I’m in! Runner’s World Run Streak #RWRunStreak

I remember my marathoner cousin telling me about this last year. The Runner’s World Run Streak. 

From Thanksgiving to New Years.

One mile.

Every day.

No excuses.

I told her I run through the winter so I didn’t feel the need to do it. For me, the weather is no obstacle. My runners have gone through ice, rain, hail and storms.

photoA shot during my run last Sunday.

My friend Anne Marie gave a good reminder on her website about it. Forgetful me!

This year I’m heading away to PA for the holidays, and will have a pretty jam packed schedule. Also with full days in the city, I thought the #RWRunStreak would prove challenging this season.

So off to the races! Well, with myself.

Are you going to take the challenge? If running every day isn’t too realistic now, have a look at Anne Marie’s twist to the challenge. It’s friendly for every activity level. Try it out and make sure to keep her in the loop if you decide to do it.

Happy running in the fluffy white stuff,

Jessie

The needle you don’t inject yourself. Flu shot anyone?

Another needle for you. Another for me.

Before my vacation I had a meeting with my diabetes team at the hospital. My nurse Sue said I HAD to get the flu shot.

“How about I get it after my trip? Last time I got the flu shot years ago I got very sick.”

I ended up getting it yesterday at my local Shoppers Drug Mart, almost a week since I returned back from my vacay. It took less than 10 minutes, quick and easy. I didn’t know this but now every Shoppers Drug Mart in Ontario offers the flu shot.

After my jab, I Instagramed this photo:

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Thank you to everyone who responded to my photo on IG! It was interesting, as I’m a newbie type one diabetic, to hear the wide range of comments about the flu shot. Some of you said you wouldn’t go without it and others made it clear you would never take it again.

A few months ago I came down with the flu and it was terrible. It was three weeks before I got back to my old self. The nasty bug also threw my half-marathon training out of whack. This was my first big sickness since getting diagnosed and the awful feeling was one I never wanted to experience again. That, coupled with my nurse’s advice, is why I decided to get the shot this year.

Does your diabetes team advocate for the flu shot? Do you take it? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Sore arms (from today’s workout, not the shot),

Jessica

Skin conditions & diabetes. Did you notice any changes in your skin after diagnosis?

ImageThis was my wrist a few days ago.  

I like to play a little game with myself when I’m in uncomfortable situations. There’s no real system to it. I barter in my own head about situations I’d rather not be in.

Example. 

I would eat 15 anchovies if it would get me to the front of this line.  

I’m so hungry I would pay $100 for an apple. 

Yesterday I found myself saying, “I will do ANYTHING to make this itching stop!”

About a month ago I started to get red bumps on the inside of my wrists. The strange thing about it is that after being itchy for 15-30 minutes, it would go away. The skin irritation would come and go but a few days ago, it began to spread all over my body. 

I went to see my GP and he said that it’s most likely not an allergic reaction to say, my MedicAlert bracelet or the material of my clothing or the bumps would be there all the time. I did some blood tests and am now awaiting the results. 

My doctor says with certainty that it’s hives and that it might be a side effect of some oral medication I’m taking. We won’t know until the blood results come in. 

In the meantime, I want to take a fork and go to town on my skin. He suggested taking allergy medication and I think tonight I’m going to take it because I’m getting very very uncomfortable. When the hives flare up, it’s really bad news bears. 

Have you noticed any changes in your skin after your diabetes diagnosis? 

Trying not to scratch,

Jessica

Testing your blood glucose levels in public: overcoming the fear

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I’m at a point now where I test and inject in public all the time. I’d say 90% of the time if I’m at the dinner table, grabbing coffee with a girlfriend or watching a movie, I’m not moving a muscle to do what I got to do. 

Rewind to last year when I was diagnosed, I felt more comfortable in the washroom. To test. To inject. But it became, for me, inconvenient. I found it difficult to be in a tiny stall trying to toggle my purse and juggle my d-accessories that I didn’t want touching any surface. If I didn’t have to leave where I was, why should I? However, getting to the point where I can freely do my diabetes thing in the open didn’t come easy. 

