Tag Archives: diabetes

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/)

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Medtronic Global Heroes Part 2: Science!!!

About 15 years ago I met a couple of gals, who I kid you not spent an entire summer trying to convince me that science was the coolest thing on the planet. I was a hard sell; after a lack lustre experience with it in high school, and an eye for the words, I never imagined science to be anything more than something I had to do. (Little did I know then that it would turn into my life journey.) Had those gals had the Medtronic Headquarters at their fingertips, they may have had a bit more success of shooting science love into my heart!

On day two of being a Global Hero, my new besties and I toured the Medtronic facility. Holy freaking hell!!! This place was like serious nerdville for us diabetics (and all the other technology enhanced peeps as well). We got to see medical devices in the making; check out the behind-the-scene intricacies of a study that is working to make infusion insertion less painful on us wee pin cushions; and talk to the very scientists whose brains are working every day at making our lives better to live.

Medtronic headquarter.

The Medtronic logo: sick to healthy.

And that’s where Tom comes in. This man, wow! I don’t think I will ever forget his voice; the light in his eyes; the passion in his words. For years, pretty much since I got the pump, I have been lamenting its size. It is the thickness of a ‘90s style pager, and the size of a deck of cards. That is TOO big. When I wear it on my belt, my shirts ride up all the time because of it. Tight-fitting jeans are a challenge because of it. And dresses, I look like a bloody hunchback when wearing a cardigan because, unless I want to sport the look of square boobs, it ain’t fitting in my bra! So naturally, my question to Tom was:

“Are they ever going to get smaller?”

Before I could speak another word, before I could tell him my issues, he looked me straight in the eyes and the words just shot out of his mouth faster than a cannonball, arms waving every which way. He fully admitted the technology wasn’t good enough. He wants it smaller, thinner – the thickness of an iPhone. You’re not satisfied, he said, I’m not satisfied!

Sure, I could have been sold a bill of goods, but if you’d seen those eyes, I think you’d agree, this man is going to do everything he can to get insulin pumps to the point where I will be satisfied, where the 100s of 1000s of other insulin pump users will be satisfied. I’m not gonna lie, I kinda, totally fell in love with this man!

Insulin pump technology: "Not good enough!"

Insulin pump technology: “Not good enough!”

Walking through headquarters, Big Ring kept pontificating the benefits for the employees – they had to have had a fantastic onsite daycare; they must have a state-of-the-art gym; a basketball court likely… maybe even a napping room! Not only the passion of the employees, but the grounds – it was like a university campus in of itself. But me, I wasn’t thinking of any of that. As soon as I saw the electron microscopes in action (which I had only just discovered in my microbiology text the week prior) I was in serious lala land – coolest things EVER!!!

My girlfriends of 15 years ago would be so proud – Science!!!

Ahh, but the tour wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The moment I walked through those doors, I felt somewhat like a Scooby Doo intruder about to be unmasked. You see, I was wearing a super cute dress, and as mentioned the pump doesn’t hide well, at all, in dresses. Normally that’s not an issue; I’ve used this sucker as a fashion accessory for six years now. But the thing is, my pump, ahem, isn’t a Medtronic Pump!!!

INTRUDER ALERT! INTRUDER ALERT!

Okay, so it’s not like it was a secret, Medtronic knew my pump wasn’t theirs. They don’t discriminate against other companies when selecting Global Heroes. But still, I was touring the Medtronic facility, I was meeting the Medtronic scientists and engineers, and would be a handshake distance from one of the top big wigs of the whole company! I could have at least disguised my pump as a Medtronic one. That is all.

Stephen Oesterle, Senior VP for Medicine and Technology.

Stephen Oesterle, Senior VP for Medicine and Technology.

Leaving Medtronic, my head was spinning with information and details and things I wanted to do, things I needed to do. But it was a precious little boy’s face who filled the majority of my brain capacity. Lightening Bolt, my four year old nephew who was diagnosed in June with type-1 – he is going to be the beneficiary of Tom’s, and all the other Medtronic employees, passion! Thank you.

The future of T-1.

The future of T-1.

