I am an Endless Legend

This morning I scan Facebook for motivation and laughs.  I hate the news. Rarely do I search out news.  I am skeptical in its presentation versus reality.

Within the search, I find this.

Seb’s video motivates me.  Focus on today.  Small steps.  That’s all I hear.

Tonight I find a hoodie with my Maiden name which has a saying….

“I am an Endless Legend.”

And I feel like I can be a Super Hero.  Yep that’s right.  Click on the link to see what motivates me to write about it.

http://www.sunfrogshirts.com/DOUGHTY-3254-White-29514080-Hoodie.html?23035

My maiden name is Doughty.

Today our temps reach above 0C.

I am closing in on living with Type 1 diabetes for 40 years.  Exercise, activity, healthy eating and keeping myself in shape and healthy is important to me.

BUT, It’s been a rough few months exercise and otherwise for me. Winter and I don’t get along as far as energy and ambition.  The month of February in Ontario was the coldest on record since 1875.

Word on the Weather Network is temps will reach upwards of about 6C.   It will feel balmy if it is true!  No wind would be nice too!  I haven’t heard about the records set for wind this winter but one must exist!!

Today I work from home finishing up some Admin that’s been driving me crazy. The sun shines bright all day. The bright sun gleaming through the windows blinds me at times. Despite that, I embrace the intensity of it.

Suddenly the hope appears with the time change and the increase in the intensity of the sun.

About 5pm, I take a break from the Admin work I focus on all day.  I put on my ear buds and hook up my music. I make my way to the ‘super mailbox’ up the road to get our mail. It feels so good to get out.  I can’t stop looking to my left, smiling at the sun as it made its way down the sky to sleep for the night.   Today, I am thankful for the gift the sun has given.

I wish the roads allowed for me to put on my running shoes and go, but I can’t stand wet feet…and not good for the well being of them either.

Knowing I can’t let this time go, I take the ‘long’ walk home.

Thankfully, we live right off the Trans Canada Trail…it is just a few minutes walk from our home. I am excited to make my way there as soon as the snow melts and puddles aren’t ankle deep to get my running gear on and go…for miles and miles.

Despite the fact I wear my Blundstones, to keep my feet dry tonight, I want to run so bad. It is so hard not too.

In anticipation of this, I find a post on FB of a T and hoodie that include my Maiden name…and I fall in love. So, I ordered a few work out T’s and a hoodie.

And one for my Dad…cause if it wasn’t for him….I wouldn’t be an Endless Legend!

What do you do to motivate yourself to move?

P.S. Pink is my favourite colour…of what I ordered, I picked a bright pink tee…and I while I wear my fav colour I will remember while I am running or lifting weights…. “I am an endless legend.” for so many reasons.

I’m OKAY!! Really!?

Wedding Cruise5With the exception of the time we dated in high school, my husband Steve is diagnosed with Type 1 spousal diabetes for just under four years.

It may seem silly but I assumed in all this time he knew diabetes like I did.  I can’t even tell you why I thought he would learn 39 years of living with Type 1 diabetes as I have experienced by observing signs, symptoms and random sharing of how I feel in certain situations.  He has never had formal education in the less than 4 years we have been together.

The moment I understood I need to share my life with diabetes more?

We arrived in Lima, Peru.

After settling on the last leg of our journey we decide to head out in search of a few markets and sites for some art pieces.

On the way back, my pump alarms that my sensor is telling me my blood sugars is 4 mmol/L.  My sugar is going down.  Stupidly, I have no sugar on me…Steve is so good he usually does have lifesavers in his pocket…but he has none.

I feel it is lower than 4 mmol/L.  But I am stubborn.  Steve asks if I want him to go into a store and get sugar.  I say it’s OK .

First, when my sugar trends towards low but I feel like I am not in danger, I don’t treat with rapid acting sugar, I set a temporary basal rate.  I think it’s a control thing.  I want to change the stupid system that really works…just to see if I can make it better.  I am so anti-sugar….I really want to take it…mental block.

So…I say to Steve, it’s okay, I’ll set a temp rate.

And we keep walking.

And several minutes later I become dull.  And quiet.  I lack my bubbly, sunshine Type A personality.

Steve knows but doesn’t know.  He hasn’t experienced such an extreme moment like this.

I personify strength.  Knowledge.  Power.  Ability.  I am never the victim.  He trusts that. Even thought his gut tells him different.

DBB Hypo Peru

So he trusts me and my choice.

Until I mumble I want ice cream.  And he asks further questions.  And I am indecisive and vague.

