Someone asked me the other day what it feels like when I have high blood sugar. I usually talk about the effects of low blood sugar because the symptoms are more drastic and cause an immediate threat. However, high blood sugars over long periods of time have a very serious effect as well.
I think talking about this gives me a great opportunity to reflect and celebrate how far I’ve come and how much I appreciate feeling “well”!
Ketoacidosis occurred when I became dehydrated due to excessively high blood sugar levels. The symptoms I felt were; excessive thirst, feeling “weak”(like it was hard to lift my legs up out of bed in the morning), getting physically ill, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, dry mouth, and increased/abnormal heart rate.
I personally feel high blood sugar when I begin to have excessive thirst (also called polydipsia). I am talking about feeling like you are constantly severely dehydrated and you can’t get enough water no matter how much you drink. On vacation with my family, I literally cried at one point because I was so thirsty and had to wait to get something to drink. While
hanging out with my sister Mere one night, I made her stop at a gas station ten minutes from our house because I couldn’t wait any longer to get something to drink. I remember being worried when I would be anywhere that I couldn’t have easy access to water if I needed it. It sounds dramatic but at the
time, all I could think about was chugging as much water as I could.
I also have what’s called polyphagia when my blood sugars reach excessively high levels. It is when you have frequent and pronounced hunger even though you have just eaten. Do you know the feeling you have when you have had a busy day and you realize at about 7:00pm that you haven’t really eaten anything all day? I hope you don’t ever have this happen, but sometimes when you get caught up in your day it does. I used to have that feeling all day. I would feel an overwhelming feeling of being so hungry that I needed to eat something immediately or I would pass out. I remember once, I was walking home from class at The University of Denver. I had eaten a large breakfast and it was only an hour class. I started to feel so hungry and weak that I remember getting frantic that I was going to pass out, and I got to a gas station and bought mints because I felt like I was going to faint. I thought it was the feeling of having a low blood sugar, maybe due to exercise. After that a lot of my friends would laugh that I would always have mints with me and I would eat them all the time, but this was why.
Blurred vision. I would get this when I would be reading or trying to see signs far away. I have always had 20/20 vision so it was the effects of high blood sugar that was causing the issue.
Fatigue. VERY tired all of the time. I would feel like I had done
an all-nighter and had that out of sorts feeling all day. I could sleep for 12 hours and still feel like I had not gotten a bit of sleep. The worst part about this is that you become depressed that you are wasting your days away in bed. I also used to hate that I couldn’t enjoy being out with friends because all I wanted to do was go home and sleep and I would hate that I couldn't go more than a few hours out with my Mom shopping because I would fall asleep in the car. Work was hard, especially while managing a restaurant. I would try to wake up and my legs would feel so heavy and I didn’t know how I was going to get through the day.
Itchy skin. I would feel like I had mosquito bites all over my
body, all of the time. No thank you!
Cardiac arrhythmia. I would have irregular heartbeats that would scare me. They had me on a heart monitor for a while to check if it was an issue related to diabetes or something else. I was really upset when I went into the Clinic with my Mom because I was supposed to go out to dinner with a guy I really liked that night. I felt like Frankenstein. I had an insulin pump on my left side, a sensor on my right side, and eight wires around my chest attached to a heart monitor. We went shopping to find a dress that covered it all, but I felt embarrassed and didn’t want to be there. I called my friend Mike and told him how I was feeling and met up with him after dinner, and like Mike always does, he made me feel totally comfortable with it and even made me laugh about it. You really realize who your true friends are when you have moments in your life that make you feel insecure and they help you to feel confident again.
There are other symptoms, but the ones I just mentioned are the reactions that I personally had. Long term, vision impairment and recurrent infections are possible.
Chronic glucose levels are measured by an A1C test. As I’ve
mentioned before, my 15.0 results were off the chart. A normal A1C is usually a 6.0 or below. The scale is between 5.0 and 12.0. I was averaging a 385-413 blood sugar range over an extended period of time. A normal range would be between 100-152.
I’ve come a long way since all of this and I am so happy that I
am learning how to manage by Diabetes, to avoid these symptoms so I can now feel like I am living a normal life. I always think though, that I am so fortunate that I have something that I can manage and that I have wonderful support to do so!
As I told you in my previous post, I travelled to Dublin this past weekend for the first time. It was an incredible experience and a dream of mine which I still can’t believe actually came true. I took a run near the Cliffs of Moher so that I could enjoy the sites. It is an absolutely fantastic place. I was lucky to catch a nice day. It didn’t rain and the weather was just cool enough. I didn’t know if they would let me run around there, but no one objected so I suppose it was ok! I think when you can; you should try to run in pretty place. You can view running as just something to cross of your list every day, or you can make it an experience. If you’re going to dedicate that much time to it, you should enjoy it and make it count. As my Dad would say, it should be the same way with going to work every day. It doesn’t always happen that way, but it’s worth the effort.
