Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What makes me tick - Volume 1 - FOOD

It’s true, I’ve written about food before. A few times. I’ve even written about food in terms of anxiety.

After re-reading what I wrote last night I have a few things to note. Rest assured you will think one or all of these things after reading this.

1. This chick is WHACK
2. who actually thinks like that?
3. No seriously, this is fucking bananas
4. Wow, she really is fucked up.
5. Holy shit, ALL OF THE ABOVE

Why? Because until I read it myself I had no idea. That's a lie, I know how screwed up I am but I've never told anyone. Until today that is.

.........................................

I actually really hate food. I fucking resent it. I hate that I resent something that keeps me alive. With the double negative you’d think it would cancel itself out in the end. Alas, hatred is not like math. If it was, I could hate something to the power of infinity and that would be an easy way to express myself.

I have issues with food and it begins with a massive fear of being sick. I think… any way... I’m not sure. I kind of want to go to a psychotherapist or someone that can analyze my brain to tell me the cause and effect. I’d like to hook my head up to a diagnostic machine. I imagine it would print out a long list of fucked up shit. 

I am afraid of two things in life. Like… legitimate earth shaking phobias. Spiders and vomit. Please no jokes about puking spiders (it’s really not funny). Those are the only two things that paralyze me and bring me to my knees in a puddle of tears and convulsive shaking.

I once fainted in the ER because someone else was sick (and I blogged about it). I can count the number of times I’ve puked in the past 16 years. ONCE! And it was out the passenger side of a friends vehicle as he was driving me to emergency because I had an obstruction in my small intestine. Look, I blogged about that too! I could fill a bible-sized book with everything I have to say about this phobia but right now it's making my stomach feel sick.

Okay. So I have a major issue with food. This means that I freak the fuck out as soon as my stomach feels even the slightest bit distended. I imagine the nerves and receptors in my gut are neurotic personal space freaks and the moment something touches them, they send sick signals to my brain. Little dysfunctional freaks that they are. I’ve been like this for so many years (we’re talking decades now) that I know for a fact this is the rest of my life. I have NO IDEA what it feels like to be full. Absolutely zero recollection. I eat tiny amounts and often. I have to see everything I’m going to eat before I eat it and that can’t change. You’ll rarely see me just grabbing and eating all willy nilly. I have to keep track of it in my head. I need to know how much I’ve put in vs. how much is left. I neurotically make mental notes with how my stomach is feeling. Does it feel a bit stretched? If so, stop eating right away. I will wait half an hour or maybe an hour until I feel safe again. You’ll almost NEVER see me drinking liquids with my food because that takes up space. I pretty much feel sick after everything I eat.

I have insane memory recall to boot which doesn't help when I'm trying to move past something.

I relate everything to my black porcelain bowl at home. I tried 3 times to take a picture of it for this blog post but I couldn't handle the embarrassment of this obsession with a FUCKING BOWL! How does this item of food look in that bowl? How much space does it take up? If it looks okay in my minds eye I will be fine.  On the very rare occasion that I mindlessly eat, I will inevitably freak out. It only happens when I’m distracted. It’s not the fullness factor that freaks me out either, it’s my fucking paranoia.

This also leaves me beyond anxious about food that might be slightly questionable. I won’t touch anything if I feel like I don’t know everything about it. Buffets are my WORST nightmare. I get nauseous simply at the thought of a buffet. I'd rather die and that's not even a joke.

BREAKFAST

In addition to my anxiety and paranoia with food I sort of really hate get-togethers with people. Why does it always have to be centred around food? Can’t we ever get together to just talk and drink water? Talk and walk? Talk and sit? Why is it always talk and eat?! I absolutely dread ANY get together with people that has anything to do with food. I often wonder why we have evolved to need so much goddamned food. How have we not gotten to the point where we only need to eat once a week? The fucking human body is bloody inefficient. Yes, these are the things I think about.

Don't even get me started about the guilt that comes with food as it relates to diabetes. FUCK ME CLOCKWISE!! I am the strictest eater of carbs you'll ever meet. I don't think I've ever eaten more than 40g of carbs I one sitting. I usually cap it at about 20-30. If there are more than that I'll have one bite or I won't touch it at all. A piece of chocolate here or a gluten free cookie there is about my max. To be honest, this is a whole different level of food anxiety that is completely separate from my sick anxiety. Two things working against me.

I consider this a sort of quasi eating disorder, I always have. I just never knew how to explain it no has anyone ever even come close to my issues. Nobody understands. I don’t really know where it started either. This is my life though, every fucking day.

IT'S NOT NORMAL.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Anxiety is at the bottom of the triangle

Well if I'm going to start anywhere it should be at the bottom.

Anxiety.
 
It rules my life.
It ruins my life.

(Please excuse my shitty Microsoft Paint skills)

No doctor has officially diagnosed me with any sort of anxiety disorder. Probably because I'm always going to docs with physical ailments. Stomach cramps, nausea, dizziness et al. One doc got close and gave me an IBS diagnosis which is pretty much stress and anxiety induced distress.

Over the years I've come to understand that my issues are anxiety. I can pinpoint when it started too. I did have a lot of on and off undiagnosable issues growing up. Looking back it was most likely anxiety. The real turning point was about 10 years ago. I was in a relationship with a man I eventually married and then quickly divorced. That relationship was heavy on the mental strain and trauma but I didn't really see it at the time. The damage was cumulative and when I started losing my shit I began getting dangerous panic attacks. Still, I didn't know at that point. It wasn't him, it was how we were and how I let the relationship exist around me for so many years.

During the separation I was the worst mess I've ever been. I tried a few different anti-depressants but none of them really helped until I went on a stronger more anti-anxiety specific drug. I started to feel better, more human. I still didn't see that my problem was anxiety. I was pretty stupid really.

Ah but then last year I embarked on an almost 12 month journey to get off them. The problems started coming back. Here's the thing though, my symptoms don't typically present themselves as textbook anxiety. I dismissed it because of that. I get stomach cramps, nausea, dizziness and a whole hoard of other physical symptoms. I wasn't denying that coming off the drugs made me feel worse, I just thought I had to adjust to being off them. Since then I've had loads of friends and people I don't even know come and tell me they've experienced the same things.

Then I really started thinking about it and I mean REALLY. I thought about the times I felt the worst and what was happening. I thought about what stresses me out and began making connections to everything in my life. People, racing, commuting, events, planning things, social outings and food... FOOD. Food is the bane of my existence. Diabetes didn't make the list surprisingly enough.

There are a few things that will require their own blog posts that connect all of this together:
1. Food
2. Work
3. Sensory processing disorder
4. Athletics

I am 99% sure I need to go back on the drugs. I am 100% trying to find any way possible to manage without them. 1% of me that's left is crying for help.

