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Posted by on Jun 12, 2017 in Diabetes Management, Fitness, Lifestyle, Pump Therapy

My Body is Not Mine

My Body is Not Mine

Have you ever had one of those days? You wake abnormally high or low, you take a bolus to get your glucose down or suspend insulin delivery to bring it back up, and then the melee ensues:

Back and forth. Eat. Exercise. Bolus. Eat. Bolus. Turn off insulin delivery. Turn it back on again. On and on and on…

On those days it feels like I’m throwing darts in the dark (and the dartboard is moving).  Everything seems dizzy and complicated and constantly in a state of motion, with no hopes of settling down. I almost become outside of my body during those times. I feel like it’s a machine that I cannot operate correctly. I don’t feel in sync with myself on those days, which is so discouraging.

diabetes insulin pump

This particular day was a Sunday, which, for some reason, always gives me trouble. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a different day from a lifestyle standpoint. I’m not completing a normal work day routine like I do on Mondays through Fridays, and I’m not busy doing the random errands and to-do lists for myself and my daughters like I do on Saturdays. Sundays, for me, are traditionally light and restful: church, relax, and get ready for the next day. I prefer not to exercise on Sundays, but on days like these, I feel like I have to in order to regulate my glucose levels. It’s so easy to resort to bolusing, but I think it can actually be a detriment at times because it forces me to respond physically when my body, frankly, is just not up to it.

This was one of those days. My bolus shots brought more low blood sugars (lowest PDM reading: 28) and I felt like I lived in the kitchen the rest of the day, eating to get my blood sugar regulated. Thankfully, by 4 pm that afternoon, I was back to being normal.

At least according to the PDM.

By then, though, my body was worn out by the seesaw of glucose levels, and I was worn out trying to manage it. It’s one of the things that I, as a person with diabetes cannot fully articulate to someone who does not have it—getting my mind to address and correct the calamity of my body. Some days, it goes sideways and I get my hands back on the steering wheel to turn it back onto the highway. Some days, I do not feel like I am truly myself.

But I am. On those days more than ever, because I’m willing to fight to make an imperfect body work. So I do the best I can. And I don’t worry if it doesn’t cooperate right away. Eventually, my body finds its way back.

 

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Posted by on May 30, 2017 in Diabetes Management, Fitness, Lifestyle, Pump Therapy, Tips and Tricks

Conquering the Beast

Conquering the Beast

As I’ve mentioned in a few previous blogs, I’m a runner. It is truly my outlet for life, allowing the world to slow down and make sense, giving me time to clear my head and gather my thoughts, not to mention offering me a healthy activity to balance the challenges of being a dad, an employee, having diabetes, and any other role I periodically occupy.

Since 2000, I’ve taken on many challenges associated with running, completing races from as small as 5Ks to 100 mile ultramarathons. All have been fun and tested my will and endurance, but they have just been that: running. Within the past couple of years, I have noticed the wave of adventure races that have become popular. They go by many names —Tough Mudder, Battle Frog, Spartan — and they all are basically built around the same concept: running with an obstacle course thrown in. I’ve been intrigued by them but always a little fearful because they add in different elements you don’t find in regular road races, and that presents different challenges from a glucose management standpoint.

Finally, I decided to take the bait and enter my name in to participate in the Spartan Beast Race. “The Beast,” as it is known for short, is unique in that it is basically a half-marathon trail race with 30+ obstacles you have to navigate. Fun for sure, but very tough because it requires a lot of physical exertion with lifting, climbing, pulling, and carrying heavy objects along with the run.

My Beast Race was the Carolina Spartan Beast on October 30, 2016 in Winnsboro, SC at the Carolina Adventure World ATV Park. I arrived early and stuffed my fanny pack with CLIF® bars, orange juice, and my personal diabetes manager (PDM) in a waterlogged plastic case. I turned off insulin delivery for two hours so the race wouldn’t be affected by low blood sugars and made sure I had a light but decent breakfast of a banana and a Gatorade.

We started at 8:15 am with waves of 250 runners dressed to the teeth in moisture-wicking clothes and hydration units, jogging up, down and through the rocky terrain, climbing nets and walls, carrying bags of sand and containers of rocks, traversing across ropes and pulling bags of sand, vaulting across monkey bars and throwing spears. Real gladiator stuff, braving the elements of mud and rock and the heat of the day, pushing ourselves physically and emotionally to the limits.

For me, there was the added challenge of managing my blood sugar, and I believe I handled it the best I could, keeping insulin delivery off until about halfway through the race when I had built up a sugar reserve and turning it back on so I could burn it off in the second half of the race, which worked well. Four hours and four minutes later, I jumped across the fire pit signaling the end of the race and crossed the finish line, receiving my medal and basking in the glow of accomplishment in the Carolina sunshine. Another challenge met, another beast accomplished —pretty much like every day with diabetes.

