Thursday, May 24, 2012

Backpacking with my new friend.

A little while ago, I talked about being diagnosed with Type 1 in early February of 2012. I touched on some of the challenges I faced at the time of my diagnosis. Well not only was I trying to learn all about Type 1, but I was 5 weeks away from a 30 day back packing trip to South East Asia. This definitely threw a wrench in my trip and my trip threw a wrench in my diabetes!

Since I was about 21, I had always wanted to see parts of Asia but for some reason it never panned out. This past year, I had the opportunity to go with a friend who was also looking at going. We settled on Thailand (Bangkok and Chaing Mai), Singapore, Cambodia (Siem Reap and Phnom Penh) and Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City). My departure date was March 11th and I had a ton to prepare for in terms of my diabetes.

First, I had to break the news to my Endo and DNE. They were both totally confident that I would be able to go but knew that it left little time to ensure that I had all my ducks in a row. Diabetes was SO new to me at the time and there were so many things that needed to be considered. I had only been on insulin for a couple weeks so my Endo was still waiting to see if I would "Honeymoon". So far I was responding really well to my new regime but diabetes is so unpredictable so back up plans needed to be put in place in case this happened while I was away. I was provided with me Endo's email, pager and home number to use in case I was running in to trouble with my diabetes while I was away. My Endo also felt that I should use a different long acting insuling to help with the changes in my routine. I changed my long acting insulin from the Novo Nordisk NPH to the Lantus. The Lantus is said to be a much more stable basal insulin and I also work shift work as a part of my career so it would also be more stable while working my night shifts.

My next issue was how I was going to keep my insulin at room temperature while I was in countries that were experiencing temperatures of 34-45 degrees celcius. We pre-booked almost all of our accomodations so I was able to verify that they all had fridges in our rooms. They did, so that would take care of the extra supplies that I would be bringing. But the issue still remained that during the day when we were out sight-seeing, I would need to try and regulate the temperature of my insulin. I received many different suggestions but I was able to locate the most amazing product EVER! There is a company in the UK that makes insulin wallets called Frio's. They can be purchased in a large variety of sizes and contain an inner gel pouch that is placed in water and will then keep your insulin at safe temperatures for up to 45 hours. All they needed was a sink and some water! They are totally reasonably priced and can be reused. I bought one small (for my insulin pen) and a larger one (for my extra insulin when I wasn't near a fridge). These little guys were litterally a life saver and I will use them again and again!

Other than getting a letter from my Endo allowing me to bring sharp stuff on an airplane, I was pretty much ready to go as far as my diabetes went. So, on March 11 I took off overseas for just under a month. My trip went very smoothly health wise. It could definitely be a challenge at times managing my diabetes. There were so many things on this trip that effected it. The heat and activity in the heat definitely made my body require less insulin so it took a bit to get that adjusted at first. I have to admit, that I definitely did not test as much as I should have been. It was a very busy trip and there was lots to see and do so I was not eager to be held back by my new friend. We were up early almost every morning and kept active throughout the day.

I saw and did everything that I set out to do on this trip. It truly was a trip almost a decade in the making and I'm so glad I did it. When I got home though, I started to have a tough time accepting that diabetes was going to be a part of my life every single day. Forever. Although I had the most amazing experience, every day on my trip was a constant reminder that life was forever going to be different. I was angry about my diagnosis and felt like it took away from my experience. I felt like I was constantly pre-occupied with managing my blood sugars and I had anxiety about having lows while I was so far from home. It took me a good 2 weeks to settle back in and work on accepting and embracing what life had thrown my way. Yes, diabetes has forever changed me and my life. But it doesn't have to hold me back. Now that I've been home for almost 2 months, I now realise that I can do ANYTHING with diabetes. There's always a way to make it work. I mean, I went half way around the world with it only one month in! Take that D!

Here are a couple pictures from my trip...

Tiger Kingdom - Chain Mai, Thailand

The Grand Palace - Bangkok, Thailand

Reclining Buddha - Bangkok, Thailand
Ayutthaya, Thailand
Angkor Wat - Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Thom area - Siem Reap, Cambodia

If any of you are planning any trips, feel free to contact me for advice, diabetes related or not! :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Finding my groove...again.