I haven't decided which blog post is next. Feel free to tell me what you want to read about most.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A directionless direction

I was talking to a girlfriend the other day about life, the future and anxiety. I haven’t been totally forthcoming with my issues and keep a lot of it inside. This seems to put me in a precarious situation with a fine balance between resentment and depression towards many things.

She was trying to help me find a way to manage my anxiety and we got on the topic of writing. Not necessarily writing for the sake of public viewing but writing in general. She asked me what I would choose to do with my work life if money weren’t an issue. She said she would write because she loves to write. I love to write also.

I often feel like all I do is complain. Its something ingrained deep within my soul. I remember my father giving a eulogy at my Nana’s (his mother’s) funeral. It was the sweetest thing I’d ever heard (and the only time I’ve EVER seen my dad cry). He talked about how Nana, no matter what life dealt her, never complained. He talked about their long arduous and hellish boat trip from England to North America. He spoke about the hard financial struggles of eking out a life in a new country. He spoke about how hard he has tried to adopt that non-complaining way of living. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized how much my dad is like his mother. How he was able to be such a non-complainer in a world that is cruel. Raising my two siblings and myself was probably a feat of massive proportions. From that day forward I decided I want to be like my dad and my Nana. I don’t want to be one of those people that complains all the time and so I set out on a mission. Even though I am cynically pessimistic. Kind of gives a whole new meaning to "Life's Mission". That was about 8 years ago. I have failed time and time again but inside the thoughts are always there. 

I stopped blogging awhile back (or at least not very often) because I felt like I was complaining too much. I have 32 unpublished blog posts (which will remain unpublished). I try to tell stories without the bitching but when I read them back all I see is complaining hiding behind humour. People tell me my perception is wrong and it’s not like that at all. I let them humour me but I know underneath it all I am bitching.

I thought long and hard about my friends’ desire to write for the sake of writing. My whole life, I’ve always adored writing about my experiences and adventures. Even when I tell stories face to face my primary goal is to express the feelings from those moments, not so much the plot. I really love to write whether I’m good at it or not. 

Last night I had a dream about reading old journals and diaries of which I haven’t kept for many, MANY years.

So, in an effort to try and re-organize my life and send it in a different – unknown – direction, I am going to test out the writing waters. Bear with me because I haven’t got a clue what the end goal is. This may be nothing to do with diabetes, a rule I always vowed to follow for this blog. What I do know is that I need some help with my debilitating anxiety issues. I need help finding a direction in life with work and athletics. I don’t know where I’m going but something needs to change. Even if nobody reads it or it seems like I’m being one of those annoying bloggers. I still don’t know how I feel about “BLOGGING” in general.


Also, along the "out of my comfort zone" lines, here is a selfie. Why is this selfie so important? Because this is the picture I sent to the same friend with the note that I hate selfies but for her, I'd make an exception. I was already out on my Saturday ride. She was nervous about an event that morning so I gave her a nerdy "thumbs up".

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

An Absurd Challenge

Saturday started like any other long ride day. Friday was a particularly busy, hectic and hellishly anxiety-ridden so I didn't have a ride planned. I looked at all my routes on Saturday morning and none of them were appealing. I innocently said to Ryan, “Where should I ride today?” expecting a “go in this direction.” and I would come up with a route based on that.

Oh no. I should know better when it comes to Ryan. He is king for coming up with ridiculous challenges and ideas. He spit out “25 times up Sydenham.” Maybe it was that I hadn’t finished my coffee yet, or maybe I was completely delusional and neurotic. I started to say “you’re NUTS” but what came out of my mouth was, “You’re nnnn….. wait a minute… maybe… that sounds like a torturous challenge!”.

He left for work. I attempted to prepare myself for something so absurd…

I’ve written about Sydenham before. We don’t have mountains with hour long climbs around here. What we have is the Niagara Escarpment. It's about 100m elev. gain at 1.4'ish km long with an average grade of 7-8%. (330ft, 0.9miles). It's nice because the road is wide, drivers are ALWAYS aware  of cyclists and the pavement is smooth.

When I do hill repeats I do at most 6 reps so the idea of 25 was the most unbelievably daunting challenge. What the hell, it’s not gonna kill me, what have I got to lose? (my sanity from going up and down the same 1.4'ish km section of road for 4 hours?!) As Ryan would say, “A challenge is something that’s just out of your reach, otherwise it’s not a challenge.”

My only concern was time. This was going to take me FOR FUCKING EVER! It’s not like I could attack the hill with the utmost power 25 times. This wasn't going to be any sort of show of awesomeness it was going to be a show of suffering. This is a task that once you start you just have to settle into it and take it slice by slice. Deal with the monotony.

I listened to some music and audio books but at the end, I listened to nothing at all but my whizzing whirring dehydrated brain.

I watched the sun move overhead and witnessed blotches of shade morphing and shifting. I started to memorize every crack and ripple in the pavement. Every little stone and leaf and stick and what I can only assume was a puddle of dried up vomit. I watched guys roofing a house at the base of the climb. At one point they stopped me and said they were enjoying watching me and said I was amazing. I dunno, maybe it was just the constant sight for hours of a chick in spandex because what I was doing wasn’t anything close to amazing.

SLOW doesn’t even begin to express my climbing abilities. I was adding 2mins/climb from my usual intervals on any other given day. I had my spots between signs and other landmarks that I would get out of the saddle but near the end my ass was firmly planted. I was pedaling squares and had given up any attempt at form or finesse. I was suffering. I tried it all. Mash the pedals, pull up on the pedals, sit back and use my ass muscles, drop my heels, use my toes, relax my shoulders, rest on the hoods, the bars, head up, head down, chest raised.... YOU NAME IT!

I stopped 3 times to chat with friends who had heard of my stupidity. I saw hoards of cyclists come and go. Some for one climb, others for a few more. I climbed with one guy for 3 reps. He was going even slower than me but I didn’t have it in me to pass him. Not like the view was great, he wasn’t anything worth watching (trust me). We spoke no words either, just climbed together. I feel like I experienced Sydenham for the day. People would come and park at the lookout. I’d see them for a climb or two. Then they’d move on. I saw 2 guys doing hill repeats running and one of them was faster than me which was degrading. I watched the hill like a reality TV show because for 4+ hours it WAS my reality.

Diabetes was pretty spectacular if I do say so myself. Though my nutrition was PISS POOR.

I reduced my Lantus down to 6 units that morning. I ate some oatmeal and took 1 unit of insulin for it.

I had some slightly concentrated Honeymaxx in one of my bottles which I drank in between the water and which also made me gag. I watered it down after awhile.

