Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Adieu for now

I hope everyone has had a happy holiday season and will have a wonderful 2014.

I am going on hiatus (As if I wasn't already on one) indefinitely from blogging. I find that it makes me feel guilty. I am making an effort to keep my life a little more private in 2014 so I have to re-think my blog structure.

I will continue to chair our JDRF committee, and take part in the online community. I cherish the friendships I have made here. But for now, I need to focus on what's important to me and I think there needs to be a little breathing room from constantly telling my story.

This isn't the end of my blogging days, I just intend to revamp. Perhaps to re-visit in February with a fresh look and idea.

So long for now, friends :)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Lentil Dahl Recipe

As the weather gets colder, my need for comfort food gets higher. Anything that is warm and stew/soup like makes me happy and comfortable in the winter.

Of course, when you're diabetic you're always looking for a nutritionally balanced meal (as anyone would be) that has the right carb:protein:fat:sodium level for you. This varys greatly between individuals and their specific needs, but I find that Lentil Curry (or Dahl) meets pretty much all of these. If you're cooking it at home you can alter most of the nutrition information to match your needs.

As a big fan of dahl, I always assumed it would be too hard to try at home. However I decided to give it a go...and it worked. It worked so well in fact that I am now waiting for my lunch time to approach so I can eat the left overs and feel that total body warmth that a nice, spicy dahl can give you. It's a new winter staple for me!

Here's my ingredients and recipe.


2.5 cups red lentils-dry
2 tbs butter (olive oil if you're making this vegan)
1 tbs curry powder
.5 tsp cumin
1 tbs coriander (dry)
1 tsp paprika
1 tbs cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cardamom-ground (4 pods)
2 tbs tomato paste
1 chopped tomato
4 cloves chopped garlic
1.5" chopped fresh ginger (1 tbs dry)
8 grinds of fresh black pepper
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
4 cups water
Salt to taste


1) In a deep pot, heat fat until warm. Add all spices and saute until fragrant (around 1-2 minute).
2) Add chopped onion to spices and fat and stir until onions start to look clear
3) Add garlic, tomato paste and ginger and stir for 1 min.
4) Add lentils and water
5) Bring to a rolling boil, cover and turn down on lowest heat for 30-45 min stirring occasionally.
6) Once it has thickened to deep a golden brown colour it's ready.

Tip: Always add salt after the cooking process as the water evaporates and ups the salt content.
Tip: You can make this in the slow cooker by adding everything and cooking on high for 4-5 hours, however I strongly advise you to cook your spices for 1-2 minutes first to open the oils and make the sauce more fragrant. You will avoid the grainy-uncooked spice taste.

I serve it with a dollop of Greek yogurt and fluffy basmati rice. You can also eat it with naan or just as is.

The nutritional breakdown (thanks to the my fitness pal app) is as follows (please note this is rough, since I am kind of heavy handed with spices and add more as I go.)

Total for 6 servings:
Calories 1330
Carbs: 198
Fat: 40
Protein: 150
Sodium: 250
Fiber: 177

Per Serving:
Calories: 221
Carb: 33
Fat: 6.6
Protein: 25
Sodium: 41.6
Fibre: 29.5

That makes this recipe around 4.5-5 net carbs (carb content subtract the fibre for net carbs). That is ridiculously low carb. So it's great for those who are eating extremely low carb, and it is also great for those who aren't but want to eat this with naan or delicious fluffy white rice.



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

This is life.

This post is a collaboration with some fellow Type 1s.

Very often we can feel silenced by outside expectations of what our lives should be with diabetes. We walk the line of showing the world that life is great and we can do anything with diabetes, to holy shit this is hard and it is always. on. my. mind.

Think about it: yes, we can do anything with this disease, but we can ONLY do anything if we are ALWAYS thinking about how we feel.It's a real Catch 22, and it's a real struggle for advocates from all walks.

So some of us turn to blogs, twitter, Facebook and more to connect with other diabetics. We educate our friends and lovers, we vent online because we aren't allowed or simply cant vent while sitting at our desk at work. Some of us become elite athletes and prove that life is good no matter what is thrown at us.

But no matter what, if you're a super elite Team Type 1 athlete, or if you're a regular gal who has a desk job in the marketing department at a non-profit (cough cough I am the latter) the thing that unites us is diabetes.

It's a roller coaster.

A high blood sugar before and a meeting? Happened to me.

Order the soup instead of the sushi rolls I would have normally liked, skip the noodles slurp the broth. Slam back a diet soda before the business counterparts sit down and slowly sip the refill trying to seem refined.

Can they tell that my vision is blurry?

My heart is racing, I'm not nervous.

My mouth feels like a cotton field and the small sips of pop are not satisfying, oh ugh when is that correction bolus going to start working?

I am nodding but not absorbing the information. I wish I could record this so I can learn what I need to later, would that be creepy?

I watch him splash his sashimi rice in the soy sauce and long to be eating that instead of this soup.

The waitress comes by, yes I would like a glass of water. My head is pounding and my stomach is lurching now, that stupid infusion site might not have worked. I only have 45 minutes to chat with this person, he is so knowledgeable I need every minute. Do I dash to the bathroom and take a shot? I have 20 mins left it won't make a difference.

My Dexcom alerts me to the rapid rise, and I silence it quickly with a tap on my pocket. I nod and try and seem interested and answer/ask questions methodically. Does he know that my mind is racing?

Oh I want to eat those noodles so badly, even though they are chilled and soggy now.

Our check has come, exit stage right, excellent performance again. Give a rage bolus and head out. Another day, another high.

How about those low blood sugars at inopportune times?

A long day at work. I spent the afternoon in a meeting, I had 3? 4? triangle sandwiches (the cute little meeting size ones), bolused a few units of insulin. I ate an apple and a cookie too, more insulin. I felt good.
The meeting was over and I was 5.8.

I walked to my bus stop, and my Dexcom rang that I was at a slight downward fall. I reduced my basal rates to get me home.

My bus was packed, not even standing room. I was squashed in the corner seat with my purse under my feet. I was looking out the window, watching the sun disappear behind the industrial buildings on the harbour front. I was looking forward to my meal that was cooked by my boyfriend. As I gazed at the lights I realized I had to focus a little bit to make sure the lights weren't moving.

The invisible elastic band tightened right above my eyes and the bus began to spin.

My forehead grew a thick dew even though I had spend most of the day chilled. The woman next to me was sitting and reading peacefully. My stomach growled and my mind began to focus on only one task: get to the fast acting glucose in my purse.

I had to twist and manoeuvre and pull my purse up. I was sorry, I was sorry to the lady who was disrupted by me, I was sorry that I didn't eat more, or take less insulin. I was so sorry. My Dexcom vibrates 4 times and alarms loudly as I struggle to get my purse off the floor.

The lady next to me was obviously annoyed by my body thrashing with my purse. I wanted to scream at her to move and just let me at my purse. She sat annoyed. I continued to thrash with urgency.

Finally I set my purse free it flies up towards my face with indignation and the precision of a bull in a china shop. Its contents start to fly, my plastic lunch container hits the gentleman's shoulder in front of me. I appologize, I try and get my things back in order, but my hands are shaking so hard that I can't seem to get it together. Square peg in the round hole. 

My hand anxiously feels the pockets in my purse for glucose. I have one quick stick and an apple. I feverishly tear open the quick stick and dump it in my mouth. Most gets in. As I moisten the sugar with my tongue someone across the aisle is looking at me. She can't believe the fuss I just went through to get candy, of all things.

I bite the cold apple and it pains my teeth. I can feel the juice run down my chin but I don't care. I need all of the sugar I have. I eat it quickly and chew like it is the first apple I have ever tasted. I look around. Nobody is paying attetion to me now. I close my eyes and wait. 5 minutes. 15 minutes. Better. I feel better.

I get off the bus and head to my car. A finger check tells me I am 4.2 mmol/l. I feel good and my Dexcom is holding stead at 78 mg/dcl.I decide it's safe to drive home to my meal.

But I lost my pen. My favourite pen.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Dexcom Break

I am taking a break from using my Dexcom.

You see, Dexcom sensors are still not available in Canada. I have been sent some and purchased some from friends and have stock piled them. I tape and re-tape and stick every sensor down to the point that they hurt.

A continuous glucose monitor is an incredible tool, in the year I have had access to it my A1C had dropped from 8.4 to 6.1. I know that at night I am either low or high and I have very VERY rarely had a night where I am not one or the other, despite fine tuning my basal rates. I learn so much.

However, I need  to take a break. I need to break from the constant reminders, the tape, the marks all over my body. I have four sensors remaining.

