Sunday, October 31, 2010

21 Years Ago Today...

my mom took me to the doctor's office and was told that I had diabetes. My mom always tells me she knew something was wrong when I drank 2 glasses of milk before dinner eat night when I did not even like milk. Even though it was Halloween, I got to trick-or-treat. The next day I went to the U of I hospitals and clinics for 1 week. I don't' really remember too much of it, except that one day I got to make a little pizza and my parents told me I could not have it so I gave it to my dad to eat. Later, they found out I could have it and apologized multiple times.

I never liked Halloween growing up due to the fact it was when I was diagnosed. However, this year I decided to celebrate. It is just another day. Just because I was diagnosed on Halloween does not mean I must mourn all day. In honor of that, I went out and had a fabulous time this weekend. Lack of sleep doubled with dancing all night made for a rather tiresome day, but it was worthwhile. Halloween this year was memorable. (more on this later in the week)

Here are 21 things I have learned in 21 years of living with diabetes...
  1. Although I have diabetes, it does not dictate how I live my life.
  2. Unlike what the general public assumes, sweets will not kill me. The public often assumes wrong when it comes to type 1 diabetes.
  3. Transition from shots to an insulin pump was something I dreaded at first, but am so glad I ended up doing.
  4. Good doctors are a god-send.
  5. The online community is supportive. Reading blogs is something I never imagined myself doing, but now cannot imagine not doing it.
  6. I am stronger than I think I am.
  7. My fingers will always have dots on them, and that is okay. Sometimes other finger sticks will bleed to create random designs when I am checking my blood sugar. My favorite is the face. : -
  8. I've made so many mistakes with my diabetes, but have learned from each one. They have each made me a stronger person. (see #6)
  9. If a guy can't accept the fact that I have diabetes, he is a jerk.
  10. Being thankful that I am alive, healthy, and with no complications is something I hope will continue.
  11. Running helps me manage my diabetes better.
  12. Other sports do crazy things to my blood sugar.
  13. I love my meter, although it may be old school.
  14. Tucking my tubing in to pockets is necessary so my site does not get ripped out by a door, which has happened a number of times.
  15. People often think an insulin pump is not an insulin pump, but rather an ipod or camera. Don't you like to take pictures of your legs?
  16. Consistency is key to my management.
  17. Having a schedule and sticking to it help me manage my life and diabetes better
  18. People will always doubt what I am capable of if they only see a diseases, not a person.
  19. Support is key, no matter who it comes from.
  20. D-anniversaries should be celebrated, just like birthdays. It is a accomplishment to make it another year.
  21. Getting advice from others helps me take better care of myself. Thank you!

Over the past 21 years, I have heard so many times that a cure will be found for diabetes soon. That would be great, but whatever. I don't remember my life without it and think it would be weird but wonderful to transition to a life living d-free. However, I'm not sure that will ever happen. But it is always nice to hope.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Recently, I have felt like I needed more diabetes support. I like to read blog and occasionally comment, but reading something online and talking to someone face-to-face are completely different in my opinion. I went to a diabetes support group when I was younger and first diagnosed. I remember sitting at the table at the hospital with other kids. Our parents would talk to each other. I think the meeting was more support for the parents with diabetic children rather than the children.

Then, I got older and busier. I started to play sports year-round, then I moved north for college. After that I landed in Ohio, where I went to a few diabetes support group meetings and thought they were beneficial. Since moving to Illinois, i have not found a group close to where I live for adults with type 1 diabetes. There is a young adult group in Chicago that meets one time a month, which seems really neat, but it is too far for me to go to those meet-ups, especially on a weekday when i have to get up early the next day.

I can't find anything online; however, I know that that does not mean something exists. I miss talking with other people that have had diabetes for a long time. I like to learn new things and hear other perspectives. It helps me grow in my own knowledge of it and how I can become better at taking care of myself. I also miss the camaraderie.

Are there any diabetes support groups for adults near where you live? Do you go to diabetes support groups?

