Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Go read this:

Thursday, September 12, 2013


September 11th is an anniversary for me, but not the same as for so many other people.  I remember the same event, but in a different way.  I remember it because it precipitated some events that brought a very special friend into my life.

A number of years ago I was living in Halifax.  I hadn't been there all that long, and I was trying to find some new footing for myself.  I was interested in a kayak-building class.  They gentleman who ran the course was very friendly and generous and had loaned me one of the models to take a paddle with him and former members of the course one evening, so I could see if it was something I really wanted to do or not.  Of course after that fine evening of paddling and burgers and beers and chatting with new and fun people, I signed up.

Shortly before the start date, something horrible happened in a different country.  It understandably freaked out a lot of people.  The other two who had signed on for the class with me both shared the guilt that so many experienced and thus backed out.  I couldn't understand how my denying myself an fun experience could make a difference to the world of hate and politics, if anything it reminded me of the value of enjoying my time here and now.  The Kayak Guy was more than happy to just have the course being the two of us, so that next Saturday I showed up at his studio, and we began.  I can't recall if it was the next day or the next weekend, but one of the the Kayak Guy's friends dropped by to say hello.  I had met him before at the burger and beers.  Oddly, he had never gotten around to trying to make a kayak.  In an almost irreverent chat, it was decided that he'd take over the boat the Kayak Guy had started and do the course along side me.

Thus my friendship with Young Donald began.

At that time he was twice my age; the same age as my mother.  We chatted and laughed a lot and developed a habit of visiting that same pub on an almost weekly basis for a long time.  The friendship has waxed and waned over the years as they all do, sometimes with big gaps, and other times with almost-daily coffees.  There's something wonderful and reassuring about having him in my life.  He's one of those people that I feel will always be there, whatever happens.  He wasn't at my PhD defense, and I wasn't at his most recent (and hopefully last?) wedding, but it doesn't diminish the happiness we felt for one-another on those occasions. I tease him about being old and forgetting that he told me that joke last week, and he teases me even more if I do the same thing.

I've not talked to Young Don in awhile.  I can't articulate the disappointment I feel in myself when I realise this.  I got wrapped up in myself and missed a birthday phone call, and still haven't climbed out of the fog of shame I feel to reach out.  I'm hoping that my resolution I'm feeling here on our anniversary stays strong.  I think it's long past time to make a call, or better... send a letter: he loves getting mail.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Is slugginess or stress?

Last week the on-campus gym was closed so I was a big fat lazy slug.  Yes, I could have probably fit some form of exercising in besides contending with exhaust specialists and their repercussions, but I went full-slug instead.

My blood sugars gradually climbed.

Then this weekend they got worse, oddly coinciding with the boss returning and listing all the things he wanted me to do when we went out for breakfast on Saturday.

I don't have a lot of experience correcting highs.  I've not been at this long, and I've not got a great handle on just how much 1 unit of insulin will lower my sugar.  I also don't know how low is too low to treat when I want to go to bed for the night.

Of course, not knowing what I'm doing and seeing my numbers just go up despite what they used to do when I ate this way, or bolused that way two weeks ago, just makes me more stressy.

I can't think of another PWD who started using in adulthood, like I did.  In my imagination all the pros just adapt to periods of stress or slug without even thinking on it, but I'm flailing in the dark.

I am going to try to take this as an emphatic YOU MUST GO TO THE GYM! sign, and thankfully today I was actually smart enough to pack a change of clothes (not like I forgot yesterday... just sayin')

Friday, August 23, 2013

Back to School

I hate this time of year.  I didn't always, of course, when I was younger and still going to school there was always that sense of anticipation and excitement of seeing and interacting with people who weren't in the summertime social circles mixed with the dread of routine and having to get up early for classes.  As I grew older and moved to grad school, September stopped being about a change in routine and more about the campus getting crowded again.  Now that I'm working in a university where the vast majority of the undergrad population is only around when classes are in their "traditional" fall and winter sessions, this time of year is all about quiet seething rage.

