cycling

We Interrupt This Irregularly Scheduled Diabetes

I’ve been running high lately, and I don’t know why.

BG 220

That’s a lie. I know why. I eat too much, too often, and too late. Or I don’t eat, and then I go low or get super hungry, and then I eat all the things. Dang those holiday treats!

Eat All The Things

I haven’t been working out, exercising, or bringing sexy back. I have a gym membership, so accessibility to a place to exercise certainly isn’t the problem. I always find some seemingly good excuse for not getting there. First I was busy trying to find a new place to live. Then I was busy moving. Then I hurt both hands during the move.

Hurt Hands

Then I got even busier than usual at work creating something that I am extremely excited about. We are starting a new diabetes journal, available to all, and we’re now accepting research and volunteers to be peer reviewers. Check out The PLAID Journal. You can see a couple of videos and news articles about the The PLAID Journal on the Announcements page. Also, the Facebook page for PLAID. (Lots more to come on PLAID, so stay tuned.)

PLAID - Start the Conversation

Then the knee that I hurt while cycling several years ago flared up again. Add to all of that an ever-growing to-do list, and there is always something that keeps me focused on something other than me.

I hate it. I hate the feeling of my blood sugar being high. I hate that I can’t get my BG to stay where I want it. I hate when I prick my finger and see a number that is dramatically higher than I feel because my body is getting used to it. I hate being thirsty. I hate waking up in the middle of the night to go pee. I hate thinking about it. All. The. Time.

I also hate being overweight. I hate feeling like I am the overweight that I am. I know that we’re in an age where we are supposed to accept our bodies and all that jazz, but this is not normal. I can’t just accept this. I don’t feel like me at this size. I feel like I’m stuck in a heavy fat suit, and everything I do is just that much harder because of it.

But for whatever reasons, I can’t seem to change it.

Before April of this year, I was on Weight Watchers, and I was doing pretty well with it. I had lost over 10 pounds in three or four months, and was feeling pretty good. I was on track to get back to a weight and size that I wanted to be. And stronger. And back to a more human shaped geometry, instead of just round.

Martin and Amanda on Bicycles

Today, I’m the heaviest that I’ve every been. Almost 207 whopping pounds. I put that out there for no other real purpose than to make it real. I should be about 170, in an ideal world. And I’ve seen a human skeleton. Short of an anatomical anomaly, there is no such thing as “big boned.” I’m just plain old overweight right now.

As joyous as April started out with Amanda and I tying the knot in beautiful Key West, it ended in tragedy with the loss of our precious little cat Squirt, and I know that losing her has played a role in where I am now. To some it may sound silly (she was so much more than “just a cat”), but she was a part of my life every single day for nearly 14 years. It feels like the loss of an immediate family member, because that is exactly what it is. I think dealing with that loss, on top of everything else already mentioned, has made me do things like eat my emotions and talk myself out of doing fun active things.

Squirt in the Window

Working out and exercising has always been like therapy to me. Be it gym, walking, running, or cycling, it’s a safe place for me to get out all of my stress, frustration, anger, aggression, sadness, and any other negative emotions that I’m dealing with. Some days I only need 30 minutes or so. Other days I might need a couple of hours. It also makes sure that I have a few minutes during normal human hours of the day that are just for me, Martin Wood, where I’m not making sure that the needs of everyone else are being met.

It’s my career choice to help people, and it is a major part of who I am, and I love it, but sometimes in order to help people we have to make the time to help ourselves. I haven’t been doing enough of that. Now that we are in a neighborhood where there is less chance of going for a walk or run and interrupting a drug deal, I finally feel that spark of motivation to get out of the house and move around.

I also enjoy doing other things, like reading, video games, movies, and basically anything that doesn’t involve repairing yet another kitchen appliance in my house. Sometimes it’s hard to make room for those things, but we have to. Down time is as necessary to life as to-do lists and full calendars. A friend said recently that “cancelling a holiday commitment is like heroin.” Try it. Substitute an evening on the couch with the dog and the first half of this season of The Walking Dead. (Beth…noooooo!!!)

