Embracing the ‘Betus

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Training for a 1/2 marathon isn’t easy for anyone.  Training for a 1/2 marathon with Type 1 diabetes is can be downright annoying sometimes.  Yesterday, I was psyched because my motivation was high for a long run.  Unfortunately, my blood sugar was right there with it.  Pre-run I was at 257 so I bolused and decided to run 2 miles on the indoor track at the Y in case I needed to treat again.  After 2, I was down to 203 and felt confident that I could head outdoors to conquer at least another 3 or 4.

With a starting blood sugar so high, my body was not exactly raring to go, but nonetheless, I hit the road to get it done.  Another mile in, my Dexcom started vibrating and beeping and 2 lines were pointing downward indicating that my blood glucose level was dropping fast.  I walked and ate a few Sharkies energy gummies and started to feel better and then started to feel worse.  Sometimes it’s not just a matter of treating, it’s also a matter of dealing with the aftermath.  This roller coaster is not a fun ride.

So, after 1.5 miles outside, I decided to call it a day, or a run.  Disappointed, I had two choices, get mad or get over it.

There’s 11 days left until the race and I plan on running every last mile.  Tomorrow is another day and another run, so I got over it.

If you are a Type 1 or Type 2 diabetic, you know that every day is work. Unless you are ignoring it, diabetes is always there and always in need of some level of attention.  The toughest days are those that you want to be in control and it just won’t let you.  Those are the days when plan A may not work and it’s time to move to plan B or maybe even plan C.  Just don’t give up.  Never give up.  I’m pretty sure the only thing that we literally CAN NOT do as diabetics is fly a plane – by law.  Everything else is still on the table as long as you don’t give up.

Sometimes you just have to embrace the ‘betus and understand that it needs more attention this time.  So, here’s your big hug, Type 1.  Don’t get used to it.

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The Cleanse That Could Save Your Life…

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All the cool kids are cleansing these days.  There’s lots of juicing going on and lots of liquid hopes of quickly shedding a few pounds for whatever weekend extravaganza has you stressed about the size of your butt.

And while we are on the topic of your butt, let’s talk more in depth about your trunk and it’s junk.  And by junk, I don’t mean what lies beneath your apple-bottom jeans, I’m going deeper.

The statistics for colorectal cancer in the US are staggering.  According the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the 3rd most common cancer diagnosed among men and women in the US.  It is the 2nd leading cause of cancer-related death in the US with men and women combined (3rd leading when the sexes are separated).  And there are over 50,000 deaths projected for 2014 thanks to this sneaky killer.  The crazy part is that it can be prevented. The crazier part is the prevention is a painless screening procedure (colonoscopy is one of many preventative measures that can be taken to fight colon cancer) that includes a very restful nap.  And the craziest?  People avoid this procedure like it’s some sort of medieval torture practice.

The mere mention of the word colonoscopy immediately prompts a horrified response from friends and family as if I had just offered to do it myself.  First, let me confirm that I’m not offering to perform this procedure myself.  Second, let me tell you that there are several alternative screenings to a colonoscopy, so always consult your doctor if you have concerns or if you want to take preventative measures like I did.  One thing I can guarantee is that this cleanse (or prep, as my doc calls it), will provide you with substantial results and information.  So ditch the kale cleanse and go for one that actually serves a purpose.

Cleanses and juice fasts are all the rage right now.  Everyone is talking about how much weight they’ve lost in how little time and how they feel like a new person.  The truth is that when you eat close to nothing except for diuretics and green leafy vegetables, you are going to clear your system out.  And when you clear your system, you clear the water, the nutrients and anything else that has not been already absorbed already.  So the cheesesteak that you ate 3 days ago…that’s not going anywhere because it’s already found a nice comfy spot in your thighs.  The MayoClinic has lots of info about the health impact of cleansing here.

Mentally, a cleanse makes you feel like you’ve gotten rid of all of the nasty junk food remnants and fat-inducing toxins that you pigged out on the week before.  And while I’m not a certified dietician or nutritionist, I’m pretty sure that the bag of chips you ate two weeks ago was not just hanging out in your digestive system waiting for the army of kale warriors to attack.  There are many that claim that cleansing can alleviate medical conditions like asthma and allergies.  I am not one of the many.  In my opinion, a cleanse is more mental.  It makes you feel like you are starting fresh.  You went through the effort to clear everything out, so it just makes sense to start putting healthy nutritious stuff back in.  And while it’s great in theory, it can also be very discouraging when you put all of your water weight back on the scale within a few days of suffering through your fast.  You also run the risk of dehydration, cramping and loss of electrolytes which can cause kidney distress (and if you’re a diabetic, you know that the kidneys are nothing to mess around with).  If there is one thing that I’ve learned after 32 years of Type 1 diabetes, it’s that your body needs balance.  You can’t go from eating everything to eating nothing and expect a realistic healthy outcome, so don’t fool yourself into thinking that your weight loss answers are hiding in the cayenne pepper shaker.

My suggestion?  Achieve the mental part of clearing the pipes and starting fresh, and get to know your colon a little more closely.  Or at least let a gastroenterologist get to know your colon and then share all of the juicy details.  How?  Get a colonoscopy.  Pipes cleared, colorectal cancer risk decreased, motivation to eat healthy and get more active increased (lack of activity and poor diet have been linked to higher risk of colorectal cancer).

Of course, you need a reason to have a colonoscopy.  So consult your doctor to determine your risk factors.  Genetic history is not the only influence on your risk for colorectal cancer.  There are lifestyle factors that can significantly impact your risk as well.  Click here for more information about colon cancer risk factors mentioned earlier.