***Thanks for the feedback on the insulin post. I appreciate it!***

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Insulin Intake

I often wonder if I use too much insulin on a daily basis compared to other diabetics. I know every one's body is different and the activities a person participates in, such as running, effect insulin intake. Is there some sort of range that I am supposed to be in? It is a question I've never known the answer to in all of the years I've had diabetes.

I know that my activity level greatly impacts my insulin sensitivity. When I am logging more miles running then my insulin need decreases. Currently, I am averaging about 25 units a day (combining both basal and bolus totals). Sometimes I wonder if I am eating too much. Although I do not usually have a problem with over consumption, I know I eat more during training periods due to the fact that I am burning more calories. there a range for insulin intake that I should aim to be in? How many units do you average? Another other advice?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Foam Roller Magic

If you have been reading, you know that I am going to physical therapy for a knee problem which I don't really even know if it is a knee problem. My leg has been off-and-on hurting-wise, sometimes it feels more like a stress fracture while other times it is the hamstrings. It is very frustrating, not only for me, but for my therapist. He constantly asks where, if at all, it hurt when I ran and I have a different answer every time.

After 3 sessions last week that really did not do anything for me besides make me sore, which is beneficial but the pain was still there, my therapist decided to try something different today. He heated my knee first and then foam rolled it before I ran on the treadmill and did all of my stretches and exercises. The heat worked wonders and I had no pain. At the end of my therapy session I once again used the foam roller. As I sit here typing this post, I can honestly say my legs are feeling great which is wonderful since I ran 8.5 miles on my own, plus one at therapy, and walked a mile. However, I'd never be able to tell.

With this being said, I am a believer in the magic of the foam roller. I purchased one awhile ago but never used it. I will definitely start tomorrow. Plus, my foam roller is purple, which makes it that much more enjoyable to use because I love the color.

Do you own a foam roller or any other device?

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Halloween is just around the corner - only 10 days away. My students are counting down the days until they can dress up and get their candy fix. Many times over the past week I've been asked what I'm going to be for Halloween. It always amazes 10-year-olds that some people do not go trick-or-treating anymore.

I used to not enjoy Halloween. When I was 4, I was diagnosed with diabetes on Halloween. It will be my 21st anniversary with diabetes this year. You can expect a post coming up on that in the next week or so. However, instead of not enjoying the holiday, this year I decided I should just embrace it and all of its festivities. I don't like to dress up in costume because it is not my personality, but this year I am going out with friends. One plans on being the Chiquita banana lady (she made her entire outfit) and another a chia pet, which I find rather bizarre. Other costumes include a knight, football player, Eskimo, and rocker.

Since I am moving this weekend (2 days away!), I don't really have time to plan anything elaborate. My friends told me I should be a runner. I told them that is not out of the ordinary, but they said I should go for it. So if you see a tall girl with a sweatband, tank top, running shorts, shoes, and ponytail in 10 days, be nice and wish me a happy day. Just treats please, no tricks.

What are you going to be for Halloween?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Being Diabetic on Race Day

This summer was full of races for me. I completed many more races this year than in the past, which has taught me a lot. I ran 6 races between June and September, all of which were different lengths, ranging from a 5k to a half marathon and then the MC200, which was 21 miles, but not consecutively. I liked being able to focus on different running skills - speed work some weeks while logging distance weeks the next. Variety is the spice of life, right? The only thing I didn't get to accomplish was my marathon. There is always next year, right? (I hear that a lot now that I live by so many Cubs fans!)

Although each race was different, one thing was always the same: I came to start line as a person with diabetes. Before the races while other people were warming up, stretching, listening to music, or just goofing around, I was testing my blood sugar, analyzing how much insulin on board I had, and how the distance and my nerves woudl affect my blood sugar.

