exercise

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

Stop Diabetes

Resolved

Last Friday I had the privilege of attending the 6th Annual Education Forum on Diabetes Prevention & Management in Tallahassee, Florida. Throughout the day there was talk about all of the various types of diabetes and their differences, along with the growing number of diabetes diagnoses, the obesity epidemic, the lack of education about the beneficial impact of fitness on the human body, and other topics.

One discussion panel consisted of diabetes educators from rural areas, mostly working with their local health departments rather than a diabetes center of some sort. Each of the professionals shared what their communities were doing to educate people who are at risk for Type 2 diabetes, to help those with any type of diabetes to get the resources that they so desperately need, and to help them navigate the often confusing world of healthcare.

One of the panel members, like so many others that took to the microphone throughout the day, spoke about her personal connection to diabetes and how important it is to her. My ears always perk up when I hear someone sharing their diabetes story. We all have a unique diabetes story, and we find common ground in our shared experiences in living with diabetes on a daily basis.

I heard this panel member trying to share her connection with diabetes from her rural perspective, and her view of the importance of education and helping people to learn the skills they need to effectively live with diabetes. She said, “I understand, because I used to have diabetes, but mine has been resolved. My husband still has diabetes, so it is very important to me.”

I looked up from my iPad, where I was taking notes, and probably had a look of “Huh?” written all over my face. “Used to have diabetes?” I’ve always been taught that there is no cure for diabetes, regardless of what type you have. Sure, there are options if you have Type 2 diabetes, including lifestyle changes and medications, but you still have diabetes even if you are able to avoid medications. Diabetes is a progressive disease, and you have to stay on top of it in whatever way works best for your unique situation. They don’t say “your diabetes may vary” for nothing. For Type 1, there is far less gray area for lifestyle adjustments: Insulin or death, pick one.

At first it agitated me that this woman, a diabetes educator, a representative expert on diabetes in her rural community, was proceeding and educating others with the presumption that diabetes was something that could be “resolved.” To me, that implied that diabetes was somehow the fault of the patient, which is not always true, and certainly is not a fair assumption without looking at many other aspects of the individual’s health. Initially, it felt to me like she was blaming her patients for having Type 2 diabetes, which I do not agree with.

Blame does nothing but remind someone of the circumstances that they are in. Blame looks into the past, not the future, and keeps us focused on what we should have done, as opposed to what we can do now.

I said at first it agitated me, because the more I thought about her words and her perspective, the more I came to realize that maybe her choice of words is a direct reflection of the rural community she is trying to help. Rural communities are often lower income, lower educated, often economically challenged, and without extensive healthcare options within the community area. Given this, for the people with diabetes that she is trying to help, it may be easier and more effective in managing diabetes within the community if they proceed with the idea of:

Losing weight + eating healthy + exercise = diabetes resolved.

As opposed to:

Medications = I have diabetes.

I know this equation doesn’t work for everyone, but I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt, because maybe it works for a majority of the patients in her care. Thinking about it from that perspective, it is certainly a lot easier to inspire people to take care of themselves when they can have a goal of “diabetes resolution.” For a rural community that simply does not have the resources to help every single person with Type 2 diabetes, and the community members themselves may not be able to afford medications, prevention and “resolution” may be the most effective options.

At first I wanted to jump up and say, “There is no cure for diabetes! You can’t give people that false hope! That isn’t fair!” Then I thought about it some more, and even if we find hope and can place our faith in things that under a microscope may not be completely accurate, if it gets us to a better place where less people are dying from diabetes, then I can certainly accept that bigger win in the long term.

Stop Diabetes

The New World Of Martin

Back On Track

188. That is the number that greeted me Saturday when I stepped on the scale to see just how bad things were. After making significant progress in losing some of my heft, making as much progress as getting down into the mid-170’s by June of this year, at the beginning of July I had a bad diabetes moment, and despite my intentions to throw myself back into exercise and eating low carb, I’ve really lost focus.

My clothes fit a little more tight than they used to, and certainly more tight than I want them to. I look at myself in the mirror and I’m not happy with what I see. I want to look and feel sexy, and make the mistake of asking my reflection for my phone number when I walk by. I need to get new clothes too, as most of my clothes are well worn, some even with holes in them. But I refuse to go buy them when I’m at a weight and size that I’m not happy with. I don’t want to buy the size clothes that I am. I want to buy the size clothes that I want to be.