Have a wonderful day!!!
I saw the below chart on http://theruniverse.com/2012/05/best-foods/
and wanted to share it with you!
Click on the image to enlarge it.It gives great information on the best foods for runners to eat.
I’ll be in Ireland
until Sunday and I’m not sure how great the internet access is going to be. If I don’t write to you before then, I look forward to telling you about how training went while I was away. Hopefully, I’ll have some pictures to show of fantastic running paths. We shall see!
Have a wonderful weekend.
Today, I witnessed the passing of the Torch right outside my window at work. It got me thinking about the place where the flame is first lit and the place where the marathon first came to exist. I thought I would share this piece of history with you.
Pheidippides, a Greek hero, is the reason why marathon’s exists today. He ran from Marathon to Athens as a courier, to give the word of victory from the Battle of Marathon (the first Persian invasion of Greece). His last words were, “Joy, we win!” and then he fell down right there, dead. I was appalled when I first heard this, realizing that his run resulted in his death but then again realizing how truly difficult the length can be (and the horrible heat, without water or any sustenance is what made it truly deadly). He had also run 150 miles in two days, just prior to his final run.
The first Olympic Games began in 776 BC, or so historians believe, and the competitions were foot races. Running has been a part of this amazing tradition since it first began, and because of Pheidippides, marathon running was introduced as one of the events in later years. Running was known to be a clear sign of strength, of both body and mind.
It is incredible to think about how long ago this all began, and
how we have continued the tradition throughout history.
Let the games begin!
A nurse once told me that letting yourself be hungry all the time is discouraging, and you will eventually drop your healthy eating habits all together or indulge too much at some point throughout the day. You’ll slow your metabolism, bloat and feel agitated everyday if you don’t eat enough and that is certainly no way to live!
What to do? I’ve told you before that it’s the little things that
count. When I talked about that, I was referring to nibbling on unhealthy snacks all day or underestimating how many calories are in a food choice- but the little things count in the reverse too! Planning a snack between lunch and dinner can satisfy you so that you don’t over eat when it’s time for your meal. Some people eat six small meals a day, to keep their metabolism moving and to keep themselves from feeling hungry. That doesn’t work with my work schedule, but I plan a snack or two in my day so that I’m not grouchy and starving!
Here are a few snack ideas that are less than 200 calories
(provided by www.wholeliving.com):
Tropical Fruit Parfait;
½ cup of fruit (kiwis, mangos, pineapples), ¼ cup of low-fat yogurt, 1 tablespoon of toasted/sliced almonds.
1 cup of cooked chickpeas with salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add 3 tablespoons of fresh cilantro. This yields 4 servings (131 calories each) so enjoy with friends or save for later (and add in a couple of crackers)!
Dark Chocolate and Ginger Biscotti; yields 30 bars that are 84 calories each. I want to make these for my Dad!!
1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and levelled
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolK
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
3 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking
sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt until well combined; set
aside. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg, egg yolk, and sugar
until light and fluffy; beat in the vanilla and oil until well
3. With the mixer on low, beat in dry ingredients until combined. Fold in walnuts, chocolate, and ginger
with a rubber spatula (dough will be stiff).
4. With moistened hands shape the dough into 2 logs, each about 9 inches long and 2 1/2 inches wide. Bake until set on top, about 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Reduce oven
temperature to 325 degrees.
5. Transfer logs to a cutting board and, with a serrated knife, cut each log on the diagonal into 16 slices, each 1/2 inch thick. Bake until crisp, about 20 minutes, turning the biscotti over midway through. Cool 5 minutes on a baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Peanut Butter and Pretzel Sticks;
½ ounce of whole-grain pretzel sticks (about 11 of them for 65 calories) and 1 teaspoon of peanut butter (30 calories). This keeps you really full too! Pretzels are high on the glycaemic index though, so make sure your paying attention to your blood sugars with this snack, if you are a diabetic.
Frozen Grapes and Kiwi;
MY FAVORITE. 1 cup of grams and 1 kiwi cut into cubes. It literally tastes like candy.
I know it seems like it will take a while, but try the biscotti! I’ve realized that if I’m putting so much time and effort into running, I should put just as much effort into learning how to cook healthy.