And what if there is no medical reason for a colonoscopy but you still want to clear everything out?  I still do not recommend drinking green tea and honey for 4 days.  Just like getting rich quick does not typically work out, getting skinny quick doesn’t usually work either.  Instead of cutting out EVERYTHING overnight, why not cut out ONE thing overnight.  Start with something like lunchmeat (processed food and meat have been shown to contribute to risk of colorectal cancer).  Then maybe commit to cutting the next item on your unhealthy list.  Something simple like changing from half and half in your coffee to skim milk or non-fat creamer can make a difference in how you feel AND how you look.  PS, did you know that DD uses heavy whipping cream and not half and half?  Something to think about the next time you order.

I was just about 30 years old when I had my first colonoscopy.  At the time, I was concerned about abdominal pain and my doc was ruling out upper and lower GI concerns with a colonoscopy and an endoscopy (same day, I’ll have you know, I don’t mess around).  The colonoscopy revealed 7 polyps.  I have never had any GI issues, I’m not overweight, and I do not have a glaring family history of colorectal cancer and I had 7 polyps.  All were painlessly removed during the procedure and biopsied.  Had those polyps gone unnoticed, who knows what would have progressed.  I also need to give proper mention to the nap that’s included in this procedure thanks to heavy sedation.  Although that should never be your motivation for any medical procedure, it was still glorious and you don’t remember anything when you “wake up”.

And before I’m officially deemed the “Debbie Downer of the #DOC”, there is good news!  According to www.Cancer.org, the number of deaths from colorectal cancer has been decreasing over the last 20 years.  Do you know why?  I will tell you.  Screening and preventative action is available and effective.  Go to Cancer.org for more information and stop ignoring your trunk.

Give your hiney a little respect and have a conversation with your doctor.  Don’t let colon cancer kick your butt.  It’s preventable and from someone who has lost a loved one and seen the lives of people I love impacted, it could be the cleanse that saves your life.

*Just wanted to reiterate that I have no medical background whatsoever and this post is based solely on my opinion and personal experience.  Always consult a physician before assuming any medical risk or advice in any situation.

Want to know more about me?  Head to www.stephtomko.com to find out more about this crazy, type 1 diabetic, writing runner!

Concealing Your Insulin Pump – Staying Sexy While Pumping

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After nine years with my friend “the insulin pump” (I use the term “friend” loosely), I’ve learned a few tricks.  These tricks will likely not come up in your pump education session due to the vast gap between diabetes protocol and diabetes life.  The need for that gap to close is immeasurable, but until it starts to get smaller, I will share my hacks in hope that it makes life with a medical device a little more livable.

In 1994, it may have been fashionable to have a pager on your hip while the Fresh Prince was premiering in all it’s glory, but unless you’re in scrubs and saving lives, pagers kinda look weird.  And while your diabetic health is way more important than not looking weird, wouldn’t it be glorious if we could somehow accomplish a balance of health and normalcy?

I have three ways that I have successfully hidden my pump when necessary.  Unfortunately for the guys, all three are primarily for the ladies.  But if you are a guy and you have any pump hacks, send them to me so I can share!

My #1 go-to for pumps in hiding (sounds very Von Trapp) is the banded bra trick.  I have never been more annoyed with a “kid trend” than I was with silly bands.  I still find it mind-boggling that someone was able to change the color and shape of a rubber band and make millions.  UNTIL, I realized that I could use them to my advantage, and then I was a fan. :)  The silly band trend has now morphed into the Rainbow Loom bracelet phenomenon, which is also mind-blowing but works in my favor, so I can’t complain.

You can do this trick with any type of rubber band but the thinner the band, the better.  Use more than one if you need to.  The most important thing you need to know to make this work is that you need a bra that does not have underwire.  And yes, you will be sacrificing the extra lift to secure your insulin-delivering friend.  But that same friend can add a little cleavage which some of us are in desperate need of after two children and not much to start with prior to those two miracles.

If you are unfamiliar with the Rainbow Loom, click here to learn more.  Or just consult any 8 year-old.  They should be fully versed in the 3 billion different ways to make bracelets and a variety of other colorful tiny rubber band accessories.  There really are a lot of cool bracelets to be made, but for pump concealing purposes, you really need the simplest design like the one below

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The color doesn’t really matter unless you are OCD about everything matching.

Next you need to loop the bracelet around the middle of the bra.  Make sure it fits loosely because your pump still needs to fit in there.  You may need to do some adjusting so don’t wait until you are running out the door to try this out.

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You need to get the pump in the bra, get the bra onto your person and then adjust all of the appropriate thing and body parts.  I use an Animas Ping pump so I have a remote from my blood glucose monitor which is super helpful and alleviates the need to put my hand down my shirt when I’m wearing a dress.  If you don’t have a wireless monitor, you can use an audio bolus or head to the restroom to get up in there when needed.

I always place my pump so the buttons are facing out.  That way I can get to them more easily just in case there’s an alert (low cartrige, low battery, etc.).

Here it is all rigged up.

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By the time you are successful in this magic trick, you will feel like you’re about to film a reality show with a hidden camera, but trust me when I tell you that it feels good to wear a dress like everyone else and not have to worry about coming apart at the seams.

This also works with strapless bras.  Again, you need a wireless, strapless bra.  And I usually wear two.  Yup, two.  I wear a regular strapless bra (with wires or whatever you prefer), then take the wireless bra and secure the pump as shown above.  Put the wireless bra over the regular strapless and now you feel like you are wearing an angry boa constrictor under your dress but the  pump is hidden and you look hot!