We end up in a grocery store a few blocks away from our hotel.  He asks me several times what I want to get….I don’t know.  In my mind I want to ask him to help me.  Save me from this terrible prison in my mind of wanting to be in control.  Not to ask for help.  I will take care of myself.  I won’t confess I have failed.  I won’t ask.  I refuse.  I won’t.  I have done this since I was a little girl.  My (mis)behaviour trumps my voice.

I am no good to anyone.  I know it.  I am too far gone to say that.

Steve finally suggests and I agree.

We pay out at the cash and I inhale.

Many minutes later Tracy returns.

Later that night we debrief.  He tells me…”I knew, but I didn’t because you know!”, but I did.  And I failed to tell him.  Thankfully he saw it today. Exactly what I just described.

He tells me “…from now when when you say “It’s okay, I’ll set a temporary basal rate.”  I am going to pop into a store and buy some candies.”

And he will tell me.  “You need this candies”.  And I now I will take them.  Regardless of how bad I want to be in control.  Because, we have this consensual contract.

It’s good to share my diabetes.  A liberation.  Enlightening.  It is a relief to give a very small piece of it to someone else.  Even though it is only a very small piece of what my mind thinks of 24-7-365, if feels good. Despite how much control I want.  And how hard it is to let go.

Travelling with My Pharmacy

DBB Huchay Cusco Blog

There will a few posts/Blogs about my travels to and within Peru.

BUT..

I feel this post in particular is a huge one and is pressing upon me to prioritize even though it’s not in order.

We spent Christmas Eve in Agues Calientes. We planned to climb Machu Picchu Christmas Day.

I became very ill with a very high fever and ultimately sinus congestion, sore throat, fatigue among other things.

I am proud of the way the situation turned out as I recovered very quickly compared to most times I experience this. My husband questioned if I should take part in the venture to Machu Picchu but I insisted despite feeling down and out I would not miss such an amazing opportunity. This is a chance in a lifetime!!! And so we did.

With that being said, after we returned to Cusco a few days later we made plans to take part in a two day trek up the Andes mountains, through the Peruvian Tundra. We would then be hosted by a family overnight before descending back down the next day to another town a few hours away from our starting point.

We reach an elevation of 15,100 feet. Understanding that breathing would be a challenge at the best of times, I am overly concerned that with my congestion and swollen throat it would present greater issues.

On our way to the drop off point 1 1/2 hours away by jeep, I ask our guide to stop at a pharmacy to buy cold medication to help keep the symptoms from being too overwhelming throughout the climb.

As I walk into the pharmacy I take note this is the very first lesson I learn.  Never assume I can go away for 2 weeks and be healthy the whole time. I usually pack cold medications, gravol etc for those ‘just in case’ moments.

This is the first time I didn’t take my personal pharmacy with me. Sigh.

Our guide Henry takes me into the pharmacy in Cusco. I tell Henry in English that I need an anti-histamine/anti-inflammatory. I expect something along the lines of Advil Sinus & Cold or Buckley’s.

After the Pharmacist asks Henry a few more questions in Spanish….”Is it altitude sickness?”…”No, I had a very high fever, sore throat and sinus congestion.”…He recommends a product.

I take a ticket to the cash booth/dispensary at the front of the store. She gives me the box of medication. I am so relieved I will have the meds to help with the congestion, I don’t consider that I didn’t tell the pharmacist I have T1 diabetes OR that I took time to read the ingredients.   At this point I don’t make the connection that Dexametasona (in English “Dexamethasone”) is a steroid!!! I mean, come on, I am a Nurse. I should know the 5 R’s!!

AND I can’t buy a steroid over the counter in Canada! For good reason!

I am told to take one pill now (it is 7:30am) and again at supper. I can take it twice a day for a few days.

Within an hour I can feel the relief. I am overjoyed….until…

Fast forward to that evening and into the overnight…AND the next day…my blood sugars begin to climb…and climb…and climb.

I take insulin corrections like drinking water with no change. Not even a flicker in my Continuous Glucose monitor display. My finger pokes confirm all is not right within my diabetes world.

I reflect back on when we arrived in Cusco. Within a day I was setting temporary basal rates on my insulin pump for low blood sugars and now??? I am insulin resistant in the Andes Mountains??

I play scenarios in my mind. Is it the altitude? Is it dehydration? Is it the anaerobic feedback from the intense activity which leads us to experiencing burning leg muscles, shortness of breathe so bad our lungs are burning?