Dexcom has been approved by Health Canada, as has the Animas Vibe. However that was in August. As of November, I am still hearing it will be a "few months" until either the G4 or the Vibe will be available to the market. So once that hurdle is done, there will be the hurdle of the insurance. Not only that, it has been 1.5 years since I have been on the wait list at my endocrinologists office. I would push more for an appointment there, but I find the 4 hour wait for a 10 minute appointment where I have to re-introduce myself every time a complete waste of time.

The hurdles that we have to go over just to take proper care of ourselves is astounding. The fact that I have to start considering how to get into my doctor, to get her to write a letter of medical necessity, to get my insurance to maybe approve a life-extending device......it's exhausting.

So, I am trying to reserve the supplies I have. It has been two days that I have been disconnected. I noticed I don't recognize how my highs or lows feel and have confused the a few times in the past few days. But, it is what it is. It's the hand I have been dealt. I have to keep pushing.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November day : eyes

When you are diagnosed with diabetes the doctors are sure to remind you that high blood sugars are leading to certain doom. That when you sneak Crunchie bars while sitting under the jungle gym with your friends, you're doing harm and you are slowly killing yourself and shows signs of depression and mental illness (actual words from my former paediatrician, who I fired at the ripe age of 12.) 

Admittedly, here's a shocker....I let my diabetes care slip in my late teens and early 20s. I had SO much else on my plate, something had to get my bare minimum attention. It couldn't be my marks because I was depriving myself of a rich future to educate myself, it couldn't be my first or second jobs because they were fuelling my social life, groceries, and laundry. It couldn't be my social life because I was human and in university. So I was diabetes. I let it go, sometimes days, or months without a sugar check. I would Bolus, change my sites and carry on. I had few lows and my A1C hovered around 8-9 for years. I was lucky, I know. Somehow I managed a relatively average A1c for my age, without caring. Like, at all. Even though my roommate was also Type One on a pump, we fuelled each others indifference. So much so that one night while we were out, (we happened to be wearing the same infusion set) my pump ran out of insulin at a party, and while normally I would go home to refill or have a refill on me, every hour or so we found each other, I plugged in to her pump and micro bolused. I don't recommend that, FYI. We probably narrowly avoided a lot of problems doing that. And we did it a lot.

So fast forward. I am in my late 20s. I am with the man I intend to spend my life with, I have a house am working on getting a career I am proud of and I read about diabetes. A lot. I know what doctors, scholars and others say about complications. I always thought that it couldn't be me. I still am lucky to not be diagnosed with complications, but it's a nagging thought at the back of my head always. I have some issues with my legs getting painful when I work out, but I am 1.5 years on a waiting list to see an endocrinologist (Canadian Healthcare ain't what it's cracked up to be).

I had my yearly eye check up today.

It's a clammy hands, looking to busy my brain kind of feeling, waiting for a check up like that. The doctor always asks me to check my sugar at the appointment time, 3.7mmol/l. A few glucose tabs, and we are on our way. Puffs of air. "Can you read this letter without your glasses?" "No." Wearing the glasses, can you see it now? Of course. Retina scan. "This is scary" I disclose. A warm smile, desperately trying to comfort me "it just takes a picture, we don't touch your eye, no pain!" I nod, he doesn't know that the scary thing isn't the pain it doesn't cause, it's the pain that a new diagnoses could cause.

I put my forehead onto the medical plastic and state blankly ahead. Dots and lights. "Isn't this better than dialation?" He asks cheerfully. "Oh yes. Yes it is" my freckled fingertips dig into the hard leather of the exam chair, the sweat on my palms makes my hands slowly drip down the sides the chair like wax on a hot candle.

"All done!"

The photos appear on the large computer screen and he studies them carefully. Zoom in and out, move around, drag the mouse. Look in. Scribble on the paper. Look up, notice the anguish of waiting on my face.

"You have beautiful retinas. There is no sign of retinopathy. Not even a vessel out of place. Beautiful, just perfect! You're done have a nice year"

Exit stage left for the doc.

A sigh of relief from the patient. One more year I don't have to worry about it. I don't need more worry. 

One more year. 

Friday, November 1, 2013


I took a hiatus. I don't have much of a reason as to why I took a hiatus, just a genuine lack of inspiration. I found myself questioning who would really care about XY and Z in relation to my diabetes.

I had a give away, and aside from one comment asking not to be given the prize, I did not even get a chance to give away a prize. I blog to potentially help other people with diabetes feel a little less along, I blog as a form of catharsis, a way to keep me on my toes, and as a way to stay connected to other people with diabetes. But for some reason my inspiration and passion about advocating for people with diabetes dwindled when I started to see my readership crash. I admit it, people actually reading the blog is important to me as well. I don't think the comments or shares or likes matter by comparison, but if nobody is reading then should I be putting the time and effort into telling my story?

Enough about my though processes. It is November! It is the month where I have to slog through my self-centeredness, and help spread awareness and knowledge, to help empower and share. Now is my time to come out of my cave!

SO go forth other bloggers, tweeters, Facebookers and real-lifers.

I am going to try and make my self take this cathartic route and keep pushing for us this month.

How are you?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Thank You Give Away!!

It always happens when the summer fades to fall for me. I sit down, I reconsider the direction of many parts of my life. I re-evaluate my relationships with friends, fine tune those with family and look at what I spend my time on, to make sure it really, truly does make me happy.

I took a brief hiatus from blogging during this....fall cleaning of my life. I wanted to make sure it was something I really wanted to continue doing. I love reading blogs, I love people sharing their ideas and experiences in living with diabetes. In fact, I think I have learned more from our online community in 2 years than I did in my previous 22 living with diabetes. It shows how important peer-to-peer emotional support is.

So I am going to keep blogging! I love it, it helps me when other people do it, and I can only hope that one of the (65,000!!!!!!) viewers of my blog in the past year have gotten some help, advice, or felt a little less alone.

Chronic conditions, especially those that are invisible, are a constant battle. To have you,diabetes online community, in my corner, fighting with and for me means a lot.

So in celebration of the continuation of this blog, and my re-emergence into the blogging world, I want to have a contest!

I will be giving away one brand new BGStar meter and ten strips to a lucky commenter. All you have to do to enter is comment on this blog with a topic you would like to see me do a post on in the future. Any topic is fine, diabetes related preferably, and I will do my best!

While the meter can only be won by someone in the United States or Canada (merely due to shipping) if I pick a UK, Australian or other (hello, Russia, you like my blog apparently) I will send you something special and diabetes related too! prize will be awarded by using a random number generator.

So, what topics would you like to see covered on Life on T1?

Join me on Facebook

*Thank you to the fine folks at Sanofi Canada. They donated these machines and strips to our Diabetes Support Group the T1 Dish and Diners which is hosted by my local chapter of the JDRF. I received no request to give this away by Sanofi, nor am i being compensated for this give away. In fact they don't even know I am doing this. It was given to me as a gift and I already have the iBGStar....which I love.*

**I will be doing the giveaway draw on Tuesday, October 8.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Super-Elite Club

I love when people post photos of their CGM graphs.

I feel more connected with people when they do. Especially the new Dex G4 graphs, because I can look at their graph and gauge how that person felt, physically at any point during the time at which the photo was taken. It feels like an intimate glance into someones life.

For example the other day I felt like this:

And just by looking at that you probably know that I was pretty tired, maybe rage-bolused and was a little frustrated. But it's like it is code that only people living with diabetes can decipher. People who are affected by diabetes (Type awesomes, d-parents etc) can certainly understand what the waves mean and why they happened, but only our super-elite club truly knows how someone feels on days like that.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Diabetes in the news

I took a brief blogging break. I had some personal stuff to do, and now it is done and dealt with and I am back in the saddle!

It's been an exciting time here in Nova Scotia. Our provincial election has been called (which had been on the line for a long time). That may not seem like a big deal to diabetes, but this past year, thanks to public pressure, Nova Scotia government put in place a plan for young people with diabetes to have access to provincially funded insulin pumps, depending on their financial need. (up to age 19 eligible for full coverage, up to 25 supplies only). It's not an amazing plan, the financial requirements are very stringent, the age limits make no sense and it took a LONG time and a looming election to get off their asses and live up to the promise made at election time.

It was a tireless effort trying to get the NDP to commit to the very promise they made. It took demonstrations, trips to political party offices, meetings, petitions, and a lot of wasted press time. It was tiring. But it happened, and I am grateful the ball is rolling.

The NDP again committed to developing further a diabetes action plan. Almost 100k Nova Scotians live with diabetes (99% T2) so the plan is important considering the size of our province.