Now what about when you go to Miami for the weekend and you decide to wear that backless dress that you’ve been saving for Miami.  It’s that dress that you love but you’re not going to wear to the charity dinner.  It’s the one that only belongs in Miami or Vegas.  And it’s amazing.  Amazing until you realize that you have an insulin pump that needs to be accessorized.  Stupid diabetes.

If you have not delved into the amazing world of Spanx, I am now going to give you a few reasons to make the plunge.  I love my body and I’m totally comfortable with it as is, however, the magic of Spanx is that they provide a sense of everything just being exactly where it needs to be.  They also provide a perfect place to stash that little electronic insulin provider.  Spanx come in different sizes colors, and levels of control.  For this dress, I needed to get creative.  So I wore Spanx shorts that had a pretty snug level of control because I needed them really tight.  I clipped my pump in the back and underneath the Spanx.  I had no issues with keeping it in place and could get to it very easily if I needed to.  And even though it could be seen if you were really looking for it, no one is ever looking for a pump in Miami.  Trust me.  If I knew I would be sharing the picture a year ago, I probably would have flexed my back muscles a little.  I have never shared this picture, by the way.  You’re welcome.  The pump is secured right where the beaded part of the dress meets the skirt.  Bet you can’t see it.

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Reverse another 9 years and we are at my wedding!  I got my pump 6 months prior to getting married.  I knew that I needed to have a better control regimen since I would have another person  that I love depending on me to be healthy. Last thing I wanted to worry about on my wedding day?  Diabetes.  But my wonderful husband was marrying me and the pump so it was only right that we should all be there together.

If you are planning your big day or even thinking about it, there’s a very easy way to include your pump and no one will ever know.  My seamstress sewed a pocket on the interior of my gown with snaps and, presto, Type 1 bridal success!

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This was before the time of the wireless connectivity to my pump so I took very long and involved trips to the ladies room to bolus, but it worked!  This is also a little more tricky if you have your heart set on a fitted dress.  Seamstresses are pretty amazing at manipulating fabric, though, so have a conversation with yours and see if there is anything you can do.

I felt I needed to share this too.  My seamstress provided me with my “something blue” as well with this patch she sewed into the back of the interior of my dress.  Warm and fuzzies!

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Yes, we got married on tax day, and ironically, there were two accountants in our wedding.  Almost ten years later and our anniversary has not been forgotten :)

I definitely went in reverse chronological order with this post but let me wrap-up with a few take-aways.  Just because you are a diabetic and a woman does not mean that you can’t do everything you want to do.  My secrets to healthy relationship?  Wear your dream wedding dress and don’t leave your pump out of the celebration, take trips to places like Miami and wear sexy dresses and don’t leave your pump out of the party, and go to dinner in a dress when you want and always include your pump in date night.  Oh, wait.  You thought I was talking about your marriage not your pump relationship?  Well, that’s another blog altogether!  I now pronounce you pump and diabetic.  May you live happily ever after!

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PopChip Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets – The Easiest and Yummiest Ever!

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Apparently it’s National Tortilla Day, which makes this recipe even more fun!!

While I don’t consider myself to be a super mom by any stretch, I try my best to do what’s best.  I love my kids, I love to be healthy, and I love my kids to be healthy.  But I need to keep it simple.  If I don’t, I end up with a catastrophe in the kitchen (and usually elsewhere) and cranky hungry kids.  And every once in awhile, I have a complete genius breakthrough that I can’t wait to share with world, or at least those who read this. :)

I know a lot of moms that not only need to keep it simple, but also need to keep it gluten-free.  1% of the US population has been diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that interferes with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.  1% may not seem like a lot but it’s estimated that 83% of people with celiac disease are not yet diagnosed or are mis-diagnosed.  And while you may not be one of those moms or one of those percentages, if you can make something healthy for dinner, that your kids can also help with, that’s SUPER easy and delicious then who cares if it has gluten or not??!!

PopChips are nothing short of an amazing snack. They aren’t fried or baked, they are popped AND they are certified gluten-free.  They’ve won awards, they taste amazing, and even Katy Perry has her own chip!  I think I’ve tried every flavor and I definitely have my favorites.  So, with a mixed case in my pantry, I decided I wanted to do more with them then just pack them in my kids’ lunch.  I also think that frozen chicken nuggets taste terrible.  So instead of struggling through the witching hour after school (the hours of 4-6pm), I put them to work!

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I decided to test pan frying vs. baking with this recipe and I’m happy to say that both came out really well and the kids loved them.  We used the Salsa Tortilla Chips for our nuggets and the flavor worked really well.  I honestly think you could use any flavor, and I plan on trying more, so go for it.

Preheat your oven to 400F to bake your nuggets or place 1/4 cup of corn oil in a deep sauté pan for frying.  Most oils are gluten-free but always double check if you haven’t already.

I used two snack size bags of Salsa Tortilla PopChips.  Place the chips into a food processor or let me introduce you to a little appliance wonder called Magic Bullet (yup, as seen on tv, AND I think there’s actually a fancier Ninja version now!).  Pulse until the chips are a crumb consistency.

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Scramble two eggs and add a tablespoon of water.  J loves mixing and whatever is undergoing his mixing technique ends up partially on the counter, but whatever.  And yes, that is a mini whisk with an egg handle that is dressed like Santa…again, whatever :)

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I have 2 kids and I used 2 chicken breasts, however 1 chicken breast made more than enough nuggets to feed both of them and have plenty of leftovers.  Place your chicken breast in a large Ziploc bag and seal it.  If you are comfortable letting your kids pound the chicken, I promise they will love it (as long as they don’t smash their fingers, so supervise!).  I let my kids take turns with the meat tenderizer and then I finished it off. After pounding the chicken flat, I cut the breast into cubes.