Medtronic Global Heroes Part 1: Heroism defined

Have you ever been a part of something so incredibly fantastic that you’ve been nearly muted by the awesomeness of it? Something that you struggle to put words to because no word seems adequate enough? Something that you find yourself unconsciously holding back on because you know the person across from you didn’t experience it and will surely have jolts of envy shooting through them to hear it? I have. For the past month, my mind has been bursting and my fingers itching to attack the keyboard, but my voice unnervingly silent. And then, this morning I went to Dear Physio, an hour long appointment filled with IMS needles, and it all came flooding out of me.

Medtronic Global Heroes, holy freaking hell, I did that – I am that!!!

Global Heroes awesomeness!

We are Global Heroes.

OH. MY. GOODNESS.

The moment we walked off the plane, I felt like a rock star. There was a sign – a sign! – greeting us. Our bags were carried; our pockets filled with snacks; and a chauffeured car waiting. Oh yeah, and a wallet full of spending money too!!! (To, ahem, cover the costs of our luggage and any meals that weren’t provided (of which I think there were maybe two)).

That smile was pretty much the theme of the weekend!

That smile was pretty much the theme of the weekend!

Where do I even begin?

I knew that this weekend was going to be huge. I had read several online accounts from Global Hero bloggers of previous years, and had studied the Global Heroes website and the faces on the website like no one’s business. But as much as I love the written word, it doesn’t compare to experiencing it in the flesh. The moment I walked into the banquet room of our first mixer, my skin prickled with goosebumps. Everything about ME felt right.

Instantly I was enveloped by 24 fellow Global Heroes, men and women of all ages and all sorts of medical “ailments” and technology – none who have let their diagnoses get in the way of them rocking life to the core. There was my pal Dion, the stoic man from Christchurch, New Zealand, who had a spinal cord stimulator implanted to manage pain after being wounded in an Afghanistan deployment; he ran the 10-mile on crutches. My neighbour chickie Miss Carmen, from Mississippi/Florida, who not only has one of the easiest smiles I’ve seen, she also has an implantable cardioverter defibrillator to treat cardiomyopathy. She did the 10 mile six months pregnant, wearing a closet full of sweaters to stay warm… those Floridians! And Sarah, the girl with the chicest glasses (yes, I was all over those glasses!) who, before getting a pacemaker, spent her adolescence fighting daily blackouts, and struggling to get through a conversation without first running out breath. She ran the marathon, dreaming of the day she gets implanted with a bright pink pacemaker (hint-hint Medtronic).

Drooling over glasses at Minnehaha Falls.

Drooling over glasses at Minnehaha Falls.

Crystal Gail, who just one year ago was lying in a hospital bed with sutures following the implantation of a neuromodulator to manage chronic pain. She’s run 547 miles since and was the driving force behind the Black Lives Matter protest re-channeling into a rally next to the race, not in front of it. And Mike, oh man, Mike. This guy, an eye specialist, who diagnosed his own heart condition. This guy, an avid cyclist too, was run off the road while out for a ride just last year, he suffered a major shoulder injury, but opted to postpone surgery in favour of being a Global Hero. He killed his 10 mile time and few days later was under the knife getting his shoulder repaired.

A friendship knows no borders: Wales, Canada, Canada expat turned Nashvillian, and Zambia.

A friendship knows no borders: Wales, Canada, Canada expat turned Nashvillian, and Zambia represent.

So many fantastic stories. All worthy of the heroism title. And the crazy thing, I was one of them!

I think maybe that’s the hard part for me to truly comprehend. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m awesome – you guys know I know I’m awesome – but I never really thought of my diabetes and my running with diabetes as anything extraordinarily special, it’s just something I do. It’s me.

But that’s the thing, right. Diabetes didn’t end my run. Diagnosis didn’t end any of our runs. Not Akende’s; not Luciana’s; not Delphine’s; not Liga’s; not Sergei’s; not Camilo’s; not Jack’s; not Carmen’s; not Laura’s; not Wen’s; not Sally’s; not Yoshitaa’s; not Kenji’s; not Tomas’; not Nicola’s; not John’s; not Melanie’s; not Mike’s; not Dion’s; not Silvia’s; not Crystal Gail’s; not Sarah’s; not Yulong’s. Not mine.

And that is pretty freaking awesome!

And that’s pretty freaking awesome; heroic, if you will.

Heroism defined!

… oh, and that spending money… wellllllll, let’s just say someone got a new hoodie and standout pink sunglasses!!!