However, the Liberal party has also committed to a diabetes care plan, including the extension of the pump program to include people up to age 25. Lovely. I guess T1 goes away at 25, or at that age we all magically have $7k to throw around.

Mix in our disastrous employment rate after post-secondary, and the student loan debt the average working adult over 25 has....it doesn't make sense. No parties are doing enough.

No parties are answering questions with solid answers.

I won't be voting NDP because of the disaster of a few years they have caused my province (outside of the pump program.)

I may vote liberal, but I have yet to hear back from my representative. My NDP representative has ignored me. It's a trying time, trying to be engaged is HARD.

Moving right along.

Is there anything worse than a national diabetes association using the term "diabetes-friendly"?

Today the Canadian Diabetes Association posted the following status:

"What is your favourite diabetic-friendly recipe?"

This could mean so many things and it means nothing at all at the same time. For an organization that is supposed to be on our side, fighting the same fight we are against misinformation, misguided public information and stigma, they are failing miserably. This term is offensive, and archaic plain and simple. That term should have been washed away when we realized that people with diabetes don't need to have two starches, one protein, one fruit, one fat and as many free choices as they want at a meal.

It has been questioned by a few advocates, and it remains unanswered. I just sent a tweet out to a few local employees, one being a communications person who I admire. I hope that I can at least open a dialogue on why the verbiage for the CDA needs to change.

In other, other news:

Saturday, September 7, 2013

I felt unsafe

Trigger warning: I talk about rape and consent in this post.
This is not a diabetes related post.

It's not just here, it's everywhere.We saw it when the world clucked its tongue at Miley Cyrus for her performance but hardly miss a breath when Robin Thick sings about "blurred lines" of consent.

There's, what I am going to boldly call, a social revolution waiting to happen and I think Halifax is a great launching point for it. Perhaps it's my eternally optimistic world view that sees all of the horrendous press about female sexuality as a way to show that people can be inherently good, and we can change for the better once we are educated.

Then I log on to my computer and I read this opinion piece written by a woman. As I read through it before heading out for the afternoon, my stomach was in my throat. It's a disgraceful piece, opinion or not. I let it sit in my brain as I ran with my dog at the park. I tried to think about why Mary may feel that way, but I started to realize that I have friends who feel that way, I have family who have made comments on Facebook not too far off from what Mary said.

It made me feel bad.

I chased after my dog and realized that I was wearing a low cut tank top leaving my cleavage exposed, and then I felt unsafe. Because, if Mary can spew the hate she did in her article and so few people see issue with it, even the Chronicle Herald prints it, then there is definitely a wider bubble. It isn't just Internet trolls who say these things, real people truly believe that women should not be dressed scantily because it's basically asking for it. I gathered my things and threw my sweater on, because I didn't want to pass a Mary and feel the heat from her eyes.

I came home and saw that a fantastic local blogger posted a response to Mary. Please, take the time to read Allison's post here

I already wrote about how I think that society as a whole needs a shift. I wrote about it in response to the Rehteah Parson's case back in April, you can see that here

Here's the thing; it isn't MY job to make sure someone doesn't judge me for wearing a low cut top at the dog park. It wasn't Rehteah Parson's job to say no to multiple young boys when she was so inebriated she was vomiting out a window. It isn't a female university student's job to wear a long dress or pants because some dudebro can't keep it in his pants. It's not our job as women to protect ourselves, it's everybody's job to control themselves.

Why are there still people out there chanting about not needing consent, like we saw at Saint Mary's University this past week? Why is Robin Thick getting away with a song about blurred lines of consent but Miley isn't given a pass for dancing to that song?

It's because of people like Mary, and that needs to change.

Please, Chronicle Herald, stop giving hatred like Mary's a voice.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Carbs and Weight(s)

Yesterday, I read this great article on www.the-toast.net. That site is a really wonderful female-written feminist humor site that gets me giggling a lot.

They have a regular column (can it even be called that?) about fitness written by a Nicole Cliff, in which the author describes her personal journey to being super strong as a woman in a world where we are expected to be slender. To be honest, I don't know what the author's body looks like, and I don't really care. What she does is wonderful and her dedication to her fitness is inspiring. The website strays away from talking about body weight and body image primarily because it's shitty for most women, no matter what their size.

Or, in a quote from the article: "We have made the deliberate decision not to really talk about things like body image and weight on the site, because there’s already so much of it out there, and even when it’s well done, it just generally becomes either an echo chamber or bums people out, and we’re happy with that choice, but it’s also something I don’t want to completely ignore in our fitness coverage, because the universe is as it is."

So basically it's awesome. However one piece in the article really made me think.

"It’s 5000% times easier to put on muscle while feeding yourself properly. You don’t have to eat Gummi bears, just lots of wonderful food. And that can be a hard thing to do. If you’re used to having some kind of internal calculator for the food you put in your mouth, whether it’s points or calories or carbs or what, deliberately eating a little more than you “need” can be hugely emotionally difficult" 

It's so true! It's why I think Weight Watchers is awful, calorie counting apps are hurtful, and why carb counting is just so damn hard to do sometimes. Because if I am eating 70 grams of carbs and 30g of fat with 25g of protein in a giant ass bowl of beef fried quinoa and eggs, vs a big mac...Weight Watchers and calorie counting apps will see them relatively equal! (I know Weight Watchers claims they're different because it's points, and veggie dishes are generally free yadda yadda). Don't get me wrong i still eat shit food. I am not here to tell people how to eat because that's up to them and them only to make that choice, but to read this information it really put into light why I am struggling with the sheer AMOUNT of food I have to eat to build the muscle i want which will in turn maybe or maybe not burn the excess fat I have.

Carb counting is not something that we as people with diabetes can just...stop doing. It's something that we have to not only constantly do, but do really well. Our life quite literally depends on our carbohydrate balance vs. insulin.

It's all such a touchy subject, and I think the article just explained it all so well. Go ahead, I am done, read the article here :)


Friday, August 30, 2013

One-Arming the Northumberland Strait

On August 28, 2013 a wonderful Type One advocate did something pretty darn amazing. She swam for 10 straight hours across the Northumberland Strait. The Strait is a connection of Atlantic Ocean between the provinces of New Brunswick and PEI. Pretty amazing, right?

It gets better, she did it using only one arm.

Jen Alexander is no stranger to diabetes or marathon swimming. I first met her when she came to Camp Lion Maxwell, that I was the leadership director at, to speak to the kids about setting and achieving goals, exercising with diabetes etc. She is extremely passionate about diabetes knowledge, exercise and I think her dedication to Marathon Swimming is a pretty great example of that. Jen has been living with T1 for 25 years and pumping for 10. In 2008 she won Diabetes Exercise and Sports Association "Athlete of the Year" award. Since the age of 5 she has been passionate about swimming, in 2005 she swam the Northumberland Strait, and in 2006 she attempted to swim across the English Channel.

Below is Jen's recounting of what was going through her mind and how she did what she did.

Jen getting ready for her swim.

2013-08-28 Swim Report: 10 hours, 42 minutes -- One-Arming the Northumberland Strait

29 August 2013 at 23:47
Official swim time: 10 hours, 42 minutes
Average blood sugar: 6.3 (113).  High of 10.7 (193), low of 3.8 (68)
Intake: 500 grams of carbs

This is a really long account of my day. :-)  I've created the following headings to make it more skim-able. :-)

1. Shoulder Problems/Stupid Diabetes
2. Swimming With One Arm
3. Picking the Day
4. The Start of the Swim
5. Diabetes and The Rules
6. Feeling Needy...
7. Feeling Loved...
8. Then It Got Rough(er)
9. Nature's Ultimatum: Tide vs Geography
10. The Dark Shape Beneath Me
11. The Difficulties
12. Almost There?
13. Did I Fail?
14. My Amazing Diabetes Control

Thank you so much for supporting me, everyone!  Thanks also to Abbott Diabetes Care, who has sponsored every single marathon swim of mine, and who could not be more caring or supportive.  (I really do believe they make the best blood glucose meter on the market -- if you need a blood glucose meter, you might want to read up on it!)


1.  Shoulder Problems/Stupid Diabetes
Frozen Shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a bit of a wicked condition.  No one knows what causes it, but it's known to affect women more than men, and the risk increases the longer you've had Type 1 (aka juvenille) Diabetes.  (Type 1 Diabetes is the autoimmune-ass-kicking kind that has nothing to do with activity levels or diet.  I'm celebrating my 25th year with Type 1 Diabetes this year.)  Frozen shoulder affects 2% of the population over 50 years of age, but at least 20% of people with diabetes.  (Remarkably, one study found no correlation between the previous five years of diabetes control and the diagnosis of frozen shoulder.)  I developed frozen shoulder in both shoulders: lefty in April 2009, and righty in June 2010.