I’m also tired all the time. I don’t really sleep that much, and when I do it is restless and dream filled. Part of that is because I’m stressed all the time. I feel like I have for more to do than I have time to do it, all the time. It’s not just work, or life at home, or people I need to see, or things I need to do. It’s just the culmination of everything. It’s as if I can never get enough accomplished, and despite my generally optimistic view of the world, lately I feel frustrated because I end every day with a list of things I didn’t get done.

My eating habits are just plain gross since July. When I had my seizure, I really chewed up my tongue and mouth. For two weeks I could only eat soft foods like macaroni and cheese, applesauce, soft cookies, breads, and sometimes soup if it wasn’t too hot. Because I could barely chew or move food around in my mouth with my tongue, it completely broke down my low carb routine that I had been sticking with and was doing so good at keeping up. Now, because my routine changed, I’ve gotten accustomed to foods that I can eat fast, because I don’t have a lot of time to stop and put together a meal that is healthy and good for me. Rather than a breakfast made of something in the 20 grams of carbs or less family, I end up grabbing the blueberry or banana nut muffin that is 58 grams of carbs, just because it is fast, easy, and available. Rather than opt for a healthy salad or protein heavy lunch and taking time to pause and use both hands to enjoy it, I end up with the carb loaded option that I can eat with one hand so I can continue working with the other.

Emotionally, because I feel so far off track, I’m not happy. Sure, I still have a good time with friends, when I can find the time to get to hang out with them at least. A-Flizzle and I still enjoy doing things together. It’s not a social unhappiness, but rather a disappointment in myself for putting back on nearly all of the weight that I was so proud of myself for losing in the first half of this year. I don’t like the way I look, and I don’t like the way I feel.

So, all that said, the first step is looking at the situation objectively and admitting that there is a problem. Now what?

I looked over my 2011 goals, and I still have a lot of work to do, but I’m not severely off track. I got my A1C down, I joined a gym and started taking spin classes to have a group of people to regularly pedal with, I paid off my insulin pump, I’ve gotten to have adventures in Washington D.C., New York, New Orleans, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, and I celebrated 30 years with diabetes and jumped out of an airplane.

I still struggle with wearing my CGM every single day, I haven’t ran a 5K, I haven’t made it to the dentist yet this year, and obviously (given the topic of this blog post) I haven’t made it to my goal weight yet.

I’m making an effort to be transparent. I want others to know that diabetes isn’t easy, but there are other things in life with and without diabetes that are also challenging. I’m going to get back on track. Maybe it’s shallow, but I want to look in the mirror and like what I see, so much that I throw dollar bills at my reflection.

Starting yesterday, I’m back in the gym. My BG’s are better when I’m active and working out, my disposition is more positive, and in time it will all translate to a lower number on the scale and a higher number on the miles I can go on my bike and the things I can accomplish with my body. I have to make time to do this, for me, and I have to stick with it, stay motivated and encouraged, and share my progress. That means my friends on Twitter and Facebook get to endure my constant status updates about my gym adventures, how I’m in spin class, working on my core, flexing in front of the mirrors, and looking like a complete amateur with my weak self trying to bench press and look all hard in front of all the juice heads.

I may not accomplish every one of the goals I’ve set for 2011, but I’m okay with that. If you achieve every single goal you set, you’re not setting them high enough.

I will feel better about myself and my body. I will get back to liking what I see in the mirror, enough so that I sneak my reflection a high five or a wink when nobody else is looking.

Right now I’m telling myself, “Self! You can do this.” And I will too.

The New World Of Martin

Giant Chicken

Wrestling with The Giant

It has been a couple of weeks since I’ve put together a solid blog post. I’ve been busy. I’ve been traveling. I’ve been exhausted. I’ve been preoccupied. But mostly, I’ve just been out of whack.

Normally, my blood sugars are prone to running low. I can be eating and run low. It’s just the flavor of diabetes that I’ve been blessed with, despite the basal testing and best precautions. The past couple weeks though, I’ve found myself in the 200’s on more than one occasion. At work sometime around mid-morning, 229. Before spin class, 250. A few hours after dinner, 240. Granted, I still have an occasional low, like yesterday’s lovely panic-laced BG of 37, but still. I hate running high.

Since I am accustomed to running numbers in the double digits rather than triple figures, I can feel every single mg/dl of a 200+ blood sugar. It makes me tired, it makes me irritable, it makes me unable to focus, and it makes me wonder what in the Sam Hill is going on?!

To try and figure out where this out of whackedness is coming from, I figure it’s worth taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. I can’t keep proceeding like this, so I have to find out where my stresses are, and remove them.