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Stay tuned…

Mama’s Shoes Don’t Fit

Last week I was put in the shoes of my moms for probably the first time ever. Okay, yes, I have a child just like she did (although, I’m only doing it once, not four times over) and some of you may relate that to walking in her shoes. But for me and my moms, it wasn’t until last week that I truly felt what it was like to walk in her shoes.

I didn’t like it.

So here’s the back story: Lightening Bolt’s parents were in the hospital awaiting the arrival of Baby Number 4 (who by the way has the BEST video game name ever) and I was charged with insulin injecting duties for little LB. Something to do with me having the disease, going 28 years of injections, you know, being veteran T-1 and all. And at first I thought no problem. But then the cogs in my brain started spinning.

I have only ever given myself injections. I have never given anyone else a needle, and I have never liked anyone else giving me a needle. I know my pain threshold. I don’t know LB’s. What the frick did I agree to? Oh freaking crud. This kid is going to hate me!

Insert Dr. Google: My fingers frantically danced over the keyboard in search of injecting tutorials. And low and behold, there is a huge spectrum of them: Wikihow; YouTube; BD.com; etc., etc., etc.. Pictures, videos, words, pretty much anyone can become a needle-loving drug addict online! And FYI, none of it is how I do it!

Insert Second Guessing: What if I can’t do it? I haven’t injected a tiny pen syringe in over five years. What if I’ve forgotten the steps? What if I nick a vein? What if I choke? Nope, that wasn’t an option. Texting back and forth with my lovely sister-in-law helped grow my confidence.

But, his eyes: Those what the frick do you think you’re doing eyes as I held the pen in my right hand. His bottom lip, quivering as he realized oh freak, she ain’t kidding. The tears. The clutching, the pulling down his sleeve, the desperate protecting of his arm. The heartbreaking “No! No! No!”. I don’t remember my own tears at the hands of my moms, but I remember the screams at the hands of the nurses who more often than not left my arms purple and blue. Oh dear. How could I do this?

Granny, you're not seriously letting her near me with that thing are you? Granny????

Granny, you’re not seriously letting her near me with that thing are you? Granny????

I counted. My moms consoled. I rubbed his back. I tried to calm him.  His big brother jumped, bounced and danced. My boy looked at me with those same eyes, what the frick you doing to my cousin bestie mama? I showed him my pump, I showed him my meter, I told him we were the same. But a 4.5 year old facing a needle at the hands of someone he’d never had a needle from prior was not going to understand.

I didn’t know his pain threshold.

The needle was in, the needle was out. The un-trusting glare on his face remained. I will never forget that look, and likely will be getting it for the next 30 years.

Last week I walked in the shoes of my moms; I didn’t like it.

YESTERDAY’S RUN:
3:30 p.m. BG before: 4.7
Temp. basal: -100% (1 hour)
Carbs: gummy bears
Time: 41:45
Distance: 7.13 km
Average pace: 5:51 min/km
4:30 p.m. BG after: 9.1
Temp. basal: +100% (1 hour)

This run was bittersweet – sweet that I made it a whole 2 more kms then I did on my runs last week, but bitter in that my heel was achy and my toes got a bloody cramp in them half way into the run. Argh!

(Top) Taken moments before the beads of sweat on my forehead became beads of sweat in my eyes – youch! (Left) From my run on Saturday when my foot was freshly taped and I felt not even a tick of an ache for the whole run. (Right) Toe cramp! Toe cramp! Toe cramp!

(Top) Taken moments before the beads of sweat on my forehead became beads of sweat in my eyes – youch! (Left) From my run on Saturday when my foot was freshly taped and I felt not even a tick of an ache for the whole run. (Right) Toe cramp! Toe cramp! Toe cramp!

T-1 25 days until Global Heroes Medtronic Twin Cities in Motion 10 Mile. I will conquer this!

Medtronic: Third Time’s a Charm

They picked me! They picked me! Ohmygawd, they picked me!

Okay folks, I have had this news bottled up inside me, desperately wanting to burst free for over a month now. I have so greatly wanted to share it, but two factors kept me from all out spilling the beans. First, I thought I would wait until it was officially announced, and second, silly me decided to take a two-part, condensed organic chemistry course over the summer, which is taking ALL my time. But with my second to last exam completed as of Friday, and my brain far too mushy to delve straight into finals mode, and procrastinating from finishing the two lab reports due this week, now is the perfect opportunity to gush. Are you ready for it? Like, really ready? Okay……..