Frozen Shoulder has three phases: freezing, frozen, and thawing.  In freezing, the shoulder capsule starts contracting.  Shoulder range decreases dramatically.  When I became fully frozen, I couldn't lift my arms above my shoulder.  I applied shampoo to my head using a spatula.  I couldn't lift my arms high enough to apply deodorant.  I couldn't sleep on either shoulder, and I couldn't even sleep on my back without pillows under my shoulders -- my shoulders didn't even have enough range to touch my bed!  I couldn't hug people.  I couldn't even bring my bow to my fiddle.  Getting dressed and bringing food to my mouth was necessary, excruciating pain.  And when I accidentally bumped my arm/shoulder or moved beyond my range, my face would flush purple with pain and I'd want to lie down and stop breathing.  The pain was *exhausting*.  As recently as December 2012, it still hurt to *walk* -- just the gentle swaying of my arms as I walked was enough to make me grit my teeth.  My threshold for pain is high, but this was prolonged pain beyond reason. These last four and a half years have been fantastically difficult.  (Frozen shoulder tends to last 6-12 months in people without diabetes, but can last up to 11 years (!!) in people with diabetes.)

I threw myself into physiotherapy wholeheartedly, completing more than 700 hours.  (More than seven hundred appointments.  That's crazy.)  My physiotherapist joked that we'd seen enough of each other to be common law partners. :)  Progress was agonizingly slow, and treatment needed to be conservative: even stretching a couple of degrees beyond the "ok" range was enough to flare my shoulders up for weeks (causing more pain and reduced range).  I stuck with it, though.  If you don't treat frozen shoulder, tendons, ligaments and nerves can become permanently contracted, and then you *never* get your range back.  I got ALL the alternate opinions: multiple physiotherapists, my family doctor, two chiropractors, a sports medicine doctor, an osteopath, an acupuncturist, and two surgeons.  This was the best treatment option for me.

I needed to swim again.  Oh yes. :-)  Swimming is my church, my mediation, my yoga, my soul, and my freedom all rolled into one.  I was willing to do the work.

2. Swimming With One Arm
I realise that the idea of swimming a marathon with one arm sounds crazy to most people.  I understand that.  But for me, when my left arm had gotten through enough pain, set backs, ice packs, flare ups, and years of physiotherapy to swim again, I felt unstoppable.  :-)  *OF COURSE* I would do a marathon swim with one arm.  It was just plain logical to me. :)  It meant reclaiming a piece of my soul.

3. Picking the Day
Planning a swim depends mostly on the weather, the wind, the tides and currents.  The tides/currents in the Northumberland Strait are strong enough to drag you 15km (9.5 miles) from where you started.  I knew I'd be substantially slower with one arm, so the tides were more important than usual.  Based on the Government of Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans data, I determined August 28-September 3 to be my swim window.  I had seven days to pull off this swim.

Tuesday afternoon, the wind stopped blowing.  The winds were forecast to be "light" (the least possible amount of wind) during the day on Wednesday, increasing to 15 knots in the evening.  For the three days following, the forecast called for wind warnings and gale-force winds (30 knots, 56 km/hour, 35 miles/hr).  This wind speed causes 5 meter (16 foot) waves in the open ocean.  On land, whole trees are in motion (not just the branches), and it takes effort to walk against the wind.  I was worried because winds seem to last longer at this time of the year.  Additionally, big winds cause the water to cool off more quickly than usual, which makes hypothermia more likely.  I knew I'd swim at the first day the weather looked reasonable.  We knew the wind would blow from the wrong direction on Wednesday evening, but we we expected that, if I was still swimming, we'd be close enough to shore that the wind wouldn't be a problem.

I called my boat captain, and he said the water was like glass.  We talked about my speed, and how much slower I'd be, and he suggested that the weather could change, but that it looked good for an early Wednesday start.  I am so lucky to have amazing people in my life.  I had crew who were ready to spring on a moment's notice, so we hauled up to New Brunswick Tuesday night.  (Thank you Brenda, Alyssa, Jane, and Barry!  Could not have done this without you!!)  We'd make go/no go call at 6am Wednesday morning.

4. The Start of the Swim
We showed up at a very foggy Cape Tormentine wharf at about 5:30am, and the harbour waters were flat like a pancake.  The forecast hadn't changed overnight.  My boat captain put his boat in the water, and we loaded the boat with the day's supplies.  We pulled away from the harbour, and were very quickly navigating through the thick fog.  It took longer than expected to navigate to the foot of the Confederation Bridge.

The Confederation Bridge connects New Brunswick (well, mainland Canada, really) with Canada's smallest province: Prince Edward Island (PEI).  In the 1960s, this swim was on the International Marathon Swim circuit.  The Northumberland Strait is 12.7km (7.9 miles) at its narrowest crossing.  We were aiming to complete the swim at the narrowest point of the Strait but accepted that I could land anywhere along the Island.  I'd just end of swimming a greater distance.

I checked my sugar -- an ideal 6.2 mmol/L (112 mg/dl) -- drank 30 grams of carbs, applied sunblock and vaseline, and launched myself off the back of the boat.  I was relieved to find the water temperature tolerable.  At 19.8 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit), the water should have felt as toasty as a blanket, but I've lost some of my acclimation not swimming for four years.  I waded out to shore, and walked until there was no water in front of me.  My official start time was 6:53am.  I waded back into the water until it was deep enough to swim, and then I started to crank. :)

5. Diabetes and The Rules
I swim according to "English Channel Rules": I've never worn a wetsuit.  I wear bathing suit in an approved fabric and style, a single bathing cap, and bit of "grease".  I also wear a MediaAlert bracelet and an insulin pump, but the Channel Swimming Association approved these deviations to keep me safe and alive. :)  My insulin pump gives me insulin every three minutes.  I have to tell it how much to give me, and I end up changing this amount repeatedly over the swim, because exercise changes insulin sensitivity.  I need insulin to survive, but I need the *right amount* of insulin to swim.  Insulin moves glucose from your blood into your cells.  Too much insulin would jam my muscles with sugar, but not leave enough sugar in my blood for my brain to function normally.  Too little insulin would prevent my cells from receiving enough energy, and cause the sugar level to build up in my blood.  At worst, if I stopped taking insulin, I'd be heading into a coma as I swam.  The tricky thing about insulin is that it takes 3-5 hours to absorb, and the absorption time can vary by 50% from one place on your body to another!  Some days, it feels like you need to be psychic to get the balance right.   (My body has stopped making insulin.  My immune system waged a bit of a war with my pancreas.  That's what Type 1 Diabetes is, and why people with Type 1 Diabetes must inject insulin to stay alive.)

At the beginning of the swim, the wind wasn't even strong enough to create waves.  I moved through the water faster than expected, and it was "test time" before I knew it.  I test my blood sugars every 30 minutes while I swim.  I need to test this often to swim safely.  My boat crew loaded two Freestyle Insulinx meters into a plastic container, along with a lancing device and a face cloth, and threw it to me on a rope.  I'd swim up to the container and test my blood sugar while I treaded water.  Under English Channel rules, I'm not allowed to get on or touch the boat.

6. Feeling Needy...
I love the Confederation Bridge -- there is something special about it to me -- but it also feels like the world's longest ruler.  :)  The 44 main piers are spaced exactly 250 meters (273 yards) apart, and it makes it painfully easy to see how much progress you are (or aren't) making.  I got a bit information-needy early in the swim.  Whenever I stopped to test/feed, I kept counting the piers to see how far I'd come.  I got a bit desperate to confirm I was making progress.

7. Feeling Loved...
The novelty of the swim wore off quickly.  Swimmers tend to go through a bit of depression between the third and seventh hours of their swim because the adrenaline from the start has worn off, and the finish is a long way off.  The weather challenged me.  The fog made everything so grey and cold!  The sky was grey, the bridge was grey and the water seemed grey.  I felt cold unexpectedly quickly, and longed to see the great big heating lamp in the sky. :)  I was only two and a half hours in, and found myself wondering if I could make it.  At one of my test/feed breaks, my first group of harbour porpoises made their appearance, and I was told I had 86 facebook notifications and a bunch of text messages.  I felt so loved!  It actually warmed me up and gave me hope.