I am convinced that the average intelligence of this campus takes a nose-dive right around now.  By Monday there will be massive throngs of meandering "young adults" who can't seem to figure out how cross-walks and street lights work.  They will start to cross when their light turns red.  Stop in the middle of the intersection like startled deer when a car screeches to a halt so as not to hit them and run giggling in all directions and they can't decided whether to complete their crossing or return to their starting position to try again. all this will be exacerbated by a handful of moronic motorists who stop to allow the children to cross despite having the light in their favour.  It's already beginning as the first few kids are moving in, often with their entire family and a carload of detritus aiding in their settling-in process.

Timely passage through the hallways will be massively disrupted as these overly-coifed and made-up mouth-breathers will meander aimlessly, because taking their eyes off their smart phones for long enough to navigate a straight line is inconceivable. Of course there will be the occasional complete jams caused by those who can't manage to amble and read concurrently as some shocking revelatory text (OMG Brad & Clara broke up!) comes in and they suddenly come to a complete halt in order to gape more effectively.

The worst thing, however, is the meat-heads who will now crowd the weight rooms at the gym.  Yes, the campus gym will be open later into the evening, but going in there any time after about 1 or 2 pm will become an exercise in massive self-control of pacing in front of the squat racks and periodically bitching at some ass-hat who insists that a squat rack is required for their dead lifts, or anything at all they want to do with a dumbbell.

Of course, there is still that leftover sense that the beginning of September is the real start of the "new year", and I still find myself with quiet little resolutions in the back of my mind.  This year it isn't about getting to campus earlier for a better parking spot.  This year it's about become more firm and demanding that I get time in the middle of the day to go to the gym.  The pain in the ass of fighting for equipment in the evening is often enough to make me skip a workout, and I don't think that's something I should be doing anymore.  This week as the gym was closed for some pre-semester whatever, I watched my average blood glucose sit higher and become a little more twiggy than it's been in previous weeks.  I also watched my mood turn to shit, and sluggishness and fatigue taking residence.  I think maybe I can argue that people are just going to have to suck it up a little that I'm not constantly here at their convenience and that I have to watch out for myself a little for a change.

Wish me luck on that one.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

What is common protocol?

One of the things about being so new at this is that I have no idea what I'm doing.  Well, I have a vague idea, but all the conversations about how to use insulin just led to an overall understanding, but as with anything on is new at, the minutiae is a mystery.  Additionally, it is, from my reading, an incredibly personal and variable thing...

How much does one correction bolus?  It depends...
Does one bolus for coffee without sugar?   It depends...
How many units of insulin is this cookie worth?  It depends...
Can I shoot into my boob?

You get the idea.

I'm trying really hard to get active again.  I managed my first day lifting on insulin quite some time ago, and although I had visions of going low in the gym and either passing out or throwing plates at a yahoo doing too much grunting, it was fairly anticlimactic.  I've seen my blood glucose drop rather dramatically from a lifting session many times, but oddly I've also seen it stay more or less the same.  It's like there's been some weird magical "floor" to lifting-related BG variations, but that wouldn't make a lot of sense, would it?

One thing I'd like to know (and yes, I know the answer is "It depends..." but humour me and tell me what you do) is if one normally would or should go to the gym after having a low they needed to treat?

Monday a student was back from vacation with gourmet sea salt caramel corn and salt-water taffy, and I can't just not even taste it, right?  Normally I'm not a big sugar person, but I want to be polite and I really do like popcorn, so I indulged, failed to bolus correctly, and of course over-compensated when I next ate.  It wasn't a very severe low at all.  Just enough to feel it, and fix it with a couple of glucose tabs.  But then later I wasn't sure if I should go to the gym or not.  I had a hard time gauging how I was feeling, and I guess I was just concerned that my BG was too labile after bouncing from too high to too low.  I'm not claiming it makes a lot of sense, but I'm pretty damn inexperienced with this.  Anyone have any advice or more experience to share?

Friday, August 2, 2013


For those not part of the club (the club of us cool folk with chronic disease), a "diaversary" is the anniversary of being diagnosed with diabetes.  I sort of consider today my diaverasry.  My first one.

