This past Sunday I took part in my first triathlon of the year. This race has been around for 30 years and something I have always wanted to do. The distances were longer than the other triathlons I have done - 1km swim (in a 50m pool), 26km bike and 8km run. Over the winter months I worked hard on gaining strength and muscle as well as regularly biking and running, with a bit of swimming thrown in.
I did not sleep great the night before the race and was up at 4:45am to get ready. I felt quite lethargic and a blood sugar check showed a high of 13.7. Figures! As I would not actually be starting the race for some time, I took a full correction and was out of the house by 5:30am. Grabbed a coffee on the way and got to the race start by 6:00am. By 6:30 my sugars were at 12.0. I had no choice but to eat my breakfast and bolus for it, fingers crossed. Checked in, set up my transition area and then wandered around with my friend Linda before go time. Checked my blood sugars every half hour and the numbers were not impressing me at all. A half hour before my swim I was hovering at 14.2. Made the decision to bolus half a unit and hoped they would come down during the swim. No temporary basal set which made me a bit nervous. Silly diabetes!!
I had no real time goal going into the race and thought I would be happy
with a 2 hr 15 min finish. You can imagine my excitement with my
2:02:43 min finish! Lets break this down.
I will be the first to put my hand up and say that my swim training has kind of sucked. I have been concentrating fully on running, biking and strength training. I swam about three times per month. Not enough! However I was still pretty happy with the swim. I felt like I seeded myself well and overall I felt strong. I had to pass a few people which slowed me down as I passed them at the end of the lane. I finished the swim in 21:15. My results show 23:15, this includes my way too long transition time of 2 minutes. After hopping out of the pool you had to run outside, up a small hill (with thistles!), back down and to the bike. I managed to get my bike helmet and shoes on pretty quick, however testing my darn blood sugars was a task. The first test I did not have enough blood, the second one worked. 8.1, perfect! Threw back a shot block and ran to where I could mount my bike.
The bike course was four loops up and down Groat Road. It was pretty cool to be out on the bike on a road I would otherwise never ride on with traffic. The way out was all downhill and then a climb back up. I am definitely much stronger on going uphill than I am downhill. I have to work on getting over my fear of crashing, lol. My top speed going downhill was 43km/hr and I think I screamed a bit, ha ha. I powered up the hills and passed quite a few. Looking back, I could have pushed even harder however I was trying to save some energy for the run. I finished the bike in 56 minutes, results show 58:05 to include transition. I dismounted at the line and then you had to run a ways with your bike to get back to transition. I did not like that part as it added to my transition time. I changed shoes, put a hat on and tested my sugars. 10.0. I was happy with that and took off for the run.
Just like anytime I run off the bike I felt like I was barely moving, my legs felt heavy! The run went down Groat Road into McKinnon Ravine and then back up. 4km out and back. The run was pretty uneventful and I really enjoyed it. I felt strong and did not have to walk. My favorite part was the end, as you were about 150 meters from the finish there were a lot of people cheering and the announcer calls your name. I felt on top of the world! I was shocked to see that I had finished the run in 41:24. A pace of 5:11/km. It felt like I was going much slower than that. Again there were parts of the run I could have pushed harder, but I was enjoying it so much!
After I finished Ryan was there to give me a big hug. I was so excited about how well I had felt the entire time and was super happy with my blood sugars! I finished with a blood sugar of 8.4, a bit on the high side but much better than being low. I bolused a correction as I always do after intense exercise and went to find Linda. Big hugs and high fives all around. There was not much I could eat after (all gluten stuff) so I packed up my stuff, grabbed a huge coffee and headed home to eat.
This was a very positive race experience for me. I felt strong and have definitely become fitter over the last 6 months. I had a great time and felt very happy with my result. I know I can push a bit harder and that makes me feel good. I felt pretty good about my diabetic management, except for the high blood sugars beforehand. This prevented me from taking in as much fuel a I would have liked. I am already excited for my next one (which will be an Olympic distance). Here is a picture of me after the race :)
Friday, 16 May 2014
Share the (non-medical) tips and tricks that help you in the day-to-day management of diabetes.