There are still moments where I choose not to be public about it (around people I haven’t told, and times where I don’t want questions). But those times are few and far between. 

I asked my good friend Ed whom I see weekly, “Do you notice when I test and inject?” 

He barely does. And he’s so used to it now it doesn’t phase him at all if he does. I’m also really quick about it too so that’s a bonus. 

I run with Ed and during our walk breaks I’m tested and done in a flash. Of course, this took some time, but once I got it, it was easy peasy. I’ve yet to master testing while still riding my road bike, but as for running and testing without stopping, I’m getting it! 

Confession: I’ve had my meter go flying and had many failed testing attempts in the beginning. It’s frustrating and it can feel like it’s just too much trouble but it’s worth it. I go back to that old saying, “You do what you gotta do”. 

Exercising and testing

I think part of how I became used to the idea of testing out in the open is because of the lifestyle I refuse to give up. I’m always moving. On a bike. In the pool. At dance class. I like to train, and train hard. But with that comes potential lows, and when you push or are out there for 2+ hours, things can go sour and go sour fast. 

Especially when I was first diagnosed, I was getting frequent lows. Last winter it was really difficult to understand what my body was trying to tell me. I run outdoors all winter. Snow, wind, hail, not much really stops me. But with varying weather elements, prolonged cardio activity and the host of other factors that come with juggling healthy levels, it’s a tough go if you are trying to hide your testing. 

Here are some of the perks of telling people you train with about your diabetes

  • IT’S THE SAFEST WAY TO WORK OUT. PERIOD. I wasn’t comfortable telling people and there are still people as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, that don’t even know I have type 1 diabetes. However when it comes to exercise, the people who train with me all know. You are trying to juggle what you ate, how much insulin you took, the weather, stress, your time of the month, the list goes on and on. There is a lot of uncertainty, and I personally don’t want another unknown variable in the equation. Tell people and then you don’t have to worry about it. It’s a good feeling. And remember, there are lots of other people out there with health conditions, dripping sweat on their MedicAlert bracelets. You aren’t the only one with medical concerns, even though it feels like it.
  • Your training buddies will be prepared in case of emergency and can alert others of your condition. After a training day which included swimming, biking and running I went low during my triathlon clinic. I was lucky the people around me knew the symptoms. They rushed me to the hospital and I avoided a lot of headache and well, body ache because of it. 
  • You WILL meet other type 1’s or 5.5’ers. I’m continually surprised at how many people know someone with type 1 diabetes. It’s more than you think! I found out my friend’s niece has type one and her sister was actually part of the same run club. My other friend’s sister has type 1 (she is now my go-to training buddy. I’m rooming with her for my big 150km bike ride next year to stay safe). Connecting with others who know a bit about the type one game can help you learn more. You can find out what other tips and tricks others use to stay active and safe. Knowledge is power. 
  • It’s a chance to educate. I find diabetes is the common talk when I’m around, and that’s okay. A lot of people tell me I’m inspiring, which I find very odd, but also very flattering. I usually don’t know what to say and kind of cower in awkwardness but I feel it’s a chance to educate people about what type 1 is, why I continue to do what I do, and explain all the things I have to do to keep active and safe. I think it provides a glimpse into my world. I’ve had many exercise friends tell me, “I’m going to tell person x about you, they told me they’ve been struggling with their diabetes”. And it doesn’t matter if they are type 1, 2, MODY, LADA. Knowing there are other diabetics out there being healthy and never giving up is important. I have a pretty open door policy. I always offer my e-mail address or give this website out in hopes of helping others. 
  • Show them what you got. You’re crossing the finish line of races, killing your PB and lifting more than you ever thought possible. You don’t know it but you can be a role model to others. Yes my pancreas is broken but my spirit is far from it and I can do whatever race, whatever distance. As long as I believe it, I can do it. Show others how strong you are, and trust me, even if they don’t come up to you, there are people watching and secretly saying, “She can do it, I can do it”. Diabetes or no diabetes. 