Life with diabetes is freaking hard, man. Life with diabetes is about so much more than just diabetes. Life with diabetes is a complicated balance of biometrics, medical therapies, activities, unexpected events, important considerations, random emotions, bright sides, dark places, and things left unsaid that have to be factored into an inarticulate equation that hopefully results in a personal definition of success.

All of this is what it takes to get my A1C where I want it, to get my BG’s on a more level plain instead of high or bouncing all over the place, to get back to Weight Watchers and better control of all of the delicious things that I’ve been cramming into my face hole, to develop the strength and stamina to avoid future injuries, and to drop some pounds and be able to haul ass without it taking two trips. That is what it takes to focus more on the things that I do have in my world that bring joy, for me, Martin Wood. Like these two…

A and H

That is what it takes to start to feel better. To feel happy. To feel able. To feel normal. And if I can’t do it on my own, then I’ll have to figure out who the right people are and get them on my bus to help me get further along down that road. For now, it’s one mile at a time.

–MW

32 Things

Today is an important day in Martin World. A day that I look back and reflect on some of my accomplishments.

1. I passed Chemistry in high school. It was the hardest class for me. Tutoring helped. The tutor had a cute daughter. Those last two statements are mostly unrelated.

2. I graduated. Four times. Because once just wasn’t enough. (HS, AA, BS, MS…in case you were wondering.)

3. I was a DJ. On a Christian music radio station. Yeah, I don’t believe that either. But it’s true.

4. I found love. And lost it. And found it. And lost it. And found it again. I’m like a country song.

5. I’ve changed the world. Sort of. I stepped on an ant hill. “World” is relative.

6. I’ve been a President. It’s a lot harder than it looks.

7. I rode my bicycle over 100 miles in one day. Most people have enough sense not to do that.

8. I had dinner with Olivia Wilde. Kind of. She was two tables away from me. I’m still counting it. Can we be friends?

9. I was fired once. They called it a “lay off” because of the recession. Lipstick on a pig.

10. I’ve worked in two libraries so far in my career. I’ve been the token male in both. I’m like a trophy librarian.

11. I’ve been an Apple, an Android, and a PC. I prefer being an Apple.

12. I was voted Most Intelligent in middle school. It was nerdy at the time. Now it’s dead sexy.

13. I grew up on a farm. I delivered a calf. I about had a cow.

14. I had a dog named BJ when I was a kid. I lived on Fifth Street. I’m usually on top of that “What would be your name?” game.

15. I write with Sharpies. People with dry erase boards hate me when I get excited about flowcharts and to-do lists.

16. I worked in a 1-hour photo lab. I got paid to stick my nose in everybody else’s business.

17. I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise. According to the first rule, I can’t talk about this. I do love the movie though.

18. I wear a Mickey Mouse watch. It reminds me that great things start with small ideas.

19. I have jumped out of a perfectly good airplane.

20. I have a tattoo. I’d like to get another one. I just don’t know what yet.

21. I love video games. They are a way that I escape and decompress. I also want my own personal Navi, like in Zelda.

Navi_Hey_Listen

22. I always have more to do than I have time for. In related news, sleep is a nuisance.

23. I like to explore a new city on foot or bike. You see things that you didn’t realize were there. Like celebrities.

24. I love New York, DC, and Seattle.

25. I’ve tried escargot (snails). It’s not my thing.

26. I speak a little bit of Russian. I would like to learn how to speak Spanish. English would also be helpful, some days.

27. I can’t speak in coherent sentences before coffee in the morning.

28. I’ve read every book by Terry Goodkind, Barbara Kingsolver, Tobias Buckell, and John Steinbeck.

29. I have pets that are some of my favorite people. Two dogs and a cat. All spoiled rotten.

30. I have moved nine times in my life so far. Books are very heavy. Save your back, buy an e-reader. And get a library card for Pete’s sake.

31. I gravitate toward leadership roles. Which probably explains why my to-do list is so long.

32. Today is my 32nd diaversary. 32 years with Type 1 Diabetes. Making it this long is nothing short of a big deal. But, as you can see, there is a lot more to me than just diabetes.

Briar Patch

I’m not perfect. There, I said it.

The past few days have been a rollercoaster of educational opportunities and lessons learned for me. It’s as if I’m stuck in the Robert Frost poem about two trails diverging in the woods, and I’m constantly finding myself on the one that is less traveled.