Twin Cities in Motion and Medtronic Philanthropy chose me – ME – to represent at this year’s Medtronic Twin Cities 10 mile race as a Global Hero!!!

A Global FREAKING Hero!!!

That means: fully covered airfare for Big Ring and I to Minneapolis in October, hotel covered, race entry covered, (if Big Ring was a runner, he, too, would have been granted a race entry), meals, networking and more – all covered!!! Oh yeah, and a watermelon sized ego with the new label Global FREAKING Hero!!!

Eeeeeeeeeee!!!!

Eeeeeeeeeee!!!!

Every year, since 2006, Medtronic has selected a group of runners from around the world, sporting various medical devices, to run this race. For those of you who don’t know, Medtronic is one of the major insulin pump distributors in North America, among other things.

I first heard about this program when I was on maternity leave two and half years ago and thought, wow, what an incredible opportunity. I’m a runner, I have diabetes, I have an insulin pump, I’m perfect. It took three tries for the judging committee to realize my perfection, mind you, but given recent events, this year is surely the most perfect year of all.

I’ve never really considered myself a hero, and most definitely not a global one. I have diabetes, that’s it. I’ve lived more of my life with diabetes than without, that’s it. I’ve run marathons with diabetes, hiked mountains with diabetes, dragon-boated lakes with diabetes, that’s it. I’ve traveled the world with diabetes, climbed up and down the Eiffel Tower steps with diabetes, dipped my toes in the Mediterranean with diabetes, cycled the Belgian cobbles with diabetes, that’s it. I’ve been pregnant with diabetes, given birth with diabetes, parented with diabetes, that’s it. I’ve had a successful career with diabetes, and have gone back to school in pursuit of a new career with diabetes to help others with diabetes, that’s it.

Because I can.  (L-R-L) Vernazza, Cinque Terre; Paterberg, Belgium; testing BG in Central Park, New York; Police Challenge 10 km, Abbotsford; Little Ring; Little Ring in my belly.

Because I can.
(L-R-L) Vernazza, Cinque Terre; Paterberg, Belgium; testing BG in Central Park, New York; Sibling Show Down, Police Challenge 10 km; Little Ring; Little Ring in my belly.

But the thing is, many of those things my parents were told I would not be able to do because of diabetes.

And while I am so incredibly proud that I have done all that, and intend to do way more, life with Dear Diabetes isn’t like life without. I’d be lying if I didn’t say this disease hasn’t required incredible amounts of preparation and monitoring to make the above possible. And even with the scrutiny I put myself through daily to ensure tip-top control, it’s not always possible. The disease sometimes wins.

Like that time I climbed down the Eiffel Tower steps at about 11 p.m. at night…

Xxx

On top of Eiffel Tower

The sky was black dark but for the tower’s glowing yellow lights. My legs were becoming shaky and my vision was skipping a few steps. At first I thought I was just tired, but soon realized that nope, it was Dear Diabetes reminding me she was there.

Always there.

Dear Diabetes: the accessory of my life.

Dear Diabetes: the accessory of my life.

Yet still, she does not define me and she never will. I will continue to push the boundaries of my body with diabetes. I will continue to explore the greatness of this world with diabetes. I will continue to push pass the diabetes naysayers and their annoyingly pitiful eyes. I will do whatever I possibly can to show one of the most important boys of my life that superheroes can have diabetes too.

So yeah, I am kind of a big deal – a Global Hero big deal!

super duper...

Eeeeeeee!!!!!!!

* I’ll be running the Medtronic Twin Cities 10 mile on Oct. 4 with 24 other totally awesome, and I am sure super inspiring too, Global Heroes. This is the 10th anniversary of the Global Heroes program. Stay tuned for more updates!

Watermelon head is back!

My fame has risen once again. Seriously people, my head is soon gonna be the size of a watermelon again (not that I’m complaining 😉 )

030512Watermelon head
Brother-sister rivalry.

Remember my Almost Famous post last month? The one where my star shone through the pages of Canadian Running Magazine? (For those of you not in Canada, here’s a link to the article: http://runningmagazine.ca/measuring-progress/)

Well folks, that fame has given me even more fame! Earlier this week, Best of the Betes Blogs released the month of winners, and guess who’s name was on that list? Me! Me! Me! My Almost Famous post was awarded Best Reference to a D-Celebrity (That’s me!) for my super awesome diabetes advocacy. Wahoo!