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Now things get a little messy but kids love messy, so it’s worth it.

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Usually when you are “breading” a piece of chicken, you coat in in flour first.  If you have gluten-free flour, then have at it.  But if you don’t, use the crumbs twice!  Dip your chicken into the chip crumbs first, the egg second, and then dip again into the crumbs.  This might be the only time you encourage your kids to double dip.

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If you are pan frying, there’s a trick to making sure you oil is hot enough.  Place the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil and if bubbles form, your oil is ready.  Place your nuggets in the oil and cook for approximately 5 minutes on each side.  Flip them frequently if they are browning too fast.  Transfer to a cooling rack when done.

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If you are baking, put 2 tablespoons of corn oil in the bottom of your baking sheet.  Place nuggets on the baking sheet and toss lightly so the corn oil coats them a little.  This will give them a little crunch as they bake.  Bake for 20 minutes at 400F flipping halfway through.

I thought that the pan fried nuggets would taste substantially better (for obvious reasons) but there wasn’t much of a difference!  Yay!

For a dipping sauce I used a spicy dijon mustard (store brand and gluten-free) and honey.

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The best part is that the kids LOVED them!  And that is because they were fantastic!  The other best part is that I didn’t have to add anything to the PopChips.  I chopped a green onion for presentation, but that was just to get a little fancy :)  And trust me, that’s as fancy as I get.  And yes, they look like smiley faces…on purpose :)

If you get crazy with your PopChips, let me know!  The possibilities are endless and I would love to share your creativity with my little diabetic blogging world!

The Evil World of Gluten Bullies

1471324_640241669350946_607767854_nI had all kinds of plans to write about cleanses and colonoscopies, but lucky for you, someone posted about celiac rage (shocker), so of course, I need to weigh in.

I read a blog today written by Carina Hoskisson.  She, not so eloquently, expressed her opinion about food allergies in schools and her discontent with parents being asked to send in allergen-free snacks and treats for birthday celebrations.  You can read it HERE. Now the beauty of this, I suppose, is the fact that we live in a nation that encourages the expression of opinion via freedom of speech.  On the tail end of the winter Olympic games, I feel extraordinarily lucky to live in a country that allows me to write and speak to whatever  feel so inclined.  I would be a horribly miserable person if I was unable to do so.  U-S-A!

That said, I’m going to use my freedom of speech to talk about how entirely annoyed I am with lack of compassion expressed in the earlier mentioned blog.  But first, let me hit you with some background.  I, and everyone in my family, can digest gluten, nuts and dairy with zero complication.  I am a baker and I love butter.  I am also a Type 1 diabetic, so I have limitations in my diet and ignoring those limitations can kill me (not in an anaphylactic sense, but more in a slow, painful, losing your eyesight and feeling in your limbs sort of direction).  So I feel as though I have every area of connectivity covered, at least slightly.

Since age 4, I have been an insulin dependent (once injections, now via insulin pump) diabetic.  I grew up on a strict diet that coincided with insulin dosage.  For example, when I was 5  years old, I would wake up test my blood glucose level, run like mad from my mother who had a syringe in her hand and finally sit down to a weighed and measured breakfast of 2 starches, 1 fat, 1 meat, 1 fruit and 1 dairy.  Those were “exchanges” and each was determined by my doctor and the formula was never adjusted or altered.  I went to school and had to visit the nurse for glucose testing, could not participate in any birthday celebration treats but did get to have juice with my snack in kindergarten when no one else could which was pretty sweet.  And frankly, I don’t remember (now) feeling slighted or left out.  I’m sure there were times in my childhood that I definitely felt that way but I’ve blocked them out or they just weren’t significant enough to make their mark. As an adult, I have a lot of flexibility in my diet thanks to the aforementioned insulin pump and I’m also a runner.  I love food but I have a respect for food that is part of that love.  I eat healthy and I don’t eat a lot.  It’s really not complicated.

The positive result of my sugar-free childhood is that I grew up experiencing that food wasn’t what made a special occasion special.  It wasn’t the cake or the ice cream that made my birthdays stand out.  And while I’m sure that I gave my mom an ample amount of whining about not having those carb filled confections, I also gained a very adult perspective on life that I didn’t realize until much later.  I will sum up that perspective for you now.

Food is not that big of a deal. Unless it can kill you.

While I realize that Ms. Hoskison was not planning on sending cupcakes with hidden nuts into school so Joey with the peanut allergy would require an epi-pen.  I found the blatant disregard for kids who are already limited in what they can eat to be embarrassing.  For me, saying that I don’t care about a child’s food allergy is like being ok with my second grader saying “screw Sally, I don’t care if she can’t eat my cupcakes, I want the good shit.”  It’s blatant disregard for the disadvantage of a child, no matter what that disadvantage is.  Why in the world would I, as a parent, want to encourage my child to make almonds or wheat protein a higher priority than her friend’s well-being.  For my daughter’s birthday I brought everything to school to make yogurt parfaits that the kids could build on their own.  There was also child with a dairy allergy (that I was not aware of) but he was still able to have the fruit so as not to miss out on the whole experience.  Had I known, I would have gladly picked up soy yogurt for him.  It was all really easy, they loved it and not one kid asked where the cake was or if I brought a stick of butter.

I’m sure there were plenty of parents of my fellow students who shared the “who cares” opinion when I was the diabetic kid in the classroom.  I survived their lack of compassion and became a better person.  A better parent who is raising children that don’t allow butter and gluten-stuffed lack of compassion determine how special their birthdays are.

