Insights into my personal life.

This blog includes the personal details of my experiences as a recently diagnosed Type I diabetic and the impact of that diagnosis on my endurance athletic pursuits.

Please understand that I consider myself to be a work in progress. I am willing to share both my successes and failures, so please do not take my words to be professional dietary or medical advice. This is a blog, this is only a blog. I research my choices carefully, and take my health very seriously. The choices I make are my own, I am doing the best with the resources and support that I have. If you have questions or concerns feel free to comment, but please be constructive and understand that this is my life. I value it dearly.

My goal is to live a happy, healthy and active life where I can balance my internal drive to push my physical limits and the challenge of safely maintaining stability despite the challenges of Type I diabetes.

Friday, November 22, 2013

One week of diabetes awareness posts.

The post below are from my Facebook wall.  I've decided to preserve them on my blog as well in hopes that this information will reach as many people as possible.  I've received a great response from people in regards to these posts.  Diabetes can be a complicated topic to discuss, but the discussion is important.  Diabetes affects a significant and rapidly expanding portion of the population.  These facts are important so please feel free to read, share and discuss!

Diabetes Awareness Fact of the Day - November 9th, 2013

November 14th is World Diabetes Day. It will also be exactly one year from my diagnosis with Type I - Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adults (LADA). In one year I have lowered my hemoglobin A1C from 11.2% to 5.6%. A1C is a test measuring your red blood cells average blood glucose exposure during the past 3 months. 11.2% correlated with a average blood sugar of 285. 5.6% correlates with 114. Each day this week I will post some basic information about diabetes. 

The goal is to raise awareness of this increasingly prevalent disease. Admittedly and despite having family members living with both type I and type II diabetes, I knew very little a year ago. 

Type I is a condition where the body no longer produces it's own insulin requiring either insulin injection with syringes or in my case an insulin pump. Type II is a condition where your body produces insulin but your cells no longer respond to it. Type I account for only about 5% of diabetes cases - but both types are on the rise. 

If you have any questions about diabetes, please ask.
How did you know something was wrong at first?
I finally figured out something was wrong when I felt really ill after WCRC. I was starting to cramp often on the bike that week (I never cramp). Of course, I went home after my race and thought I had the flu and was craving sugar... so chocolate milk, o.j., and coke to try to settle my stomach. Oops. Then by mid week I realized I couldn't read the projector at SBR, but assumed the projector was out of focus, so I finally set a Dr.'s appt. There were so many subtle clues that I had been looking past. And some not so subtle. I had 'passed out' after drinking 3 or 4 beers earlier in the day. I passed out a 2nd time at Lindsey's after eating half a plate of caramel brownie deliciousness - along with a few aforementioned Mai Tais. I had been waking up at night thirsty and chugging milk only to wake up later to have to use the bathroom. Craving sweets like never before! I had horrible allergies all summer, along with random eye and sinus infections. I even had been waking up with numbness in my arms but assumed I had just been sleeping on my arms funny. I can probably even attribute my weakened ankles which easily sprained a few times playing soccer, as well as tendon pain at the bottom of my forefoot. All of those symptoms have since cleared. I can't believe I didn't put it together earlier, but I use the analogy of boiling a frog, the water temp raises slowly enough that the frog never jumps out of the pot. (not that I've ever cooked a frog, but it would fit my low carb diet).

Diabetes Awareness Fact of the Day - November 10th, 2013

Blood sugar is a measure of the amount of glucose in a person's blood. If blood sugar is too high, the condition is called hyperglycemia, and lOw blood sugar is called hypO-glycemia. Get it? hypO = lOw. A healthy fasting range is 70-100 mg/dL. That's milligrams per decilter, or about 1 gram per Liter. The average person has about 5 liters of blood. 4-5 grams in an average body, which equates to just over 1 teaspoon. 

If a diabetic is hyperglycemic, they have too much sugar. Moderately high blood sugars of 125-180 are not immediately dangerous, but chronic exposure to these levels increase risk of many degenerative disease. The higher the level the more serious the risk. 

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can be more immediately dangerous, which may lead to loss of consciousness and death. Lows can be treated with glucose pills, sugary juice and other fast acting sugars or in severe cases, with an emergency injection of a hormone called Glucagon. Glucagon stimulates the person's own liver to dump it's stored glycogen (the body's storage form of glucose) into the blood stream. 

Either way, if you come across an unconscious diabetic, treat them with sugar first. Even if you're wrong, it won't do any more harm.

If someone is unconscious, the FIRST thing you must do is call 911 and get the EMT on their way to the unconscious person. NOW ... how will a stranger know if you may be a unconscious diabetic? Wear a medical alert bracelet!! Your RoadID is not just for when your training or racing.

Diabetes Awareness Fact of the Day - November 11th, 2013

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin serves many roles within the body, but the primary role with concern to diabetes is that it's proper functioning enables glucose from the blood stream to enter cells of muscles and the brain. Once inside the cell, the glucose can either be used, or if the supply of glucose exceeds demand, it is stored as body fat. 

In type I diabetes insulin in absent, in type II diabetes insulin is produced (often at a high level) however the bodies cells are desensitized (insulin resistant) and don't respond to it's presence. 

Insulin resistance can be caused by poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, inflammation, illness, stress, sleep deprivation along with genetic factors. The more insulin resistant a person become, the more insulin is required to achieve the job of getting glucose into the cells. 

Since insulin is also a fat storage hormone, the high levels of insulin required in an insulin resistant person cause the metabolism to shift towards storing more energy as fat. In fact, if a type I diabetic were to chronically inject large amounts of insulin into the same part of their body they can develop a localized fat deposit at the injection site. This same fat storage occurs in the body of an insulin resistant person with high levels of insulin through-out the body.