@5 climbs I stopped to check my BG, text Ryan and chat with a friend for a second. I was 3.4mmol/l (61mg/dl) so I had a GU.
@10 climbs I was 5.8mmol/l (104mg/dl). I did nothing because I was a bit nauseated from the heat
@12 climbs I chatted with a friend for a few minutes
@15 climbs I was 5.5mmol/l (99mg/dl). I had 2 shot blocks. I also went to the farmers market at the top of the hill to buy some water.
-----this is where I made the decision to stop at 20 climbs. I was feeling delirious and progressively more rotten. I hadn’t eaten anything since 8:30am and it was now 1pm. I couldn’t stomach anything either which is a bad sign. Mostly? It was time. I was out there already for over 3 hours. Another 10 climbs in the "feels like 31C (88F) heat"? I couldn’t bear to think about it. Physically I could have forced it but my body was already beyond the point of no return with regards to nutrition and dehydration.
@18 climbs I chatted with another friend for a few minutes
@20 climbs I had a little “WOO HOO-imaginary fist bump with nobody” celebration. It was just me, alone. I didn’t even stop, I just turned my bike around and went down the hill one last time. I didn't stop at the cafĂ© (like I usually would) I didn't pass GO, I didn't collect $200. I went home because I was dying. BG was 5.9mmol/l (106mg/dl) when I got there.

the extra big bump at 15 is where I went to the farmers market further up the hill for water. The shorter bump at 18 is where I met with a friend at the lookout. After we chatted I turned around to go back down the hill and technically didn't finish the whole climb. *GASP*

I reduced my PM Lantus also to 6 units and for the first time ever after a ride like that I didn’t tank during the night.

12 units of Lantus and only 3 units of Rapid for the whole day. I swear, if only I could find a way to ride my bike all day every day I'd rarely require insulin.

I had only consumed 60’ish grams of carbohydrates. THAT’S WAY TOO LITTLE!! That’s probably a little more than how much I should be taking in PER HOUR. The ride time was 4:10 but the elapsed time was 4:50. I stopped to check my blood sugar, buy water and chat with 3 different people, otherwise I was consistently climbing. It was very hot. When I got home I was a wreck. I couldn’t think (or see) straight. I couldn’t get anything done that I needed to do (I was supposed to work). I never really recovered mentally until the following morning. It took me hours just to shower, clean up and put a load of laundry in. I was hardly able to eat so I took in what little calories I could. When I got in my car to go meet Ryan I felt unsafe to even be driving. 

Hello friend

Yeah, I could have done 5 more climbs but I know my body pretty well. I would have needed serious help and I didn’t want it to get to that. Not to mention nobody was around to help me.

It was absurd for sure. I got a lot of people questioning my sanity. Not me though. I thought the challenge was a great idea. Thanks to my Ryan for having such a wild imagination. What a way to really test myself. It's safe to say I won't be asking him for ride ideas again for awhile though.

In the end? I climbed 2,157 metres (7,077 feet). No it ain’t no Pyrenees but it’s the most I’ve ever climbed in one day.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

This 'n' that - shitty weekend health-wise

I have a lot to say about 2 days. This could probably be 3 separate posts.

Saturday morning I woke up to a murderous uterus. I drowned it’s sorrows in a couple of extra-strength ibuprofen. It helped with the pain but not the stomach and GI upset. I spent the day either feeling nauseated or starving. It was really fucked up.

We wanted to have an epic day just Ryan and I. We started with an hour drive to play on some dirt jumps. I’ve never been on dirt jumps and my off-road cycling skills are seriously lacking. I tried and fell once, scraping up my leg a wee bit. Then Ryan told me how to position my body on the bike.  Ahhhh.. makes all the difference. At some point I went over to test my BG at my car since I was too nauseous to finish my green smoothie earlier but already took insulin. I noticed my meter case, which houses my insulins, was rather toasty. I then put the case in the wheel well of my car. See where this is going?

Oddly enough I took this picture to send to a friend just a couple weeks ago. My cute bike case is gone :(

 
 
We got 20 minutes away before I noticed. We drove back all the while knowing it would be gone. Someone would have picked it up or it got crushed when I backed out. It was gone either way. Sigh. Not a big deal but I really loved that case with all the bicycles on it! Since we were on our way to Toronto and nowhere close to home we found the nearest Shoppers Drugmart for a quick over-the-counter re-supply to get me through the day.

They didn’t have my glucose meter of choice so I had to buy a different one. One that I’m not familiar with and one that I ended up hating because of no backlight, strip light or beeps. It would just be for a couple days because my spare meter at work will replace my original meter and this piece of shit will become the spare at work. It cost me $170 to get back up and running. All of which will be reimbursed by my insurance. We would be home before my nighttime shot of Lantus so I didn’t have to buy that.

For an entertaining interlude in this rather bad diabetes blog post here is a little video of Ryan playing around in a bowl on his over-sized dirt-jumping BMX bike. You can take the skater off his skateboard but you'll never take the skater out of him.
  

 
We then went to one of the worst indoor climbing gyms I’ve ever been to in my entire life. We were holding off on an outdoor crag because of the rain threats but anything would have been better. Lesson learned though.

I hardly ate anything the entire day because of the wavering between nausea and starvation. It didn’t make sense. I blamed it on the murdering rampaging uterus. 

I was still feeling pretty not great on Sunday morning but this was my alone time to ride my ass off. I hit the road after eating fuck all for breakfast. I sighed. I thought, well this is gonna hurt at some point. I was prepared to just deal with the imminent muscle aches and cramps.

The aches and cramps never came. In fact I had one of the best rides I’ve had in a LONG time. My BG stayed in the 6's and 7's for the entire 3.5 hours and ate only 2 of my chocolate date energy balls. Sometimes riding to lose a few pounds is good too. I had Richard Dawkins “The God Delusion” audiobook playing in my ears which was highly interesting until I couldn’t concentrate on it anymore. Why? Because I was entering a familiar territory called hyponatremia. I’m not going to go into the nasty details, click the link for more info. I could tell though. I knew it. I’ve been here before a couple times but one time in particular was rather severe. My not eating much the day before was a culprit. Plus my blood pressures natural tendency to run low. I generally have to consume copious amounts of salt post ride to stave off intense head rushes.

I stopped at a gas station for a fill-up on water. I had already drank twice as much as normal and I was struggling to conserve it. In retrospect, I should have bought some Gatorade or potato chips. By the time I got home I was a wreck. I made some fresh lemon water with salt which tasted fucking disgusting but I sipped on it until it did the trick. 2 glasses of it. Still though, I didn’t eat hardly anything the rest of this day too because of post ride nausea. OH NAUSEA!!!!!!!!!!!!

Enter Sunday night. Post hard ride BG tanked twice before bed. It tanked hard and fast and came out of nowhere. My morning AND evening Lantus shots were reduced by 2 units each for the past 2 days because it’s the weekend. I tried to eat before bed and perhaps I ate a little too much.

Ryan’s 1:30am alarm goes off. He refuses to let us turn it off most nights. He has valid reasons, I don’t. First check (on the annoying meter with no lights that caused me much frustration at 1:30am) had me at 16.9 (305). Really? Second check on another finger resulted in 15.8 (285). Dammit. Another annoying thing with using syringes (it’s just my preference right now because it all fits nicely in my meter case) is needing light to draw up the right amount. I went into the bathroom to turn the light on, drew up 2.5units, stuck it, went back to bed.