So my blood sugars are higher than normal. Why? The first guess is something to do with my diet. I will admit that I’ve had a few more carbs in my meals than I should have lately, but I’ve also started back at the gym for the past three weeks. I need those carbs for fuel. I’ve discovered spin class at the gym, and I can’t keep up the pace for 45 minutes that burns calories, gets my heart pumping, and leaves my entire body covered in sweat if I don’t have the proper fuel. My blood sugar can easily drop 100-200 mg/dl in one single spin class, so it requires a careful balancing act of fuel in and power out. Still, if I’m being honest with myself, I probably don’t need ice cream, pizza, or Chinese take-out to fuel my gym experience. I know I could do a bit better job. But is that it, just my diet that could use a little fine tuning?

Being tired is easy to understand. I don’t sleep enough. But why am I not sleeping? Probably because I have way too much on my mind lately. My mind is all work, responsibilities, money, worry, friends, family, never feeling like I am getting enough accomplished, needing outlets and not being able to find them, not being able to share and say what I really think about things, not getting the support that I need, keeping way too much bottled up inside…too much thinking!

Or maybe too much coffee. Naa…no such thing.

Ironically, I can’t focus because I have too much to focus on. To give one thing my undivided attention, I stress out over everything else that gets ignored and suffers. It’s this constant vicious cycle that keeps repeating over and over, and meanwhile I feel like I’m falling further and further behind.

As you can see, it isn’t just one thing that is the challenge that must be overcome. It is all of it added together that makes it a giant. I don’t know what the exact solution is, but I know I have to keep trying, and hope that I’ll find a way to bring this giant down to size before he looks at me and says, “Hmm…tastes like chicken?” and then eats me alive.

Giant Chicken

Today I’m going to put a new CGM sensor on my body, and I’m going to pull the rug out from under these high blood sugars at least. I hate them. They make me feel awful. So goodbye to them. I’m bad about taking breaks away from CGM, but I didn’t get it just to look at it. I got it to warn me of when there is a problem, diabetically speaking. Be it warning me that I’m high or low, the CGM has a purpose, and I’m not giving it a fair opportunity to help me when I’m not wearing it. And clearly, I need the help right now.

I’m also going to resign myself to focusing on just one project, at least temporarily. Not 30 projects and things that I need to get done. Just one. And I’m not going to stop until that one is done. Because then I will have 29, instead of 30. And that is progress, no matter what speed it travels at.

OMG Scale

Prendojitters

I’ve got the Prendojitters, and maybe even a new entry to the Diabetes Terms of Endearment. You’ve probably contracted the Prendojitters before too, but you just didn’t know what to call this particular collection of symptoms. The Prendojitters are a collection of nerves, angst, and apprehension that you get before an upcoming endocrinologist appointment. Thus, pre-endo-jitters…Prendojitters.

It takes a couple of weeks for the Prendojitters to fully present themselves. They start with a mild case of reflection. You look back at the last few months of your life with diabetes and start to examine and evaluate how well you have been taking care of things. No matter how well your diabetes has been managed, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably overly critical of yourself. Maybe you haven’t done as many BG checks as you should have. Maybe you haven’t been wearing your CGM sensor around the clock like you had planned to do when you went into debt to buy the thing. Maybe you’ve let a few too many desserts invade your sensible diet, derailing your weight loss efforts and sabotaging your summer beach body.

OMG Scale

Once you’ve given all these self-defeating thoughts a breath of existence, your case of Prendojitters progresses to the next level. You can diagnose yourself with stage two of the Prendojitters when you find yourself unceremoniously scrutinizing data. You compare your weight at your last doctor appointment with what that lying bastard of a scale in your bathroom is telling you now. You look at that last A1C and marvel at how good or bad it was, and go to work convincing yourself that this next one is going to be far worse and even less explainable. You look at your daily carb counts and exercise efforts from the logs you’ve been keeping (Right? Riiiiiight.) and settle on the data driven fact that you’ve been having too much of the former and not near enough of the latter.

In a blink, your Prendojitters progress to stage three, the third and final stage before intervention is scheduled to occur. Now you are at full alert to everything that is going into your mouth, every fingerprick and blood drop squeezed, every unit of insulin entering your subcutaneous layer, and every BG altering activity that you might be engaged in. The anxiety of the upcoming visit with your endo has sculpted you into a well-oiled diabetes managing machine.

Unfortunately, it is going to have little to no effect on your weight, A1C, cholesterol, or chances of winning the lottery, because your appointment is tomorrow morning and you’ve just caught on to what you should have been doing all along. So what do you do?