As a diabetic, there are so many foods that just aren’t worth it for me.  They are not worth the calories, the high blood sugar, or the potential complications.  I don’t mind not eating cake at parties or having a 800 calorie margarita at the bar.  I’m also an adult.  And while I am raising my kids to have the same perspective on food, I certainly am not going to go out of my way to make a child feel left-out because of a dietary restriction.  It’s wrong.  So send fruit.  Cut it into fun shapes, put it on popsicle sticks in the shape of a rainbow, send some marshmallow dip if it’s ok.  Or send a craft they can do together or ask the teacher if they can have a dance party.  Just stop being the inconsiderate parent who could care less about their child’s classmates. Your kids would be embarrassed if they knew their mommy was the gluten bully.

Broad Street Memories

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I had a long conversation with someone today about health and wellness and how my life, as a woman with Type 1, has been impacted by both.  I found myself talking a lot about the 2013 Broad Street Race and how it was my first significant accomplishment.  I’m not running it this year because I am running the OCMD 1/2 a few weeks before.  But in the spirit of motivation, I thought I would “re-share” my Broad Street Story.  After re-reading it a year later, I found that it’s not written extraordinarily well, but I think that was on purpose.  It was a very emotional story for me to share and I didn’t want any of that to be cut out or re-written.  I also remembered that the feeling of accomplishing something that I thought could never happen is so empowering.  Especially when it gives you the sense that you’ve beaten something that you always thought was going to beat you.

So here’s how it all started…kind of…

“I Did It” originally posted on 5/6/13

It’s the day after and I’m still convincing myself that the race is over.  My sore hips are definitely doing their fair share of convincing for sure, but otherwise, I feel pretty good.

The day started with a wake up at 5:30am and a blood sugar of 148.  That is exactly where I wanted to stay for the remainder of the day, so I lowered my basal rate and ate some protein in the morning and little bit of carbs and did not take a full bolus.  Mistake.  When we got to the race, my blood sugar was 250 so I took another small bolus and patiently waited for my blood sugar to stabilize.  We had a couple hours until the race started so I wasn’t too worried.  Then it went to 280, then 300, then 325.  My patience wore thin and before I knew it, I had bolused more than I probably should have.  At the start of the run it was 318 but stable.  All of this information was coming from my Continuous Glucose Monitor since I could not carry a tester with me for the race.  It tells you if your blood sugar is trending up or down or stabilized but since it’s in tissue and not your actual blood stream, it is slightly delayed and can be slightly inaccurate.

So the race starts after A LOT of waiting and despite the fact that my blood sugar was still in the 300′s, I felt pretty good for the first two miles.  I checked my monitor (which was in an Iphone sleeve so I could see it the whole time) and it said was down to 202 but dropping fast.  My hope was that it would drop into the 150′s and stay there.  No such luck…every half mile, I watched it drop with two arrows pointing down indicating that it was continuing to fall QUICKLY.  Thank you, insulin, for taking your sweet old time…ugh.

I had 4 packs of running gel (it’s called GU and tastes like flavored snot but works really well).  I also had two tubes of glucose gel which is like GU’s snotty cousin for diabetics.  By mile 5 they were all gone with the exception of one which I wanted to hang onto for the rest of the race.  I was running with my best friend Jenn who asked what I wanted to do and I really didn’t know.  All I know is that I had to finish so I had to quickly figure out what was going to happen and how I was going to deal with it.

We came around the corner at City Hall and there was an ambulance and Jenn asked if I wanted to stop.  My immediate response was no.  I didn’t want extra attention, I certainly didn’t want to be taken away from the race in an ambulance and I HAD TO FINISH.  She asked again and I realized that if I didn’t stop, I would have a ton of extra attention, I would be taken away in an ambulance, and I wouldn’t finish.  So we stopped, I walked up to the ambulance and told the paramedic that I am a type 1 diabetic and my blood sugar wasn’t coming up.  I almost started to cry when I told her that I had to finish, since I assumed that she wasn’t going to let me keep running.  To my surprise, she told me I would be fine and gave me two  more glucose packs and tested my blood sugar with her meter (it was 45).

Then my best friend did the most awesome thing ever.  Not only did she agree to run with me, encourage me to stop when I needed to, but she ran to Dunkin Donuts and bought a bagel and orange juice and ran back to the ambulance so I could have a dose of complex carbs to keep my blood sugar stable for the rest of the race.  She compared herself to Kramer from Seinfeld when she busted through the door and placed her order (thank God she put a credit card in her armband) and said the looks she got from other runners as she was running back to me with an OJ and a DD bag were priceless…I love that girl.

So, after a half of a bagel and two glucose packs, my blood sugar was 74 and I knew I was good.  We took the giant orange juice with us and Jenn carried it all the way to the finish line for me.

I’m welling up while I write this because I keep thinking of what could have happened and how lucky I am to have an amazing running partner and best friend.  This diabetes thing is part of every day so it’s usually not a big deal.  But on days like this one, it can become a really big deal really fast, and she understands that.  Jenn, my husband and my sister are the three people that know me on that level the best.  They know what I do, how I react and what not to do when my blood sugar is not doing what it’s supposed to and I don’t know that I will ever be able to make them understand how grateful I am to have them.

So after this 15 minute pit stop, I was a little frustrated that we had to stop but determined to run the rest of the race (even with the rock, I mean, bagel in my stomach!).  And off we went for 5 more miles of running.  1/4 mile before the finish, there was my husband cheering us on.  I stopped to give him a kiss and Jenn tossed the OJ to him.  I also went out of my way to high-five and thank the uniformed military men and women that were cheering us on.  Biggest motivator ever.  I grabbed Jenn’s hand and we crossed the finish line together just like we started and I held back tears because I did it.  Maybe not exactly the way I planned and certainly not in the amount of time that I expected, but who cares…I did it.