Shitty meter. Time stamp is behind by an hour.

Sometime around 4am I bolt up terrified. I can’t feel my mouth. I’m dripping with sweat. I don’t check, just gobble back 4 glucose tabs. I wait and wait and die a little more. The sweat pours off of me soaking everything. I’m hyperventilating and moaning. When I am able to test I see a 1.7 (30). For fucksakes!! I eat another 4 or 5 or 6 glucose tabs. I lost count. Our alarms are set to go off at 5am to get up for work. This is great. Just great. Lows like this leave me so ill. It’s not so much the low but the resulting sugar hangover. My tummy does NOT tolerate sugar EVER. It’s kind of a cruel joke. Almost all my lows leave me feeling nauseous. I was topless and hugging a bath towel rolling around in agony.

I took Zofran and went back to bed after I already got dressed for work. I slept in my clothes intermittently tossing and turning for 2 extra hours. I started work 3 hours later than usual and got caught in a 1:45 hour commute but I kept thinking, “At least I made it to work, it could have been worse… I could have not woken up at all.”

What went wrong? A weekend without eating much didn’t help. A 95km solo ride somewhat dehydrated, edging on hyponatremia and not fueled? Yes. That too.  

Then I remembered that my diabetes turned 12 earlier this month and I didn’t even know it. Hello 13th year of hell.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Summit Diabetes!

Sometimes I get contacted to promote a person or product. 99% of the time the email gets trashed from the subject line alone. It’s nothing against any one, okay, it is something against EVERYone. This one read, “summit diabetes” and had an intro about fundraising. I know I’m a heathen because I hate fundraising. I deleted the email. A couple days later something triggered me to go and read it. It was probably while I was bored sitting on the toilet. I immediately pulled the email from the trash and wrote back eagerly saying “Yes! I will write about you!”

Why? Because this is something I can relate to. Read on!

Note: I thiefed these pics off the website so you won't get any info about these two by clicking the pictures. Go to Summit Diabetes to learn more.



A 15year old girl, Haley with Type 1 Diabetes and her older brother Ethan will be embarking on a remarkable backpacking adventure. I pulled some of this info from their website and a bit of Q&A.

WHAT are you doing?

We plan to hike 221 miles on the John Muir Trail from Yosemite National Park to the top of the highest peak in the continental United States, Mount Whitney. Expecting to average roughly ten miles of alpine hiking per day, we will begin hiking on July 16th and finish three weeks later around August 6th. We are backpacking, meaning we will be carrying everything on our own backs for the entire duration of the hike. There will be two resupply points along the way for us to refill on food, while we can treat water from streams and lakes throughout the hike to stay hydrated. We will be hiking all by ourselves with no outside assistance other than resupply points along the trail.

 
It is quite the undertaking. I am crazy impressed. They leave in ONE WEEK!

Why are you doing this?



We're doing this hike to make a difference. To bring closer a much needed cure for those living with type 1 and relief to their loved ones. To show people living with this disease that it can in no way limit or define them unless they allow it to. To show the world that you can do anything you set your mind to regardless of where you are from, your age, your afflictions, or your circumstances.

Raising funds for research for this disease brings us one step closer to better and more affordable treatments. It brings us closer to a day where those with type one don't have to worry about losing their limbs, their eyes, their heart, or their life due to the constant struggles of managing it. And most of all, it brings us closer to a day where type 1 diabetes is no longer a threat of our future, but a problem of the past. We will not stop until that day comes, and when it does, we can say that we have persevered, overcome, and summitted diabetes.

How much money do you hope to raise?

After much deliberation, we decided to set our sights high and place our fundraising goal at $221,000, which represents $1000 per mile of the hike. Though it may seem a lofty goal for a 15 year old girl and her brother, we believe with enough help and support of those fighting for a cure for type 1 diabetes, it can be reached. Last summer Ethan and our brother Reid raised over $96,000 for Phoenix Children's Hospital, which saved his life a couple years back. Through the network of support for those with type 1 diabetes and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, we believe that together, we can reach this goal and bring researchers one step closer to finding a cure. 

Where does the money go to?

100% of all the money raised goes straight to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. We will be financing the entire trip ourselves and will not be taking a single penny of donation money. The goal of our trip is to raise money to research for a cure for type 1 diabetes and we would never consider taking funds away from research to finance our expedition.

 "How are you going to manage your diabetes out in the middle of nowhere?"

I will be wearing my Animas One Touch Ping insulin pump, which I have been using for the past three years. Instead of injections, the pump is attached to me through a site with tubing that allows the insulin to be delivered. The site must be changed every two to three days. In addition to testing my blood sugar 8+ times per day, I will be using the Dexcom G4 Platinum continuous glucose monitor (CGM), which illustrates your blood sugar trends and warns you if your numbers are going too high or low. Additionally, we'll carry a glucagon kit in case of a dangerously low blood sugar.

Managing my diabetes will be in no way easy. The intense physical activity and altitude will make managing my blood sugars significantly more difficult. High and low blood sugars will be inevitably common, so we will be taking much extra food, glucose tablets, insulin, and a backup meter and pump to ensure we handle anything the backcountry throws at us.
 
A couple questions from the backpacker and T1D in me:
 
How are you going to prevent insulin from getting too hot (or too cold?) I'm not entirely familiar with the climate you're going into... What about altitude? will that mess up the pump and insulin requirements?

We have two Frio packs, one for my backpack and one for Ethan's in case something were to happen. All you have to do is soak it in water, and it keeps the insulin cool for up to 45 hours. At night, the temperatures might drop down to the 30's, so if that's the case, the insulin is coming into the sleeping bag with me. The entire trip will be a learning experience as far as dealing with altitude, etc. I usually run a bit higher in higher elevations, but on our most recent high elevation training hike (10,000-12,500 ft), I kept running low. So, it's definitely going to be a balancing act, but we'll be paying a lot of attention to my CGM the first few days to try to see how things go, and adjust accordingly. 

Are you prepared for emergencies? How do you prepare exactly? ie: pump malfunction and possibly needing a new one.. 

If any emergency happens, we'll be able to manage it. We got a loaner pump from Animas for the trip, so if something happens to mine, we have a spare. If something were to happen to that one, we will have extra syringes and Lantus with us as well. We will be using a SPOT Connect, which will allow us to send text messages and, if needed, SOS signals with our exact location. We'll have glucagon, cakemate, and, of course, 200 individual packets of honey for those unavoidable lows.

 
What do you eat? prepackaged camp food? homemade camp food? (I asked this because prepackaged camp food is calorie dense thus making it heavy on the carbs, I can’t really tolerate it while I’m camping even with exercise.)