I just kept swimming. :-)

8. Then It Got Rough(er)
I became nauseous pretty early in the swim.  Koolaid is my primary fuel source, and I couldn't find a single tub of Koolaid in Halifax!  My friend Diana and I drove around the city, hitting Walmart, Superstore Wholesalers, Superstore, Sobey's, Bulk Barn, and even Lawtons Drugstore.  The pre-mixed Koolaid Jammers were the wrong concentration (too sugary to absorb well), and the single packs used an artificial sweetener I have trouble with.  The closest we could find was a knock off made by Sobey's.  I've had trouble with knock offs before (curse, you, No Name brand!) and taking Gatorade in significant quantities makes me puke, but I didn't really have a choice.  The Sobeys brand could have been causing me trouble, or it could have been the disorientation from the fog, or it could have been the unceasing undulation...  Probably a combination of all three.

Swimming with one arm is a bit disorienting.  Swimmers will understand how I do it: it's a slowed-down one-arm fly drill, and I keep my non-working arm by my side instead of extended ahead.  (Despite doing it for nearly 11 hours yesterday, I struggle to explain it. :)  See the first two seconds of this video if you're interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BwpI0glRdU&t=0m06s .) It means, though, that I am tilting in a couple of directions.  Picture a seesaw moving up and down which also tips on its side every time one of the ends comes up.

The waves didn't help.  Neither did the volume of liquid I was drinking.  Carbohydrate solutions absorb best at a concentration of 6-8%.  To drink my 30 grams of carbs, I was drinking 450mL (15 fluid ounces, 1.9 cups, or just under a pint) of fluid every 30 minutes.  It meant that a lot of liquid was sloshing around in my stomach.  I ended up burping *a lot*.  At first this was really embarrassing, but my crew was so supportive they actually cheered me on, saying things like "Good one!", and, "Way to go!".  Heh.  They knew the burping reduced my nausea, but you can't ask for support like that!  :-)  Eventually, we started splitting my half-hourly feeds in half and feeding every 15 minutes to reduce the volume of liquid.  It meant more stopping, though.

9. Nature's Ultimatum: Tide vs Geography
The swim quickly melted into a blur of swimming, testing, and carbing up.  I lost track of the time, and sometimes the 30 minute periods seemed to pass in no time at all.  The wind was actually pushing me toward PEI.  Excellent. :)  It wasn't directly pushing me, but it certainly helped, and it prevented the tide from dragging me too far west of the bridge.  

Over time, the wind picked up and changed direction. It stopped pushing me toward PEI blowing me, and started blowing me sideways, further and further from the nearest point of land, and potentially adding 30-50% more kilometers to the length of the swim.  The waves were getting bigger, and although we didn't know it at the time, the gale-force winds scheduled for tomorrow were coming early.  The tide was running faster than expected, and the slack tide didn't last as long as it should have.  We faced a difficult decision: I either had to fight the tide and current (swimming partially "upstream", knowing I wouldn't make as much forward progress) or I had to fight the geography, knowing that the further I got blown down the strait, the longer and longer the swim would get.  We chose to fight the tide and current.

The satellite tracking beacon (SPOT) recorded points between hours 5-9 that don't quite mesh with my experience of the swim.  It's lobster season in that area of the Strait, so lobster pot buoys were everywhere.  (We lost a bit of time navigating around them, and my boat had to leave me for a bit so the propeller wouldn't get tangled in the underwater ropes.)  Between hours 5 and 9, we passed buoys.  Everyone on my crew emphasized the progress we were making, but it doesn't look like we made much forward progress at all according to the map.  I'm not really sure how to understand this.

I certainly made progress in terms of not getting blown down the strait, but forward progress evaded us.  That can happen sometimes.  Even without wind, there are areas of the Strait where the geography causes currents that hold you in place.  I once swam for 15 minutes in the Strait (using both arms) and only moved 10 meters (11 yards).  I only started making reasonable forward progress when the tide changed direction.  (The captain joked he could have saved fuel by dropping anchor!)

10. The Dark Shape Beneath Me
The sun spent many hours trying to burn off the fog, and although there were times when you could see the outline of the sun, the sun didn't exactly shine over us during the first half of the swim.  I was cold, but the water warmed up to 21 (70) as we got closer to PEI. Eventually, the sun broke through, and burned off the fog.

As delightful as the harbour porpoises were, I wondered why they were there, and why I'd never seen them before.  My boat captain commented that he could see mackerel on his sounder, and that the porpoises were probably chasing it.  I wondered what other wildlife was in the Strait.  I've never seen anything beneath me while I've swum other than thousands of jellyfish, and crabs near shore.  There's a lot of plankton in the Strait.  Much like tiny water droplets create fog, the millions and millions of tiny organisms create a fog of their own beneath the water.  It's hard to see more than 3-4 meters down (10-13 feet).  I've felt big creatures (just seals as far as I know) move beneath me (they displace the water, and it pushes you up a bit), but I've never seen them.

As I swam along, I started noticing a dark shape beneath me.  It was there, and then not there, reappearing sporadically.  It was so far down -- was it changing shape?  I couldn't quite make it out.  A number of terrifying things crossed through my mind.  If it was something big, I'd feel the water move, right?  Right?

As the sun burned off the last of the fog, the dark shape stopped disappearing.  I then realised that I'd been seeing my shadow.  With the sun on my back, I was casting a shadow on the thousands of plankton organisms beneath me.  The shadow was changing shape... because I was moving.  I had literally been scared by my own shadow. :)  (Even more sadly, this had happened before, but it was years ago, and I'd forgotten about it.  Ha.)

11. The Difficulties
I’ve experienced nausea in the past,and have developed a pretty reliable plan for dealing with it.  As I swam along, I became aware that I was inventing reasons for breaks.  I slowly realised that my breaks were a chance to be upright, which seemed to give my stomach some relief. 

I had some Gravol Ginger Chews, which were very helpful for dealing with the nausea.  I switched my feeds to gingerale.  Over time, though, my stomach started feeling hard and tight.  It got really, really hard to be horizontal and tipping on two axes. My crew posted news of my nausea on facebook, and I received encouragement from two former students of mine.  :-)  Alyssa told me I’d taught her to take a break and try again later.  I tried doing a bit of one-armed backstroke and stretching out my stomach, which helped a lot.  Kennedy sent the message that I'd taught her not to give up, not even when things got really hard.  I held back the tears.  It's very hard not to be moved hearing your former students explain how you've helped them, and having them support you.  Emotionally, at this point in the swim, I was pretty raw.

My brain was slowing down.  This can happen after you've swum for a long time, especially when you're cold.  I felt like I could think reasonably normally, but I was having trouble articulating myself.  It didn't help that my tongue was swelling with the salt water exposure, and it was physically harder to talk.  My crew later reported they told the captain I seemed a little disoriented.  His response?   "Yep."  My boat captain had seen me through some really rough swims, and he knew I had a while to go before I hit rock bottom. :)

I ended up puking a couple of times.  I sort of laugh whenever I puke, because my immediate reaction is always, "Oh my god.  How many carbs did I just puke up?  Who the heck tries to carb count vomit?"  Diabetes is pervasive.  If can't take in enough carbs to match your insulin, you have an urgent situation.  When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, you were supposed to go straight to the ER if you vomited.  Fortunately, diabetes management has advanced enough that it can often be managed without professional intervention...  even in during a marathon swim. :)  I turned my pump off for 30 minutes to decrease the amount of insulin in my body.  At this moment, Stacey Van Wart became my hero.  She has Type 1 Diabetes as well.  Two weeks prior, she finished her swim across the Northumberland after puking for four straight hours, and having her insulin pump fail mid-swim.  I tried to summon her inner strength.  I had my crew toss me a tiny bottle filled with gingerale, and I started taking tiny, tiny sips every couple of minutes.  My stomach settled.

Every time the going got rough (when I was feeling especially down, or when I was feeling particularly ill), the porpoises would appear.  Care-taking behaviour has been observed in dolphins (helping struggling swimmers and other animals, protecting swimmers against sharks).  I wondered if the porpoises were there to help me.

I started getting desperate, and asked "How much further?" waaaaaay too often.  My captain was terrific the entire day, but really shone here.  He knows just how to lie to me. :)  I cried.  We kept going.  :)

12. Almost There?
Eventually my crew reported that they could make out the windows on the houses.  I could see the red clay of PEI, and I wanted to get there really, really badly.  I wanted to have that magical experience when you think, "Oh my god.  Is that the ground?  Oh my god.  I think that's the ground.  Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!  Oh my god, I see rocks.  It's getting shallower.  Oh, dear god, let me make it before a rogue tsunami yanks me back into the middle of the Strait."  I visualised wading ashore and picking up rocks and shells, as is tradition with marathon swimmers.  It wasn't meant to be.  It was, as marathon swimmers say, a tough day at the office.