So after it’s done, I have a few tips for my fellow diabetics who have any interest in my tips :)

1. Don’t do any strenuous fitness competition without a continuous glucose monitor.  If I hadn’t had it, I wouldn’t have known that my blood sugar was falling.  I would have just thought I was tired from running and kept going.  This probably would have resulted in my collapsing somewhere on the course and I wouldn’t have remembered anything from there.  Which would make this blog post pretty bad and boring.

2.  If you have someone that can run/bike/swim or whatever with you, take advantage of it.  Aside from the diabetes thing, it was so fun to have someone with me.  We danced and sang while we were running, laughed and kept each other going.  She was also someone I could tell that I was worried about my blood sugar.  That made it more real and made me able to deal with it instead of just ignoring it.  Not to mention the DD run.  That would not have happened without her!

3.  Stop if you need to stop.  It sucks to stop.  It sucks to have low blood sugar.  It sucks to have high blood sugar.  But it can literally kill you, so you can’t ignore it.  I’m not like everyone else running that race, but if I accept that, I can be almost like everyone else running the race and that feels good.  I didn’t want to be the person who was being scraped off the pavement and rushed to the hospital.  That would have been a bigger failure to me than any other outcome.

4.  I also learned that I need to train by doing specifically what I would do on race day.  I need to get up, adjust my insulin, eat and test just like I would do on race day and try to mimic the race as much as I can.  This way any surprises on race day will be a slight difference can be more easily corrected.  I didn’t do that this time, but I will make it a priority next time to minimize unexpected situations.  Doing this will make it possible for me to run without someone with me in the future.  Because as much as I would love for Jenn to run with me for every race, it might not always be a possibility!

5.  As sucky as diabetes is, there are people that are running with obstacles that are far more challenging.  When I saw a blind runner tethered to her running guide, I slapped diabetes in the face and said “suck it.”  If you do it right and you are responsible with any condition that you have, I really believe you can do anything.

So, while this whole experience was emotional and enlightening, I don’t mean to make diabetes sound like it’s the worst thing in the world and that every day is a struggle for me, because it’s quite the opposite.  I just wanted to have something to look back on and while this is a lot of personal information to share with everyone, it makes me realize how lucky I am in so many ways.

And just in case you are disappointed that this adventure is over, round two is already in the works…

Disney half marathon is on the books for November 9th!  My mom is running her first 5k that weekend so I’m going to run that with her at 7am and then the half is at 10pm and my step-brother and his wife are running it!  I’m already looking forward to it which proves that I’ve completely lost my mind.

It’s not pretty, but here we are crossing the finish line (Im in the blue shirt)!   Our chip time was  2 hours and 7 minutes which includes our ambulance visit, so while we finished with about a 12 minute mile, we paced about 10.5 most of the run.

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5 Valentine’s Day Quickies

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Now, now, now…get your head out of the gutter.  There are lots of other sites for that, and I will let you find them on your own.  Focus. Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and for all of you who are hopeless romantics but terribly disorganized, you may want to read further.

My husband and I have always kept Valentine’s Day low-key.  No dinner reservations, no flowers, or chocolate.  This is primarily because #1 – reservations are hard to come by, cost more and require a sitter. #2 – When I look at anything of the plant species that requires water, it starts to cry in agony in realization of it’s doomed fate.  My thumbs are not green.  #3 – I’m a diabetic, so chocolate is more of a “I want you to feel miserable” notion, instead of a “I want you to feel loved” message.  So instead of all of the classics, we try to go outside of the ordinary without going overboard.

That said, I still want a little holiday recognition (and I’m not sure if the hubs will read this or not), but even if he doesn’t, hopefully I can save a few peeps out there.

So here are my 5 V-day quickies for the last-minute but still just as in love as the rose-delivering, expensive dinner buying, chocolatiers.

#1 – Google aphrodisiacs – There’s close to a billion of them other than oysters.  Find 1/2 dozen that you like and head to the grocery store.  Instead of buying the crappy flowers and chocolate, pick up some honey and cheese, bacon wrapped figs (bacon is not an aphrodisiac but it’s a sure way to my heart), and dark chocolate and you’re all set.   If you are super adventurous, grab some oysters and shuck them yourself (Whole Foods, sells them).  There’s nothing that turns on a woman like a good shucker ;)

#2 – Bring up the past.  Not the skeletons, my friend.  Buy a card or write a note about the awesome things you did when you met, or when you dated, or maybe just yesterday.  We all find ourselves caught up in the hum-drum of the everyday grind but as soon as you start to think about that time when sang karaoke to Young MC on your birthday (no, I totally did not do that), it makes you smile and remember the good stuff.

#3 – No repeat performances.  If you’ve been together for awhile, there’s a pretty good chance that you have a routine.  Home from work, figure out dinner, lunches packed, a little tv, and off to bed.  Not tonight.  I’m not saying you need to be in heels and a bustier (although, that will probably go over pretty well).  But maybe cook dinner in skinny jeans instead of yoga pants.  Or guys, instead of checking your email when you walk through the door, put your stuff down and sweep your girl off her feet, literally.  It’s called setting the tone.  Go with it.

#4 – 4 words. As. Seen. On. TV. – If you are going to do your V-day shopping at the drugstore, skip the red and pink aisle and find the one with the Choptastic and the Wraptastic.  Sexy?  Nope.  But totally hilarious and sometimes (not 100%) useful.  And you can’t tell me that there isn’t one thing that you’ve wanted in that aisle.  There are tub lights!  Buy those, put them in the tub and then get in it!  Just fair warning, don’t buy anything that makes you skinnier or more beautiful.  Just trust me on that one.

