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Super comfy with a neckline of fake bling. This week’s #BlueFridays is here!

I’m all about being comfortable. Gone are the days where I would stuff myself into a dress way too tight for me or stay in an outfit that itched my skin.

My Blue Fridays thrift store find is all about being comfs! It’s cotton so it’s ultra soft and the neckline adds just a little punch that looks great in pictures.

Every Friday we wear blue to support those living with diabetes. How did this all start? It was the brains of Cherise Shockley. Check out her story here.

What blue are you wearing this Friday?

Xo,

J

150km in 2 days for Multiple Sclerosis #MSBike

Expect the unexpected. Isn’t that the motto when you have type 1 diabetes?

This was my second year taking part in this two-day event and I came much more prepared. I knew that no matter how much I planned, things probably wouldn’t go that way and THAT’S OKAY.

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When you’re out on the road for more than 3 hours each day, you start thinking. What really amazed me is that this time, I realized I was far more forgiving to myself. Skyrocketing blood sugar? It’s OKAY. Crashing low? It’s OKAY.

IT IS ALL OKAY. AND I’M OKAY.

What I love about doing the same races each year is that it acts as a marker. How far have I come since last year?

Here are some of my highlights of this event:

  • I cried the night before from the stress of the prep and the worry of new medication (non t1d related). How is this a highlight? Well it is because even though I shed some tears, I didn’t bash myself into the ground for doing so. I allowed myself to be accepting of my emotions and just went with the flow. Resisting and placing blame just makes the scenario that much harder. This is a lesson that has taken me years to learn.
  • My awesome cycling and t1d friend Steph Brodie was there and I got to see her cross the finish line on day 1. We only bumped into each other for a few minutes, but it totally made my day. Knowing other t1d’s were out there makes me feel so inspired.
  • During one of my pit stops I saw a fellow cyclist testing his bg’s. I couldn’t pinpoint the type of meter or if it actually was one but I leaned in and said, “Type 1?”. He responded yes and we had a great chat about never giving up and our mission to stay healthy. It ended there and we went our separate ways but before that, a quick, “Did you eat enough?” exchange that left me smiling for many hours after.

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The best part yet, I noticed these on my friend’s shoes. Her sister actually has type 1 (Hello Rebecca!). Co-incidence? I think not!

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What a difference a year makes.

More forgiveness. Less blame. And definitely, more riding.

To find out more about MS, click here.

XO,

Jess

Nike Women Toronto Facebook Page

The things I never thought. My Nike 15k recap, running with type 1 diabetes + other autoimmune fun

 

 

Source Nike Women Toronto Facebook Page

Source Nike Women Toronto Facebook Page

The Nike Toronto 15k took place a few weeks ago and I need to share with you some surprises that happened along the way. This was a great experience from my own personal health perspective in dealing with multiple autoimmune disease fun.

1. At the water stations, they provided Nuun. I have never used this before at a race but realized quickly that I needed it. According to the packet, each Nuun tablet has 13 grams of carbs, but was each tablet used per drink? I have no idea.

Lesson: Check to see what is offered at the race stations and try it out beforehand. My stomach doesn’t welcome everything with open arms so I lucked out that taking it in went smoothly.

Also, check if they water the carb drinks down (common practice). That can also mess up your calculations while you are pounding the pavement. Be assertive. Sometimes companies don’t like to admit how much they water down drinks but usually when you say your medical well being heavily depends on knowing this information (and it does), you can usually get a truthful answer.

2. Since I was on an island (Centre Island), it meant cooler temps with the water surrounding me. Add some nasty rain and chilly wind and it equalled out to be quite the bg dip before the race started. I downed a ton of carbs but nothing seemed to bring my levels up so I started a lot lower than I would have liked.

Lesson: Think of ALL weather factors and basically be a came and pack all your food, super extra food, if possible.

3. Take lows in stride. It’s easy to get frustrated quickly when you look down and see your CGM says….

Lesson: Enjoy the experience and think of it this way: You are running a race. Some people would never get the chance to do this, yet here you are, feeling the buzz of thousands around you getting active and building a sense of community. STOP AND TAKE IT IN.