The wind changed direction again.  It was now pushing me directly away from land.  Although the wind had only been scheduled to blow 15 knots, the forecast had changed to blow 30.  We would be facing gale-force winds, and we weren't close enough to shore to avoid them.  We continued fighting the tide, but it was like running on a treadmill.  We continued to fight until I started drifting backward, even when I was sprinting.  I lost 200 meters (219 yards) testing my blood sugar.  I cried some more, and the porpoises came back.  There was nothing more I could do.  The porpoises swam all around me and under the boat as the captain helped me climb the ladder.

My crew took amazing care of me after the swim, and helped me get dressed.  They truly went above and beyond, and I am so incredibly grateful to them.  Marathon swimming is truly a team sport.  I couldn't have gotten through the day without them.  Folks on who commented on facebook and sent me text messages: your support was incredible.  You'll never know how much you helped me.  Your love really did make me feel warm!

I hurt after the swim, but not the way I expected.  My non-working arm was the sorest thing on my body!  What the heck?  It hadn't done anything other than float along all day!  I guess the movement irritated it, though.  My quads and knees were both pretty shot.  My left shoulder is a little tired, but it doesn't hurt anywhere near as much as I expected it to.  This alone gives me great hope. :-)

Today, in PEI, the surf is so dangerous that Parks Canada is advising individuals to stay out of the water.

13. Did I Fail?
Hellz no.  I didn't fail at all.  :-)  There's no way failure can feel this good.  :-)  This has been a four-year journey for me.  I swam for 10 hours and 42 minutes, persevering over my diabetes, over the cold, over hours of nausea, and over vomiting, all while swimming with one arm.  That's pretty awesome.  Under different conditions, I'm sure I would have made it.  The longer and more challenging a marathon swim is, the more susceptible it is to tides, weather, and rogue tsunamis.  Marathon swimming is all about facing the significant chance of not reaching your goal, surrendering to the day, and letting Mother Nature have her way.  That's just how it is. I didn't swim to PEI yesterday.  I still won, though.  :-)

The game *really is* all about finding your porpoises in life. :-)

14. My Amazing Diabetes Control
My blood sugars were AMAZING.  Amazing enough that you might even be tempted to think it's easy.  It's *not even remotely easy*.  US blood sugar units in brackets.

I started off with a regular lancet, but had to switch to deeper, disposable lancet blades during the swim.  The cold was making it hard to draw blood.

While I swim, my target range is 5-8 mmol/L (90-144 mg/dl).

06:50 - 6.3 (113) - 30 grams of carbs - 140% temp rate
07:23 - 7.6 (137) - 1 gram of carbs (low-calorie electrolyte solution) - 140% temp rate
08:00 - 10.7 (193) - 0 grams of carbs - 170% temp rate
08:30 - 8.9 (160) - 8 grams of carbs (shot of liquid Tylenol) - 170% temp rate
09:00 - 3.8 (68) - 40 grams of carbs - 160% temp rate
09:40 - 7.5 (135) - 30 grams of carbs - 160% temp rate
10:10 - 6.7 (121) - 30 grams of carbs - 150% temp rate
10:40 - 5.4 (97) - 15 grams of carbs/15 grams 15 minutes later - 100% temp rate
11:10 - 5.1 (92) - 15 grams of carbs/15 grams 15 minutes later - 80% temp rate
11:30 - 5.6 (101) - 15 grams of carbs/15 grams 15 minutes later - 70% temp rate
12:15 - 6.1 (110) - 15 grams of carbs/15 grams 15 minutes later - 70% temp rate
12:50 - 6.3 (113) - 15 grams of carbs/15 grams 15 minutes later - 70% temp rate
13:20 - 5.7 (103) - 15 grams of carbs/15 grams 15 minutes later - 70% temp rate
13:50 - 5.2 (94) - 15 grams of carbs/15 grams 15 minutes later - 70% temp rate
14:20 - 6.7 (121) - 15 grams of carbs/15 grams 15 minutes later - 70% temp rate
15:00 - 5.7 (103) - drank 27 grams carb (gingerale), puked some back up - 70% temp rate
15:30 - 5.2 (94) - 10 grams of carbs over 15 minutes (gingerale) - 0% temp rate for 30 min
15:45 - 4.5 (81) - 14 grams of carbs/14 grams of carbs 15 minutes later (gingerale) - 70% temp rate
16:20 - 4.8 (86) - 14 grams of carbs/14 grams of carbs 15 minutes later (gingerale) - 55% temp rate
17:00 - 6.6 (119) - 14 grams of carbs/14 grams of carbs 15 minutes later (gingerale) - 55% temp rate - 55% temp rate
17:30 - 8.0 (144) - 0 grams of carbs - 55% temp rate
17:35 - end of swim

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I wish the hormones were as temporary as the basals.

It's the last week of the month, and that means two things

1) I mourn quietly inside me that the darkness of winter is coming. I am saddened by that. Nothing makes me happier than warm sun. I hate winter. With a passion. Nothing about it satisfies any part of me, unless there is such a huge snow storm that it shuts the whole city down (because that's the only way I get a day off.) And thanks to all my predecessors insisting on CFCs and spray can cheese, I can safely say that those snow storms never happen any more. Anyway, yes, summer is nearly through. I won't have to face winter until Fall is done. And I do love fall. I love it so much. It would be my favourite season if Winter didn't follow it, but it gets the bad rep because I HATE WINTER. the older I get the more I wish to hibernate and never see a flake of snow. Perhaps time to move to Texas, or Arizona.

2) It also means that no matter what, my insulin resistance has bounced so high I have lost sight of it in the final rays of the summer's sun. Since Saturday I have been running at least 100-150% temp basals, dropped my carb ratio in half and have corrected via syringe. It's getting to be a real hassle, my head hasn't stopped pounding so bad that I can taste colours since Sunday, and I am bloated and hungry. Always. Perhaps the hunger is hormonal, perhaps it's in retaliation to the MASSIVE amounts of insulin I am taking (I mean, I am talking about a daily pump refill, which is NOT normal for me. I need to get in to my endo to discuss this. It is so noticeable that my normal 7 day average in the month of august was 6.2 and for the past 4 days it is 11.9.  I have taken my Dexcom off since I can't deal with the emotional strain the numbers take on me, when I see them all the time.

Oh, is it Friday yet?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lift Heavy Stuff

I've tried running.
I've tried walking.
I've tried (and do enjoy) riding my bicycle, but don't do it enough.

I find cardio drops my blood sugar too fast, even without my pump connected, that it ends up not being worth it because I have to consumer so many calories after. And yes, I have tried every drink, bar, meal, time of day...it kills my sugar.

Then I signed up with Ali over at  InsulinandIron. She has her life revolving around lifting heavy things. When she is asked what she does for cardio she says she lifts her heavier things faster. And it works. When we do the conditioning part of my workout, my heart is pounding and I am ready to pass out.

So recently, I read this article: Lifting Weights May Help Diabetics Keep Blood Sugar in Check

And then this happens once I lift things regularly:

So I have to say I agree.

What about you? What works for you?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Of insulin and heroes

Today I have taken a total daily dose of 94 units. I have only eaten 36 grams of carbohydrate.

94 units will usually cover me at least two days, so what gives?

Something happened in my body at 12am this morning. I don't know what, but my body just decided today was not a day it felt like absorbing insulin.

I cranked a temporary basal up to 150%, I corrected, corrected and then corrected again. I walked a few blocks at a super fast pace & changed my cannula. I drank three litres of water, I did not eat a bite (despite really wanting to!)

It was just....one of those days. I can't sleep when my sugar is high. A lot of people tell me that's all they want to do, but I get short of breath, I need to pee and my bones start to ache when my sugar goes up. So, yeah i didn't sleep well last night.

As I was sitting on the bus this morning, my pump told me I have a low cartridge. At the rate I was going through insulin I was worried. I usually have an extra bottle of insulin around at all times, but for SOME reason WHEN I DESPERATELY NEED IT, I didn't have one.

I had to put my tail between my legs and call on T. to bring me one from home. He wasn't overly impressed but barely said a word since well..I need it. It's not like I could go buy another since I just had it filled (and my pharmacy is super far from work anyway) and I couldn't just...go without. I am so thankful he is so supportive.

My co-worker asked me what I would have done if he wasn't here/at work. I began to list a number of people I could have called for an emergency pump fill (my real life diabetes community), but it all would have involved a lot of traveling around the city on my limited time, not to mention....for some reason NovoRapid isn't widely prescribed here and I would have been using Humalog...not that it really matters to me. Ultimately I would have gone home if need be, but I didn't want to skip out of work when I am so extremely busy..