My diaversary could be just as easily called August 30th, because that was the date of the appointment when my endocrinologist told me that tests had confirmed my diabetes, but August 2nd was the date when he first threw the diagnosis at me.  August 2nd was the day that I was sitting in my car in the parking lot talking long distance with my father in Niagara Falls, and sharing a flurry of texts with one of my best friends in Nova Scotia.  August 2nd was when I started a brief ice cream bender and daily fasting blood glucose tests and wondered what was next.

I feel like I should take stock of the last year, but in other ways there's so little to tell.  I've only been doing basal insulin for a few months and bolus insulin for a few weeks, and frankly I'm still a little amazed to see double-digits on the glucose meter despite them not being all that uncommon anymore.  I've not really had any scary highs or lows and I'm still pumpless and figuring out carbs as I go.  I've learned the annoyance of forgoing grabbing some chips and salsa that everyone else was eating because I'm too damn lazy to bolus for it, but I've not learned much else.

I got bigger in the last year.  The number on the scale keeps climbing, but that's more to do with the treatment of my Grave's disease than anything else.  It sucks for climbing, but it's been working just fine for the lifting.  I've still not got the best habits for keeping myself healthy, but I'm working on it.

I've no great revelations in the end.  This, just like anything else, is a thing that's become part of my life which I'm adapting to.  It was a challenge that now over time is turning into normal.

Friday, July 26, 2013

being good while being bad

I hate this car-hunting thing.  I see something that I really like, and I get excited, and then I call or email or whatever and find out it's been sold, or there's something wrong about it, or it's really a car-flipper selling it, or it starts to sound even better and then it gets sold (like that guy yesterday... grrr).  I'm trying hard not to let the mild panic of seeing so little that fits my demands as Vera's transmission grinds its way into oblivion scare me into acting too rashly and getting something that I won't be happy with in the long run.  I hate the headache, though.  I hate the constant anxiety

But enough about cars.  I was good so far this week and have gone to the gym twice, and I'm feeling pretty confident that I'll get may ass in there again tomorrow.  I have to admit, I rather like having an "excuse" to go to the gym.  I no longer feel like I'm being self-indulgent to take time away from the lab to lift.

Is it an odd thing that I feel like I'm somehow being selfish my looking after my body?  Am I worried about vanity (because doing something which is that odd combination of challenging and enjoyable can't be good for me, right)?  Do other people feel like this?  Is it normal, or new, that taking care of one's health in an active way is something that society views as simultaneously esteemed and vainglorious?  Or does society even think that, or is it something in my own head?

Monday, July 22, 2013

It's Been Challenging

I seem to recall a few months ago I was really gung-ho about getting back to the gym and working hard, and climbing lots, etc, etc, etc.

Then work gets in the way, and gets in the way again, and gets in the way some more.  And health gets in the way.  And my car being about to die any kilometre now gets in the way.

I think I gave up on this being a great time to get back in shape a few months ago.  Sad, given that I've been trying to "get back in shape" for more than a year.  Lately, I'm just impressed if I manage to get to the gym at all, let alone multiple times a week.  And climbing... I think I've gone to the gym only twice or thrice in the last couple of months (see aforementioned car).  ... and the gym!  Not outside like it should be at the time of year.  The freaking gym.

I would really really really like to get my shit together.  Honestly, I feel like a total child half the time and wonder how it is I've not yet managed to lose my own ass or something.

In better news (is this better?  I'm not sure), I've now been doing basal insulin for about 3 months and bolusing for about half that time.  I've even comparison-shopped for insulin pumps, including meeting with reps, and have essentially chosen what flavour of cyborg I'll be.  I remain a child, however, in that it's my diabetes nurse who in both meetings had the wherewithall to ask about user support in Canada should I move back there.  Or maybe I'm just assuming my boss isn't lying when he tells me that he wants to keep me around for another three years at least.