Of course, the road less traveled is the one that is supposed to make all the difference. That whole “thrive through adversity” thing, I guess. If I’m being honest though, it’s exhausting always traveling that path. Sometimes I’d like to just travel the well worn option, where I can proceed without so much resistance.

I remember my mom telling me when I was growing up that when you’re stressed out and upset, you have to find your stressors, and get rid of them. That sounds so easy, but in reality, there are a lot of stressors that we have no control over. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what you do, it’s never going to be perfect, right, or appropriate for everybody.

That is exactly where I’m at right now. From nasty emails that completely blow non-issues out of proportion, to trying to lead a group of people with shifting priorities in all directions, to dealing with supposed professionals behaving unprofessionally, I feel like I’m traveling down a path that more closely resembles a briar patch than it does a simple path less traveled.

It’s hard not to internalize times like these, especially when there are conflicting reports about whether or not you are doing a good job. It’s hard not to take it personal. Sometimes I just need someone to say, “Martin, I know this is hard, and I know you feel like the world is against you because of these few small things, but you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like you.” Preferably in the Stuart Smalley voice. Short of that, I’d settle for someone that knows just telling me that I’m doing the right thing, because sometimes I’m just doing the best I can and hoping that is good enough.

I guess this is the part that I could link to diabetes. Fortunately, and thankfully, it’s not my diabetes that is giving me the hardest time right now. I’m waiting on new test strips to get approved by my insurance company and arrive, sure. I need to order pump supplies, of course. But really, those things are just another day with the “D.”

I did get to Skype with some amazing Students With Diabetes from Tampa last night, and that was awesome! I love hanging out with people with diabetes (PWDs), even if it is virtually. They certainly reminded me that not all is awful in the world, and even if we get the diabetes blues, PWDs are resilient and forever hopeful.

SWD_02_06_2013

That is what I have to remember right now. There is hope. Better days are just around the corner. You can’t please everybody, and sometimes it really doesn’t matter what you do, some people have made up their minds from the start that they are going to proceed with their panties in a wad or their boxers in a bunch. I just have to be consistent, and stay positive, briar patch or not.

The advice I gave to the Students With Diabetes last night about diabetes blues is that if you can find a way to laugh about it, you can overcome it.

That said, who wants to get me one of these Lionel Richie cheese plates for my birthday on Saturday? Or you could just donate to my Tour de Cure and help me kick diabetes in the teeth. Either way, you da best, and I thank you from the bottom of my busted pancreas.

HelloBrieOR

ADATdC2013

 

Finding My Inner Ryan Reynolds

Every year right around this time we all dream up our New Year’s resolutions. Some form of weight loss, get in shape, go on a diet, or eat healthy is almost always at the top of everyone’s New Year’s list. This year, I’m feeling the stretch, and I realize that I need to do something to get back to my size 4 bikini body again.

Actually, I don’t even know what that means. I just heard it on an infomercial for some kind of magic beans that are supposed to make your clothes fit better. Truth be known, they probably have a better chance of turning into a beanstalk and leading to a land of giants than they do making me lose weight.

I bet they are good with ham though. Anyway, moving on…

I freely admit that I weigh more than I want to right now. I’m overweight. Heck, I might even be considered obese by the current standards of  how big a person’s butt should and shouldn’t be. (And don’t you dare tell me what the difference is. I don’t want to know.) What I do know is that my clothes fit a little tighter than I would sometimes call comfortable. I can’t really button the top button on my dress shirts right now because my head and neck resemble Jabba the Hut. If someone told me to haul ass, it’s questionable if it would take me one trip or two to get it all. At least, that is how I feel.

BusinessJabba

I’d love to lose some of the extra pounds that I’m carrying around. I know it would make me feel better, both inside and out. I mean, there is a Ryan Reynolds under all of this that is just waiting to get out. I’m just trying to find a real solid purpose that I can grab onto besides, “Skinny people are happier.” Oh yeah? With that kind of logic, rich people must also be less lonely, hairy people have more style, and short people enjoy the smell of toots. Give me a break. Happy has nothing to do with weight, just like loneliness has nothing to do with how much money you have.

And everybody hates the smell of toots. Unless you’re a proctologist. Then it just smells like money.