As far as food goes, our goal is to carry as many calories in as little space as possible. I will be eating 3000 calories a day and Ethan will be eating about 4000. All of our food must be stored inside bear canisters, and we only have two resupply points. Our food is all store bought. We'll be carrying a small stove which we'll cook oatmeal, ramen, instant potatoes, a few of those typical prepackaged camp dinners, etc. You can guarantee we'll be sick of trail mix and clif bars after the hike is over, but it'll be worth it!
 
GOOD LUCK guys. What a great idea and a big adventure. I'm a bit jealous, I'd love to do something like this.
 
Although I stated above that I'm a heathen, should you choose to help them meet their fundraising goal please go to Summit Diabetes to do so. You're a better person than me for donating.
 

Friday, June 27, 2014

How am I feeling?

I know this is long over-due.

How am I feeling?

Same as I always am. Nauseated and defeated.

The results from the skewering (colonoscopy/gastroscopy) are nothing. No problems. I am apparently very healthy on the inside. Biopsies fine. Everything is fine.

Well fuck me.

I hate the word FINE.

If you are chronically ill like me you can understand why that is so disturbingly upsetting. I want some help, I think that’s obvious with the doctors I’ve been going to. I would like a problem or an issue or something that I can find a way to manage or treat. With no answers I have no treatment plans which means I have NO IDEA how to make myself feel better!

As time goes on my days of feeling “normal” are fewer and far between. Sometimes I have a span of a couple days where I feel okay. I can sort of eat normal and go about my days. Then there are spans of days where I feel like a bag of shit. I don’t know why I feel this way or how to make it go away. Sometimes it comes out of nowhere and floors me wherever I am and whatever I’m doing.

All I can do is just attempt to manage my symptoms.

The worst is trying to work while feeling like this. I go through the motions of the day yet inside I feel like HELL. I try to make it through the day and when it gets so bad I can’t even sit upright, I take myself home to bed. 95% of the time I trudge through it at my desk. Why? I don’t want to be that person. I want to imagine I’m okay even when I’m not. The brain is a powerful thing. If I stayed home every morning I felt sick I would never work.

I have never felt so helpless for so long. 


My gastro doc throws her hands up in the air. The only saving grace is that she seems very interested and also has noticed a poor quality of life. Ergo she has gracefully given me a semi-permanent script for Zofran. Something I begged my GP for but who shook her head and gave me just a few. I asked for Zofran because the only anti-nausea med we have available to us over-the-counter is Gravol (Dramamine for my US friends). Gravol is wonderful BUT makes me feel high and knocks me the fuck out, ergo, making it impossible for me to use it at work. Zofran, I can still go about my life with little or no side effects.

She does think it might be gastroparesis (a wonderful complication of T1D) but I disagree. We are holding off on drugs to treat that to see what happens in the interim. She has me on a prescription ant-acid which is doing fuck all.

My naturopath throws her hands up in the air. I’ve officially lost faith in her. She was the one person I had a modicum of hope for. I paid for a food sensitivities test out of my pocket. Over $300 to find out I have next to NO food sensitivities. 

I’m really starting to think this is all in my head. My anxieties? My sensitive processing issues?

In the end….. (yes… I’m at the end) I am left hopeless. Sometimes helpless. Most of the time useless as a human. Everything makes me feel sick. All my bike riding? Sometimes I take Zofran just to ride my bike. Other times I come home so nauseous I can barely shower and get myself to bed. Granted there are times I feel great but like I said, those times are fewer and far between these days.

I have really learned to cherish the times I feel good because they never seem to last long.

As I seem to get worse the answers seem even farther away. They don’t exist. I’m done with all the doctors. I appreciate the help and investigatory nature they have done but for over a decade, no doctor has ever figured it out.

What’s worse? I hate writing these blog posts. I want to say something good for a change. I don't even know what to say anymore.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sometimes doing the things that you suck at requires more mental fortitude than anything else

My weakness with cycling is climbing. Which is funny because I seem to be pretty good at climbing….. ROCKS, just not hills on bikes. I suck in ways you wouldn’t think possible. I’d be awesome at bike racing if all routes were flat or downhills but that just ain’t possible.

Last night I did hill repeats just like I’ve been trying to get in twice a week. It hasn’t always been working out that way due to torrential thunderstorms and feeling sick the past couple weeks.
 

I don’t love these workouts in fact I really hate them.
 
Last night was no exception. It was a slow night on Sydenham. Usually any night of the week there are cyclist doing repeats like gangbusters. Its one of the gnarliest hills we have in our area and people come from all over to climb it. I only saw a small handful this time.
 
Before the first hill my BG was 4.1mmol/l (74mg/dl). I ate two shot blocks.
 
By the first hill I was trying to devise a way to cut my workout short. I’ll admit, I kinda hoped a low blood sugar would send me home. Stupid right?
 
By the second hill I conceded with myself that I would do at least 4 reps when I usually do 6. There is no rhyme or reason as to why I choose 6. 6 is my favourite number and it’s an even number. I won’t do odd number intervals. 6 always seems to work out to about an hour and 45 minutes round trip from home so that’s good for me.
 
By the third hill I tested 5.7mmol/l (103mg/dl) at the top. I really really didn’t want to climb hills anymore. I told myself “just one more and go home.” It was looking like it would rain. I wanted to get home and hang out with Ryan. By this point I was just looking for excuses.
 
Since the 4th hill was supposed to be my last I powered up it hard. Then I felt supremely nauseated so when I got to the bottom I forced myself to do another to push my limits with the nausea. I thought it would help my stomach calm down. It was a super easy slow climb. 
 
It started to rain.
 
Well by that point I had done 5 reps. As I mentioned, I hate doing things in intervals of odd numbers so I had no choice. I had to do another. It was a 20-25min ride home so there was no avoiding of the rain at this point.
 
Well lookie here….. 6 reps. Through the power of mental fortitude I ended up completing the goal which I set out for myself. Even though my last two hill climbs were at a sickeningly slow pace, I still did it.
 
I rode home feeling much better for not crapping out early “just because I didn’t want to do it.”

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Device phobia

More is not always better.

Technology helps our lives, except when it doesn’t.

When I quit the insulin pump, I had no idea how good it could be. I had no idea how bad the insulin pump made my life with diabetes until it was gone. What started as an intentional few weeks break turned into permanency. The biggest take-away for me that I didn’t expect was just how EASY managing diabetes could be. The insulin pump complicated my life in ways I was never able to see from where I was standing. Sure, diabetes is still a fickle bitch most of the time and I hate it more than I hate anything that could exist on this planet. I curse it and question “why me?” more often than I care to admit but my life sans pump is glorious compared to before.

The idea of the insulin pump intrigued me. I was on injections for 5 years before I went to the pump. It was so customizable and would adapt seamlessly into my lifestyle of athletics. I could set everything to suit me best, how could that not be a step in the right direction? It was a step backwards.

