Type 1 Diabetes

“i just can’t” – my pancreas

this is quite an unusual way to start a blog. i would like to introduce myself: my name, my interests, pet peeves, aspirations, etc. however, given my written thoughts will be purposely geared towards my chronic condition, i will keep the conventional intro brief and swiftly move us into the reason for the season — why i even have words to share with you about type 1 diabetes. plus, i gather you’ll learn more about me as time goes on.

quick! here’s my conventional intro: hi! i’m Lourdes. i like to run and explore new places [sometimes, at the same time]. i have a type 1 diabetes and i wear an insulin pump.

today marks the day that i was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. well, approximately today. circa Thanksgiving 2003. [i googled it — 11/27/03, to be exact.]

i was a freshman at Tufts. i thought my first semester was treating me well. it wasn’t. until i was heading home for my very first Thanksgiving break, i started to reflect on the occurrences that marked my experience as troublesome. i recalled being in bed and randomly waking up in the middle of the night to discomforting charlie horses. i thought about the times when my friends and i would foolishly ridicule how i chugged liters of whatever liquid was available in my frequent moments of dehydration desperation. i walked around campus like a zombie, only to return to Houston Hall for frequent naps. i just knew that the state of being for all college freshman was that of endless exhaustion.

even though i had once known the symptoms of type 1 diabetes (e.g. frequent thirst and urination, decreased energy, etc), i had no clue what was happening to me. when i did have a clue, however, i was nervous. i did talk about it, to a few close friends. i told them: “i think i have diabetes.” i knew very little about the disease at that point. i knew a couple of close friends and family members that had it. i understood it wouldn’t go away. and i knew it involved needles. i mistakenly convinced myself that i’d be strong enough to handle that part, given i had long ago forced myself to look at needles while at the doctor’s office or at blood being drawn from my arm during blood drives. basically, i had no clue the impact that type 1 diabetes would have on my life. i comforted my friends and somehow, my own anxieties, by saying, “i’ll check my blood sugar on my dad’s meter and find out.” i was leaning on two things: (1) the truth is in the numbers and (2) no matter what, my parents will know what to do.

from Boston’s Chinatown to NYC’s Chinatown (before the Megabus days), i navigated my way back to South Orange, NJ for Thanksgiving break. it took hours before i built up the courage to ask, “Daddy, where’s your meter? think we can we check my blood sugar?” the first reading: TOO HIGH.  i’m pretty sure we washed my hands thoroughly before the second reading. while i don’t quite remember what the second reading said, it was just as alarming as the first. it messaged to my mom, my dad and i that we needed to seek further help. they calmly communicated to me that we should go to the emergency room. one might wonder — “how does the word ‘calm’ even exist in a sentence with ’emergency’?” their composure was impressive. they did know what to do.

on the way to the hospital, i reeked of extreme angst.

we did a lot of waiting. i was laying down on a cot in the hallway – feeble, starved, and worn. it was early morning by the time the doctor returned. i had hoped that i’d get the go to finally eat something, at the least. i was only allowed sugar-free jello. while i didn’t mind the taste, it just didn’t fill me up. at best, i’d be able to head home with some medicine. instead, the doctor had a grand announcement for us: a number.

948 mg/dL

9

4

8

he didn’t have to spell it out for us. we knew. 948 was shockingly high.

10x the normal range ( 80-120 mg/dL)

needless to say, i didn’t head home that night. before anything could happen, i needed insulin. right there, in the hallway, the doctor whipped out a huge syringe. i wailed in fear and then, in extreme pain. the insulin cut through my legs. the sharp pain tormented me. i moaned loudly and cried helplessly. my mother held my hand.

it was all a blur from there. hospitalization overshadowed the family festivities. i was in a haze of shock, disbelief and denial. i could not shake away the shame. while i craved the comfort from my friends and family, i couldn’t stand for them to see me so weak. i also didn’t know if i could handle any more questions or any more visitors. i was already overwhelmed by the countless amounts of doctors coming in and out of my hospital room. they had so much pertinent information to share, i’m sure. i tried to listen. i tried my best to learn. but how could i? all my thoughts were leading to one question: “why?”

as you have read, my diagnosis is no story of glory. the triumph arrives later. to be honest, it comes and it goes. the will to overcome this challenge has been a journey and will continue to be. each and every year, i am thankful for life. i am thankful for the strength born out of managing this condition for 14 years. and today, i can [even though my pancreas can’t]. i can deal with the highs and the lows that accompany this chronic disease.  i can manage my type one diabetes. i can even fully recognize that there will be moments or days that “i just can’t.” most importantly, i can share this journey with you all. i’m celebrating my 14th dia-versary by giving myself the gift of expression. my diabetes-related truths and experiences. my highs and my lows. my aspirations and my setbacks. my path to pancreatic glory [via my insulin pump, of course]. oh, and my journey to running my 3rd marathon [waitfor it. wait for it…. next blog entry!].