Famous!!!

TODAY’S RUN:

  • 3 p.m. BG before: 8.1
  • Carbs: none
  • Temp. basal: -50 per cent (1 hour)
  • Time: 34.06 minutes
  • Distance: 6.13 km
  • Average pace: 5:34 min/km
  • Average cadence: 88 spm
  • 4 p.m. BG after: 4.7

So today, while it was cold enough out for ice on the river, it most definitely was NOT cold enough for layers and layers of running clothes. The fleece and the gloves were major overkill.

But hey, I’m not complaining. The sun was shining. Garmin told me I’m an “experienced,” “faster” runner based on my cadence – blue baby!!! And my running shadow looked liked I was a super hot, caped superhero! Hehe 😀

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Shadows are the best!

Running with BOB

Dear BOB,

I’m really not sure how much longer this relationship of ours will last. I had had such high hopes for our running friendship months before we were even introduced, but my gawd, practically every time we meet you terribly disappoint.

Shall we start with your blatant rotundness dear pal? I don’t know who you’re trying to kid here, it doesn’t matter how much of that “slimming” dark blue you try to camouflage yourself with, it is so painfully obvious you need to lose weight. A lot of weight! I mean, seriously, you told me you had a lean frame, you told me you were light as a feather, you told me you were so fit, you could run like the Kenyans, but the second I saw you, I knew you were lying, I knew you were nothing more than a oaf that’s been planted in front of the TV for months on end, eating nothing but Oreos and cream cheese.

That is not acceptable.

You told me you’d be a great running partner, meeting my needs with every foot cycle made. You said you were fast, a Speedy Gonzalez. You said you were superior when it came to hills and rough terrain trails. You said no run could beat you; your stability was second to none. You were smooth in your courtship, oh yes you were. And when we stepped outside for that first run together, ohhh how I had hoped it would be a beautiful run, a run reminiscent of those with my favourite running chicks. But no, sadly, just like 90 per cent of the others trolling those online match-making sites (which is where we first met) I quickly came to the realization, you were nothing but a big, fat, no-good liar.

That is not acceptable.

Fast? Stable? Superior maneuverability? Are you kidding me? Your heavy load does nothing but slow me down. Your wobbliness has me veering all over the pavement. I try to help guide you in a straight line with one hand on your shoulder, while fiercely pumping my other arm trying to give us both added momentum, but your form, Dear BOB, is such a blimey mess, I’m forced to plant both hands on your shoulders more often than not, which then screws up my form. And how about that time you decided to go careening into the cement embankment while descending down a hill.

That is NOT acceptable.

Granted, you have made a friend in Big Ring. He boasts about how you keep his pace at a good tempo, how you keep him from expending all his energy too early in the run. He loves your support on the run, brags about how you’re probably the best running partner he’s ever had, always there for him to lean on when in need. He gives me pep talks, sends me links to articles about top marathoners running with your twins, says you’ll help me get stronger, you’ll help with my endurance. And he tells me that nothing will ever live up to my favourites, but that I need to be patient, adjust to the change, and in time, he’s confident I’ll soon love you too, or at the very least, not loathe you. But BOB, don’t get too comfortable, I’m on to that Big Ring, oh yes I am. These exclamations of praise and patience are nothing more than him not wanting a new cycling partner of his own.

130205BigRingpartner
SOURCE: How totally awesome is iBert? First, she doesn’t require any additional storage space, and surely if Bianchi can take her for a spin, so can Lapierre 🙂

So BOB, what are you going to do about this? Are you gonna shape up? Are you going to start acting like the inflated description in your profile and produce? Or, are you going to continue to be a joke, a failed, un-laughable joke? The choice is yours, BOB, but let me tell you, if you choose the latter, you will be replaced by a leaner, meaner, fitter, better running partner. Oh yeah, you better be scared!

Sincerely,
Princess

130205BOBstroller

YESTERDAY’S RUN… with BOB

  • 5:30 BG before: 9.0
  • Temp. basal: none
  • Time: 33 minutes – 10 minutes warm up/ 10 minutes tempo/ 10 minutes cool down
  • 6:30 p.m. BG after: 7.2