It wasn’t until I walked away that I was able to see the complications of it. Clogged tubing. Kinked cannulas. Bubbles. Cooked insulin. Infected infusion sites. Scar tissue. Poor absorption. Or even a combination of any of those. Accidentally coming unclipped in the middle of the night and waking up to flu-like symptoms? Not to be forgotten in the mix are problems with taking too much/too little insulin. Or miscounting carbs etc. It was much harder to differentiate.

NONE of these things were easy to correct. Each and every one of these problems resulted in hours of trial and error trying to diagnose the problem in the system. Sometimes it was easy but most of the time it was a giant maze of confusion. I found highs on the pump were the worst I’ve ever had. Often I would have to give massive injections of 8-10units of insulin and wait countless hours. Now? I don’t take much more than 10 units of rapid TOTAL for the day. 10 units would send me to the hospital. I found myself instinctually going for the needle each time to correct the high. I stopped using the pump because I didn’t trust it one bit.

I found myself dealing with one or many of these problems on an almost weekly basis. It was never HUMAN ERROR and it was always a malfunction somewhere in the pump system. That thought alone was enough to piss me right the fuck off. What was I doing? This device made life so much more difficult. I’m not even talking about the physical discomfort of being attached to a massive pager-like unit by a tube to my body 24/7. That alone, was enough to make me want to tear my own skin off. I’m not even bringing up the added pain in the ass of a CGM either (Continuous Glucose Monitor) which is a separate precarious thing sticking out of my body and sometimes a separate device to haul around. 

Finding yourself in another city, a few hours drive from home and discovering a pump malfunction? Failing to have a back-up medical cabinet on your person at all times? Hell. Utter Hell. Result? Feeling sick, thick and heavy while trying to maneuver through the “movements” of deciphering the problems. 

Could it be the insulin? I don’t know. How do we find out? Try new insulin. Could it be the site? Don’t know. How do we find out? Replace it. Could it be scar tissue? I don’t know. How do we find out? New site. Each problem resulting in HOURS of waiting and carefully monitoring. The questions were endless. A terrible high could take 6 hours to come down.

I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT SHIT!

This is all happening around LIFE. I can’t just crawl into bed and monitor my sick self because I feel so ill I can’t function. What if I’m at work? What if I’m on vacation? What if I’m doing anything a normal person is doing?

 
Needle and insulin.
I recently forgot my insulin pen at home so I switched over to this for the time being. I just haven't got around to putting the pen back in my purse.

My only problem now is sometimes forgetting it or cooking it or ….. well that’s about it.  I go buy a few syringes and a bottle (at any pharmacy) to get me through the day if I forget it ANYWHERE. I toss it if I’ve left it in a hot car for even a couple hours. 

My only problems now are usually human error. Forget to bolus. Take too little, take too much, miscount carbs, exercise too hard or too little. Perhaps stress or hormones will have a small effect but more often than not it’s just my error in judgement. The best part? Any problems I have now are fixable within the hour and require far less trouble. I can count on one hand how many times my BG's have reached the +20's mmol/l (360+mg/dl) since going back to injections almost 2 years ago. On the pump, it was a weekly occurrence.

My 5 year stint with the insulin pump made me “device-phobic”. I’ve now gone the complete other direction. I get anxiety when I think about it. I still get the heebie jeebies at the thought of a pump or a cgm or anything for that matter. I’m done but y’know what? I’ve never been happier. I’ve never found managing diabetes this easy and so not in your face. EVEN with athletics. Simplicity is where it’s at for me. My A1C dropped. My weight dropped. My stress and anxiety dro…. Well – no -  that’s always going to be an issue. I have far less things to write about because life - with diabetes - is less complicated.

Kudos to you guys for making it work but have you ever wondered if LESS is maybe MORE? If we’ve created a monster with technology? If this technology has maybe, possibly complicated things too much?

It’s back to the basics for me and this is where I will stay.

The Artificial Pancreas Project? You can have it. I don’t want anything to do with it.
Yes, I'd rather stab myself with needles. I see the APP as an interesting thing but extremely complicated and not worth it. It defeats the purpose of helpful. The CGMs we have available are highly inaccurate. I don't want machines making life or death decisions based on a blood glucose number that may or may not be accurate.

I wish, truly, that they would spend research money on finding a cure rather than investing billions into more intrusive, expensive ways to "manage" diabetes.
 

 

Please keep in mind these are MY opinions only and YOUR DIABETES MAY VARY! I understand that. I understand there are people that love the pumps and the CGMS and couldn’t live without them. I tried to be one of them. I tried to make it work for 5 stinking years. These are my personal accounts only.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My balls are the bomb, don't tell me otherwise.

Warm weather is here and that means weekend hours on the bike. Often this means upwards to 4 or 5 hours riding. I was typically just carrying Clif Blocks and GU gels with me. Sometimes a bottle of Skratch mix or perhaps a granola bar. After 4 hours this gets a little tough to stomach and my body craves something a little more.... REAL.

I use carbs to fuel my exercise and not to fix lows. It kind of goes hand in hand. I maintain my blood sugars by allowing myself to need the fuel. I don't run my BG's high so I have to starve myself nor do I run them low so I have to take in copious amounts of carbs. Yes sometimes one or the other happens beyond my control.

I was getting really tired of the blocks and gels and the who-knows-what ingredients were in them. My friend Steph had shown me these date things she had one day at a race. It was a combination of dates, coconut oil and dark chocolate chips. I wasn't overly thrilled with that combo so I set out to make something more palatable to me.

 
I didn't measure much at all. I just kept throwing stuff in, tasting it and adjusting.
 
INGREDIENTS:
-a dozen pitted dates (or whatever...... )
-chocolate chips. I used about twice as much as pictured. Not dark but MILK because it's what I like the best. I never said I was a hard core vegan, just 99% vegan.
-2 heaping tablespoons of ground chia seed (it's gotta be ground). I guess you could use ground flax too. Or omit it... there's no rhyme or reason to my balls.
-salt. I maybe used a whole teaspoon. I'm not sure. I want them to be salty because I suffer huge with low blood pressure after exercise. (like MASSIVELY).
-a scoop (or two?) of chocolate flavoured vegan proteins+ powder.
-shredded coconut either sweetened or unsweetened. Whatever I have. Lots of it. Like half a cup or more worth.
-Teaspoon or two of vanilla extract
-as much almond butter as necessary to get the mix moist enough to roll into balls. half a cup or more probably.
 
DIRECTIONS:
Throw everything except the chocolate chips into a food processor. Mix in chocolate chips after and roll into balls. Whatever size suits your fancy. I like mine not too big, they're like 2-bites big. Just enough to throw down my gullet while barely skipping a beat on the bike.
 
Don't ask me about nutritional content or carb counts. I dunno. My answer is, ENOUGH (?!). I know they have some protein, carbs, fat and sodium. Those are the important factors for me. The highest and most prominent carbs are the dates.
 
 
pre-ball mix
 
 
BALLS! and a really crappy quality picture.
 