When I signed up for my last gym membership, my goal was simple: I wanted to look good naked. I could have said that I wanted to be able to run a marathon, or be in good enough shape to teach spin class, or ride my bike for miles and miles and miles, but…well…yeah, naked. You have your goals, I have mine. Unfortunately, 2012 was a really hard year for me to establish and maintain a routine of exercise, working out, riding my bike, and keeping active consistently, and I feel like I’ve lost my way a bit. I could blame it on a chaotic schedule, being overwhelmed by other things going on, not having enough time, or that the Mayan’s had predicted that the world was going to end anyway, so why bother. When it really comes down to it though, it was me. I didn’t take time or make time, and I realize that I really need time to exercise and work out for both my physical and mental well being.

In order to change all of that for 2013, A-Flizzle and I worked extremely hard in our garage over the holidays to get it organized so that we could have a functional workout space that would be available despite my busy and often chaotic schedule. If I want to work out at 11 o’clock at night, I can. I don’t have a bunch of expensive equipment, but what I do have I can definitely make the most of now. I’m SUPER excited about it.

GarageGym

In 2013, I’m trying to get back to establishing consistent exercise routines. I’ve really got to find a way to make time to train and get to where I want to be. The first place I want to be is on my bike in a few months for the Tour de Cure. My goal is to train consistently this Spring so that I can complete the 100 mile century bike ride in May. From there, who knows? Hopefully by then there will be other bike rides that I can train for. Or maybe even a triathlon. Wouldn’t that be exciting?! But, first things first.

I know that exercise is only part of the story. In order to get fit and have a set of abs worthy of doing laundry on (thanks Ryan Reynolds for setting THAT bar so high), I realize that I also have to eat right. What does “eat right” even mean these days? I look at all of the options for supposed “eating right” and I wonder how in the world I can adopt something like Weight Watchers, Atkins, Paleo, eating clean, gluten free, zero trans fat, and all the other whoop-tee-do diets out there for the rest of my life. I don’t want to make a change that gets me to where I want to be with my size and weight, just to reach that goal and balloon back to being the fat kid that I am now all over again. I also don’t want to not be able to have a Burger King fish sandwich WITH fries when I have one of these:

BG24

Basically, I’m a walking contradiction.

Weight Watchers I don’t get because of the point system. It’s difficult for me to understand how a banana (about 24 carbs, take or give) is zero points. It sure doesn’t feel like zero points when I’m having to bolus for the carbs and then check my blood sugar a couple of hours later to make sure I guesstimated properly and am not sitting at 300. Fruit is like jet fuel for blood sugars when you have Type 1 diabetes (YDMV – your diabetes may vary). “Free food” is really just a matter of perspective. Yet it works for so many people.

Then there is Atkins. How is it healthy to eat that much meat? I mean, essentially the diet is a version of a low carb diet, but it also talks about putting your body into ketoacidosis. Aren’t we supposed to be staying OUT of ketoacidosis? Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) can mean a hospital trip for many of us people with diabetes (PWDs). But there again, it works for so many people.

Correction: It’s KETOSIS, not ketoacidosis. Easy to get confused. Thanks Allison!

Those are just two examples, and clearly I don’t understand all of the ins and outs of them all. I see info about this meal plan and that weight loss option, conflicting testimonies and experiences, and I can’t seem to come to any conclusion about what is right for me. It is this lack of understanding that is paralyzing my decision making process on what it means, for me, to “eat right.” I see successes and failures with every single option. How do you pick one? Which one is the “right” one? It’s like walking down the cereal aisle at the grocery store. Can’t I just get the one that is delicious and has the best prize?

I don’t have an answer. I probably just need to commit to something and try it. For now, I know I can work out. I enjoy that, and even look forward to it once I get into the routine. Maybe my rule needs to be, “If you eat it, burn it.” Or maybe it’s, “Sweat like a pig to look like a fox.” It’s one of those. In any case, we’ll call it the “Running on Fumes” plan, and I’ll try to talk Chuck Norris into being my spokesperson. After all, Chuck Norris never loses weight; he knows exactly where it is, and it’s very afraid of him.

