The Body Shutdown: Feeling Like Your Body is Telling You to Die

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Last night, I think I consumed an all-time high of carbs. I was slurping in Coke with a straw, my lips barely able to grasp the stupid thing. Candy, chocolate, you name it, I ate it.

My stomach was churning and I just laid on my couch, feeling the energy being sucked right out of me.

That’s when things got weird. I’m not sure if I ever felt this way before (maybe I blocked it out of my mind), but last night, I felt my body shutting down slowly.

Breathing became eerily calm and slow. My body felt light and airy. My physical body felt defeated.

It was over an hour before I felt like something inside me sparked and back I came. This was one of the most frightening experiences. And yet today, if you saw me, it was like nothing ever happened.

This. is. invisible. illness.

Testing your blood glucose while running

I assume those reading my blog have no issue with blood. But just in case it freaks you out…

1. Don’t hang out with diabetics

2. Ignore the photo below.

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I’ve been keeping up with my Runner’s World Run Streak (running a minimum of 1 mile every day from American Thanksgiving to New Years).

Today’s run proved bloody. 

It was a “feels like -11 degrees celsius” morning. When I hit the road at about 8:30 a.m. all was well. I got enough sleep, ate the exact same breakfast and was ready to go. Nothing out of the ordinary.

On Thursday I had a bad hypo at 2.7 mmoL (48 mg/dl) in all likelihood to overestimating my dinner carb count. However on Friday morning I was at 16 mmoL (288 mg/dl) before my morning gym session after breakfast. I usually float between 4-8 mmoL, so this 16 out of no where was very surprising and since my control is super tight, it made me feel very very ill. Don’t think I’ve been 16 since I was diagnosed. I also start to get anxious when I see anything above 9 mmoL (which is rare). I hope that puts into perspective as to what the 16 was like for me. My pancreas seems to be on the fritz. Maybe the honeymoon is coming to an end?

So fast forward to this morning’s run. Before I started I was at 7 mmoL (126 mg/dl). Perfect, exactly where I typically need to be.

I checked about 40 minutes into my 12km run (7.46 miles) and my Bayer Contour USB meter said it was too cold to test. I get frustrated with this because my OneTouch Ultra Mini had no problem in the same temperature. With my gloves on I held my USB meter for about 2 minutes and tried to test again. Finally it worked and I lucked out with solid blood.

2.2 mmoL (39 mg/dl).

Problem is I felt fine. Luckily I was carrying a nice full roll of Lifesavers so I started scarfing down about 8 of them. When it came time to test 15 minutes later, I just couldn’t get the meter to read my blood. As you can see, I tried as many fingertips I could muster. The blood came out watery. I tried letting my fingers dry outside my glove (which made my hands cold but that doesn’t matter really unless it’s extremely cold to the point of danger). It still did little and the blood came out “watery”. Testing on the palm? Tried it, still watery. The gloves came off for 5 minutes before testing and the blood was still coming out “watery” and my meter said it wasn’t able to read it.

I find it a bit difficult to get a good system going when testing. I’ve been trying for months now to test smoothly while running and although I’ve gone out well over a hundred times, it’s still awkward. This is what I use:

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  • SpiBelt to carry all my glucose stuff
  • 1 container of test strips
  • Blood glucose tester
  • Finger pricker
  • 4 Dex4’s
  • Insulin pen
  • Granola bar

I’ve tried many belts and this one sits the best on me while I run. I find no difference in how I can handle testing while running with this belt compared to others so I opt for the comfort of the SpiBelt when I’m out on the road.

My routine: 

1. Turn belt so the pouch faces forward, unzip.

2. Take out strip container, grab one strip, hold in teeth, put container back.

3. Take out meter and place strip in appropriate slot.

4. Hold meter in left hand and take out pricker and use with right hand and stab self (usually left index finger).

5. Switch meter from left to right hand and try to gather blood.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dropped strips, had my meter go flying and just overall got so flustered by the process. When I’m running for time or with a group I don’t want testing to be such a chore, and so awkward. I practice testing on treadmills and out on the road but I’m still not getting it. It doesn’t feel right.

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Here’s what I need your expertise on: 

What is YOUR method for testing while running? What has made it easier for you? Faster?

How do you make sure your blood isn’t watery? Today left me frustrated and when the blood wouldn’t stop pouring out I just left it to air dry (which made a few people look twice as they ran past me). I really want to make testing while running a lot easier but seem to be stumped as to what to do.

