Riding and riding some more

I’ve been quiet on my blog lately. There are a lot of things I have to focus on at this time, and I’m struggling to get appointments made with my healthcare team to adjust my diabetes treatment. Overall nothing has really progressed or changed, hence the lack of posts.

On the upside, I’ve had medical cost compensation come in this week. The last time I got glasses was 5 years ago, so I thought it would be time to get a new pair.

I found an optician who had an amazing deal: get a frame and glasses for €79, get a second complete set for free. Throwing in some AR coating for both and I ended up with €139 for two complete glasses. My eyesight hasn’t gone down much at all. I went from -1 on both eyes to -1.25 on both eyes and -0.50 cylinder of the right eye.

I had to ride my bike to and back. To was mostly downhill, but due to construction work that also meant back was mostly uphill. I said “Fuck that” and took a nice little detour through Germany that only had one steep hill that I walked in under 2 minutes. Much better than the other route for sure. I enjoyed taking in the new sceneries I had never seen before for sure.

In total I clocked in at 2 hours exercise today, including walking. Below are only the bike logs.

What have you done for exercise recently?

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No more punishment

Guilt and self-blaming is a theme running rampant among diabetics who do their best to manage their condition and be healthy. It’s hard to ignore, and something that leads to burnout and lack of motivation more quickly than anything else.

Rule #1: Perfection doesn’t exist, so don’t punish yourself for not being perfect even when you strive for it.

Rule #2: We can’t control everything. Sometimes things don’t work out despite having done everything right, that’s life. What matters is how you deal with it. (Kobayashi Maru anyone?)

Rule #3: What matters is that you’re doing your best. It’s unfair to demand more than 100% from yourself.

I admit, some days it’s difficult not to blame myself for poor food choices or lack of exercise. But in the end I also have to remind myself that diabetes doesn’t take a break, and that it’s humanly impossible to manage it tirelessly 24/7 without breaks. Sometimes you just have to breathe and forgive yourself for not being on top of it all the time. Sometimes you have to accept that your values are what they are, and you can only move forward and continue doing your best to manage them. If you can’t undo something that’s already been done, what good will fussing over it do? I’ve never had a bad situation get better because I told myself I’d gone and fucked up, shame on me, how could I have done that – and it’s never going to happen either.

Yes, it’s rough. Yes, we have to be diligent about it. Yes, sometimes we get frustrated. That’s okay, we’re allowed to feel that. The only thing you can do is be kind to yourself about it. Acknowledge your frustration, look back at what you’ve logged and find out how to do better. Can’t do any better? Then do it differently and see if that gets you anywhere. Sometimes we have to change lanes to get to the right place.

My point is, if you’re working hard on managing your diabetes and you’re trying your best, you’re doing amazing already! You’re not going to improve things by being angry with yourself for stumbling. Anger doesn’t help us make better choices, it just makes us linger in a bad place and feed our insecurities. Acknowledge that you’ve been keeping yourself alive and are doing your best before you even think of scolding yourself. Give yourself a compliment of being where you are, because there are many diabetics out there who don’t care about their health and die early deaths because they don’t want to better themselves. Just wanting to be healthy and putting your best foot forward is worthy of praise.

Be kind to yourself. You deserve it. It doesn’t mean you’re not trying hard enough or rewarding failures.

Winding down

It’s around 10:30pm and I’m in bed winding down and resting my back. Today was a very active day. As usual I biked to group, spent 3 hours there and rode back home. Except I didn’t stop at home, I kept on going to the drugstore in Germany.

As it’s 28C out today,and we’re having a heatwave over the next couple of days, I got some ice cream. I biked back (while eating the ice cream like a pro), stopped by the supermarket for groceries and finally went home.

All in all it was a 1 hour ride.

This route is thankfully rather flat but still worth 500 calories. Woop woop!

Earlier tonight I went out to play Pokemon GO! as well. Wifi hotspots are very frequent in my area so I was able to play with almost no interruptions. Caught about 7 Pokemon in 20 minutes time. My leg hurt too much, otherwise I would have walked around a lot more.

A bit worrisome is the blind spot in my vision today. It’s just a small one, but very noticeable all the same time. I worry this might be a symptom of retinopathy and that it makes my anxiety act up horribly. I will see how it is tomorrow and call the doctor for an appointment if necessary. I’m due for an eye checkup in October as it is.

Riding highs and lows (but mostly lows)

Early this afternoon, I decided to pay my parents a visit. I needed to do some repairs and maintenance on my bike and I didn’t have the tools for the repairs, but my dad does! Before I left I checked my mailbox, and what do I find?

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The medical bracelet that I ordered arrived! As I am on my bike every time I have to go somewhere, and I can’t detect hypos well while I’m biking, this was something that I really felt I needed. To my understanding, medical personnel is trained to look for medical bracelets and jewelry in emergency situations. There are medications that insulin does not go together with (even if it’s unlikely I’ll ever need those meds, you never know) and if I am passed out from low blood sugar or get into an accident, a bracelet like this would give the EMTs a heads up to give me the proper treatment. I don’t fit the usual profile of a T1D to most people, so this helps a ton.

I wore it on my bike ride to my parents’ and felt really safe. They really liked the way it looked and the quality of the bracelet too. 🙂 It’s comfortable to wear, not rough, and I forgot I was wearing it half the time.

Some well deserved plugging: this bracelet and many others are sold by Cobra Band on Etsy. (I can’t leave a review until next week, so my blog post will have to do until then. 😉 ) The bracelet is handmade from woven paracord, and the metal plate is custom stamped with whatever text you want within their set limits. The quality is very high and the bracelet feels very sturdy. It’s secured with a strap buckle on the bottom and won’t come off until you want it to. Even with sweaty skin during bike rides, the cord doesn’t irritate my skin!