Level Foods

Level Up

A recurring theme in my diabetes world is running low. I can function normally with a blood sugar down to the mid-40’s most of the time, and not even realize it. That’s called blood sugar unawareness. It’s also dangerous.

Low blood sugars have a way of sneaking up on me. I finally figure out something is wrong when all of a sudden I’m unable to focus, or my mouth is running 90mph but the words aren’t making sense anymore, or I’m trying to communicate but can’t get any words out at all, or my mood swings from normal to highly agitated and upset for no reason, or I’ve sweat through my clothes and am a shaky mess.

Most days I wear a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM), which alarms when my BG drops too low. Most days, it even catches it in time. However, there are days that I go without my CGM, which is dangerous, stupid, and quite honestly, a total waste of money. Those CGM sensors are not cheap…at all!

When I was a kid, I was stupid and I guess I thought I was invincible, because I would run off to play or with friends and never carry anything to treat a low with me. It’s a wonder that I survived, as active as I am and as busy as I’ve always been, from childhood to adult. I don’t even want to know what my A1C must have been when I was flying by the seat of my pants like that.

After 31 years of Type 1 diabetes, and a lot of lessons learned, I don’t go anywhere without something to treat a low. I’ve got glucose tabs on my car keys. I’ve got juice boxes in my refrigerator. I have a stash of low blood sugar remedies in my nightstand drawer. In fact, I’ve probably got something to treat a low in every room of my house, every bag I carry, in my car, and in every drawer of my desk at work.

There’s a new product that I carry with me everywhere now. It comes in a pouch, and it fits in my pocket, in my BG kit case, in the easy access velcro pocket on the outside of my messenger bag, in my gym bag, in the back of my cycling jersey, in my car, and I’ve even managed to stuff one in my shaving kit for when I’m traveling.

Level Foods

I’m talking about Level. Level is a pouch of glucose gel, 15 grams of carbohydrates in each, that are perfect for me to treat a low blood sugar with…anywhere. I can swallow it easy when my mouth won’t cooperate, it opens easy so that I can rip it open with my teeth if necessary when my hands are being clumsy, and it’s delicious, unlike most other glucose products I’ve choked down in a moment of low blood sugar desperation. Level is available in four flavors: Mandarin Orange, Caramel, Strawberry-Banana, and Vanilla.

One thing that most people with diabetes (PWD’s) who run low can appreciate is that, when we are low, it’s a lot more fun to treat that low blood sugar with something delicious than it is to force feed ourselves with something that nobody would eat on a normal day. That is one thing I like about Level pouches. Treating a low with something that tastes like mandarin-orange, strawberry-banana, caramel or vanilla really isn’t so bad.

My advice: Try it. It’s worth a shot to not have to eat a handful of glucose tabs, at least for one low. Tell the folks at Level that you read about it on Diabetically Speaking, and they’ll throw in a bonus! Just enter diabeticallyspeaking at checkout on their web site, LevelFoods.com, and get 20% off any purchase of $25 or more. Pretty sweet! (Pun kind of intended.)


Now, this is the disclaimer part. I am in cahoots with the company that makes Level. They really didn’t have to push me very hard to get me to say good things about their product. I really wanted to share with those of you that read Diabetically Speaking because it works for me, it doesn’t taste like I’m eating chalk, and I can actually get into it when I’m having a shaky, clumsy, can’t quite get my body to do what it’s supposed to kind of low. It’s pretty much a life saver in Martin’s diabetes world, but in the effort of honesty and integrity, I’m divulging that not only am I a Level fan, I’m also a customer. So there. Remember, enter diabeticallyspeaking at checkout at LevelFoods.com, and get 20% off orders of $25 or more.

Coco and Me - FFL 2011

Here A Mascot, There A Mascot

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 24: My Mascot! Give your condition, community, or self a mascot. Who is it? What do they represent? What is their battle cry?NHBPM_2011_Day24

Dictionary.com defines a mascot as “an animal, person, or thing adopted by a group as its representative symbol and supposed to bring good luck.” I feel like there are a lot of potential candidates for a diabetes mascot.

First, there is this thing that Jacquie and I found at Friends For Life last summer. I’m not even sure what it is. Is it an insulin pump? Is it a BG meter? Is it a calculator? Is it a magic robot with an affinity for sideways exclamation points?