So yeah, I am thankful that my sugar is now 5.9 (as opposed to the steady 15-19 I was running all night.) I am thankful to have a superwonderfulawesomeamazing partner who barely flinched when I was in need (yes, he does read this blog and no i didn't say that just because he reads), and I am also thankful that I had backup to my backup.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

First Day

Today I had my first session of hopefully many with a kick ass new trainer/friend. Her name is Ali and she blogs about her life at insulinandiron.wordpress.com

So I will back up a little bit. I met Ali first at our JDRF Walk in June, albeit briefly. She was there with her kickass supportive boyfriend and seemed very sweet. Anyone who was going to volunteer for JDRF is good in my books. Then, on Thursday past we met again at our T1 Dish and Dine event (a meet up for adults living with T1/LADA.) We chatted over hot dogs and french fries, she is a very warm person, so I was totally comfortable in talking to her about her career.

Here's how our convo went:

Me: "So what do you do?"
A: "Oh, I am a fitness instructor"
Me: "Awesome. So where do you do that?"
A: "Stadacona" (in Halifax talk: that's the military base.)
Me: *jaw drop*

That's a totally bad ass job. Training military dudes must not be easy. A lot of them are in elite physical shape, so she must be to keep up with them. As the evening went on, I also learned that she is running a 10K in Reykjavik, Iceland in support of the Canadian Diabetes Association. So I pretty much love her now. Especially after learning she is just past her 1 year diaversary and is taking everything with a grain of salt. Her outlook on life is amazing! A lot of people initially feel very defeated by diabetes, but not her. I think it has a lot to do with her kickass boyfriend (from what I gather and the short time I met him) being a quadriplegic, helping her perspective and "poor me" attitude sort of slide.

So I mentioned how I have been needing the extra push and help with training and she told me anytime. The next day I had her booked for tonight.

I was definitely more excited than nervous. I have been to trainers before, and to have someone who knew exactly what I felt like when working out, blood sugar-wise was so so important to me. She is totally the type of person I need at the gym. Not someone yelling at me, or drilling me. I don't like group classes, or running on a treadmill and I am bored by fitness machines. Being fat at the gym is hard work mentally, physically and emotionally and she seems to get that. I did things that were extremely hard and rewarding. I really, really want to do things right form-wise so they are the most beneficial to my body and my mind. I took all of her advice in, and asked a lot of questions.

I feel good after it all. It was nice to sit down with her after everything was done and be able to check my blood sugar, and have her toss me dex tabs when I needed them. My basal adjustments will have to be tinkered with, and that's ok too. She is giving me tips of bolusing and basals according to the type of exeercise I do and I totally trust what she is saying vs. someone without diabetes. Having her next to me, holding my Dexcom while I work out, ready to tell me when I am headed south bgwise is just what I need to get over the anxiety of being low, and replenishing too many calories I am working hard to burn off.

All in all it has been a very positive experience. Thanks, Ali. I definitely will be booking you again asap!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Loud Silence

Have you ever heard, or said, the saying the silence was deafening? It sounds bizarre until you sit in a completely silent room or area and realize that just the energy from items or the world around you makes an almost undetectable sound.

As I was sitting, waiting, hoping my glucose tabs would start to work today I realized the whole body numbness I feel during a low blood sugar isn't a numbness at all. It's equivilant to that really loud silence.

My body isn't numb when I am low. It's almost like I can feel the blood being pumped through me.

It was one of those moments that when you are sitting in it and thinking "I'm going to blog about this" it seems brilliant. But then I try to type it out and explain what I was thinking and realize it doesn't make sense.

Just like a low blood sugar!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Packing with Diabetes

I am not known to pack light, but I am usually the person that forgets key clothing items like a sweater, jeans, socks etc when I travel.

How is this possible you think?

Well for one I always pack about 35 seconds before my planned departure time because I am THAT organized. And secondly, my main focus, always, is making sure I have enough medical supplies in case anything happens: ANYTHING. I pack: glucagon, two vials of backup insulin, box of strips, twice my infusion sets, batteries, glucose tabs, sticky pads, reservoirs, syringes etc.

My biggest fear is running out of supplies. Maybe it's some sort of anxiety,  because I know I overpack. But I am just the person that something would happen if I forgot an item.

You wouldn't believe that I am only visiting my parents 400km away for the weekend would you?

Did you know Life on T1 is now on Facebook? Keep up to date with posts there, as well as other diabetes news and events. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

So. Is It Worth It?

My one major message as an advocate for Type One Diabetes is that it is a personal disease. None of us are similar. None of us have the same struggles day in and day out, none of us can treat the struggles we encounter the same way.

I just want a little recognition outside of the diabetes world (and uh...sometimes inside too) that while this chronic illness comes with similar symptoms it is not a similar disease when we go from individual to individual.

I wanted to make that clear before I go on with this post because it's a doozy, and what I do (and expect from me) is probably completely different than what you, your mom, your kids, your sister, your cat does and that's ok. It talks about balancing mental health, a personal life and diabetes all while maintaining a cool outer shell.

I don't judge anyone for any of their own choices when it comes to their diabetes, and I wouldn't ever judge anyone because of a number they chose (or choose not) to share.

Ok. We clear on that? Good? Good.

I met my new/old doctor today. I had my lady check up, my 3 month blood work, and a fascinating conversation with her. She is truly one of the most fabulous people I have ever met and if anyone is meant to be a caregiver and doctor it's her.

I sat in the room waiting nervously with my list of questions/medications in hand. She breezed  in with her cool red haired bob bouncing and apologizing profusely as she hadn't had her coffee yet and she was running behind (um it was still 3 minutes before my appt. time.)

She looked me over thoughtfully and said "I don't remember your face, but don't be offended, talk to me like we're old friends and it will come back to me. Tell me your story."

So I explained that I had moved around and bounced from family doc to family doc over the past 7 years since I have seen her. She nodded and asked me questions here and there about my life. Spouse, interests, job, family history etc. Then we got to the good stuff. She looked at my blood work and she said "well, everything is great." and rhymed off cholesterol, etc. And she got to the A1C of 6.1 as soon as she said it I looked at the paper for confirmation and I whooped right there. A deep sigh of relief post whoop made me realize...I hadn't told her I was Type One. She didn't know (or remember). I looked at her and said "That's pretty good for 23 years on Insulin, yeah?" And she smiled big and said "well you didn't tell me you had diabetes, and judging by this I wouldn't have really known."

We chatted more about the pump, the Dexcom, and other treatments. I explained my woes with my endo, and she referred me immediately to her friend who is an endo and said she will see me in 3 months.

I respect people who don't post their A1Cs. I respect people who do. It's a totally personal choice and how you get to those numbers is your personal adventure. I blog about mine because it helps motivate me.

So I posted my results on my Facebook. Most of my Facebook people are friends or people with diabetes in their lives.

One friend (a fabulous d-mom, you probably know her as Lea) asked me: "Is it worth it?"

My answer? Yes and no.

It's hard work. And it's not even to say that people who have higher A1C's are not putting in just as much, possibly more (though from how I feel...maybe not) work into their treatments and self-care. It's just this whole taking care of yourself thing while living with a chronic illness is hard. It's hard mentally, physically, emotionally. It's hard on your job, your relationships. It's hard on your wallet.

It's hard.

What have I changed? How did it happen for me? Over the past 1.5 years here are the changes I have made, all thanks to members of the diabetes online community. (I have not been to an Endo or CDE since I started my new pump in April 2012....so uh don't do what I did. Get a doctor's advice.)

-I don't eat if my blood sugar is above 8.0 (144) anymore.
-I cut my food intake in mornings in half (no more nice big brunches or breakfasts.).
-I noticed foods that set my sugars off and have stopped consuming them.
-I check my blood sugar ~8-10x a day.
-I am extremely aggressive with corrections, temp basals etc.
-I bolus 1hr before breakfast no matter what my blood sugar is. AND I eat the exact same breakfast every single day.
-I started wearing a CGM, and adjusting my basal rates aggressively to match the patterns. Almost Obsessively (I currently have 9 basal settings which work GREAT.)
-I read and took heed to the book Pumping Insulin (changed my whole outlook!)