The insulin is nice in the sense that I'm no longer looking at steadily increasing fasting blood glucose and having minor panic wondering what damage I'm accumulating.  I'm still not quite used to the concept that I can eat more carbs with relative impunity (assuming appropriate bolusing).  I'm also still not entirely used to bolusing, and I think a lot of the time I'm just doing the WAG (wild-ass guess) dosing, even when I'm looking up carbs per food item and attempting to figure out how much I'm eating without resorting to weighing everything.  I am feeling a lot more crampy lately, and that shows up when I climb (or try to go up stairs quickly, or just flex), and I can't help wondering if this is anything to do with anything.  I'm on a lower dose of my thyroid meds now too, and that makes me want to dance a little happy dance (probably because now I'm not too lethargic to do so).

The worst issue is the car.  Vera is about ready to die.  In all honesty for a few months she was doing that thing that the unpleasant lover does where they want to break up with you, but being the breaker rather than the breakee would put them in unsympathetic light so instead they gradually treat you worse and worse in an attempt to force you to call it quits.  Now she's just about started sleeping with other people, so I really ought to line up my rebound car and cut Vera loose.  Maybe this is taking the relationship analogy too far.  I am looking for a new-to-me car, and between me and the car-mechanics-savvy friend who's helping me look there is a shit-tonne of pickiness happening.  This will ensure a brighter driving future, but in the meantime it means a vehicle I shouldn't take out of the immediate area lest that horrible noise her transmission is making evolves into the whole not-going thing.  That means no climbing unless someone else from this area wants to go at on a day and time that I can make it (see above about work in the way).  That means I am sad.

It also means I think I should come up with some power-lifting goals or something else to focus on (the weight gym being on campus), but then I realise I have no idea how one trains for that sort of thing, and it's not like I'm making it to the gym regularly anyway, and then I just want ice cream.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Gender in the Gym

This is totally inspired by Babyeater Lifts recent post.  While I don't want to get into a big argument or diatribe about what it's like to be a woman who lifts in a university gym, I can certainly share my experience.

I first tried lifting late in my undergraduate years.  There was a lab I worked in and for whatever reasons I can't recall now, I made plans to meet my labmate at the gym early one morning.  He was going to teach me how to work out, as all I ever did prior was a lot of cycling.  He never showed, but the attendant taught me a bunch of stuff, likely to stave off boredom, but it was enough to get me interested.  I started to go more regularly.  I can't really remember what I did early on, probably just played with machines a lot.  Eventually I ran into a guy at the gym that I knew by sight and slightly intersecting social circles, and he started chatting with me.  This led first to a pleasant friendship and workout partnership.  Then his occasionally amusing compliments grew more and more lascivious in nature.  I was young and stupid and not very assertive, so instead of telling the guy off, I just stopped going to the gym.

A lot of years have passed between that time and my walking back into a weight room this past summer.  I'm older, proudly bitchier, and I grew more spine.  I studied a lot of online videos so I'd have a clue what I was doing when I went into the weight room, and the place in the summer is conveniently underpopulated, so I never really had to fight for space or equipment.  I've lived a number of years where I stood out visually; by virtue of hair, clothes, jewelery, and ink.  As a result I've become very able to just ignore people's reactions to me in shared space.  It means I'll never notice some hottie giving me an invitation to say hello, but it also means that I can tune out some guy giving me stink-eye for bringing a pair of ovaries into "his" gym.  Being a climber also helps, as the demographic of that community still skews to the 20-something male (although admittedly it's been changing rapidly since I first harnessed up), so the social group I find in a university weight room is familiar.

There are times that I am acutely aware of how I stand out in the weight room.  When it's crowded it's always a total bitch to fight for equipment, and I can't help wonder if men waiting for a rack are given the same sort of impatience that I receive.  Sometimes the gender imbalance is to my favour, however, as being viewed as weak, I am never asked to spot.  I also know that I've made at least one friend because he was inspired to talk to me after enjoying watching me do squats.  Certainly when I first started climbing at a naval base gym, I never had to wait long for a belay.