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Posted by on Nov 10, 2016 in Diabetes Management, Fitness, Lifestyle

Jackson

Jackson

To celebrate the end of summer in a way that only Kenyans and masochists could appreciate, I decided to run a marathon in the great state of Wyoming during Labor Day weekend. To get you up to speed (pun intended), since November 2000 I have been on a journey to run a marathon in every state. For personal reasons, both physically and spiritually, the journey has been a transforming experience, and as of June 2016 I had successfully completed a marathon in 47 states, with only Wyoming, Alaska and Hawaii left to realize the dream. During the past sixteen years, I have had to encounter some unique obstacles as a card-carrying member of the no pancreas movement; when you travel like a pack mule through the streets of San Francisco or the desert of White Sands, New Mexico, you have to be ready to address low blood sugars, high blood sugars, soreness, weather, altitude, geography, sometimes during the same race.

With only one contiguous state left, I researched to find a race I could train for in a reasonable matter of time. I found the Jackson Hole Marathon in Jackson, WY, a tourist hotspot just a stone’s throw from Yellowstone National Park. After signing up, I began sketching out a training plan for the summer, which created its own set of problems. Where I live, humidity is part of summer like barbecues and sunburn, resulting in training runs either before dawn or late at night. I’m a night owl, so I planned my long (10-20 mile) runs under moonlight where the heat would not be so brutal. During this training cycle, I carried my PDM in my running fanny pack along with a snack and water, and the Omnipod served me well, holding to my body incredibly well despite the humidity.

Then it was onto Jackson. I arrived on Friday, September 2, and drove from Salt Lake City to Jackson, reaching town around dusk. I checked in to receive my race gear, ate some dinner, and then retired for the night. When I travel, my glucose levels tend to run higher than normal due to stress, so I make an effort to snack rather than consume large meals until dinner, when I eat a more traditional meal. This race was no different, eating a banana and nuts during the day and having a black bean burger and sweet potato fries for dinner. I woke up at 5 am the next morning, two hours before race start, to a glucose level of 285. I bolused 1 unit to bring it down, ate a banana, and turned off the Omnipod for two hours so I could prevent insulin shock once I started running.jackson

The race was challenging with altitude and heat, and I periodically drank my sports drink as I wove my way through the mountain terrain. I turned my PDM back on with 6 miles to go to get basal insulin working,shuffling my way to another finish. I came off the course, tired and happy, and checked my blood sugar (428), instantly bolusing to bring it down within the hour. After a shower it was back to driving to the airport, Jackson in the rearview mirror and State 48 added to the collection. I breathed a sigh of relief. Another successful trip; summer was officially over.

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Posted by on Sep 20, 2016 in Diabetes Management, Fitness, Lifestyle

To Helena and Back

To Helena and Back

Another big endeavor I planned for this summer was to complete a marathon in the great state of Montana in my quest to complete a marathon in every state and the District of Columbia. I began this quest in 2000 on a dare. I had always spent my youth active in sports, playing football and baseball throughout high school. Shortly after I enrolled in college, I was diagnosed with Type I in 1992 and my sports career ended, resigning myself to become a fan along with the rest. Despite the diagnosis, I wanted to stay active and continued to work out, but there was always a desire to push myself in a competitive capacity. After I graduated, my friend’s father, who was an active marathoner, issued a challenge to me and his son as we talked one day after church: enter the lottery of the New York City Marathon and see if you get selected to run. I love challenges and I had never been to the Big Apple, so I entered and, surprise! I got in. (My friend was not so lucky.) I struggled through my training, learning how to eat and run (literally) so I could maintain my blood sugar levels. On November 5, 2000, I shuffled across the finish line in Central Park, exhausted and elated.

To Helena and BackFlash forward fifteen and half years and 47 marathons later. I was now down to four states to complete my quest: Montana, Wyoming, Alaska and last but not least, Hawaii. Before I would get the chance to dance in the sun on some tropical island, though, I would have to overcome the altitude and the raw Western prairie of Montana. I left on a Friday in early June this year, flying out from my home in Charlotte, North Carolina to Missoula, Montana, then driving two hours in the dark to Helena. Once I arrived, I performed my usual routine: check my run gear, prep my race fanny pack with my Omnipod® PDM, sandwich baggies (to keep everything dry), Clif Bars and ID, mull over the race course to plan for blood sugar testing, and then sleep. It was now race time.

The next morning came, the race starting at 6 am to beat the heat. The course itself was at a decline starting at an altitude of almost 6,000 feet and trailing down eventually into the capital city of Helena. I ran by myself, braving the wind and thin air and rugged but beautiful course as I labored through the miles. Thankfully, my diabetes was never an issue. I typically turn off the insulin delivery from my Omnipod® at the start of the race for the first 2 hours so burning glucose won’t create a perfect storm with insulin intake. Today was no different, my body stable throughout despite over four hours of hard running. I crossed the finish line with a smile, receiving my medal and checking another state off the list. Onto Wyoming!

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