Jacquie Meter and Me - FFL 2011

Then there is Lenny the Lion. Granted, he’s already got a full-time gig as the Medtronic mascot, but he does have the advantage of being well-versed with an insulin pump. And think, with those cat claws, you would never have to replace a lancet ever again!

Lenny and Me - FFL 2011

Coco is a great candidate for a mascot as well. She has Type 1 diabetes. She has lots of friends and lots of adventures. She’s a lot like me! Except her primary contribution to conversations is “Eeek!” But I know people that have a lot more to say than just “Eeek!” and I wish they were as limited in their vocabulary as Coco is, so maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. You know what they say (whoever “they” are)…a little “Eeek!” goes a long way.

Coco and Me - FFL 2011

There is also Phil Southerland, who makes a great representative for the diabetes community. He’s a cyclist and co-founder of professional cycling’s Team Type 1-Sanofi, author of Not Dead Yet, and he’s from where I live, Tallahassee, Florida. He was also recently appointed Director of Healthcare Policy, Planning and Patient Advocacy at the World Health Organization. And he has Type 1 diabetes.

Phil Southerland and Me - FFL 2011

I think any of these candidates would make a fine diabetes mascot. However, I’m glad we don’t have to pick just one. The more characters there are in the world advocating and representing and bringing diabetes to the forefront of people’s attention, the better.

 

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month

Mt. Pwned

Last Saturday was a beautiful day off and a beautiful day outside. After sleeping in a bit, I decided to go for a bike ride. I checked my blood sugar, everything was fine, so I dawned the bike gear, grabbed my road bike and took to the streets. I felt good, and was excited about the ride: Just me, the bike, and the road.

I made it 2.6 miles into the ride and was climbing a steep hill with gusto when I bonked, a term commonly used in cycling or exercise when your body stalls and you just can’t go anymore. I’ve hit that wall before while on long rides, but never less than three miles into a ride.

My heart rate spiked. I couldn’t breathe. I had no power in my legs. I couldn’t catch my breath. I was seeing spots. There was no choice in the matter, I couldn’t even make it to the top of the hill. I had to stop before I blacked out.

I coasted into a driveway, unlocked my cleats from the pedals, and put my feet down. What was happening to me? Was I low? How could I be low after I just checked only a few minutes ago? I laid my bike down, then proceeded to spew what little bit of water that was in my stomach onto someone’s well-manicured lawn. Fortunately, north Florida has had an extremely hot and dry summer, so those nice folks that lived in that house probably didn’t mind the extra water. After I caught my breath enough, I grabbed my phone out of my back jersey pocket and called A-Flizzle to come and get me and my trusty steed.

That. Never. Happens. And to be honest, it scared the spandex out of me. It was probably the worst bike ride I’ve had since I started cycling six years ago, and I’m still not sure what went so wrong. My blood sugar was fine. Maybe I simply got sick. Maybe I didn’t eat enough before the ride. Maybe I’m more out of shape than I thought, even though I’ve done plenty of spin classes and I did a 24 mile road ride less than a month ago. Maybe my extra weight that has been mentally plaguing me has become a physical problem. Maybe I just took the climb too hard and had an adrenaline overload. Maybe I have no clue.

I do know that I’m setting a new rule, effective immediately, to move around for at least 30 minutes every day. If I can do more, like a spin class or a couple hours in the gym, fantastic! But if I’m busy, and I can do nothing else, at least I’ll have that 30 minutes, even if it is just going for a walk. Surely I can find at least 30 minutes to spare.

It’s already cold here in north Florida (or “cold” as all of you in areas that actually see snow would call it), and I hate being cold. What better way to warm up than moving around? I’m declaring this Winter training season. I have to find a way to make moving around a priority, every single day. Mornings and me do not get along at all, but if that means I have to start waking up early to go to the gym before work, so be it. Or if I have to go late at night (which is more likely), so be it. If I don’t make it a priority, then it will never become one. Plus it’s warm in the gym, so there’s that.

That hill scared me, but fear is not a motivator. Now that hill is taunting me, teasing me, begging me to get back on the bike so it can try to beat me again. I’ve got news for it though. It won’t be long before I stamp my name all over that mountain, and declare it Mt. Pwned.

Mt Pwned