·    Not bad but a couple of corrections needed. Many T2's take insulin too because the beta cells just wear out and don't produce enough or any insulin. Although T2 is connected to obesity, (We're seeing T2 in children now because of sedentary lifestyles and poor dietary habits), genetics plays a major role in T2 development and should be emphasized more than it is.

·    Thanks again Ed. I appreciate it, I'm trying to be informative enough that someone with little previous knowledge can learn enough without overly complicating and confusing things, but it's great to have another set of eyes out there making sure I don't miss any pertinent details.

Diabetes Awareness Fact of the Day - November 12th, 2013

Diabetes is much more prevalent than many would ever imagine. At the bottom of this post I will share a link to the statistics from the American Diabetes Association website. It can be difficult to put numbers into perspective, but as of 2011, 23 million Americans are diabetic - 8.3% of the population. The scarier number is that another 79 million Americans are Pre-diabetic, that another quarter of the population! 1 in 4 people!

Pre-diabetes – At least 50 percent of people with impaired glucose tolerance eventually develop type 2 diabetes, and there is an increased risk of heart disease even if diabetes does not develop. 

Impaired fasting glucose is defined as a fasting blood sugar level between 100 and 125 mg/dL. Impaired glucose tolerance is defined as a blood sugar level of 140 to 199 mg/dL two hours after an oral glucose tolerance test.

When is the last time you had a fasting glucose tested? This test is usually done when you get your fasting cholesterol test. I've often wondered if that statistics really project that 1 in 4 Americans are pre-diabetic, then why aren't glucose levels tested at every doctors appointment similar to blood pressure? Why not ask your physician to check? 

You can take matters into your own hands and get your own meter and test yourself and your family. Meters are often less than $20 and a test strips are usually about $0.50 a piece, which is cheap compared to the chronic expense of diabetes.

Another scary fact is that 25% of those who have diabetes don't know it.

Diabetes Awareness Fact of the Day - November 13th, 2013

Since yesterdays post focused on the statistics of diabetes, today I'd like to focus on why those statistics matter so much. The complications of diabetes are serious. There are dangers of hypoglycemia among those treating their diabetes with insulin, but there are also numerous consequences resulting from the high blood sugars experienced in the millions of people that are either un-diagnosed or not managing to control their high blood sugars.

From the NIH website: "If you have diabetes, your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too high. Over time, this can cause problems with other body functions, such as your kidneys, nerves, feet, and eyes. Having diabetes can also put you at a higher risk for heart disease and bone and joint disorders. Other long-term complications of diabetes include skin problems, digestive problems, sexual dysfunction, and problems with your teeth and gums.

Very high or very low blood sugar levels can also lead to emergencies in people with diabetes. The cause can be an underlying infection, certain medicines, or even the medicines you take to control your diabetes." 

While this sounds like any simple disclaimer you might hear at the end of a prescription drug ad, these risks are serious. When they say kidneys think dialysis, when they say nerves think loss of feeling in limbs and neurological disorders such as alzheimers as you age. When they say feet, think wounds that may never heal, gangrene and possible amputation. These can be serious - but because they are a result of long term exposure it can be very easy to not take the risks seriously until it is too late. And beyond your own personal health, the management of these problems will have a crippling effect on our entire healthcare system. I don't want to dwell on the negative, but this cannot be ignored. It's the unlucky 13th today, tomorrow I'll focus on the positive.

Diabetes Awareness Fact of the Day - November 14th, 2013

Thank you for following along with my posts all week. I could continue with information for the entire month and if there is anything you'd like to ask please do so, but today I want to shift the focus. 

Hopefully everyone is aware of the story of 5 year old Miles,who is in remission from Leukemia. Through the Make-a-wish foundation along with 11,000 people in the San Fransisco area, Miles lived his wish yesterday to save the city as Batman.

This amazing victory for a new generation of Batman reminds me of another heroic batman near and dear to my heart - Eric McLean. Eric passed way on August 23rd of 2012 after a 10 year battle with Leukemia. His brother, a Wisconsin Triathlon Team alumni and friend founded the organization L.I.F.E. on his brother's behalf. L.I.F.E. is the Leukemia Ironman Fundraiser for Eric. L.I.F.E. carries on as a successful 501(c)(3) charity.

L.I.F.E. is the charity that we at Sbr Coaching were raising funds for one year ago at our annual Wisconsin Cycling Relay Challenge (WCRC) when I first realized that something was wrong with me following my leg of the relay, leading me to the doctor's office to investigate the reason for my blurry vision, constant thirst, and frequent urination. 

I feel odd admitting this, but when I learned that I had Type I diabetes, I thought to myself, at least it's not cancer. I am blessed to have begun my journey with diabetes with the great physical strength of an endurance athlete and a background in biochemistry that allowed me to understand the physiology, as well as an interest in food and nutrition- as well as a passion for cooking. I am an incredibly lucky person. Diabetes will not hold me back in L.I.F.E. Eric has played his role as well, inspiring me along the way.

If perhaps I have inspired you, please feel free to donate on my behalf to L.I.F.E. 

You can learn more here:

Miles story further reinforces that the world is full of amazing people. We may get distracted at times along the way, but we are all this world together. We are all connected and it's easy to see. 

Tomorrow I will be taking the 23rd mile in silence out of respect Jess Alswager, another hero linked to my favorite number, 23. If you wish to donate to support diabetes or learn more about Jesse, follow along here: 

Thank you Jesse, Eric and Miles.

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