Testing my blood sugar is such an important of my pre-exercise routine. ALthough I norally run in the afternoon and races are held in teh morning, I always check. Information is key to success. On race days I wake up 3 hours before the race and eat breakfast. I do this because I do not want any active insulin in me when I race. I try to eat the same breakfast to eliminate that variable on race day as well. I test about an hour before the race, but I also like to test 30 minutes and then again before entering the starting corral or walking up to the start line, depending on the race.

Since I like to test a lot before I race, I need my meter. I do not run with my meter. I feel like it would be another thing to carry or somehow attach to me. Sometimes I already feel rather bionic with my insulin pump, ipod, and glucose tablets and don't want another device. I only rely on my body during the race, which has its ups and downs. So you might be thinking...if you don't run with your meter but test right before entering the starting corral, where is it? Luckily, I have the most caring and helpful mom in the world. She typically comes to my races and carries my purse that has everything in it - meter, extra infusion set (many fall out because I sweat a lot), Gatorade, glucose tablets, shot blocks, water, gum, and just about everything else. After the race we find each other, where I can test again.

It is wonderful to have someone accompany me to the race and hold all of my diabetes stuff. It makes my life s much easier. My mom has come with me to 3 half marathons, my dad 1 (he really did not enjoy holding my purse!), and the other 2 I had to do on my own. This summer, I had someone come with me in 3 out of the 6 races, not counting the MC200. The MC200 was a little different with the vans, so I guess it kind-of counts since my meter was always at the start of my run and finish. So, I'm 4 out of 6.

All those logistics are great...but then I always worry about my body after the race. However, I think I'll save that for another post. How do you take care of your diabetes before races?

Monday, October 18, 2010


When I was I growing up and even until recently, I used to think what people thought of me. I was always concerned with impressions and my perfectionism and trying to get everyone else to see that aspect of me. However, this year, things have changed.

I am not sure when the change happened exactly, but it was sometime this summer. Last school year was rough. I moved from Ohio to Iowa to Illinois over the summer of 2009 and was devastated when I learned I had a stress fracture and had to take time off from running. Living in Ohio was challenging because I was away from my family, friends, and the lifestyle I had known. The friends I made there were wonderful, though.

When I came to Illinois I viewed it as a chance to start over. I had made some stupid mistakes in Ohio and wanted to stop letting them bug me down. New place, new life, right? Last school year was rough, both physically and emotionally. I teach in a private school where the expectations for teachers are incredibly high. Students score in the top percentile on standardized tests and are leveled for math and reading. Even the kids in the "lowest" group in those classes are average compared to the rest of the children in the United States. But, although the kids are smart, my class was not well behaved and the parents were not the best. You always have some that are good, but the majority were not. I needed the summer more than a marathon runner needs water and Gatorade.

Although I had some health issues this summer (low iron which caused me to fore go my dream of running a fall marathon), my perspective started to change. Everyday was wonderful. I worked on things for this school year, ran, biked, did yoga, and read like crazy. I was around my friends and started to really love my life.

Is my life perfect to the outsider? Not by any means. But right now, I could not ask for a better life. I have the best class this year, have made more friends (which is much harder to do than I originally thought), and continued to run, which always brings me great happiness. Life is good and I am happy. What else could I possibly ask for?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

October Madness

My next race is a 15k, another new distance for me to conquer. It is called the Hot Chocolate Race and every time I go to the website I just think about how wonderful the post-race party will be. I'm excited to run this race because my mom is coming from Iowa for it, and it is my first race in Chicago. Yay! I've been thinking about how to train for a 15k a lot lately. I feel like a 10k isn't that hard since I do a lot of 5-7 mile runs normally, but 9.3 is a bit longer. Today I ran 8 wonderful pain-free miles at a 7:56 pace and then walked another one just because I felt so good about my run. Any suggestions on how my training should go? The race is on Saturday, November 6th.