Here is my personal strategy and what I’ve found (so far) that works for me. Everyone is different and my game plan is constantly changing but for now, this is what it is: 

1. Eat around 30 grams of carbs an hour or an hour and a half before exercising (which for me, a session is typically 1-2 hrs long. No  fast-acting insulin. 

2. Carry one water bottle with eLoad Endurance Formula which for me, works well in elevating my blood sugars but not sending me over 8 or 9’s. I sip this throughout my workout. If I’m biking, I always carry two water bottles with eLoad. I’ve tried different powdered drinks with carbs and find this works best for me. Find out what works best for you. 

3. If I’m doing any kind of cardio, I will test before and then every 30-45 minutes. 

4. Test after. I never skip this as I’m usually driving home. Any level below 5 mmo/L you can’t drive! And you never know how your blood sugar levels will dip after so best to be safe before starting the engine. 

Never hesitate to stop and test. If you’re feeling off, dizzy, just test. You are better off knowing. I really hope to nab a CGM soon. I think it would make a world of difference for me. 

What is your game plan? How do you feel about testing in public and how do you tackle testing and exercising? 

With love and testing at a coffee shop downtown,

Jessica 😀

Recap: WDD & my first overseas trip with type 1 diabetes

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The night before my trip I was very nervous about flying. I didn’t want any complications going through customs and the thought of potentially ruining my vacation with delays just lingered around me.

This was my first vacation with type 1 diabetes and drumroll….I couldn’t have asked for a better one.

Airport security: I took everything out of my backpack and had all my goodies in clear bags. I had my letter in tow and as suspected, my basket of needles was halted, reversed and brought through the conveyer belt. I carried a juice box with me and the security guard said, “You’re diabetic?”

“Yes, here’s my letter.”

She didn’t look at my medical note. She took my juice box, scanned it on that fancy machine which has a name I’m not sure of, and off I went. I was thrilled. I hugged my friend and said, “I did it!”. It was a huge sigh of relief.

I knew I was spending World Diabetes Day away from home. I didn’t know how to celebrate, all I knew is that I wanted to be peaceful and happy, and to reflect on this past year with lots of pride of what I accomplished.

Right before my trip I got this wonderful surprise from insulindependence. I had a big smile on my face when I read the handwritten note from Desirae.

World Diabetes Day

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My new t-shirt went right into my suitcase, as did my Connected in Motion race shirt.

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INbeach

On WDD I donned both tops, wore my pin and celebrated with quiet thoughts about what transpired over the past year.

It has been definitely a rough and often dark time since I was diagnosed. However during WDD and for the rest of my trip, I felt rejuvenated and inspired. I’ve got big goals for my fitness and health this coming year.

I’m going to dedicate more time to weight training, train hard for my second half-marathon and try to find more ways to help other type 1 diabetics here and around the world.

As for my blood sugar levels on my trip, I had one low. That’s it. I floated around my 4-8 range as usual and felt great! I took next to no insulin because of all of the activity. I checked less (I’m usually pricking 15+ times a day), and it was wonderful! I think because of the setting I was able to relax about my diabetes more.

So after a week of relaxation, swimming with sharks and eating amazing tropical fruits, I’m back ready to push it at the gym. I’m ready to crush my health goals!

Suntanned and happy,

Jessica 🙂

World Diabetes Day Postcard Exchange

 

I’m a big fan of snail mail. I was on the Connected in Motion Facebook page when I saw they posted about the World Diabetes Day Postcard Exchange. The concept is quite simple: create handmade postcards and send them to other people within the diabetic community. The WDD Postcard Exchange fairies help connect people for the project. I’ve got four people I’ve sent cards to in the United States and one in Spain! I had a lot of fun making these.

I also walked to the post office instead driving. 40 minutes of brisk walking. Yay! I was feeling icky today so it was a nice way to get some fresh air while I was able to get moving.

