going, I kept following the little green signs, because surely the green signs would guide me in the right direction. Nope. A few more turns and a couple more kilometres and I knew something was most definitely not right.


Don’t call him. Don’t call him. Don’t call him.

A commuter cyclist headed towards me. Pointing directly in front of me, I asked him if this was the way to the city. There was a look of laughter in his eyes, or was it pity? Nope, that’s the way to Richmond, he said, and then pointed behind me saying that was the way to the city. Neither of which were the direction I needed to go.

Soooo, which way to New Westminster? Which way to home?

Home is to the mountains, he said. North, he said. Go north. Go to the mountains.

Phew, no phone call to Big Ring!!!

I got back on the route I came in on figuring I best not be too adventurous in trying new routes given my two hours had already passed and I needed to get my sorely padded butt home. Things somewhat fell off the rails when my blood sugars went drastically low. I try to test every hour on the bike, but getting lost distracted me; wanting to get home lickety split distracted me; and the diabetes was forgotten. Had I kept to that testing regime, I likely would have caught the low before it dipped below 3.0. Argh..

Waited out the low, found the B.C. Parkway, and off I went.

I came to a crossroad. The little green sign told me to go straight, but the path off to my left looked exactly like the path we’d ridden a few rides earlier, and given the so-called trusty green sign had already gotten me into an earlier pickle, I went with my memory.

Big mistake.

Oh bloody fricken hell, why do I not follow signs. Yes, it was the same path we’d ridden, and good on me for recognizing it, but I failed to recognize the turn I was to take to get back home, and suddenly here I was about to merge on to a crazy assed busy street. What the freaking hell? I had nothing left in me. My butt was sore. My head felt like a volcano had erupted. I was hungry. I was tired. I just wanted to be home.

And the phone came out. His number was punched in. Big Ring was called.

After all, it wouldn’t be a proper PoP adventure without getting lost at least once, right!

Not even the chicken scratch directions on my arm helped.

8:20 a.m. BG pre-fuel: 6.9 – PB&J sandwich (39g)
9 a.m. BG pre-ride: 7.8
Temp. basal: -70%
Time: 2:53:29
Distance: 44.86 km
Average speed: 15.5 km/h 😦
Ride BG: @60 min. 4.1 (applesauce + temp. basal -100%) @130 min. 3.1 (dried apricots) @200 min. 8.9
2:30 p.m. BG post-ride: 10.4
Temp. basal: +70% 2 hours

Cycling and Diabetes: Third Time Lucky

Third Time Lucky.

It took three rides on the bike before I managed near blood sugar perfection.

All the rides began around the same time, a few hours after breakfast, but varied in distance and length. The first ride back, I was chasing lows the entire time, even before we began, my blood sugars were dropping. Ugh.

About 30 minutes before the ride, I inhaled half a peanut butter and jam sandwich on whole grain bread, around 25g carbs, no insulin. My blood sugars were 7.6 before the sandwich, and 20 minutes later were down to 6.1. I dropped my continuous basal insulin down 70 per cent. An hour into the ride, my blood sugars were at 4.5. I ate a savoury salted sweet potato Clif gel, which was all sorts of disgusting, had 2 dried apricots, and turned my basal off completely. At lunch, an hour later, they were 4.2. I had a bowl of smoked salmon soup and a hunk of foccasia bread, no insulin. An hour and a half later, they were 5.1 – more dried apricots. The ride ended at 6.4 to which I increased my basal by 70 per cent over 2 hours, in the hopes of warding off post-ride highs, but instead resulted in a blood sugar crash an hour later.

Well that was a fail.

Pterodactyl’s got to get his pre-flight PB&J fuel on too!

Next ride two days later, I upped the sandwich intake and had a full-sized peanut butter and jam sandwich, approximately 42g carbs, no insulin. My pre-sandwich blood sugars were 6.4, and post-sandwich were 10.1. I dropped my basal 70 per cent. One hour in things looked promising; my blood sugars were holding at 6.7. But this is an iffy area for me. If I kept riding without eating, they could continue to drop. Or if I ate without taking insulin, they could surge up. Or if I ate and took insulin, they could bottom out. What to do? What to do? What to do? I opted for a packet of apple sauce, no insulin. One hour later, they were up to 9.7, and by the time the ride was done they were at 12.1. Argh.

Well that was a fail.

This was much tastier than that salted sweet potato blech!

The next ride, I didn’t do too much different for the pre-ride prep. I ate a full sandwich an hour before the ride, no insulin. The pre-sandwich blood sugars were 6.4 and the post sandwich were 10.7. I dropped my basal down 50 per cent. One hour in, my blood sugars were 6.3. I had half of a cashew-date-ohmygawdthisissodisgusting bar. An hour later, they were 6.1 to which I plugged my nose and swallowed the other half of that bar. By ride’s end, they were 5.9. I increased my basal by 50 per cent over the next two hours. No lows. No highs.

Oh happy girl!!!

But was it fourth time lucky? Only time will tell…

Princess of…cycling???

Hello World, it’s me, Princess… you know, the one who used to blog all the time, sometimes five times a week, but who has been rather, ahem, silent, incognito, non-existent for like pretty much five months! Yeah, I’m still here.

What have I been doing? Well, I’ll tell you what I haven’t been doing. I haven’t been running. Seems odd having a blog all about running with diabetes when you still got the diabetes (no cure yet) but you’re not running, right. I haven’t run since Global Heroes on Oct. 5. For those of you who can’t count your fingers as well as me, that’s coming up on seven annoying, ohmygawdIwanttochopmyfootoffandgetanewone months. I am still plagued by a foot injury that has been diagnosed so many different things over the course of more than $1000 in treatment, I have no idea what the frick is wrong with it, all I know is the heel off and on aches. I’ve gone through physio, IMS treatments, chiro, AMT, and acupuncture. Acupuncture seemed to help temporarily, but once I discovered it, we lost our medical benefits and I’m not in a position to be doling out $60 twice a week indefinitely for treatment. So, I live with it.

And I don’t run.



I spent the winter strength training, which has never been my strong area. I’ve hopped on and off the band wagon so many times I’ve lost count. I don’t know what it is, but I can run and hike and ride my bike for hours, but put me with a set a weights and one minute feels like a bloody torturous three hours! I hate gyms, so I needed something I could do at home. A friend of mine suggested the Beachbody, 21-day fix workout. I was skeptical, as I don’t like anything attached to fad diets (that may be a future blog), but it was a collection of 30-minute workouts; surely, I could manage 30 minutes. Surely. And holy freaking hell, I did. Like four or five times a week. And I still am for the most part. And you know what, I actually have definition in my belly, which I have never had!!!


But it’s not the same.

I want to run. Desperately. My brain functions better when I run. My problem solving works when I run. My patience is 5,000-fold when I run. My smile beams when I run. My happiness, my confidence, my love for life brims when I run.

But my foot isn’t getting better.

There will be no running this summer.

But there WILL be cycling.

I’ve dusted off the cobwebs of dear Holly GoQuickly, and since ending my last semester a week and a half ago I’ve been out on three rides with the lovely lady. The first was a bit ambitious at 67 km over 4.5 hours. Holy hell my butt, and, ahem, other areas, were screaming bloody murder at me. Two days later we were back at it for a shorter jaunt of 45 km over 2 hours and 45 minutes. And today, it was 54.5 km. My butt still hates me. But my smile is growing wider, and the lightness in my heart is getting lighter. I love the outside world, and my goal for the summer is hopefully 2 rides a week.


And with that, maybe, just maybe, there will be a flood of new blog posts too. I hope 🙂