P.S. i often like to write in lowercase letters. then, i don’t have to slide my pinky finger to hold down the shift button. haha. what can i say? i’m just as lazy as my pancreas.

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a tired T1D

Do you ever wake up from hours of ZzZzzZZ’s and ask yourself, “Why am I still tired?”

That’s what I did this morning.

After a Thursday of non-stop relaxation and intermittent napping and THEN, bedtime at 9:30pm, it was a wonder to me how I could be so tired this Friday morning. I woke up to an alarm around 5:13am (cause it’s so much more fun to set random times).

No motivation to move.

I’m a morning person, so these occurrences bewilder me.

In simultaneous worry and curiosity, I recall that I have Type 1 Diabetes. [Ha. I often forget.]

Of course, I couldn’t just be tired just for the sake of being tired. Not with T1D. I know this feeling. I must be HI, I think to myself. Perhaps, I didn’t give myself enough insulin last night when I bloused at bedtime? If that’s the case, I feel like I have a chance at redemption. I could correct this HI, get more sleep and wake up later to a BS in the normal range.

I energize myself enough to (1) go to the bathroom and (2) check my blood sugar.

157 mg/dL

Cool.

i AM (just) tired.

Back to sleep anyway.

I woke up again at 6:something am.

10 more minutes. I promised myself I’d get up just minutes before my favorite café opens, so I could throw on some sweats and get there in time for the doors to open. Be the first customer. [There’s something so lovely to having the first pick to any seat in the house.]

That would’ve been ideal. But, after the 10 minutes were up, I convinced myself that I need to listen to my body. So, I slept alarm-less. I am blessed to be able to do that these days.

8:08am. I stretched and jumped out of bed. Still somewhat bereft of energy.

124 mg/dL

::prayer hands::

I am humbled to experience this – having assumed that diabetes is impacting my energy levels, my affect, my life. And it totally wasn’t.

I am humbled to experience this – this moment when I am more than my Type 1 Diabetes.

I am just me.

Tired af.

Type 1 Diabetes, Uncategorized

i can T1Day: meeting other T1Ds

i am my happiest when i meet people with Type 1 Diabetes.

i mean, i’m pretty darn happy to meet others too. but, with my T1Ds, whether they feel similarly or not (ha!), i sense an instantaneous and intense jubilation. i mean… we’re extraordinarily connected by this situation we have going on with our lazy @%$ pancreases. you know? it’s not everyday that you run into someone that ALSO has insulin pump tubing hanging out of their pocket!

well, ladies and gents. today, someone in my vicinity was talking about the Whole 30 program while heating up her breakfast. and then, all of sudden, out of nowhere, it popped up! she stated, “because I have Type 1 Diabetes…”

my ears PERKed up. i hardly heard anything before or after those magical words. i immediately interjected the conversation (so uncouth, i know): “I have Type 1 Diabetes TOO!”

i was GLOWing with joy and curiosity and ironically enough, she didn’t seem to care. i shared some chuckles with my colleague as i commented, “Guess I’m the only one who’s excited about that!”

call me persistent or plain ole annoying, but i couldn’t let it go that i happen to randomly be around one another T1D and could talk T1D shop. so, when she finished yapping about her breakfast (in my head: hurrrrrryyy up, lady!), i swooped in again, but this time with a question: “Do you go to the Joslin Center?” i was in the Boston area today and given i have ties to Joslin, it was the perfect conversation startahhh :::in my best Bostonian accent:::

and BOOM. conversation. connection. fulfillment.
cause who else can i talk to about endocrinologists and T1D support groups?

i believe that everyone serves a purpose in your life – you’ve heard that before, right? People come into your life for a reason, season or a lifetime? well, this lady popped into my life for a reason. out of that conversation, i learned about the JDRF’s TypeONE Summit. i did a little research minutes later and found out that every region holds this one-day event. more importantly, my region would be holding it SOON. in exactly one month away from today.

i signed up! and can’t wait to attend. i assume my cheeks will hurt by the end of the day, given the overwhelming amounts of glee i’ll be experiencing by being surrounded by other T1Ds 🙂

 

Type 1 Diabetes, Uncategorized

i can T1Day: 2018 Goals (Pt 1)

Happy Monday! We’ve survived the first week of January, y’all! Of course, I’ve been wanting to share my 2018 goals. I have many and feel SUPER capable of achieving them all. #goaldigger

There’s two that I really want to tell you about. I’ll start with the first one today 🙂

GOAL: Run the 2018 Chicago Marathon in under 5 hours.
Ideally, 4:45, but I seriously would be content with anything under 5hrs.