I guess overall, there were times when my being female was something that caused problems in the gym, in that I was uncomfortable being watched and objectified.  Since then I've become a lot more thick-skinned and eager to assert my right to place.  My gender has become less of an issue to myself as I've gained self-confidence and a feminist "fuck you" attitude.  As to how the boys in the weight room deal with it, I couldn't give a rat's ass.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Things I Thought Of At the Gym Yesterday

I hate it when the semester is fresh starting so all the kids are back and have nothing better to do than create crowds at the gym.

Waiting for a squat rack is a big pile of bull shit.

Boys become whiney little bitches when you chase them out of a squat rack for doing deadlifts.

Many boys seems unwilling or unable to squat fully; they just sort of crouch down a bit.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Lacking Context

The other day I went to my climbing gym.  It was a day that I wasn't there to meet anyone in particular, I just went to boulder on a night when it was likely some of the climbing friends I made would be there.  I climbed.  I was having fun, although not climbing particularly well, and being that the group of people I liked had conglomerated around one wall, I joined them and worked on a problem there that some others were playing on.  

There was this other woman there (I'll call her Condi) who had not been to that particular gym before, although she was clearly an experienced climber.  She was with a couple I had definitely seen in the gym a number of ties, but hadn't previously socialised with.  This triad eventually moved to the wall I was playing on with my friends, and Condi did the problem I was playing on after a number of tries and was playing on something else.  One of my friends got the problem and she was really excited about it.  I was close, but there was something in the last couple of moves that I wasn't figuring out.  My group eventually cleared out, but I gave the problem a few more tries, changing up what I was doing at the end, looking for the way that would work for me.  Condi had a lot of opinions and suggestions which she shared freely. 

Climbers refer to information on a climb as "beta".  My opinion about beta is that one should be open to sharing it, like they would chalk (oddly some people don't share chalk, either).  One has to be careful, and not shove a lot of beta at a person who wants to figure out a climb on their own, or worse, someone who's not really had a chance to try the climb yet.  I have always tried really hard to ask someone new to me if they want beta, or waited until they asked for some, before I've given it.  In the case of this problem, I wasn't figuring out the ending sequence, so at first I really didn't mind the beta Condi was tossing. 

It got a little annoying, however, when she started to say shit like, "Sometimes you've just got to feel the way your body wants to move and go with it."  This is not necessarily bad or wrong advice (despite sounding stupidly flakey), but it's stuff than at experienced climber already knows.  It's like reminding an adult to wash their hands after going to the washroom.  Condi moved on in a comparable vein saying things that I'm sure she thought were kind and encouraging, like "We all have bad days, I'm sure you'll get it next time." and "The numbers don't really mean anything."  I kept my mouth shut, but it really started to piss me off.  Because I've been climbing for years and used to be pretty good at it, all the crap she was coming up with just came out as bloody condescending.  

I ended up making a point of talking to Condi about having broken my ankle last year and having a bunch of health issues this year.  This stuff is none of her damn business, and I hate making excuses, but I really wanted to get it into her skull that she was making assumptions about me that were completely off base.  I wanted to try to open her mind to the notion that maybe not everyone who is climbing poorly is new.

The whole thing, however, has left me with a nagging unease.  Have I done anything like this?  Have I tried to talk up someone I didn't know and inadvertently insulted them?  Have I treated someone like they didn't know what they were doing when they had some invisible disability that was hampering them?  I feel like I need to look a little more closely at myself and my own motivations for opening my mouth.  In the case of Condi, I really can't be certain if she was genuinely trying to make me feel better, or if she was trying to prop herself up as the cool and welcoming expert to the bumbling ingĂ©nue she took me for.

When I first began to climb, I was welcomed and helped so much by the climbing community that was in place at the time.  I knew people who gave me excellent coaching when I needed it, and genuinely encouragement.  I met folks who could be as thrilled by a beginner's victory over a V1 as they could by a strongman's completion of a V9.  These people helped me and shaped me and gave me something that has changed my life for the better.  I would rather be one of those people than someone who judges without information and ends up belittling.  I will be trying hard in the future to keep my eyes open and my mouth shut.