This is an interesting topic. Every single diabetic I have spoken to has little tips and tricks on making living with diabetes a little bit easier. Here is a random list of my own:
* A good place to store your waterproof pump when swimming is clipped to the front of your bathing suit with the screen of the pump facing inward. Keeps it nice and snug, no worries about it dropping to the bottom of the pool.
* Keep a quarter in your meter case for pump battery changes, makes unscrewing that little cap so much easier.
* After a site change, leave your old site in for a couple of hours. This seems to have helped me in the highs I was experiencing after changing my site.
* If making soups, stews or chili's in big batches, freeze them in freezer bags instead of containers and write the carb count on the front of the freezer bag. A good way to portion things out correctly, get the exact amount of carbs to bolus for and save space in your freezer.
* When you go running and want to bring along some glucose tabs just in case of a low, put them in a snack size Ziploc bag and then store them in the side of your sports bra. Not only does this keep them dry, but it keeps them warmer so if you need to use them they dissolve faster in your mouth.
* Store your emergency glucagon in a toothbrush holder and write the expiry date with a sharpie on the outside. They are the perfect size to hold everything you need, including the instructions.
I am heading off camping for the long weekend so will post my remaining two D-Blog week entries on Monday. Happy Friday!
Thursday, 15 May 2014
Yesterday we opened up about how diabetes can bring us down. Today let’s share what gets us through a hard day. Or more specifically, a hard diabetes day. Is there something positive you tell yourself? Are there mantras that you fall back on to get you through? Is there something specific you do when your mood needs a boost? Maybe we've done that and we can help others do it too?
I would not necessarily say that I have a diabetes specific mantra. I do have two sayings that come to mind when I am facing anything difficult or challenging.
My favorite one is "Suck it Up Princess". I have a road ID tag for my running shoe and this is the saying I have on it. I find that saying this to myself or having someone say it to me gives me the push I need to overcome a hurdle. It reminds me that I can get through tough things and that I am strong. During each marathon and triathlon when I have wanted to stop and lay on the sidewalk I tell myself this over and over. It works a charm :) I have also been known to say this to others when I know they need it. It also applies to dealing with being a Type 1 diabetic. I use this to remind myself that there are others that have much harder things to deal with.
Another thing I often say to myself, and this is in tune with a diabetes inspired project of the same name, is "You Can Do This". I have been saying this to myself for as long as I can remember. Before standing in front of my grade 4 class to read my short story for the oratorical contest, before performing on stage in a play for the first time, before every basketball, baseball, badminton or track event for the school teams, before getting on an airplane alone and traveling across the world to live and travel, before my first job interview, before and many times during each road race, trail race or triathlon I have participated in. I said it to myself over and over again after being diagnosed Type 1 diabetic. Before injecting myself for the first time, before checking my blood sugar for the first time, while suffering my first low and high blood sugars, before my cataract surgeries, before my first insulin pump site insertion, while suffering so badly with the pain in my nerves, when going for my first run post-diagnosis and I was terrified, before undergoing a gastroscopy for my celiac diagnosis. I think you get the picture.
I think my new combined mantra is going to be "Suck it Up Princess, You Can Do This"!
Wednesday, 14 May 2014
Our topic for today is What Brings Me Down. May is Mental Health Month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope?
If I were to have written this post during the first 12 months after my diagnosis it would be written very differently than the one I am about to write. Being diagnosed at the age of 32 sent me for a complete 360. That first year was a complete whirlwind of emotion for me. Fear, devastation, denial, anger, frustration, confusion and a lot of sadness.