This will be my third marathon. I’m pretty proud of my previous two endeavors, struggling to the finish line of a 26.2 mile journey, 16 week training included. I read some random 2016 statistic that stated that only .5% of the US population run a marathon. I’m a part of that very unique subset of maniacs. And the fact that I accomplished it with T1D makes me the proudest.

Interestingly enough, it’s never been about all the external perks. Those pictures that they stamp out with the corporate logo (left) so youMedalFinisherNYC2016 can actually purchase them sans watermark – those don’t matter to me. Ha! And truth be told — those watermarks never stopped me from posting on (all) my social media accounts. The medal is gratifying at the end – when they hand it to you, congratulating you as you huff and puff your way back to a normal heart rate. But, what a fleeting joy. Especially when you realize it’s one more thing to carry on the post-race trek to warm quarters. AND where do you store your medals afterwards?! Or do you display them? Still trying to figure that part out. Finally, as an ever failing, but still aspiring minimalist, why would those t-shirts ever be useful to me? Months beforehand, I had already purchased running gear as motivation to get going aka not perish on the course. Anybody with me?! C’MON A new sports bra is more than just physical support. I’ve got dry fit gear for the summer AND the winter runs.

So what’s the real perk of running a marathon?

Let’s start at the beginning. The original impetus to run was born out of the idea of getting healthy on a budget. I put two and two together:
(1) Running: It’s [basically] free when you think about it! You can run anywhere and anytime. Early in the morning or after work. It’s available to you right outside your door – rain, snow or sunshine. Sort of. If you don’t count all the speciality running products that will entice you at every Fleet Feet, race convention, etc. Got some time, some sneaks and sweats? Perfect. Go run outside and get exercise for free. It wasn’t the easiest concept after spring and summer passed. but with some self-pep talks and inspiration from Pinterest and others that have done it before, I conquered the winter run. I did it for FREE in 18 degree weather.

(2) Any type of movement led to lowered blood sugars. It wasn’t working in my 1:1 training sessions very well – I often felt like I was disappointing my trainer every time we scheduled an hour session and I physically couldn’t perform, given a movement-induced low blood sugar. With running, I could troubleshoot the highs and the lows, everything in between and the insulin dosages on my own time. And generally, running l

I started with 5Ks, 10-milers and half marathons. In the back of my mind, I kept pondering the possibility of a marathon. Back in 2004 when my alma mater was enlisting students to join the Tufts President’s Boston Marathon team, there was NO way that I could believe in the possibility. The thought terrified me. I was wired with disbelief and doubt. Note: I was also only in year 1 of having Type 1 Diabetes.

All of this to say – I’ve always done this for myself. makeyouproudThe real perk is to prove to ME that I am capable of even the “impossible” – running a marathon with T1D.

My first runs were defeating: low blood sugars in the middle of a long route. finishing off my last bites of carbs and not knowing if that would suffice. playing around with my basal rates. also, stopping a run often for the emergency of a low blood sugar’s uncontrollable jitters. As time progressed, so did my running with T1D acumen. i carried a fanny pack with carbs. i realized i needed to check my blood sugar after a solid 5 miles. i experimented with basal rates, pre-run snacks and more. and above all, i got rid of the doubt and embraced the possibility.

Initially, the goal has always been to simply finish. And it was a reasonable goal to set for my first go at this extraordinary 26.2 mile experience. Second time around, it was to finish in less time than before – nothing specific. But for the third time, I aspire for more.

MarathonGoal

Let me state it again: My goal is to run the Chicago marathon in under 5 hours.

And again: My goal is to run the Chicago marathon in under 5 hours.

And if there’s (1) a riveting crowd calling out my name on the course OR (2) an amazing shot of me in all my sweaty glory that a photographer snaps along the course, then that’ll be a nice bonus 🙂

Type 1 Diabetes, Uncategorized

150 on 1/5

i woke up with a BS of 150 mg/dL this morning. it’s slightly elevated. (for those that don’t know or might need a reminder, the normal range is 80-120 mg/dL). but let’s be real —  anything in the 100s (under 180 or so) symbolizes success for me.