Happy winter running and your help is much appreciated,

Jessie

I’m a newly diagnosed type 1 diabetic who loves to exercise. Welcome to my unpredictable world.

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When I found out I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the first thing I said to myself was, “I’m not going to give up my exercise regime!”

It was a shock to find out after 29 beautiful years together, my pancreas function wanted out.

First off, way to be a quitter. I’ve invested a lot in keeping you and the rest of my body healthy. What gives? Maybe I took you for granted. I took a lot of things for granted actually. I just assumed you and the rest of my body would just “work”. But I guess not. And secondly, stop coming back for short bits of time and then leaving again. Either you are in or out. I don’t like this wishy-washy fling we’re having. I don’t know why it’s called honeymooning. This is no honeymoon.

Okay, back to exercising and being a newly diagnosed type 1 diabetic.

The biggest problem I face with any type of training is going low (the technical term is hypoglycemia). It has been a very long process and I am by no means at a point where I’ve found the answer on how to work out without going low. I do accept that no matter how much I prepare or try to prevent lows, they will inevitably happen.

In the year and some since I’ve been diagnosed I have been to hospital once over  hypogylcemia  involving exercise. I swam, biked and run much earlier in the day in training for my first triathlon and although I ate when I should have, I still crashed, and crashed bad. I was completely out of it and my run buddies drove me to the hospital. I didn’t know where I was, and apparently was saying on the ride there, “We are going to do swim drills now right?” I eventually came to, and was released the same night.

If you’re competitive and have a type A personality like myself, this whole process may drive you mad.

It’s important to remember the following:

  • This learning curve will teach you the great life lesson of patience
  • It will also teach you about acceptance and lastly…
  • Unless your livelihood depends on being an athlete, you’re going to need to calm down about PB’s

That is, just for the time being. This is absolutely NOT to say that you shouldn’t have goals for fitness. I have lots of them. And a quick Google search will prove that there are plenty of accomplished athletes who have type 1 diabetes.

It’s just that because you are newly diagnosed, your body is needing to adjust to everything. And it’s a process, a long one, and one that will try your patience and may have you in tears at times. But things will get better, I promise. It’s important to stay positive.

The basics to avoiding lows for me have been (after much trial and error)

  • Eating a substantial amount of carbs before working out (what is substantial, now enters the fun part, will again, be a game of trial and error)
  • Hydrating properly (I found I need to keep hydrated throughout, whereas before I could pound out 15km without a sip of water)
  • Taking in a steady stream of carbs via eLoad Endurance Formula in my hydration pack

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I usually mix the formula and water in a water bottle, then pour it into my hydration pack. eLoad Endurance Formula is light in taste so it’s not super sweet and doesn’t overwhelm the senses. 

  • Testing often (for me it’s every 1/2 hour)
  • Eating immediately after a run to replenish
  • Documenting what works and what doesn’t

What works for one diabetic may not work for you. I always like to try different things because you never know what might end up being something that gives you exactly what you need. And also, what works ONE DAY may not work the next. And that can be extremely annoying. If your pancreas is honeymooning that will cause a whole other host of fun surprises in terms of how much insulin you need/carbs to intake before/during/after exercise. What has worked for me is throwing my hands in the air and surrendering to the fact that things are probably not going to go my way.

It took a lot of work from my nurses, dietitians, endocrinologist and GP to help decipher the world of diabetes and exercise, but let me tell you, it’s all worth the blood, sweat and tears (literally!). I completely two triathlons and my first half marathon recently. It can all be done, I assure you.

I realize now there are many frustrations that I just had to accept:

  • Carrying all your supplies including your meter, lancet device, test strips, glucose tabs, food
  • Constantly calculating what you should eat, how many carbohydrates are in your fuel foods
  • Stopping for hypoglycemia or when you are feeling ill
  • Having your friends and family worry about you when you train
  • Listening to people tell you “take it easy”

Those were the major annoyances that I have (for the most part) come to accept. It’s completely normal to be annoyed by the way. I thought my feelings of being fed up was a sign of weakness but it is absolutely not. This disease is exhausting.

If you are afraid of exercising because of lows, remember this: consistent exercise is prescribed a lot to manage stress and to alleviate a host of illnesses. It makes you feel good. It helps you become strong. Always talk to you doctor before starting any kind of new routine. But remember, the benefits of working out, in my opinion, heavily outweigh staying stagnant.

Keep moving,

Jessica