When I work out at the gym and do intense heavy weights my sugars spike. When I do hill training when I run I get the same effect. Is this the same?

At this point I haven’t made the connection yet that the cold meds contain steroids.

I do think that in part, the intensity of the climb did cause an adrenalin surge that did cause my need for more insulin….pair it with an exogenous steroid in my cold meds and here is a recipe for blood sugar disaster.

My key take away?

Bring my own cold meds and pharmacy.

If ever in an emergency that I require medications while in another country, make sure to tell them I have diabetes.

If and when I decide to ascend to 15,100 feet (or higher), take note and act that if it feels anaerobic, increase my insulin rates to accommodate to it.

No doubt it is a tough balance to achieve but I wouldn’t want to throw my hands in the air and not keep playing the game. Next time I want to improve on this experience. I accept my sugars will never be perfect in these situations especially, but, I will do my best.DBB Dexalor

Healing

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Healing

I like to keep my body parts. I figure each one is there for a reason. But, when all other options have been exercised & surgery is the only option….well, reluctantly, I know when it’s time to fold ’em.

I am not new to surgery. I have had 4 surgeries between the ages of 21 – 32. I’m proud to say, I’ve had success with all surgeries & recoveries. It’s a challenge to walk away healthy without infection or complications, especially when living with diabetes.

It’s been 10 years since my last surgery. It’s been almost 20 years since my last major surgery.

When I found out a few months ago I would be under the knife once again, having major surgery with a 6 week recovery time, I decided to be proactive in preparing so my recovery would be uneventful.

I am only 4 days post op so I may be putting the cart before the horse with this surgery but I want to post some considerations about how to prepare before, during & after.

Before Surgery:

1. Gather a reliable support team that can be there for you before, during & after surgery. Make sure your team knows their responsibilities throughout this process. If someone offers to help, this is one time you can’t afford to say no. Don’t try to be a hero. I never heard anyone talking about the time “so and so had surgery & what a champ he or she was going solo, doing it all on their own.”

2. Don’t go crazy cooking, baking & cleaning. What?!? you say? Shouldn’t I have stuff in the freezer & the house spotless for when I come home to recover? Sure, if you were healthy before surgery to do that, it would be ideal. But consider, why are you having surgery? Your body is not running at full capacity. By stressing yourself out making, baking & cleaning you are depleting your immune system to a point that you may set yourself up for illness before surgery (then, it may be cancelled) or cause infection post-surgery. Although it may be tough, go to the local health food store & buy organic, pre-made meals that one of your team mates can heat up. Same with the kids lunches. I’m not meaning pre-packaged boxed/canned garbage…there are a variety of ‘homemade’ soups, sauces & meals available today that have only a few ingredients & are good for you. Just make sure to watch the sodium content…you don’t want to get all puffy & bloated.

3. Which leads me to my next point….eat clean, well-balanced nutritional meals & snacks leading up to surgery. I mean, we all should all the time but if you have lost focus, now is the time to get back on track. If you don’t have a Juicer, I urge you to buy one. Use it often. Eat a variety of fresh, organic vegetables & fruits. Keep your protein lean. Keep your carbs complex & low GI. If you nourish your body properly, it will be ready to perform at a high level of healing during & after surgery.

4. Test blood sugars more often. Keep them within target. Consult with your Diabetes Team to make sure you are running at optimal capacity for diabetes management. High sugars can cause infection and/or slow healing.

5. Be honest during your Pre-Op visit at the hospital about which meds you are taking. I mean, prescription, herbal & homeopathic remedies as well as essential fatty acids. I take herbal & homeopathic tinctures as well as EFA which I had to stop 2 weeks before surgery as they increased my risk for bleeding.

6. If you are physically active until this point, if the Specialist agrees it is okay, keep doing what you do or alter it to accommodate to your circumstance. I was not able to be as active as I used to be but I made sure to walk 5 – 10 km each day to keep my heart, lungs, mind & muscles working.

7. Get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep a night.

8. Drink a lot of water. More than 8-8oz glasses a day.

The Night Before Surgery:

1.  Pack a cooler bag of simple, instant food that is healthy & wholesome for your hospital visit. Below is what I packed in mine:

– Nature’s Path Organic Instant Oatmeal Plus Flax
– (2) glass jars of Green’s Juice I made with my Juicer
– (2) 1/4 cup containers of hemp seed to add to my oatmeal
– (2) containers of 2 tbsp of Skinny B Breakfast Cereal
– (2) containers of 2 tbsp of Holy Crap Breakfast Cereal
– (2) single servings of plain Greek Yogurt

The Day of Surgery:

1. Ask your surgery to be booked first thing in the morning. You will be asked to have nothing to eat or drink the night before. Some of your diabetes meds may be held. But, with the risk of fasting comes the risk of a low sugar. Being booked in the morning gives you the opportunity to have an IV put in place so that if you have a low blood sugar the staff can give you sugar through it.