Hands covered in paint. Sticky fingers from using school glue. Next year I’m going to come up with ideas a bit earlier. I’m excited to get my letters too. As you can see, my creations show my ummm child-like visions?

Did you participate? I think I’ll be participating each year. It’s such a fun way to get artistic while feeling connected to others around the world.

Happy crafting,

Jessica

What it’s like to be the only Chinese type 1 diabetic you know

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Every time I go to a type 1 diabetes-related event, my heart breaks a little.

Not just because I have type 1 diabetes, which I am learning is a disease that breeds champions, but because I am consistently one of very few if not the only Asian person there. In Canada. In Toronto. A city that is touted for being one of the most multi-cultural places in the world.

In fact I’ve been hard-pressed to find a significant representation of any visible minorities during the events I’ve attended. Mind you, I haven’t been to a ton of these things, maybe 10, but for me it’s enough to know that when I go in the future, chances are, I stand alone. And, if I ever do get the chance to see another visible minority out there, I apologize in advance, but I’m going to want to befriend you very quickly and in all likelihood will try and hug you towards the end of whatever session we are attending.

I attended my first JDRF adult support group meeting last night, and I asked the entire group, “Do you know anyone who is Asian with type 1 diabetes?”

Silence. Then the JDRF rep piped up to say she did know Asian families with children who have type 1. Okay, so they are children and I’m an adult (I was diagnosed at 29). However, it was enough to give me a little boost.

Once the meeting was over, she came back to me and said, “Now that I think about it, the kids are mixed with one Asian parent.”

I can’t explain why but I was a disappointed when she said that. Let me be very clear, if I’m not seeing anyone out at support groups because I am really one of a very very small group of people who are Asian and have type 1, I am totally fine with that. But I really don’t think that is the case.

I’m not going to say that Chinese Canadians are the only group of people who, in general, don’t speak openly about illness. That would be very ignorant. There are a myriad of cultures and subcultures that hold beliefs which make speaking about illness in an open fashion a very difficult task.

Explaining to people you have type 1 diabetes is not easy. You need to mentally prepare for what it means to take this next step: the questions, the myths, people’s wild assumptions, clarifying stereotypes, the pity party you did not ask for, and the worst, that look and sigh, as if to say, “Sorry your life sucks”. For me this is an emotional and taxing process which requires a lot of strength, courage and sheer willpower.

I’ve done it before, so I know what it’s like. I waited a month before telling my parents. I did this in part because I wanted more of a concrete answer to what I had (they initially diagnosed me with type 2 diabetes), and in all honesty, I needed the time to mourn. And although in my heart of hearts I knew this wasn’t the case, I still felt I had let them down somehow. I felt I would be outcast, unwanted and unloved. And my parents are the most wonderfully supportive parents I know of. Yet I still felt this way. I still struggle with these thoughts all the time. I secretly cry about it still. I’m working on it.

I understand and sympathize as to why people believe it’s important to keep illness a secret. I must, because I’ve spent a good chunk of this past year trying to break my own head out of that belief system.

There’s no place in this entry to explain all the different types of belief systems that lead people to live with illness in silence. I’ll leave that up to you to decipher. And it’s by no means a finger point to any of the cultures that hold these beliefs either.

People who have diabetes or any kind of illness need support. I think it’s fair to say the greater the support, the better chance at a greater quality of life. How do you garner support when no one knows? One of the biggest reliefs I felt was when I met people who also had type 1 diabetes.

No one wants to feel alone. Loneliness is a dark and scary road. I don’t know about you, but I feel a lot better going to battle with an army of people beside me than carrying the load by myself. Knowing people rally behind me gives me strength to move forward and to tackle life’s challenges.

If you are out there, Chinese type 1 diabetics, or anyone living with an illness tucked neatly in your jacket pocket, please know you are not alone.

You are not alone.

Jessica

Please feel free to e-mail me with 100% confidentiality at t1dactiveliving @ icloud.com (take out spaces).