Fast forward to today. I have been a Type 1 diabetic for over 2.5 years and definitely struggle with it on a mental level, just in a different way. My emotions are not as raw as they once were, but they are deeper. I no longer feel angry at the world and I no longer pity myself. I do however have a lot of anger towards the disease, anger and frustration. I get angry when I am ready for a run/bike/swim and my blood sugars are too low or to high to go. I get angry when I cannot get a high blood sugar to come down and my head swims in a fog and I cannot focus. I get angry when I have a low blood sugar completely out of the blue and have to stop everything and wait for my insides to stop shaking and for my brain to start working. I get angry when I have to eat when I am full just to get my blood sugars up and I get angry when I am hungry but have to wait for my sugars to come down in order to eat. I get angry when I have to argue with my benefits company about how many test strips I should use in a day. I get angry that I have to practically carry a suitcase with me everywhere I go to lug all my diabetes stuff around in. I get angry that there are many people in this world with Type 1 diabetes that do not have access to the type of care I have, that some go without up to date insulin, can only test once or twice a day, have never seen a specialist.
I also feel frustrated for many of the same reasons. In fact I get frustrated when I get angry and angry when I get frustrated!
Fear is something that has worked itself inside my brain. When I go to bed every night I am scared that I might not wake up. It is usually a quick thought, but it is there. I fear what the disease is doing to me inside. I look, feel and act well, but I know that each and every day with Type 1 diabetes takes a toll on my body. I wonder what it is doing to my organs, eyes and nerves. I get scared that one of my beloved nieces or nephews may end up being Type 1 diabetic. I know there is nothing I could do to stop that from happening, but I worry about it. I worry about being a burden on my loved ones.
I also often feel exhausted Not exhaustion in the sleepy way (although the 3:30am blood sugar checks do contribute to that feeling), more of being exhausted of keeping the disease in check 24 hours a day. Not an hour goes by in my day where I don't think of diabetes. There is the many blood sugar checks a day, the 3:30am checks every day, calculating of carbs, dosing of insulin, predicting what will happen during exercise, treating highs and lows...and the list goes on. It can be very daunting.
I know this all makes it sound like doom and gloom, but it's not. These are feelings that do surface a lot, sometimes I dwell on them, most of the time I don't. They come, they pass and I move on.
Tuesday, 13 May 2014
Our topic today is Poetry Tuesday. This year, Diabetes Blog Week and TuDiabetes are teaming up to bring out the poet in you! Write a poem, rhyme, ballad, haiku, or any other form of poetry about diabetes.
I have always loved poetry and in my teenage years I wrote a countless number of poems. One thing I have never been very good at is writing a Haiku - so today I attempted one :)
Just one drop of blood
Is all that it takes to know
How my day will go
Monday, 12 May 2014
Today’s topic is Change the World. Let’s kick off Diabetes Blog Week by talking about the diabetes causes and issues that really get us fired up. Are you passionate about 504 plans and school safety? Do diabetes misconceptions irk you? Do you fight for CGM coverage for Medicare patients, SDP funding, or test strip accuracy? Do you work hard at creating diabetes connections and bringing support? Whether or not you “formally” advocate for any cause, share the issues that are important to you.
What better way to get back into the blogging groove than participating in this years DBlogWeek? I have been missing in action for too long and am itching to get back to writing. So, lets get to it!
There a few things I have done to advocate for diabetes awareness. I have walked in the JDRF walk and also volunteered as a panelist with a group of teenage girls discussing issues faced as a young woman with diabetes. I would like to do more however, much much more!
The thing I would say that I am most passionate about when it comes to diabetes is educating others about the disease. Nearly 100% of this is done through daily encounters with co-workers, friends and family. Often it is not intentional - however the lack of knowledge in general often makes me open my mouth. I love having the opportunity to dismiss myths and to educate. Sometimes statements or comments can spark a bit of a fire in my belly and I cannot help but speak up. I also have the pleasure of training with some wonderful ladies and they are always interested to hear about managing diabetes while being active.
One thing I would like to do more of is talk about my experiences with running, swimming and biking while managing diabetes. I found the first couple of years as a diabetic extremely frustrating as I had no idea how to manage sugars while trying to do long distance training. Through the help of the DOC and a lot of trial and error, I am much more confident. I guess one way I can do this is by blogging more!
I want to thank all of you bloggers out there for being such an amazing support network. Each day I read stories and feel like I really belong to a fantastic community.