If you need help with a recipe, let me know! My sister Cait and her future husband Jon are also fabulous cooks. They experiment with a lot of different recipes and are always mixing creatvity and health into fabulous dishes. If you want any ideas from them, leave them a comment here!
Have a wonderful day.
There is an intern who works with me who asked me to explain to her what it’s like having Type 1 Diabetes on a daily basis. She has never met anyone with T1 and wanted to know more about what causes it and what I do to treat it. I thought I would share this with others, as they may be wondering too.
Every three days I insert an IV looking device into my side, attached to my pump that I click onto my clothes like a pager. Before I do this, I fill a vile with insulin from a small, glass bottle. I keep these in the refrigerator so that they don’t expire. I put the insulin vile into my pump attached to the IV, and insert the soft needle.
Every day I check my blood sugar by pricking my finger and using a test strip, which I insert into a machine that reads my levels. I do this; when I wake up, before breakfast, 2 hours after breakfast, before lunch, 2 hours after lunch, before dinner, 2 hours after dinner and before bed. I also do this when I feel a low coming on, or I don’t feel well. I also check my blood sugar before and after exercise. Altogether, I usually test my sugar between 10-12 times per day.
After I test my sugar, it reads to my insulin pump which administers insulin if my sugar is not within a healthy range. When I am about to eat a meal, I manually enter the carbs I am going to eat and my pump knows how much insulin I already have going through my body so it adjusts for the carbs I am going to eat and administers the correct dosage of insulin.
Basal is the term used for the background insulin that is administered into my body 24-hours a day because I don’t have a working pancreas that delivers insulin on its own. Bolus is the extra insulin inserted for meals or to bring my blood sugars into a healthy range throughout the day.
I have a journal and I write down; what I eat and how many carbs I’ve consumed, my blood sugar before the meal and my
blood sugar 2 hours after the meal. I use my “notes” on my IPhone if I’m out with friends because I don’t like to carry a bulky journal around and then I write it in later. This basically helps me focus on what I’m eating, but it also helps me track what I’ve eaten if my sugars are not in range. I have to adjust
my diet or portions accordingly.
Many factors can alter my blood sugars that are non-food/drink related. These include; stress, exercise, fatigue, sickness and changes in time zones.
During exercise or after, my blood sugar might raise initially because my body realizes I need energy and starts to send signals for more glucose. A little while after exercise, however, my blood sugar can drastically drop because glucose is the quickest metabolized form of energy. Strenuous exercise uses glucose as the main way to release energy to the body, rather than fat. My body uses glucose quickly during my exercise, and I can get a mild to severe low- depending on many factors.
In order to avoid issues with exercise, I follow a chart given to me by Mary Ellen Grady, my diabetic nurse. It tells me how many carbs I should take in depending on my blood sugar level before exercise and how long I am planning on exercising. I check my blood sugar and eat however many carbs I need a half hour before I do any sort of exercise.
If I have a really bad low, I need to take a shot with a glucagon pen that raises my blood sugar immediately.
For normal lows, I take glucose tablets.
A day in the life :)
As I mentioned in my previous post, I was in Paris this last weekend. I took the train from London on Friday night and travelled back to London Sunday evening. Obviously, I wanted to get in as much sightseeing, food and fun as possible. I still have a commitment to training though and I can’t make an excuse (no matter how hard it is not to!) to ignore my training entirely during a weekend get-a-way. I came up with a few helpful tips on my own and I read about a few as well, from Matt Weik of BodyBuilding.com, that I would like to share with you. Choose the walking option
; Instead of taking transportation everywhere you need to go, try walking from one area to the next. In Paris, and in many other bustling cities, public transport is readily available. However, if you want to enjoy the beautiful sites around you and get some exercise in at the same time, choose the walking option! Do hotel room workouts
; take some time in the morning or in the evening to do an ab routine, wall sits and lunges. It really doesn’t take a lot of time, but it keeps your focused on your training and keeps you moving! You don’t want to fall so far behind that when you get back, you feel like you’ve taken a giant leap backwards.
If the hotel has a pool, find a time to swim laps
. It can be a
great cardio workout! Warm up, increase intensity and do a cool down. Ask the front desk if they have any partnerships with local gyms.
Usually, they have agreements for day or weekend passes for hotel guests. You might as well ask, just in case they do. Enjoy low-carb, delicious meal options
. French cuisine is
incredible. It beats bangers and mash, that’s for sure!
During the time I was in Paris, I didn’t sulk in my inability to stuff my face with baguettes.