150 mg/dL – that absolutely encourages me. it keeps me motivated every night moving forward to continue doing “the right next thing”: check my blood sugar before I fall asleep and take action. Sounds so easy, right? it’s like brushing your teeth before you go to bed. just one of those things that you do. not the easiest when you’re already laying in bed though. i repeat: i’m just as lazy as my pancreas. and note: there’s so many factors involved in the decision to give myself insulin overnight. i’m petrified of blousing too much insulin & waking up from the trembles of a low blood sugar (or worse, not feeling the low in my slumber). needless to say, i’m conservative with my nighttime insulin dosages. i struggle to “bolus aggressively”, as my endocrinologist so plainly recommended, especially at night! last night, in consideration of my evening run (2 miles), i pumped for (a little under) half the amount of insulin. i’ll just half it next time, instead of shaving off another one tenth or two tenths of a unit.

Type 1 Diabetes

heading to the endo

i’m heading to a doctor’s appointment today. it used to feel like doomsday every time i had an appointment.* today feels slightly different.

today’s endocrinologist appointment was originally set for mid-November. i actually called the office and pushed it back in attempt to get an extra month of better blood sugars (ha!), which would ultimately serve as 1/3 of my readings for my A1C (a measure of one’s blood sugars over a 3 month period). clever, eh? here’s the thing: i’m not so sure that plan will work out. for whatever reason [holiday season + all the other excuses i could make up], i was not as focused on ensuring i had the best of the best blood sugars over the last month. i remember perking up every time i saw a reading between 80-120 mg/dL, most likely because it was not the norm. i also recall bolusing for HI readings.

what i’m trying to say is that my A1C will not be impressive by any standards this time around. in July, i was at a 8.9, down from a 8.4 in April. for me, it is not okay by any means to see this rise in A1Cs. BUT, i don’t want to and i will not beat myself up for slippage when i’ve made so much progress in 2017 around mindset (choosing Type 1 Diabetes), healthy eating habits (eliminating refined sugars) and diabetic moves (checking my BS often).  i will use the data to reflect on 2017 and then, move forward and refocus in 2018. improving my health is no quick fix. it is a journey. and this endo appointment is just one stop along the way.

how do YOU feel about going to your endo?

 

 

 

* varied by quality of endocrinologist. i’ve honestly only had two endos that have significantly contributed to improved numbers. quality endos – that’s a topic for another blog post!

Type 1 Diabetes, Uncategorized

smoothies and strategy

here’s the thing with buying smoothies vs. making them in your own kitchen! i wonder: “how many freakin’ carbs are in here?” and usually, unless you purchase an item from a franchise or it’s a packaged item with nutrition facts, there’s no concrete answer to this question. that’s where carb counting and guesstimating skills come into play. i tend to not use those skills as often as i should. case in point: despite my endocrinologist’s only advice, “bolus aggressively”, i pumped conservatively for the seasonal pumpkin-inspired smoothie i purchased at Raw Raleigh, one of my favorite juice spots in downtown Raleigh. so of course, a million slurps later and i find myself at a whooping 390. high af.

i know. i know. i should’ve given myself MORE insulin. the thing is — i’m dreadfully terrified of low blood sugars, specifically the kind that suddenly jolt your insides with a case of the trembles and overturns all thoughts and actions into desperation, panic and fear. phew. i have snacks on hand 99.9% of the time to appropriately deal with these lows. i just don’t like them. and try my best to avoid them, especially in cases when i know i’ll be moving around a lot (e.g. lugging my carry-on from long-term parking through security and to my gate). two things about avoiding this low that i can acknowledge after the fact: (1) perhaps i overestimated the physical activity – there wasn’t that much movement and (2) excuses aside — i should’ve given myself more insulin. bolus aggressively, they say. i’d like to think of it as bolus strategically. for instance, actually do some research, ask the staff some questions about ingredients and attempt to make an informed guesstimate.

it’s slowly coming down. i’m sitting at my airport terminal wrapping up some loose ends for work. afterwards i’ll be taking a lap around RDU’s Terminal 2. that’ll help bring my blood sugar* down even more!

even given the midday high BS, i’m feeling present to my readings, to the way elevated levels impact my energy, and to the adjustments i need to make in the moment. i can T1Day.

 

———-

* from here on forth, i will refer to blood sugar as BS. sometimes it can stand for blood sugar. and other times, i could really be referring to it as some bullshit. cause cursing is always fun, no?