You finally relax a little in the blissfulness of seemingly defeat. You go see the endo, and then realize that things aren’t quite as bad as you worked yourself up to believing. Your endo is on your side, and he gets it: Diabetes is a lot of work to keep up with, and not every progress report is necessarily going to be all sunshine and daffodils with flying unicorns that poop sprinkles and sneeze glitter onto carbohydrate free cupcakes.

And just like that your Prendojitters are cured…until next time.

NYC D-Meetup

30 Years With Diabetes

Today’s Diabetes Blog Week topic is diabetes bloopers. You know, those things that make you go, “D’Oh!” and facepalm yourself. I’ve had my fair share of diabetes bloopers: Dropping & shattering glass vials of insulin, running off on trips without all of my diabetes supplies, forgetting to dose for a meal, forgetting that I already dosed for a meal, finding the cat playing with rogue pump tubing, catching the dog gnawing on a perfectly good tube of glucose tabs…the list goes on and on.

The blooper that is really on my mind today is the one that my pancreas made 30 years ago when it decided to quit working. Or maybe it was my immune system that decided to work too well. Or maybe it was because I had chicken pox. Or maybe it was because someone got me wet or fed me after midnight. Or maybe it was because a butterfly flapped its wings in China. 30 years after the fact there is so much more we know about diabetes, but what exactly causes it and how to cure it are still not on that list, despite what we were told about how close we were to a cure when we were diagnosed.

Today is a day of celebration, of blessings, thankfulness, and appreciation. I have learned more in my 30 years with diabetes than some people learn in a lifetime. Living with diabetes has taught me so much, and coupled with other life lessons, I would be remiss to not stop for just a moment and appreciate the gifts that I have been given…thanks to diabetes.

The 1st 10 Years

  • If you’re low, anytime is snacktime.
  • Bananas and peanut butter on vanilla wafers is the best snack in the world.
  • You can’t go play when you blood sugar is high. But if you can sneak away when your parents aren’t looking, it’s fair game. The back door doesn’t squeak and make noise like the other ones do.
  • Swimming always makes you go low.
  • Visiting the cute nurses on the Pediatric floor at the hospital when you’re there for lab work is always a treat. They know you by name.
  • When you hear the term “A1C” you think of steak sauce and hamburgers.
  • You don’t know anyone else with diabetes.

The Teenage Years

  • If you’re low, it’s a nuisance, and you have to stop what you’re doing and take a break to feed it. Not always ideal when you’re being paid hourly at a part-time job.
  • Whatever is fast and convenient is the best snack in the world.
  • You hardly notice when your blood sugar is high. Until it makes you feel awful. Then it is all you notice.
  • Swimming still makes you go low.
  • Visiting the cute nurses on the Pediatric floor at the hospital when you’re there for lab work is still a treat. Other floors are acceptable as well, as long as there are cute nurses. You know THEM by name.
  • When you hear the term “A1C,” you also hear words like “goal” and “lower.” Those cute nurses are a good distraction.
  • You’ve heard of other people with diabetes, but you still don’t know anyone that has it.

The Last Ten Years

  • If you’re low, your CGM alarms and you drop everything and treat it. Except when you have low-brain and can’t seem to focus. Then it becomes more of a struggle, and is sometimes followed by a hangLOWver.
  • Cheese, nuts, and other low carb foods are the best snacks in the world.
  • Because you are in better control of your diabetes, you can feel a high blood sugar in the upper 100’s now. 200+ makes you feel like dog’s ass.
  • Swimming still makes you go low, and now you have to replace a pump site when you get done because the sticky doesn’t stay stuck in the water. You are able to ride a bike for over 100 miles in one day. You’ve discovered OTHER activities that have the same effect as swimming on your BG’s, and are just as much fun.
  • Visiting the cute nurses, wherever you can find them, has become a rarity. Now you mostly settle for Helga, the former wrestler with the mustache and gallon sized syringe and harpoon needle to do your lab work. She knows you as a number.
  • When you hear the term “A1C,” you start thinking all about decimal pointed numbers like 5.6 and 6.5.
  • You meet an amazing community of people online and in real life who also have diabetes. You start a blog, and start sharing your life with diabetes. They inspire you.

