Toronto ice storm diabetes photo art

Taken this morning around my neighbourhood.

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This post was inspired by fellow type 1 diabetic Scully. Her December 12 of 12-tiny things photo entry featured one unit of insulin as the focus, and it was amazing to see visually just how tiny a drop of insulin is.

Hope everyone is staying safe. Happy holidays,

Jessie

I’m a newly diagnosed type 1 diabetic who loves to exercise. Welcome to my unpredictable world.

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When I found out I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the first thing I said to myself was, “I’m not going to give up my exercise regime!”

It was a shock to find out after 29 beautiful years together, my pancreas function wanted out.

First off, way to be a quitter. I’ve invested a lot in keeping you and the rest of my body healthy. What gives? Maybe I took you for granted. I took a lot of things for granted actually. I just assumed you and the rest of my body would just “work”. But I guess not. And secondly, stop coming back for short bits of time and then leaving again. Either you are in or out. I don’t like this wishy-washy fling we’re having. I don’t know why it’s called honeymooning. This is no honeymoon.

Okay, back to exercising and being a newly diagnosed type 1 diabetic.

The biggest problem I face with any type of training is going low (the technical term is hypoglycemia). It has been a very long process and I am by no means at a point where I’ve found the answer on how to work out without going low. I do accept that no matter how much I prepare or try to prevent lows, they will inevitably happen.

In the year and some since I’ve been diagnosed I have been to hospital once over  hypogylcemia  involving exercise. I swam, biked and run much earlier in the day in training for my first triathlon and although I ate when I should have, I still crashed, and crashed bad. I was completely out of it and my run buddies drove me to the hospital. I didn’t know where I was, and apparently was saying on the ride there, “We are going to do swim drills now right?” I eventually came to, and was released the same night.

If you’re competitive and have a type A personality like myself, this whole process may drive you mad.

It’s important to remember the following:

  • This learning curve will teach you the great life lesson of patience
  • It will also teach you about acceptance and lastly…
  • Unless your livelihood depends on being an athlete, you’re going to need to calm down about PB’s

That is, just for the time being. This is absolutely NOT to say that you shouldn’t have goals for fitness. I have lots of them. And a quick Google search will prove that there are plenty of accomplished athletes who have type 1 diabetes.

It’s just that because you are newly diagnosed, your body is needing to adjust to everything. And it’s a process, a long one, and one that will try your patience and may have you in tears at times. But things will get better, I promise. It’s important to stay positive.

The basics to avoiding lows for me have been (after much trial and error)

  • Eating a substantial amount of carbs before working out (what is substantial, now enters the fun part, will again, be a game of trial and error)
  • Hydrating properly (I found I need to keep hydrated throughout, whereas before I could pound out 15km without a sip of water)
  • Taking in a steady stream of carbs via eLoad Endurance Formula in my hydration pack

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I usually mix the formula and water in a water bottle, then pour it into my hydration pack. eLoad Endurance Formula is light in taste so it’s not super sweet and doesn’t overwhelm the senses. 

  • Testing often (for me it’s every 1/2 hour)
  • Eating immediately after a run to replenish
  • Documenting what works and what doesn’t

What works for one diabetic may not work for you. I always like to try different things because you never know what might end up being something that gives you exactly what you need. And also, what works ONE DAY may not work the next. And that can be extremely annoying. If your pancreas is honeymooning that will cause a whole other host of fun surprises in terms of how much insulin you need/carbs to intake before/during/after exercise. What has worked for me is throwing my hands in the air and surrendering to the fact that things are probably not going to go my way.

It took a lot of work from my nurses, dietitians, endocrinologist and GP to help decipher the world of diabetes and exercise, but let me tell you, it’s all worth the blood, sweat and tears (literally!). I completely two triathlons and my first half marathon recently. It can all be done, I assure you.