Nike Women Toronto Facebook Page

Running where the planes take off! How cool is that!? Source: Nike Women Toronto Facebook Page

4. Okay, if I can help it, I rather pee in the bush than wait in line for the few port-a-potty’s that are out there on the course. I did not look as carefully as I had thought and when I crouched down a thorny needle-like plant went right into my inner thigh. Once I was done I quickly pulled up my pants and kept running but it hurt. A lot. Eventually it either fell out or I became numb to the pain. Either way…

Lesson: Pee carefully.

Nike Women Toronto Facebook Page

Nike Women Toronto Facebook Page

Overall, the race went well. I had to take some of my other neuro medication the night before (which makes me feel super lazy and feeling ‘hungover’ the next day) so I was thrilled with my efforts. And once I got into the groove… I took the time to stop and smell the roses.

XO,

Jess

 

Animas Canada has kindly chosen to support me with the Dexcom CGM as I continue to train for triathlons, cycling and running events. I believe in full transparency and appreciate that Animas Canada does not review or approve my blog posts. Please read the full disclosure here

Training this season with Lumiere, my continuous glucose monitor

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WHYYYYYYYYYYY!?!?!?

My mind screams it in anger. On good days, I yell it half-laughing.

It is the question I ask myself when I ate enough carbs to feed a small army before my workout and yet, here I go, tanking into low blood sugar abyss.

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This happens for mostly cycling and running these days. It seems like sometimes no matter what I consume, my body sticks its tongue out at me and says “Oh yeah? Watch this”.

I have purposely set my low alarm alert a bit higher so that I can be notified even earlier to try and adjust and avoid the lows.

Bonus? Drinking Coke. Mmmm I love regular Coke.

Minus? Frustration. The quick reaction to blame myself. I need to catch these sooner and just trust that hey, I’m doing what I can, and that’s all I can ask of myself.

These lows have changed how I train in that I carry more fuel (I am a human camel).

This season I realized how much I miss running with nothing. Just carrying absolutely nothing. No snacks, no belt, fanny pack, hydration pack. NOTHING.

To combat this, I found a loop near my house where I can set supplies down in a safe area and run free! The loops don’t bother me as I zone out when I run so this works for me. As for Lumiere, I do put him inside my running arm band (which I’m fine with). I feel seeing the same thing over and over is worth it to run without carrying as much and feeling that lightness.

I know they have golf carts that follow people around. Wonder if I can get some kind of contraption that does the same? I could carry my water, glucose tabs, bars, tester, CGM, insulin.

Am I dreaming? Maybe. But it’s fun to think about it.

XO,

J

Animas Canada has kindly chosen to support me with the Dexcom CGM as I continue to train for triathlons, cycling and running events. I believe in full transparency and appreciate that Animas Canada does not review or approve my blog posts. Please read the full disclosure here

Letting go of friendships after diabetes diagnosis. Q&A with Psychological Associate Michelle Sorensen

Q&A Michelle Sorensen

How do I mentally let go of some of the friendships that did not survive my diagnoses?  Still mourning, nothing left to say or do….

First of all, when someone is grieving they always have the right to distance themselves from those who cannot support them in the way they need to be supported. 

Sometimes it is not MORE support that is needed, but a DIFFERENT kind of support.  You can be surrounded by people but feel totally unsupported.

If being around someone who cannot support you in the way you need to be supported (with empathy and compassion) is upsetting, create distance when it is possible.  If you feel a little guilty doing so, don’t worry.  It is far better for you and for others if you choose a little guilt over a pile of resentment.

When angry, we do not want to turn against others (aggression) or turn inwards (bottling it all up). Asserting yourself may mean disclosing that you are hurt, disappointed or confused about their reaction. However, do not create expectations that this will change their behaviour. If you assert yourself, do it for you.  Even if the friend cannot respond with anything positive, feel proud of yourself that you were brave enough to be vulnerable and open up.  And then move forward and focus on building other relationships.

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As someone who is a long ways out of young adulthood and firmly entering middle age (!) I would advise to be careful about writing anyone important off completely.  The twenties and even thirties are full of major life changes and growth.  People are not the same (hopefully) at 40 as they are at 20.  I have friends who were amazing when I was diagnosed.  I still remember my friend Deb coming to get me from the hospital and to pick up my mom from the airport.  I remember my friends Diana and Jenn telling me that when they heard I was admitted to hospital and diagnosed, they cried on the phone together. 