#5 – Go for it.  If you know your mate well enough, you know what buttons not to push and those that are sure to make him/her smile.  And as much as you may feel silly in the heels and the bustier, just do it.  If there is one night that you should just let go of your insecurities and do what you know is going to work, this is it.  So, work it and own it, and all that stuff.

No matter what tomorrow brings for you, love or a self-cooling pillow, take a minute to acknowledge the people that love you and that make you understand the true meaning of it. I’m going to bet too, that if you don’t have a mate to share that with, that there are still a ton of people in your life that truly love you.  Hang out with them, or call them.  They are part of true love too :)

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Nike SportWatch…you need one…

My Sunday running traffic

Yesterday I was able to run with my new Nike SportWatch.  I. Love. It. Until now, I’ve run with Map My Run and/or the Hal Higdon training program.  Both of which have a GPS feature and audible updates for pace and distance (Higdon’s program also has an option of snippets from Hal telling you how awesome you are, which I enjoyed until the app completely failed on race day).  So I asked Santa for a running watch and finally was able to use it yesterday for the first time.

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For me, the pace updates on MMR and HH tend to be a little distracting and they make it tough to run comfortably.  I was always wondering what my update was going to be which kept from actually enjoying the run.  With a watch, you can look at your pace and mileage whenever you want, as opposed to waiting for it.  This was super helpful in my last 1/2 mile which I was able to run a pace of under 9:00.  That is fast for me.  I have really short legs resulting in a super short stride, resulting in super slow running.  But I’m only competing against myself so it’s all good.  It split my run into two because I stopped to take pictures, but I’m sure there’s way to figure out how to prevent that for next time.  The only bummer now is that it’s snowing and snowing and snowing leaving a good amount of time until my next outdoor run.  I’m not a snow-hater but yesterday’s run made my precipitation fury rise to another level.  I might sleep outside once spring arrives.  The Nike watch has an indoor option with a chip you put in your shoe, but I have yet to read the directions for that and if I’m being completely honest, I really hate reading directions.  Luckily, I have a husband that can read, understand and facilitate directions with super power speed and I take advantage of it.  Every time.

I’m not really a tekkie (sp?) so I usually avoid downloads and uploads since they typically cause overloads (see earlier comment regarding directions).  But the watch just plugs into your laptop and it does all of the work for you.  It shows results and maps your run and even if you don’t have strict goals to achieve for time or distance, it’s still really cool to see what you’ve accomplished and you can track your results for later.

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This may also be a way of having one less thing attached if decide to go without my phone when running.  I run long runs with an insulin pump and a Dexcom continuous glucose monitor literally attached to me, so the thought of ditching my phone every once in a while sounds good.  Yesterday, I stopped to take this picture and unplugged my headphones to do so.  I ran my last mile with no music or noise and it was pretty amazing.  I’ve always run to music because it motivates me and helps with my pace but I ran my best mile yesterday just listening to my feet his the ground and concentrating on my breathing.  I’m not sure if that would work for a race, but I love to find new things that I love about running, and this sort of meditation is definitely getting added to the love list.  I thoroughly encourage you to try different ways of running, especially if you are still trying to figure out why you started running in the first place.

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Lastly, I tweeted Nike Running before my run and by the time I got back, had received a super encouraging reply and request for results, then continued back and forth with them for a few tweets.  I was surprised and impressed with the level of encouragement and how engaged they are with their runners.  If you’re not on Twitter and you’re trying to set fitness goals, then I suggest you take that step next.  You’ll be amazed at the level of support that is out there for anyone interested in fitness or health.  Just start by following a few fitness focused tweeters (like @WomensHealthmag, @nikerunning, or @runnersworld.  You’ll get constant opportunities to click for inspiration, training tips, and cool gear.  Or you can also ignore them, but it’s usually more fun to click.

It was a great Sunday…and I think there was a game on or something… :)

 

 

Why you hate your endocrinologist…

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Every three months, without fail, I used find myself scrambling to get to the lab, to write down every piece of diabetic related information that I failed to write down for the last 90 days, and contemplating whether or not to just call and reschedule.  I didn’t want to go because I didn’t want to be told, once again, what I need to do to maintain control of this annoying disease. 

There were countless times that I blamed my doc for what was really my own shortcomings and lack of responsibility.

I have been going to these appointments for 32 years, though and they have evolved as I’ve grown.  So I thought I would share my advice in hope that it may help the “‘betes battlers” that are engulfed in the vicious re-schedule cycle.

I can’t tell you how much time I have spent in my lifetime manipulating blood glucose records to show that I’ve been way more responsible than I actually was.  I’m sure there were many appointments that my endo walked out of the room, rolled his eyes and considered calling my parents.  But the truth is that until I was an adult with a better understanding of this disease, I saw my endo appointments as a more of a performance appraisal.  Twenty minutes of evaluation to see if I’ve been a responsible diabetic with a HbA1C finale to determine if I’ve been completely full of shit for the entire appointment.  I was full of shit most of the time.  So I would walk out the door with no more motivation than I walked in with, and the 90-day cycle would start from the beginning.

But adulthood ensued and so did real responsibility.  I quickly realized that the rules were no longer being enforced by anyone but me.  It was time to take control and be honest with everyone, but most importantly with myself.  I was lucky that I was healthy since I really wasn’t working very hard up until this point and I was out of excuses.  There was also the coming to terms with the fact that I could not find the appropriate level of control on my own.  

I’m not sure when I made the realization that I was doing it all wrong, but once I did, I stopped avoiding these appointments and started using them to my advantage.  