I think this might be one of the busiest weeks of my life. On tap for this week:
  • 3 sessions of physical therapy (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), each lasting 1 hour
  • Moving on Saturday. Not far - just to another suburb. But I have some major packing to do.
  • First quarter ends at school, meaning report cards are due soon.
  • I'm getting observed by my principal at school.
  • Meeting friends on Wednesday (we typically do this).
  • Training for the Hot Chocolate Race

Now that I type it out, it really does not seem like that much. But, I am a person who likes routine in every aspect of my life. The majority of things on my list are not normal for me, which means I'll have to rearrange my schedule to make time for them. I know that sleep must remain a top priority for me, as I cannot function well if I'm not well-rested. Hopefully I'll make it through next weekend. Do you have a busy week?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It's Doctor Week

I feel like I've had my fair share of doctors this week. I went to the sports medicine doctor on Monday, who recommended physical therapy for me 3 times a week for the next 6 weeks. Although I do not consider physical therapy a conventional doctor's visit, it still gets half a tally due to the fact that I need to take time out of my day to go. Today I was not only blessed with the opportunity to go to the physical therapist for the first time, but also my endocrinologist.

When I first moved to Illinois last year I had full intentions of keeping my endocrinologist in Ohio. I loved going to him and although he was tough, he always gave good advice and helped me tremendously. However, as I lived in the Chicago suburbs longer and longer I realized I was never going to go back to Ohio for a doctor's visit so I got a new one here. I really like my new endocrinologist.

"Dr. S." is a good endocrinologist for me because he works with many other athletes. He knows how our bodies are different than the "normal person" and how our activities influence our blood sugars. Today was a routine check-up and went well. He looked at my numbers, told me I should take a little less insulin in the early night, and said I was doing better than I was in the summer. In the summer I had a lot of low blood sugars, but he was pleased with my progress. My A1C was 5.8, a number I was happy with. I am so glad it is getting into the upper 5's, rather than the lower 5's.

Other than that, I need to get my iron checked again to see if it has come up any. I know it has, but I told him I was feeling really tired lately and wasn't sure if it was iron or just being incredibly busy. Another good thing about today was that I ran 6 miles...the most miles I've logged consecutively since my half marathon. Overall, it was a great day and has been a very good week. Who doesn't like great weeks? Hopefully you are having one as well.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dreams Be Dreams...

Jack Johnson, anyone? Putting on his music after a hectic day is something I greatly enjoy. Right now my Jack play list just happens to be on Dreams Be Dreams. Now, to get to the point...

Growing up I never knew what I wanted to do with my life. Some days I wanted to sell houses, others I wanted to be in the business world. I ended up as a teacher, and love my job. Teaching 5th grade can be fun and tiring at the same time. This year I have a wonderful class. Seriously, I could not ask for a better group of students.

This is my 4th year teaching, and I feel like I've experienced an array of students with varying abilities. Last year I had a child with asperger's syndrome in my room. I've had many students with ADD or ADHD, one dyslexic student, and some other issues. However, this year I have a student with diabetes in my room.

I knew that I was going to have her in my homeroom last year and it has been motivating for me. If you live with diabetes or any other 24/7 health condition, you know that you go through ups and downs. Some days I'll test 10 times while others only 4 or so. Some days I am in range all day and others I could not hit my range if my life depended on it.

One thing I have noticed is that having a child with diabetes in my classroom has made me more conscious of my own diabetes. All of the students are aware of testing from my one student so it was nice on the first day I could just tell them I had diabetes and they already knew what it was and what comes along with it (testing, sometimes eating, etc.).

Two weekends ago I walked in the JDRF walk, on the team my student had. It was a wonderful experience. There were multiple students who came out to walk with her and parents as well. I had not walked in the JDRF walk for many years, and debated walking it this year because it was early in the morning (according to my weekend standards - 8 a.m.), but am glad I did.

I am always amazed at the variety of people in my life that have a positive impact on me or inspire me to be a better person. This one student in my class is such a person for me. Do you have any people like that in your life?