Admittedly, I have been lazy for several months. Lazy as in couch potato lazy. Over the winter I didn't really do anything active. I am embarrassed to say that most of my spare time was spent watching old TV shows and movies on Netflix. I'm sure some of it had to do with running high blood sugars for several months pre-diagnosis, but most of it was from lack of motivation on my part.

For a couple years before diabetes I enjoyed running very much. I was never a running pro competing in marathons or anything like that, but I enjoyed getting out on a nice day and going for a nice run. No matter how bad a day I was having, running always made me feel better about everything. It helped me to clear my head and I used to solve a lot of life's problems out there on the pavement. Now that I feel as though I have gotten my health back on track I've been contemplating getting back into running. Obviously, I've been a little nervous about it too. I've heard alot about the challenges that can be involved in trying to manage blood sugars during physical activity as well as afterwards. I was also a little nervous because I was literally starting from square one again, and that can be a horrible feeling. But, I figured I'll never know how my body would respond unless I just got out there and gave it a whirl. I also knew it was going to be a key part of staying healthy with diabetes.

I decided I needed a short term goal to keep me motivated. I signed up for the Canadian Diabetes Association "Run for Diabetes" 10K on September 3rd. The most I've ever ran in an actual race is 5K, but I absolutely loved it so I am confident that with the right amount of training that I would be able to complete a 10K by then. I am also happy to be fundraising for a cause that is now close to my heart. I'm hoping that the fact that I actually have diabetes will resonate with people and I'll be successful at meeting my fundraising goal.

Some time ago, I downloaded an iPhone app called "10K Runner". It's a couch to 10K running program that's 14 weeks long with 3 runs per week. The app is $3.99 on iTunes and the reviews were all really good so I took a chance and downloaded it. I find I need a program to follow otherwise I will head out the door and run wild throughout the neighbourhood with no real purpose. I also like this app because it does a lot of the work for you (well, except the running part). Once you start it up, you can listen to music and a voice will chime in telling you when it's time to walk or run. I calculated out the training program and figured the absolute last day that I could procrastinate any longer would be May 28 in order to complete the program by race day.

So, this morning I woke up to a beautiful day! I had gotten a really good sleep and figured today was as good a day as any to start running again. I decided that throughout the next couple weeks I'm going to experiment with my insulin and blood sugars when I go for a run. I'm going to eat exactly the same thing pre-run but alternate how much insulin I take. This morning I tested at 7.1 mmol/L (128 mg/dl). I ate a banana and took no insulin; typically I would need 2 units. I then headed out for my run with my iPhone in hand...and that's it. I can hear all of you PWD's out there cringing. I know this was irresponsible. I should have had at the bare minimum a couple glucose tablets with me, as well as my meter. My excuse is that I have no where to put this stuff. I must invest in a running belt or Tummietote ASAP. Regardless, I went through my run and felt great! It was a pretty easy run and I was back home in 30 minutes but it sure felt great to be back out there! I had no feelings of a low coming on and was eager to get back inside to check my blood sugar.

Here's what I saw when I tested post run:

Overall, I was happy with that number (that's 198 mg/dl for my American friends). A touch on the high side for my liking but that's easily corrected. I'd prefer to be a bit high after a run rather than too low. Seeing this number also boosted my confidence too. I have a lot of anxiety about having lows, especially when I'm in situations where I can't easily walk away and fix them. I hate having to explain them to people. I know that it's important that I educate the people around me about them, but I haven't quite gotten there with it yet.

Day 2 of running is tomorrow. I'm going to do the same run and I'll eat a banana again and take half of my normal insulin and see how it goes. This time I'll take some life support with me though!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Is it too much?

(A quick side note...I just added a "Glossary" tab at the top of my blog. It contains easy to understand definitions to terms that I will be using in my posts)

Something that continued to cross my mind as I considered starting a blog was whether or not it would be too much diabetes in my life. Let me explain...

With only being very newly diagnosed (just about 4 months) a big portion of my days and life has been focused on diabetes. Obviously I've had to learn the basics of the disease, which is time consuming on it's own. But I'm also a Type A perfectionist so I have completely consumed myself in learning everything and anything I can about diabetes...right NOW! My boyfriend made a comment at my appointment with my DNE this week that he has noticed that I'm always "busy with it". And he is absolutely right. I'm either testing, injecting, carb counting, trying to do the math involved in carb counting, reading about it, ordering more supplies, or just generally browsing online blogs and websites related to diabetes. It's also visible all around our home. There is my insulin pen and meter in the kitchen (and follows me around everywhere I go), glucose tablets in the bedroom, kitchen, and car, insulin in the fridge, and many resources posted on the front of the fridge. I also think alot about it and can talk alot about it at times too. And now I've decided to take on the blogging universe.