I wrapped these in tin foil because last time I used plastic wrap and they were hard to get at without stopping the bike. They would also leave my hands oily.
 
I have a hard time not eating them because they're SO FUCKING DELICIOUS! To me, personally, they are the perfect mix of salty and sweet. I don't like overly sweet things. I can eat a ball every 45-60mins and be perfectly content. I adore the chocolate. After riding for a few hours they get all warm and soft.
 
More than anything, I love that they are not laden with chemicals and things that cause GI distress which is something I am extremely sensitive to. Even Ryan likes them! We keep them in the fridge and grab 'n go as needed.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Springbank Road Race

Lesson number one: Don’t go into a race with already tired and sore legs. It’s going to end even worse than the usual bike race fail.

The photos in this post are courtesy of Jeremy Allen who is a mastermind behind the lens. He is at most of the local races stalking cyclists and capturing a certain "je ne sais quois" about bike racing that I've never seen in photos before.


Leading up to Sunday, let’s get a recap. Thursday night I rode a decent hilly route. Friday night I did hill repeats on the most soul crushing climb we have in our area. Saturday I took my friend out on a 90km tour. Why? Her coach demanded she do a ride this long and it was the farthest she’s ever ridden. She’s training for her first half ironman where the bike portion is 56miles (90km). We encountered headwinds and misery. We rode pretty darn slow but I’ll quote myself from after the race, “90km is still 90km no matter how easy it was.” I was surprised at the presence of the ache in my legs on Saturday night. Uh Oh. I stretched and rolled but no amount of praying to the gods I don’t believe in was going to save me from this one.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I fucking suck at bike racing. I’m not making up excuses for a shitty performance. I most definitely would have gotten dropped at some point, but not on the first lap. It’s almost laughable! Why even bother racing?? I don’t know. Seriously. I was still unsure if I was going the morning of. In the end, I knew it was going to be one of those “97% suffering, 3% enjoyment” kind of race. So I went and expected the outcome I got. I also wanted to shoot some pictures of the other races for fun.

Every time I get on the bike I feel like I’m setting myself up for embarrassment. 

(the "fucking hill" isn't in the right place but I did this in Paint so forgive me.)
 
The race was a 2.2km crit on a closed recreational trail. It was wide enough for two cars at some points and narrows down to two bikes at other points complete with curbs. It had a steep sharp corner downhill immediately after the start/finish line with a long back section that included a short uphill climb. The back section was a massive crushing headwind.
 
I started and pretty much got dropped in the first 100m. I didn’t trust the other riders on that corner and wasn’t prepared to throw myself in there off the shot so I thought I’d hang back. I got back on and then fell off again, got on, fell off. Before the first lap was over I was dropped along with another rider. I spent the next lap trying to catch her and when I did we worked together for a lap or two before I looked back and saw that she was gone. I wasn’t going to quit though. I wasn’t entirely bothered by this until I came through the start/finish line each time and just wanted to hide under a rock. I’m not easily embarrassed but being so obviously shitty on this particular day was demeaning me. If only the invisibility cloak existed in real life. 

 
The race went on. I got lapped. A girl who got dropped from the other field caught up to me and said, “Better to DFL than to take a DNF!”(*) This made me smile. Then I passed her, and then she passed me again. The final time I passed her I said, “it’s a shame we can’t work together!” She agreed. We were going the same speed but were in different categories so it would be a disqualification if we drafted off one another.
 
By the last time I came across that finish line I zipped off to the side and limped my way back to my car. I got changed in my front seat and promptly left without really talking to anyone. I didn’t photograph the other races because I just wanted to go home. I was shivering uncontrollably because my body was just wasted.

My blood sugar on the other hand was blissful this race. I started with a number that was in range. I Hoovered a couple shot blocks at the start line and didn't think or worry about it until the end. I was still in range at the end so overall that's a fucking diabetes racing WIN. (because you can't be DFL with diabetes). I think it helped that this race was at 11:30am instead of the usual earlier start ergo adding insult to injury with breakfasts and boluses on board. I think that given how short of a race this was (under an hour) it was in my (a type 1 diabetics) favour. Shorter races are easier to deal with because it takes longer to start really affecting blood sugar. I can't say the same for last year's version of this hellish race though.
 
It bothers me because I don’t enjoy always being DFL and yet I went into it with all arrows pointing at that. I felt embarrassed because I showed up and set myself up for disappointment. I knew it would end that way so why did I bother driving 1.5 hours both ways and spending $60 in registration to dig myself a hole? I’m still not sure. Maybe if I was super pro I could race on already tired legs but I’m not there at all. My only hope of a good race is fresh legs.

Look! Proof that I wasn't just riding a bike alone!
 
Ryan asked me later that night, “did you at least have fun?”. Most of the time I’d reply with a “yes” but this time I said “NO!”. No it wasn’t fun. My legs were in pain and my ego was butchered. I felt like I wasted money and time. 

At least I got to acquire some AMAZING photos that I will cherish forever.
 
*If you don’t know much about racing, DFL: Dead fucking last, DNF: Did not finish.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Paris to Ancaster Race

This past weekend I participated in the Paris to Ancaster bike race. I say “participated” because it wasn’t your usual race. You don’t need a UCI licence or any kind of permit to race it. It goes out in waves of hundreds and for all intents and purposes, it’s a massive sausage fest. Out of 1217 participants, only 84 were women. Before I start I’ll try and explain what exactly the P2A race is. 

Ready? Okay, it’s an EVERYTHING kind of race. Clear enough?

No, I didn’t think so. (click the link up there for a real persons explanation). 

THE ROUTE! This is kept confidential even up until race morning. It changes slightly every year to account for trail conditions and private properties. We are not privy to the route until we do it. This makes it difficult to follow the journey or to drive ahead to get to good spectator spots. Vetrans of the race know where to go.

There are short road sections interspersed with gravel, dirt, mud chutes, farmers fields, rail trail, single track, and whatever else you can squeeze into that “everything” term. I coined it the “white trash version of the Paris Rubaix race in France.” It’s kind of similar. It’s always early in spring when everything is at it’s wettest and coldest. It’s a sufferfest to the nth degree in our little corner of Ontario. People walk away from it with bragging rights. It’s where we attempt to earn our “bad ass badge” for the season. 

In a way, I feel like a lot of it is just for shock value. In another way I damn well earned my bad ass badge.

If you want to read a really in depth and detailed description of the race from an elite level athlete, go read Jany's blogpost. I was blown away by her recollection of it all. She precisely describes the mud in it's realistic form! Lucky for her, she was in the first wave and got to ride the mud 'n such before it got trampled by hundreds upon thousands of riders.