2. Remember to breathe deeply, often. Stay calm. Getting anxious over the unknown & probably what won’t happen will raise your blood pressure, heart rate & blood sugar. All the hormones released that cause this will not help with the healing.

3. When you feel yourself getting anxious, visualize what you would love to do 6 weeks from now. Imagine yourself having a successful operation & healing process. Envision how much better you will feel afterwards.

3. Ask questions. Although they may seem dumb to you, they really aren’t.

4. Educate the team in the hospital about your diabetes. They don’t know as much as you do. They can’t! They don’t live with it.

5. Be your own advocate. If something doesn’t seem right, speak up.

The Hospital Stay:

1. Be aware of what’s on your food tray. For the 2 days I stayed, I was presented every processed juice & flavour of jello imaginable. Was that going to help my healing? Nope. It would just spike my sugars. I resorted to my cooler of food I brought. My Greens Juices got me through the first 24 hours. The oatmeal, hemp, yogurt & Skinny B got me through the rest of my stay. The nurses admired that I advocated for myself by bringing the cooler of food.

2. Take the pain meds. Again, don’t be a hero. No pain, no gain does not work. Pain releases hormones that will cause your sugars to go up….and your blood pressure and your heart rate…get it? 🙂 You will not get addicted.

3. Sleep and move. Sleep as much as you can. As soon as the nurse says it’s time to get out of bed, whether you just stand up or take a few steps, it is important to move. It gets the blood flowing which helps your surgical incision heal.

4. Test, test, test. The hospital staff will do that for you a lot too, but I bring my own meter as back up as well. It may not be calibrated to the hospital lab but at least I can report to them if it’s not time for them to test & I know something is off with my sugar. I also wear a Continuous Glucose Meter paired with my pump.

5. Be aware that the grogginess from pain meds can mask a low blood sugar.

6. Be aware of your body. Listen to it. Trust your gut. You know you best!

7. Drink lots of water! LOTS!!

Recovering At Home:

1. Abide by what the instruction sheet & the nursing staff have said. Don’t push yourself. You will not push yourself closer to recovery but closer to a risk of infection & slow it down.

2. Sleep a minimum of 8 hours a night, if your body says to go to bed at 8pm, do it.

3. Nap when you’re tired.

4. Be as mobile as your Doctor has permitted you to be.

5. Inspect your incision(s) daily. If they start to look red, inflamed or have discharge, you need to call your Doctor right away.

6. Test, test, test. Keep your sugars within target. I’ll repeat this again….high sugars will slow the healing process & promote infection.

7. Eat clean, eat well. Keep up with the Greens Juice. Eat lots of vegetables & fruits. Eat lean protein. Keep to low GI, complex carbs.

8. Call on your Team. Refer to #1 “Before Surgery”.

9. Drink lots of water. LOTS!!

These are general guidelines. Your circumstances may be unique & there may be some suggestions I have made that the Doctor has advised against or differently. Please listen to your Doctor. He & you, know your circumstance best.

Finding Balance

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Finding Balance

I just completed The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale.

In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe decided to study whether or not stress contributes to illness. They surveyed more than 5,000 medical patients and asked them to say whether they had experience any of a series of 43 life events in the previous two years. Each event, called a Life Change Unit (LCU), had a different “weight” for stress. The more events the patient added up, the higher the score. The higher the score, and the larger the weight of each event, the more likely the patient was to become ill.

Below is the score Interpretation

300+ You have a high or very high risk of becoming ill in the near future.

150-299 You have a moderate to high chance of becoming ill in the near future.

<150 You have only a low to moderate chance of becoming ill in the near future.

Upon taking the survey, it did not consider that I live with diabetes, I have a 19-year-old 'child' living with diabetes who has recently experienced complications, I am still going through court proceedings trying to settle with my divorce, starting two new businesses AND most recently after months of severe undiagnosed pain I finally have a diagnosis in which I will be going for major surgery for in April.

So, not including the above mentioned, the score I 'achieved' is 687. Of the 43 items listed, I have experienced 22 in the past 2 years.

I am not writing this to have you think to yourself "Oh poor Tracy".