So, like I said, this makes me it too much?

I would have to imagine that the people close to me must get tired of hearing about diabetes, whether they want to admit it or not. I've heard about PWD having experiences where their close friends or family have felt as though they should "just get over it" (meaning the diagnosis). I have to admit, I can kind of understand where people might get frustrated about the situation. Diabetes to me is an in your face disease. It is something that I always have to be thinking about; when I eat, when I exercise, when I'm travelling, when I'm at work, when I'm sick...and the list goes on. I have to somehow incorporate it and manage it in everything I do, everyday. That takes a lot of work and the people close to me are also now affected by my new life.

I suppose this post is, in a way, a tribute to my friends and family. I recognize that this can't be easy for any of them either. I know my parents worry even more now and they hope that I never have to face some of the devastating side effects that are linked to the disease. My friends now get to listen to yet another topic that I will undoubtedly at some point over stress about. And to my amazing boyfriend who stands beside me everyday and supports me through this new challenge that life has thrown our way. Thank you to all of you for everything you do for me!!

Even in the short 4 months that I've had diabetes, things already seem to be getting easier. I've had some pretty rough days with it as I learn to accept this as my life now, but overall it truly is getting better. It is my hope that blogging about my experiences will lessen the load on me as well as my friends and family. I also hope that it gives me a chance to help other PWD out there!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hot off the press!

As I sit here staring at the blank page in front of me, I begin to think about all the reasons I want to write this blog. I've always wanted to have my own blog and to be able to fill it with interesting anecdotes and stories, and have people eventually follow it. I never seemed to be able to find a topic that people would find interesting though. I always felt like just an average girl...what could I say that people would find interesting? And want to read about every few days?

Well, let's back up a few the day I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

On February 2, 2012 I was told by my family doctor that my blood tests had come back and it was clear that I had diabetes. I was immediately referred to an Endocrinologist as well as to a diabetes health centre where I would soon meet my Diabetes Nurse Educator (DNE). At this point I wasn't entirely in shock yet. I had been dealing with many of the symptoms of diabetes during the Fall of 2011 and somehow knew in my gut that it would turn out this way. However, I just assumed I would be Type 2. On February 9, 2012 I met my Endocrinologist for the first time. This is where I found out that it was a very real possibility that I would be Type 1, due to my "profile". No family history, not overweight, etc. When the words came out of her mouth, I have to admit it really blindsided me. How could I, the biggest wimp when it came to needles, have just been diagnosed with a disease where my survival would depend on multiple injections per day?? I left her office that day with numerous instructions and a couple prescriptions for Type 2 medications to try over the weekend in hopes that she may be wrong.


My body did not respond at all to the medications. It was official now.

During that following week it felt like a whirlwind of appointments. I was immediately put on rapid acting insulin (bolus) as well as a long acting insulin (basal) at night. I was given numerous brochures, instruction sheets, information packages, and supplies of all kinds. And I was also very quickly forced into over coming my fear of needles when I was required to do a saline injection with the nurse! I tried to get out of it with the promise that it would not be a problem when I got home, but she was smart, and she knew better!

So, now I'm at home with all this information. At the time, I don't think I truly understood how this was going to change my life. I spent a few days in shock and feeling like a fish out of water as I tried to adjust all of my routines to my "new" life. Diabetes is still extremely new to me even as I write this and I find myself continually running into new situations where I have to re-assess how it's going to affect my diabetes routine. I am still using an insulin pen, mainly because I'm still deciding what's going to work best for me, but also because my insurance company doesn't cover the initial costs of an insulin pump.

I think I've adjusted pretty well over the last few months with my new life. I definitely could not have gotten through all this without my live-in boyfriend, my parents, my close friends or the medical team that I work with regularly. I've also found that there is a whole family of support online as well. I've started following several different blogs (see my sidebar) and it has helped me to feel less alone as I try and comprehend everything that has happened. No matter how much support you have at home, it can still be so comforting knowing there are people just like me who are also dealing daily with many of the same troubles and emotions. They have inspired me and reminded me that diabetes does not have to take over my life.

It's now just another part of what makes me, me!