Instead, I chose to order fish options (lightly prepared without a cream base). I took my time, enjoying the moment and the experience. Coming from somewhat of a hospitality background, and someone who grew up with parents who taught me how to savour the moments of a meal, I learned how to pace myself and enjoy the smallest details and flavours of a dish. Slow down, enjoy yourself
. You may find that you feel more satisfied approaching meals this way! The same goes with wine. Drink one glass and enjoy it. Do a bit of grocery shopping.
Find a local grocery store near
your hotel, and buy fruit and veggies. Keep them in your room to avoid snacking from vending machines if you find yourself hungry in- between meals. Carry an apple with you when you go sightseeing. When you have a healthy option right at your fingertips, you are less likely to make the wrong “on-the-go” choice. Drink water, all day! Don’t let the people you are traveling with influence your eating habits.
I’m a firm believer that you can find a healthy option at most places, if you just look hard enough and order the right way. However, if your traveling buddies ask you to eat lunch at a burger and fries stand at the beach, you might be in some trouble. Take a moment to look around, and find something else to eat. Tell them that you’ll meet up with them wherever they happen to be or ask one of them to come with you to grab something else while the group enjoys their meal. No use in ruining everyone else’s time because you’re choosing to eat differently.
Let them live the way they choose and they will be more than happy to let you live yours the way you want to as well. It helped to travel with a vegetarian this weekend though. Burgers were not an option!
HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY!
For more information on travel and training tips, see what Matt
has to say: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/weik81.htm
Hello everyone, I'm in Paris for the weekend and won't have much time to blog. I look forward to writing to you on Monday to talk about traveling and training!
In order to help me control my blood sugars, I try to eat low glycemic index foods. These foods have less of an impact on blood sugar, so they help maintain a healthy range. These foods don’t lower blood sugar; they just raise blood sugar more slowly over a longer period of time. Although this is a great way to balance your diet as a diabetic, there is a disadvantage associated with a GI diet as well that you should be made aware of. The energy derived from these foods will be used first (before body fat) making it harder to lose pounds. That’s ok though. It doesn’t mean you CAN’T lose the weight, it just means that there has to be a more concentrated effort to do so. On a positive note, this type of diet keeps you feeling full for longer so you will likely end up taking in less calories throughout the day. Below is the GI range
A great guide to eating out and making the right GI food choices is a book by Rick Gallop. It’s called The GI Pocket
. Look for it on www.amazon.com
for the best price.
I also use a guide provided by The University of Sydney which can be found here:http://www.the-gi-diet.org/lowgifoods/
. It’s nice to know where certain foods rank against others, so that you can start choosing healthier alternatives.
My basic rules; I stick to whole grains (46), whole wheat (49), carrots (16), cherries (22), hummus (6), and skim milk (32). I usually make sure I incorporate those items into my diet, daily. First, because they have a low GI. Second, because I enjoy those options.
I stay away from; white rice (87), rice cakes (87), watermelon (80), pumpkin (75), French Fries (75) and pretzels (83).
Some low GI foods that I found surprising were; strawberries (40), cheese tortellini (50) and chocolate milk (42).
Just make sure that you don’t forget to look at the fat percentage and that you continue to use portion control when choosing any type of food, including low GI foods.
I hope this has been helpful!
My high school field hockey and lacrosse coach messaged me earlier today to see how I was doing. She gave me a few diet tips that will help me control my blood sugars. When she mentioned a raw diet option, she noted that she had done this herself for short periods of time. The best part about Kim, is that she will never give advice or tell you to do something
that she hasn’t done or isn’t willing to do herself. I witnessed this when she would run with us during conditioning, regardless if it was in summer heat or rough winter conditions. She would dedicate hours of her time coaching extra clinics, where she expected us to be as well. I think we all trusted and listened to her because of that.
Kim taught me skill but more importantly, she taught me how to overcome mental barriers. When I decided to run my first marathon, I messaged her to let her know the impact that she had had on me and thanked her for the confidence she instilled in me, that made me realize I could and would complete the 26.2 mile race. This time around, after being diagnosed with diabetes, I messaged her because I felt a bit like the lost freshman again who was trying to keep up with faster, more conditioned and better skilled athletes. I told Kim that she never judged me, regardless of my weight or the fact that sometimes it took me awhile to learn something. She was always willing to dedicate as much time and effort to me, as I was willing to give to her. The result was someone who began to believe that work ethic and determination could overcome any obstacles I faced.
I suppose I needed someone who knew me then, to understand how far I needed to go now, but still trusted that it could happen. I believe that courage needs to come from within, but it doesn’t hurt to have people around who remind you just how strong you are and how much you can
accomplish. Seek your mentors out; let them be the supporters that they have always been to you.