I realize now there are many frustrations that I just had to accept:

  • Carrying all your supplies including your meter, lancet device, test strips, glucose tabs, food
  • Constantly calculating what you should eat, how many carbohydrates are in your fuel foods
  • Stopping for hypoglycemia or when you are feeling ill
  • Having your friends and family worry about you when you train
  • Listening to people tell you “take it easy”

Those were the major annoyances that I have (for the most part) come to accept. It’s completely normal to be annoyed by the way. I thought my feelings of being fed up was a sign of weakness but it is absolutely not. This disease is exhausting.

If you are afraid of exercising because of lows, remember this: consistent exercise is prescribed a lot to manage stress and to alleviate a host of illnesses. It makes you feel good. It helps you become strong. Always talk to you doctor before starting any kind of new routine. But remember, the benefits of working out, in my opinion, heavily outweigh staying stagnant.

Keep moving,

Jessica

Coming out of the closet: my first meet up with other Type 1 diabetics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This post got the Best of the ‘Betes Blog award for my story about a D-meetup in October 2013. Thank you!

 

 

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Connected in Motion‘s trampoline dodgeball tournament this past weekend. Here we are, team Tight & Bright! We lost, but we can be seen a mile away in our neon attire. That’s a win in my books. 

It’s funny how quickly I went from a confident, bubbly personality to an insecure little schoolgirl.

The night before my first type one outing, I felt like it was the first day of school.

Thoughts went as follows: Will they like me? What time should I get up so I have ample time to prepare? Will they like me? I hope I don’t seem like a newbie diabetic. What’s wrong with being a newbie diabetic? Will they like me? Is everyone going to be on pumps? What if I get a low? Will they like me? Maybe I shouldn’t do this….

You get the point. But once I got in and introduced myself, that feeling went away in about 90 seconds.

Cue applause for Connected In Motion-an amazing group of T1D’s and for the first time, I was surrounded by people who got it. Got what it meant to deal with diabetes day in and day out.

The most beautiful part of all of this? None of it had to be said.

It was a very big step for me. Last year I remember being in hysterics crying to my close friends and family, begging them to keep my secret.

I remember that dreaded moment when I realized I had to tell my pace leader at run club that I had diabetes. I motioned her to come close to me, separating us from the group.

“Listen, you can’t tell ANYONE but I have type 1 diabetes. Please don’t say a word. But I just thought you should know in case something happens.”

To this day a lot of people still don’t know I have diabetes. 

I think part of the reason I was and still am at times apprehensive about talking about it is because I feel that the majority of the population really don’t know what it is. Diabetes is made fun of. It’s associated with overweight and unhealthy people who don’t take care of themselves.

Every time I had to tell someone I would say very sternly…

“This has NOTHING to do with how much sugar I consumed. I did nothing to provoke this. I was living a very healthy lifestyle.  No I cannot be cured by a detox cleanse or boiling seeds from the highest treetops in Costa Rica. I’m sorry to hear your great uncle Bob has diabetes. He still eats cake? That’s nice. No I can’t just pop a pill be fine. This is an autoimmune disease! It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t my fault… do you hear me? This wasn’t my fault.”

In fact it wasn’t until recently that I stopped asking my endocrinologist each and every visit if there was anything I could have done to have prevented type 1 diabetes.

She has been wonderful about it, being supportive and with a calming voice reassuring me each time. I knew the answer wouldn’t change, but I needed to hear it from a medical professional. Multiple times.

It has been a long, dark and incredibly challenging journey this past year. Spending half a day amongst people with the same disease has helped me in ways I’m sure I don’t even know. I don’t feel alone anymore.

I will delve into this topic in more detail in later posts but my main message is this: If you are dealing with diabetes, break through the insecurity and go find a support group. You don’t know what you’re missing until you experience what it’s like to be supported by strangers and hopefully new friends.

Thank you Connected in Motion. Saturday’s experience is one I’ll never forget. Now here is a shot of two amazing legs from team Tight & Bright.

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Putting one foot in front of the other,

Jessica