I still tear up when I remember the relief of knowing some of my friends understood the severity of my situation.  However, I had friends caught up in their own lives who made insensitive comments, minimized diabetes, or hurt me in some way.  Some of them have had tough life experiences of their own since then or simply matured and now are so supportive.  I am really glad I kept them in my life, but just adjusted expectations or took breaks as needed.

I also know looking back, that being in my twenties made it hard to incorporate chronic disease into my identity because I was still figuring myself out!  When my husband came into my life, he challenged me to be less of a people pleaser and to look out for myself more.  His support and insight really helped me to realize that my expectations of others were largely a reflection of how much I expected out of myself.  Now that I am more compassionate towards myself, the behaviour of others impacts me less.  I always encourage my type 1 patients to “create more space in their lives for diabetes”…. being less stressed and less rushed, juggling fewer balls…  this all helps us to have more patience for diabetes and for other people.  It may be extra important for people with diabetes, but it is actually true for everyone.

Diabetes has given me so many life lessons.  I sometimes joke that I would be quite happy if I was cured now and could hang on to the life lessons and give the diabetes back!  As much as trying to manage the diabetes drives me crazy at times, I seriously doubt I would be a happier person if I had never been diagnosed.  Having a perfect HgA1C does not make people happy if they never worried about it in the first place!  So I will take my imperfect pancreas and make the best of it.

Thank You Michelle Sorensen

This is the third and final installment of my Q&A series with Michelle. Thank you for all of your time Michelle. You have taught me so much and hopefully others reading.

If you missed the first two, here they are!

Mentally overcoming the diabetes stigma. Q&A with Psychological associate Michelle Sorensen

What are the challenges specific to adults diagnoses? Psychological associate Michelle Sorensen answers.

XO,

J

Q&A Michelle Sorensen

Mentally overcoming the diabetes stigma. Q&A with Psychological associate Michelle Sorensen

This answer (which I heard a part of when I saw Michelle speak) really changed things for me. Big time.

I can’t even begin to describe to you how freeing her response is. Here we go, the next Q&A with Michelle :)

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Michelle Sorensen, M.Ed., Clinical Psychological Associate Member of the College of Psychologist

How to deal with acceptance of the stigma and the fact some people will say things that are not true?

Michelle: There are many layers of difficulty in living with Type 1 diabetes and this is a tough one to address. I have learned a few things that have helped me with this issue since being diagnosed at age 24.  A lot of my learning comes from the privilege of counselling other people with Type 1.  My patients have taught me so much and I often see some of myself in their stories.

Having a disability or disease that is associated with stigma presents us with the challenge of focusing on what we know to be true, versus the thoughts of others.  Sometimes we are up against not just misconceptions or stereotypes from others, but what they WANT to be true. 

Why would they want to blame people with diabetes or believe people caused their own disease?  Well, because then they can tell themselves they are safe, that this kind of life changing diagnosis couldn’t happen to them. It’s the same reason many of us want to know if someone smokes when we hear they are diagnosed with cancer.  It’s scary to hear about a peer being diagnosed with something out of the blue, and especially if they seem to be doing the right things and living a healthy life.  It makes us feel vulnerable and we don’t like that. 

Brene Brown, in her wonderful book, “The Gifts of Imperfection” writes about how she became more comfortable in her own skin, which is key to being more resilient against judgment from others: “I learned how to worry more about how I felt and less about ‘what people might think’. I was setting new boundaries and began to let go of my need to please, perform, and perfect”.

I can really relate to what Brene writes about.  I think diabetes forced me, in my twenties, to realize how much time and anxiety went into pleasing others.  I remember feeling stressed when I was newly diagnosed and recovering from the ordeal … but about things like not returning a phone call to a friend, or saying no when someone wanted to make plans.  Those things caused me more stress than many of the priorities I needed to focus on, like my schoolwork and my diabetes care.  But no one other than me was responsible for that stress.  It was all pressure I put on myself. 

People with Type 1 can and do accomplish great things.  However, it should always be about what makes us happy and creates moments of joy, not what impresses or pleases others.  if we please ourselves we will be far more tolerant when we perceive judgment or stigma from others.  If we are trying to please or impress others, then we will be very disappointed when they appear unkind. 

Thank You Michelle Sorensen

We all have a lot on the go, so a big huge thank you to Michelle for taking the time to answer my questions and provide support :D

Xo,

J

Check out my first Q&A with Michelle about being diagnosed with t1d as an adult here.