Chilling out before the start

I was kind of talked into doing this race by a few people. I’ve never done it because after I left mountain biking I was strictly a roadie. A large portion of people do ride mountain bikes (some of them full suspension!) but the fastest folks use cyclocross bikes. I was lucky enough to have access to a borrowed cx bike (and borrowed tires) through Ryan’s workplace. I couldn’t back out and really had no more excuses.

It’s not like I didn’t want to do it. Okay, I didn’t want to do it.

I didn’t know what to expect. I treated it like a giant unknown. I wasn’t stressed about it because it wasn’t a “race” (or at least that’s what I was telling myself). I think my biggest worry was how to keep my kit white knowing I was probably going to get really dirty. I realize now that was the least of my worries. The night before I rigged the bike to suit my fit. Lowered the handlebars, threw my cadence/speed sensor on, switched pedals, saddle and tires. I didn’t have time to take it out for a test spin so once we got to the race start that was the first time I had ever ridden a cross bike. Initially it felt weird. Coming from a mountain bike background the cross bike was like a road bike on a mountain bike frame, hence the name “cross”. It felt so upright and oddly comfortable. (click link a couple paragraphs up for wiki explanation of cyclocross).

Diabetes was evident this race, I took my usual Lantus. To avoid highs like last weeks race, I took a couple units with my green smoothie in the morning. After warming up my BG before the start was at 7.6mmol/l (137mg/dl). I ate 2 shot blocks. The course was only 65km long BUT due to the nature of the terrain I was going to be riding for more than 3 hours. We were off after waiting for the elites and wave 1 to go. I was humbled in the first 10 minutes when I got passed by half the field. I panicked as I quickly realized this was not going to be enjoyable. I think I started counting down the kilometers about 20k into the race. What had I gotten myself into? Big guys on full suspension mountain bikes with platform pedals and cargo shorts were passing me.

At the first corner. The last time Ryan would see me for many many hours.

We hit the first muddy off-road section. I rode until I got stuck behind a line of people walking. This happened a lot. Eventually I got comfortable throwing it into the weenie gear and just turning the pedals as much as I could whenever we hit a mud/field section. This was soul crushing madness that I've never really experienced. One pedal turn was like climbing up a 20% incline. The pain and strength to go absolutely nowhere was debilitating. Is this shit for real? Why do people do this? Put me on a road, at least I'll move forward with a pedal stroke. I learned early on to trust myself. If I was going to fall over it was only going to be in mud and I wasn’t moving very quickly. I haven't quite been right off-road cycling since my mountain bike crash a year and a half ago. I lost all my confidence and technical ability to intense fear. Fear was never something that held me back before but the injuries I sustained from that crash changed everything. I usually get mild anxiety when I think about it. 

This is where I tried to stifle those fears. I ate them up and swallowed them down. I grit my teeth and told myself to just TRY. Just stay on your bike as much as you can. Use your balance and your years of experience on two wheels. Tap into that old dormant off-road history. I ate it up. I hit sections and pushed it all away to just pedal and y'know what? It fucking worked.  

I rode through things I probably couldn’t do on a mountain bike. I just kept thinking, “wow, I’m still upright and everybody around me is either walking or falling over, this is rad!”. This one big sopping wet farmers field section I was wondering why everybody was walking. My legs burned with each pedal turn and each pedal turn a lot of the energy was wasted slipping the tires but I kept going even when I felt like I couldn't possibly turn another rotation. It always seemed faster than walking and I wanted this thing to be OVER with! I questioned later (when everything cramped and I could barely move) if that’s why people were walking. To save matches. Hmmmm….. 

After 2.5 hours I was hit with the reality that this was never going to end. I breathed a sigh of relief when we hit gravel and dirt roads because it was a rest. I started to heavily dread any time I saw the bikes turn off the roads and into trails. NO!! please not again!! Each time I thought, I can't do this again. I can't handle another 200m even of soul sucking mud and wet grass. I was still so far from the finish. Why was this so bloody hard?! I was starting to wonder why I had opted to NOT bring my glucose meter with me. I had eaten the rest of the pack of blocks and part of a banana I picked up at an aid station but otherwise I was uneasy taking in carbs without knowing my BG. I knew I was working harder than ever but I also knew not to eat more than I had already. I was getting really hungry though which is confusing when you have diabetes and are pushing yourself to insane limits physically. Certain kinds of hunger is a sign of highs and lows. Luckily this hunger was simply that. I was fucking hungry! I felt better just going with the less is more theory. If I tank, I’ll know. At this point I didn’t care enough.

Then we hit the mud chute of all mud chutes. Being that I was in the second wave and had already been passed by an army, the mud chute had seen better days. HUNDREDS of riders had already gone and torn that bitch up (I wish I had pictures!). I made the mistake of pushing my bike at first which it then became too heavy to lift. I have a bruise on my shoulder from trying. I saw a dude do an endo (ass over tea kettle) followed by a face plant into the mud while his bike remained sticking straight up. We all laughed, it wasn’t dangerous. I was a bit pissed that they go and save the biggest mud chute in the final 5kms of the race. I swear it was just for show and shock value as we cross the finish line caked in mud. I was fairly clean up until that point. I managed to keep myself pretty white probably because I didn’t fall over. I couldn’t get my shoes clipped in for the rest of the race either because of mud which made climbing the motherfucker of a hill at the finish line impossible. I got off and pushed like 90% of the people around me but not for long. I got back on as soon as I could but not having my shoes clipped in made it brutal.


The first words out of my mouth? “Never again!”. My thoughts now? Maybe. I might do it again but I’d like to do it with friends because it would be less of a suffer fest. I also would know what I’m getting myself into.

All I wanted was to know my blood sugar. It was making me absolutely crazy. I was scared I was dealing with highs. I was sitting at 11.1mmol/l (200mg/dl) and let out the biggest sigh of relief. High but not sickly high. I was fucking starving. I struggled with lows at night and all the following morning. The pain in my legs kept me up during the night despite rolling and stretching. I also woke up frequently during the night to relive moments that traumatized me which was disturbing to say the least. Not often does a race replay in my head for that long after it’s over.

That shit wrecked me good. I grossly underestimated what I was getting myself into. My finish time was pitiful but my legs tell me I did the best I could. My best is never good enough in my mind. I want to do better than that. Yeah I know this wasn’t exactly a normal race for me and embodied things I couldn’t comprehend before but there are no excuses in my head. A lot of the race was just covering ground on rail trail, gravel and dirt roads. I should’ve been moving faster on those parts and that’s where my head is stuck right now.

I have to give a shout out to the race organizers because this was SO WELL done. If you see my Garmin route map you can tell there were more turns than kilometers. At each of those turns there were amazing volunteers marshaling us. The OPP had stopped traffic for eons (sorry drivers) on all the major road crossings. I tried to thank as many volunteers and cops as I could. It was one of the best organized events I've ever done.

I love this picture. My hair is horrendous but my kit is still white! My borrowed steed even matches. That was the best "smile" I could muster though.

I may or may not be back next year. We will see. Suffering begets more suffering.