The Next Ten Years

  • Your diabetes is tightly controlled, and you don’t have any of the complications that others who don’t take their diabetes seriously often suffer from.
  • You’re slim, fit, and eat right so that you’re able to do the things you love and experience the world. You look fantastic naked.
  • You accept that there will always be things that make you go low. You’re prepared for them, and never let diabetes keep you from being able to do anything that you set your mind to.
  • You have a family now, and your diabetes is not the center of the universe, but just a piece that helps explain your awesomeness during bedtime stories.
  • You vow to only have lab work done from cute nurses in the future. You have diabetes, so you deserve it.
  • Your doctor rarely mentions the term “A1C” anymore. He’s more interested in what awesome things you did in the last three months so that he has success stories to share with his other diabetes patients.
  • You continue to write about diabetes, speak about diabetes, advocate for diabetes research and better treatments, and share your world with diabetes. You challenge others to take control of their own diabetes, and cherish those stories of how you inspired someone else to save their own life.

Today, May 11, 2011 is my 30th Diaversary. Thank you all for being such an amazing part of it.

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” — Mae West

 

NYC D-Meetup

Allison, Caroline, me, and Brenda at a May 2011 D-Meetup in New York City

2010 MS150

Master of Disaster

Exercise, for most folks, is hard to get around to doing. Our days are consumed by so many things that we simply don’t always feel there is enough time to add exercise to the mix. By the time we get up, get dressed, work all day, come home, make dinner, eat, wash dishes, chase the dog, pet the cat, do laundry, get a shower, and try to relax for five minutes, there often seems to be little time left to do much of anything else. That doesn’t even factor in those folks that have kids, and all the shenanigans that I can only imagine (for now) comes with offspring.

In the late Summer of 2005, Hurricane Wilma came roaring across the southern part of Florida and left most of us without power, transportation, and necessities for days, and in some areas even weeks. The local weather coverage had prompted everyone to be prepared for a “mild Tropical Storm,” but they did not anticipate that the storm would gain strength while crossing over the Florida Everglades and pound the opposite side of the state, where I was, as a Category 3 hurricane.

While nothing like the major disasters of Hurricane Katrina and the tsunamis in Indonesia and Japan, Hurricane Wilma still left us in a catastrophic predicament. Like fools, none of us had taken the forecast seriously after being told to expect nothing much more than a mild thunderstorm. Meanwhile, the gated archway at the entrance to my apartment community had succumbed to the winds and had landed in a heap of rubble (blocking our escape by car), roads were closed and impassable, power lines were laying on the ground with no indication as to whether or not they had electricity coursing through their veins, and a mandatory curfew was in place from dusk to dawn for all affected areas of southeastern Florida. Everything was a mess, and a dark mess too after sunset with no lights…anywhere. Because of all the lights, stars are not a sight you get to see in south Florida very often, so it was very surreal looking up and seeing them in all their sparkling glory.

Word eventually got to us that some areas had power and supplies, yet there was no way for me to get to them. I was an easy 200 pounds heavy at the time, out of shape (unless you consider “round” a shape), and hadn’t made exercise a part of my life since grad school. It was then that I realized the perils of my choices that had left me physically incapable of getting from points A to B, so I vowed that I would never get stuck in that same situation again.

That was when I started cycling. I went to a bike shop nearby and overpaid the owner for a bike that I could ride a fair distance, and would withstand the abuse of a 200 pound gargantuan (see also: fat ass). At first I couldn’t ride but maybe three miles before I would be out of breath and energy. But I kept riding, day after day, and I got stronger, and I stretched those three miles to four miles…

…then to six miles…

…then to ten miles…

…then to 13 miles…

…and by the following June I did my first 26 miles in an organized charity bike ride.

1st Bike Ride - 2006

My 1st organized bike ride + hair + heft.

By the end of that Summer in 2006 I felt that I’d earned a better bike, so I got a Trek 1500 as my first road bike, and I have been pedaling ever since. I’ve wrote before about how cycling benefits me both physically and mentally, and long endurance riding comes with its own share of challenges, but I know now that in an emergency I could absolutely get from points A to B, and probably to C and back again if the situation called for it. Last April I completed my third 150-mile bike ride from Miami to Key Largo and back.

2010 MS150

Outside of the Team Stormriders tent in Key Largo, my 3rd MS150 with the team.

In my case, dropping the weight and getting fit was a side effect of my desire to be able to get to where I needed to go. In doing that, I discovered a passion for a sport that has partially defined who I am today. No matter your circumstances, don’t wait for a force of nature to force you to exercise. Get moving now, and be the master of your own disaster!

 

This post is my March entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival.  If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at http://diabetessocmed.com/2011/march-dsma-blog-carnival.