1 – First step in un-hating your endocrinologist is to show up.  Even if you are un-prepared and have done a terrible job at taking care of yourself thus far.  Show up.  For real.  Make sure you have at least one goal to achieve and then communicate as much as you possibly can with anyone in the office that is willing to help.  

2 – Drop your attitude.  The office is going to give you all kinds of tools, forms, food information,etc.  Don’t immediately sigh and start thinking how hard this is going to be.  It’s going to be hard but it’s better than being blind, so find your determination.  You may have left it in the waiting room.

3 – Be honest.  You’re not perfect and no one expects perfection.  But you have to be willing to try your best at being perfect.  Have a conversation about what is the hardest thing for you to accomplish as a diabetic and go from there.  Baby steps.

Endocrinologists can sometimes seem as if they could care less about what you are doing to take care of yourself.  They seem like they don’t want to hear the reasons why it’s so hard or why your blood sugars aren’t written down.  That’s because the are not going to care until you start showing some effort.  In my opinion, endo’s are sick of sitting through an entire day hearing the reasons why people don’t give a shit, so why should they give a shit?  Yes, they get paid.  But after the 5th person stepped into my office for the day to tell me that they don’t understand why they are not healthy since they followed NONE of the medical advice they were given, I would throw my hands up too.  I guarantee that if you ask for help and share what you are going to do to make changes, you will see a team of people in front of you that are willing to help in any way possible.  If not, you need to change doctors or you need to work on how you express your enthusiasm.

4 – Take all of the information and tools home and see how this is all going to fit into the current state of your household and your life.  Clean out the cabinets, head to the grocery store and start planning.  It’s not going to happen without planning.  Three months is not a very long time so act immediately so you don’t find yourself picking up the phone to re-schedule again.  

5 – If you are trying, and I mean legitimately trying, then you shouldn’t need to be too hard on yourself when you mess up.  You can’t afford to start following everything next week or next month or next year. And you don’t want to wait until an opthamologist is telling you that there is a leaky blood vessel in your eye.  Think about that every time you have to make a decision about what you are eating.  Is it worth not being able to see what you’re putting in your mouth?  I’ll let you figure that answer out for yourself. 

Now the next time your up for your 3-month. at least you have something to talk about other than rambling about how hard everything is.  Life is hard sometimes.  Life is harder when you have diabetes.  You can’t do anything about the diabetes but you can do a ton about your life.  

So, get on it.  

What to Do…

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It snowed 12 inches in 12 hours.  I made soup, constructed lots of Lego stuff, watched way too much winter storm coverage and ordered thank-you cards.  But I didn’t work out and I didn’t run.  I could have gotten creative and done some sort of home-workout (we’ve discussed the Brazilian Butt Lift) but instead I struggled with blood sugars that would not go under 200 all day and two kids who did not want to be inside all day.

Like many others, when the weather takes a turn for the worse, so does my motivation.  My only solution is to find it.  Whether you need to work out more, count carbs more effectively, track sugars more often, or all of the above, motivation is quite often hiding somewhere you may not be looking.

Here are a few tips on how to win the game of hide and seek:

1. Turn on music. When my motivation has found its way into the dark corners of the closet that still needs to be organized, a little music (especially some high quality 80′s tunes) is what I need to feel a little happier/move a little faster/get my face out of the computer and actually do something.  I may not start any mountain climbers in the family room, but folding a load of laundry is a start.  Pictured below is a rockin’ pj dance party…oh, yeah!

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2. Plan the next workout.  At least you are thinking about it.  I know I will be able to make it to the gym tomorrow barring some bizarre additional polar vortex, animated Frozen movie-esque, eternal winter.  So I laid out my workout clothes, packed a back-pack and planned my day accordingly.  If you’re not going to the gym, look up a work-out online or maybe a few strength exercises or a high-protein recipe that you can try for dinner that’s healthier than what you had tonight.  Just find something to do tomorrow that is better than what you did today.

Real Simple Turkey and Barley Soup

Real Simple Turkey and Barley Soup

First soup I’ve ever made and pretty amazing!  I altered the recipe a little by using kale instead of spinach and I added a little chipotle powder and brown sugar to balance the spicy with the sweet. Really, really good. Turkey Barley and Kale Soup.

3. Find someone who is going to support your efforts.  I rely on social media for motivation pretty often.  I’ve connected with a lot of diabetics online through the Diabetes Social Media Advocacy Network.  Doug Masiuk is the first type 1 diabetic to ever run across the United States.  And even though I have no plan of running that far, ever, I know that I can send him a tweet, pretty much whenever, and he will respond.  It makes me accountable for what I say I’m going to do.  So tonight he asked who was running today on twitter and I responded that I haven’t run all week, but I will run intervals tomorrow on the treadmill.  So now, I don’t just have support, but I have accountability.  There are tons of people that would love to support you but sometimes you have to seek them out.  And sometimes you need to ditch the ones that are bringing you down.

4. Don’t beat yourself up.  I spent time baking today with my kids (Home Beccanomics Cranberry White Chocolate biscotti are super easy and fun for kids!),

Cranberry and White Chocolate Scones

doing science experiments  (lots of baking soda) with my kids and watching Mary Poppins.

Amazing color changing volcano!!!  Ooooh...ahhhhh

And I don’t regret a single minute of it.  Sometimes exercise has to take a back seat and I’m totally fine with that.  It just can’t stay there permanently.  It’s not good for the body or the soul or the blood sugars. Life is about a healthy balance and when things get out of whack, just plan better tomorrow. Also, don’t forget how good you’re going to feel after you do something good for yourself.  You’re worth it, and you look good, dammit.

Sleep well :)