I have made some sacrifices in my personal life too.
-I don't get to sample as many yummy cocktails as I would like & beers are getting fewer
-My coffee is getting darker (as in not using as much creamer, despite my love for it)
-My mornings are getting earlier so I can get ahead of the hormonal spike
-My eating at restaurants is well planned, and I try to avoid the fried stuff unless I am 100% emotionally prepared for the BG spike BEFORE ordering.
-Driving anywhere takes longer because I will not put the keys in the ignition unless I have checked in range in the past 30-40 mins.
-My social media is annoyingly filled with information about diabetes, mostly on a selfish basis as it motivates me. I think this has caused some of my friends to distance themselves from me. Really, I do. And that hurts.

So is it worth it?

Doctors, family, friends, researchers tell me a resounding YES. Some days are worth all of it. Every grape-counting, pasta-measuring, cheese and olives instead of ice cream for dessert eating moment.

Some days I curse it and just don't want to care and it's a resounding NO. For a day, an hour...even for a minute I don't want diabetes in my mind. But I don't have that option. We don't have that option. So we do what we can when we can and that is how it is.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Ugh. Sometimes I hate being in Canada. Most of the time I love my country, but when it comes to DOC things and advocacy work, USA is MILES ahead of this place. I wish I had a job that got me to places like AADE.

DSMA (Diabetes Social Media Advocacy) is also hosting a d-meet-up next week. Sighhhh. I will miss y'all!

DECA (the Diabetes Education Camping Association) is holding a Train the Educator session at AADE next week in Philly. Here's an email from Shelly Yeager about the session:

If you're a HCP you should go.

DTreat Trainer Program for Healthcare Practitioners
The Diabetes Education and Camping Association and Camp Educators COI, an official Community of Interest of the American Association of Diabetes Educators, are making plans to host a seminar to orient educators on the successful "DTreat" model for young adults - a retreat engaging the young adult community with healthcare partners. 
The seminar will be held on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 from 1 - 4 PM at "The Hub" meeting room across the street from the Philadelphia Convention Center at AADE.
If you are interested in learning more, please email info@diabetescamps.org by Wednesday afternoon, July 29, 2013.  We only have room for the first 30 interested people.
Please forward this message to anyone you feel might be interested.
Shelley Yeager, Director of Outreach & Development
Diabetes Education and Camping Association

What is it like to wear a pump

I just finished reading a great post by Reva over at TypeOnederful. You should check it out here.

She really nails home the importance, freedom, and awkwardness of wearing a pump. Thanks, Reva!

Monday, July 29, 2013


It goes a little something like this.

I'm typing typing typing away at work. Doing my job like it's nobody's business ant then it hit me. My stomach growled. My head just dipped and my eye lids dripped with lead.

I checked my blood sugar and it told me I was 3.8.

Now just an hour earlier I was 11.7 and I gave my usual correction. So judging by that number I was plummeting.

I went through my purse and pulled not one but two empty Dex tubes AND an empty juice box. So I went through my work snack drawer which had only a protein bar and some expired soft cookies (note to self: re-stock)

I went to the kitchen. I knew the work fridge had cans of regular cola, but I didn't want that amount of calories.

Suddenly the room got dark and a light shone on the table.

There were communal Jelly Beans left! I dumped the remaining contents into my hand and counted ten beans. All lemon and orange (gag...my least favourites)

By my calculation 10 beans had 18g of carb so that should have kept me fine until I got home with a basal reduction of 30%.

I was so happy to find those Jelly beans.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Fond Farewell

Today I bid a fond farewell.

The sweet, sweet Dexcom my friend has given me to replace the receiver I lost in April

My friend lent me his Dexcom under the promise that I would give it back with a few sensors. Not. A. Problem. People have been so kind in selling me their remaining 7+ sensors I had no problem sharing the wonderful warmth I felt from the DOC. Today he request it back as he was going to start training for a marathon. I am so proud of my friends with diabetes who do shit like this!

My receiver was lost when I went for a bike ride. I put it in my bag as I usually do, only to discover there was a hole in the bag. I traced my steps around the neighbourhood several times. The 7+ receiver looks like a cool electronic, so I am sure some neighbourhood kids found it and kept it to play with

I have come to be comfortable with the Dexcom. It definitely wasn't 100% accurate, but the trends really helped me fine tune my basal rates, my A1C dropped .5% from 6.8 to 6.3, I slept soundly at night...it was an all round positive experience.

I am so grateful for the kindness that was extended to me originally when I was desperate. And for the kindness that kept pouring over me over the past 7 months. I just wish that I didn't have to plea for the supplies.

When I tweeted about this earlier my friend Jenn brought up a very valid point: Hasn't Health Canada approved Dexcom in Canada? Well...yeah they have. But when I go on the Dexcom website I can't purchase a system. When I call they don't want anything to do with me as a client as they are apparently in talks with getting it distributed.

Now here's what I do know: the Animas Vibe is also going through the Health Canada red tape. I believe that Animas Canada is going to be the distributor for the Dexcom G4 and launch it AFTER the Vibe to encourage more people to upgrade or switch to the Vibe....which, don't get me wrong, I will be doing no matter what.

I just wish that Pharma companies didn't have this kind of power of the health and well being of so many people. At this point I strongly believe it's a marketing ploy. As someone who works on the business side of marketing...I totally get it. I just wish it wasn't the way it had to be.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I just hid my diabetes

I just hid my diabetes.

I have never, ever done this in my life, and it feels awful! 

You see I am on the bus home, in a gridlock (natch) and I feel a little low with a 40min ahead. I looked around and I hid my test kit in my purse and tested a 4.3.  

I discreetly emptied a few glucose tabs in my hand and ate them all at once while staring out the window.

Why did I do this today?

Because of the looks I get. Normally I can handle them and brush them off, but today has been exceptionally difficult in terms of taking an emotional beating at work. I just feel if one person gave me the "of course you have diabetes, you're fat"  look I would break down and sob.

I know it's not true, and most of the time I use times like that to educate, but not today. Sorry, pals. More education next time, when I am a little tougher.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Good Doc

Well y'all I had some very positive news today!

I have been struggling at an epic level trying to get some more blog posts out lately. I don't know why they just don't come to me. I have a lot to say, but when it comes to spilling everything out on screen my backspace key reigns king, the lid gets closed on my laptop and another deep swing of disappointment finds its way down my throat. It's just a case of writers block, to be honest. Trying to put in words what is happening in my brain has been difficult.

(45 minute break to watch Orange is the New Black)

Anyway on to my good news.

I have spoken in the past about my struggles with connecting to a doctor. My endocrinologist leaves a bad taste in my mouth (I mean she even uses the term "difficult" and "brittle" to describe me.) And I have bounced between 5 GPs in 7 years since I left my fabulous, amazing, caring and wonderful doctor at the University medical centre.

Today I opened my last refill of Insulin and groaned. I had to go to the doctor. I called my regular GP (who I am neutral on. He isn't good or bad.) I was told he CLOSED HIS PRACTICE without warning.

So I was back at square one. I dutifully started googling and ratemd-ing new docs. I stumbled on my doctor from university. A feeling of comfort washed over me. To set this story right, she has the highest score possible on Rate MD. What I am saying is that I am not the only one who feels this way about her.

Here are a few excerpts from patient comments about her:

"I LOVE YOU. DANIELLE lewington is one of the most caring and knwlefgable doctors ive ever met. when i adressed her my concerns she asked me many questions to try and figure out what was wrong. She did proper procedures and took the extra mile to get a follow up on my blood tests, xrays, and to also make an appointment with another specialist to help me cope with my syndrome. this was all in 1 single appointment, and i am very pleased. i would definatley recomend her. THANKS DOC <3 "

"Excellent doctor. I was looking for a doctor after mine retired; and, as a patient of the same doctor for over 35 years, I was not going to be easily satisfied. However, I couldn't be happier with my choice. She is pleasant, thorough, interested in you as a person and makes you very confortable regardless of your concerns."

I called around and no doctors were taking patients that were not prenatal (and that's not me.) Finally I stumbled on Dr. Lewington's practice. I didn't even know she worked outside of the university, and here I was speaking to her secretary. Her secretary informed me Dr. Lewington was not taking on more patients, and I sighed and asked her who else may be taking new patients on. She proceeded to start to book me in with the incoming brand new GP. We chatted as she started clicking through her schedule and I casually mentioned how Dr. Lewington was my doctor in University and she was wonderful.

The secretary immediately perked up and informed me that the doctor was accepting all former SMU patients! She booked me in for the end of the month.

I wish I could convey what this means to me. 

Living with a chronic illness it means so much to have a medical team you can truly connect to. It's so important to trust your team enough to share all details of your health. I am actually looking forward to seeing her so much that I started making a list for her.

I am even getting my blood work done early tomorrow :)

Ill keep you posted!