They have more than an excellent customer service, as they are quick to answer any inquiries and reassured me that they add about an inch of give to make the bracelet feel comfortable even on snug measurements. I’m not disappointed! They estimated production to 1-2 weeks, and my bracelet was shipped out on the 2 week mark. It arrived within 5 business days as promised! All in all, a very transparent process with friendly communication and a high quality product.

The best part is that the price is very affordable. I think I paid €12 or €13 for the bracelet plus shipping to the Netherlands (from the UK). Should I ever need a replacement they will be the first shop I’ll hit up!

If you’re diabetic, allergic, have epilepsy or any other conditions where a bracelet like this will be beneficial, I highly recommend you consider this shop and their bracelets. They make ICE (in case of emergency) bracelets for young children too!

With that addressed, I am proud of myself and mildly frustrated by my body today. My parents live 9km away from where I live, and there are many hills between us. Biking is no joke. I don’t mind, except for the last part where I am basically forced up a very steep hill and then have to ride it all the way back down, THEN BACK UP AGAIN because that’s how things just are around here in the Southern parts of the Netherlands. I don’t relate to my country as ‘flat’, that’s for sure! Those fellows up North and West have it easy with their flat roads.

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This added up to about 18km to and from my parents’ (which my phone didn’t track properly, god I wish I could afford a Fitbit) and took me about 1 hour and 45 minutes total. (The purple in the circle is some walking, the red is biking outdoors.) It wasn’t too hard, the hot sun was really the one thing that made it more difficult than it had to be, but overall I was handling it well.

I did have ridiculous low glucose levels throughout the afternoon though. I left my place at about 9.0, and when I got to my parents’ I was down to 5.9. Not too bad, but my levels consistently continue to drop after that kind of exercise, so I was snacking all afternoon to maintain that level. I didn’t manage to get up past 6.0 anymore despite the whole wheat crackers and biscuits with dried fruit, which was frustrating. My mom and I went on a brief grocery shopping trip and I bought more fruit biscuits and gummy candies mix (we call them Tum Tums, but as I understand it these are antacids in other parts of the world – I’m talking about straight up candy!). I shoveled a small handful down my gullet before I left to go back home, biked my ass off and managed not to drop below 5.2 as I walked into the door.

This is a good example of my low carb and I don’t mix. My body doesn’t want to listen! I had a lot of whole foods during the day, moderately low carb (40-60 grams for breakfast, about 30 for lunch) and the results are too many almost lows that I have to hastily fix with sugar bombs and more complex carbs just so I can stay on top of it. Slow (fiber heavy) carbs are included but they don’t prevent the lows, I’ve noticed.

That said, I did end up burning 800 calories on my bike rides today AND I avoided hypos throughout it all. Can I get a HELL YEAH? I may had to pull some dirty shots with the candy to stay on top, but I did it! 🙂 I’m waiting for my timer to go off to test my post meal values for my day curve, but I don’t expect anything terrible.

Low carb and me

I don’t do low carb. I try to on most days, but it’s not a lifestyle diet I can maintain right now.

I’ve connected with a lot of diabetics around the globe and one ‘helpful piece of advice’ that gets thrown at me all the time is “go low carb!”. Every time I have to politely tell them “That’s not an option for me right now, sorry” and hope that they won’t pester (bully) me into accepting this choice of diet.

Let me break it down in a few simple points.

  1. I am bound to a very tight budget. I have €30-40 a week to buy all the groceries I need, which is more than just food. Cat litter and cat food, toiletries, household items like cleaning supplies and anything else you can imagine that are needed on a weekly basis. It doesn’t get you a whole lot when everything is added up, and there are choices to make. Sometimes the carb rich junk food is cheaper than the fresh plants and proteins that are the better options. Meat isn’t cheap. I don’t eat pork so I’m down to chicken and beef – both expensive meats if you can’t get them on sale. I buy according to whatever is discounted most of the time, and the fresh, healthy alternatives are very often not included (or items that I can’t stomach). Healthy food is expensive where I live. (To illustrate, I can get two cheese or chicken burger that you reheat in the microwave, buns and cheese included, for just a little over €1 a pair. That €1 combo counts as two whole meals to me. Do the math when two pieces of chicken breast cost almost €4.)
  2. My diabetes doesn’t play nice. I caught my type LADA early, and my pancreas throws random insulin parties and I have to bring all the carby snacks because nobody else will. I can’t do without my basal insulin which my values and day curves are testimony to, along with my general sense of feeling healthier, and I can’t do without 40-60 grams of carbs in a meal when my glucose level decides to drop to 3.0 because of my body’s own insulin production. Low carbing is something I strive for on days that my glucose runs high, but as long as I am still riding my (very long) honeymoon wave, it’s not something I can faithfully and consistently pull off. And that should be okay. 

I understand the many benefits of the diet, but we’re all different. Everyone has unique needs and I’m so frustrated that, within a community where ‘individual needs’ are at the front of all treatment and diet methods, this is so easily disregarded when it comes to giving advice about low carbing.

When you have been T1D for 15+ years and your insulin production is zero, then low carbing means lower/less insulin injections are necessary to meet your body’s needs. That just doesn’t work for me. It will one day, but not right now. I am frustrated that my weight problems and dietary choices are somehow turned into a blame game of me not doing something right, when I’m doing the best I possibly can. I can’t inject less insulin and exercise without eating heaps of crackers because of the way my body works. If you’re the kind of person who advocates low carb, that’s alright, but please be considerate of who you advocate to. Understand that my issues happen to others as well.

Be less judgmental and less eager to preach, and take some more time to listen and consider in silence.