Monday, October 11, 2010

PT...Here I Come

My nagging knee seemed to be getting worse after the QC half and resulted in me hardly running at all the past two weeks. I was never certain what was going to happen...sometimes I would be fine for 5 miles, other times it would hurt to stride at mile 3. I never knew, and it was frustrating me. My running was suffering and my next race, a 15k the first week of November, is not that far off. I needed to get my miles logged!

So, I did what I hate doing: I called the doctor. I hate going to the doctor. In fact, there are only 3 conditions in which I will go:

1. For an endocrinology appointment. I believe seeing my diabetes doctor is important because I get valuable feedback on how I am doing and ways in which I can improve.

2. If I can't run. This was obviously the reason I called the sports medicine doctor.

3. If I feel like I am going to die. Luckily, this has never happened.

If I cannot categorize going to the doctor into one of the categories listed above, I won't go. I am also very picky about my doctors and often tend to dislike them for various reasons. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the doctor I went to today.

He had me do some squats and looked at my knee. He seemed to know right away what the problem was and told me some exercises to do to fix them. However, he told me I needed to go to physical therapy to get healed quicker. So, for the next 6 weeks, I get to go to physical therapy three times a week. I'm sure you're jealous. Don't you wish you could spend an hour of your day stretching and flexing your quad muscles that are not properly balanced?

My doctor told me I could keep running and doing whatever I wanted, which I must say I was shocked to hear. But, I was so happy to hear those words come out of his mouth. If you have been reading my blog, you know that running brings me great happiness. I was able to run 5 miles today which felt wonderful and know that going to physical therapy will help. It will probably make me a stronger runner. Let the happy miles continue...

Is your pump a camera?

On Friday I was out with a group of people, some that I knew and others that I did not. After eating I got out my insulin pump to bolus and a guy that was talking to me said, "Is that a camera?" That is definitely a new one that I've never heard. Have you ever gotten that comment?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Quad Cities Half Race Report

Do you ever feel like you just go, go, go and don't even have time to breathe? That is how I felt ever since the QC half, which took place on September 26. But, as all things do, things will get less-hectic and return to normal, in time.

I went to the QC on Saturday. My aunt and uncle live there so I got to visit with them and stayed at their house. Plus, my uncle was also running the half. I didn't know what I was capable of doing because my training was so erratic this summer and leading up to the marathon. My knee was hurting off and on and I was hoping it would be find on race day. I didn't think I could PR and was fine with that. Let's be honest - they all can't be PRs! I've run 5 halves and PR'd for all of them, so I was due to not PR for once, or so I thought.

Going into the race I had tons of questions. What should I wear? It was supposed to be upper 40s...long sleeve? short sleeve? I opted for shorts and a long sleeve running t-shirt but got really hot running in it towards mile 10. I also wore gloves for the first 8 miles before tossing them into the trash can along the route. Should I run with a pace group? If so, which one? 1:50, 1:45, 1:40? I felt like I was on decision-making overload, and I am a really bad decision maker.

I ended up running with the 1:45 pace group for the first 10 miles and then started to get tired so I ran on my own. I finished with a time of 1:46.20, which I was pleased with. My previous half (Flying Pig in May of 2009) I ran 1:43.06, so it was 3+ minutes slower, but still okay. I had a fun time because I did not put the pressure on myself to PR. It made such a difference! Also, my blood sugars acted nicely, and I ended the race at 203...much better than my other post-run numbers. I had a good time at the race. My parents came down for it and my brother and some of his friends so it was nice to see them all.

Unfortunately, my knee has been acting up post-half-marathon. It is random - some days I'll run 3 miles with no pain but it will kill shortly after. It is a hard thing to describe. I know that it makes me stride differently. My knee gets really tight and although I can walk fine, running causes excruciating pain. I'm going to visit my endo. in a week so I'm going to ask him if he knows a good sports med. doctor to go to. He works with a lot of athletes so I think he'll give me some good advice. What do you think I should do - not run at all? I do have a 15k planned on November 6 in Chicago and I really hope to run it.