I am writing this for 2 reasons:

1. Understanding that everyone has life events that are very stressful. Sometimes when in the middle of it all, as these events pile up one on top of another, it is very difficult to step back and see what has occurred. It is even more challenging to see the positive or how to take care for yourself in the midst of it all. There are many events in life that we cannot change. It is important to accept this and decide ways to find balance by taking care of ourselves.

2. I need to write this to help me. I have wanted to do the survey for a while. I knew the score would be high, so it was not for that purpose. I took it today because I am so tired. So tired, I needed to make myself take the survey so I could sit down & figure how I could find balance among all of it. I am not taking the best care of me as I have in the past. It's time to change that.

The picture posted is from my walk yesterday. I had 2 choices yesterday; sleep or walk. My body felt full of toxins from the stress. I haven't been listening to my body as I should. Although I was extremely tired, my mind urged me to go for the walk. I needed to get the blood flowing and help my body clear out the toxins and my mind.

We ended up driving to a park in the city. We took the puppy and started through the park. I felt like I was in the country. No traffic noise, lot's of trees and snow. We didn't talk much. We both just needed to 'be'.

Initially in my mind, I didn't want to go far. I have an ongoing list in my head of tasks that need to completed at home both on a personal and business level. But as I walked further, I realized that this list never has nor will it be finished. That's life. For this walk I needed to let that never-ending list go and enjoy the moment for my health's sake.

We ended up walking 10 kilometres over 2 hours. Towards the end of the walk, the tightness in my chest and my inability to take a deep breath began to disappear. It felt so good to take a deep breath.

Today we will do the same. I will leave that list behind. I will leave the items I have marked off on the survey behind. I will envision taking these items and tucking them away in a closet only to taken out when absolutely required. But not on the walk.

I urge you to take the survey. Determine where you are at in your life when it comes to stress. Then, decide what you can do to balance these items. Whether it be reading, going to the gym, taking a long walk, yoga, stretching, having a long relaxing bath, lighting some candles and listening to music, playing with your kids, hugging the ones you love.

"Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop." –Ovid

"Its not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it."
–Hans Selye

Travelling with Diabetes in Honduras

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Travelling with Diabetes in Honduras

My experiences this time around are not so much about travelling & diabetes but more so how a change of environment can open my eyes to what I didn’t realize at home given my daily schedule. Recently my time at home has been terribly busy. As a result based on my experience I’m going to share the sensitivity to changes can be more difficult to determine.

Based on previous travels I know that heat & travel affect my blood sugars, that is a known fact. I understand that I need to accommodate to this. One elimination of variability is that Honduras is only one hour time difference. That does not seem to be enough to affect my blood sugars. The heat is a definite contributor to a higher risk of having a number of low blood sugars. Adding activities such as swimming & kayaking frequent testing & temporary basal rates on my insulin pump are essential to hopefully avoid or at least minimize the number and severity of low sugars.

With that being said I had one late evening & night that the lights were on but nobody was home. Upon coming to my ‘senses’ I was perplexed. My activity level & the heat didn’t seem to be enough to affect my levels for so long & so severe. Still, I have not been as active in the past number of months as I used to be & decided it was attributed to increased activity. Based on that, I didn’t make changes, I determined I needed to be more aggressive in how I set my temporary basal rates.
The next night was just as bad. But, I clued in. I reviewed my basal rates on my insulin pump. I suddenly came to the realization that from 6pm to 12am I had increased my rates a few weeks before leaving. I did so due to the fact my sugars were running too high for my goals. I made the changes due to the fact I thought it was from hormones.

The other variable which was the ultimate eye opener….I was getting frustrated with my current infusion site (Sure-T stainless steel 6mm by Medtronic). As a result, I switched back to the infusion site I had used for 8 years, the Silhouette by Medtronic. It ‘felt’ better.

With the low blood sugars I experienced I realized that the Sure-T was driving my basal rates higher due to the fact it was not always a good ‘fit’. It ‘clicked’ when I saw that my basal rate from 6pm-12am was 0.6u/h. I have NEVER ran a basal rate that high! When I switched back to the Silhouette my insulin needs were not as high due to the effective infusion of insulin it provided. With that, I ran into very serious low blood sugars I have not experienced in quite a long time.
Once I adjusted my basal rates & did what I usually do when travelling, all was good!!
After 38 years, I’m still learning how to live with diabetes. Always learning to live Beyond the Borders. Sharing with you so you can live with Diabetes Beyond Borders too!!