When the fire alarm sounds

Recently we had a bit of a moment at work. It’s happened before, and this is why if I were given a locker I would never use it, and why I always keep my things in my desk drawer (and if I had a key to the drawer, I would never lock it).

The morning is going fine, I’m about to start on another little project, and then…

The fire alarm goes off.

We’ve had a few false alarms in recent memory, but this girl is taking no chances. I know there is a common advice to Get Yourself Out, Your Things Can Be Replaced You Cannot and generally speaking I would say that’s very sound advice, but I have a Jack Sparrow moment each time this has happened.

“Not without my effects!”

Because here’s what I have to grab, and then I’ll tell you why.

Pocket things: Insulin pump controller, phone (with my Dexcom CGM app).
Purse: Money, ID, glucose tablets, snack bars, and fruit strips. Backup pump and extra insulin. All the swabby cloths I need to change pumps in a sanitary fashion. Test strips and lancing device. Ketone strips. Keys.
The rest: Bottle of water if I have one. Hat, jacket, scarf, coat, whatever extra clothes I brought. Lunch if I was about to eat.

The why: (Deep breath.) Because I have to be prepared. For everything. Because even the seemingly small things can turn a discomfort into an emergency.
It could be cold or windy that day. I need the jacket or coat. I am not eager to be exposed to the elements outside, across the street where everyone is supposed to wait for who ever knows how long.
Hydration is super important. Now, to be honest, I don’t focus on it a whole lot most days, but in case of an emergency, I need to make sure I have that water and sip on it. Dehydration and stress can very easily bring my blood glucose up and in a hurry. Trying to stay hydrated while waiting for the all-clear, and giving myself something pleasant to put at least a little attention on, can help.
My purse carries emergency supplies along with regularly needed equipment on a daily basis. Stress can also make my blood glucose go down, it just depends. And if that’s the case or if I need food (or if I’ve dosed insulin because I was expecting to have lunch or a snack, for instance), I have to have those foods or glucose tablets or juice or fruit strips or something (carbs)(and protein is good too) on hand. Which means, I need what’s in my purse, either the edibles or at the very least money with which to purchase something from one of the nearby food places in a hurry.
Also, if I have a pod failure, if it accidentally gets ripped off, or I’ve nearly used all the insulin in it and run out while we’re waiting, I have to have a new one and insulin to put in it right away. Since I use a pump instead of multiple daily injections (MDIs), I have to have constant insulin or my blood glucose can jump to the sky in no time.
Keys and ID of course in case for some reason we can’t go back to work, I need a way to get home.
And last but far from least, if I don’t have my pump controller and phone (or test strips and lancing device), I can’t make adjustments as needed, such as checking my blood sugar and dosing a little more insulin, or cutting back how much my constant (basal rate) insulin is given, or increasing it if I notice stress is sending my numbers up. Also without the pump controller I can’t deactivate my old pod and replace it with a new one if I have to.

It doesn’t take long. I keep everything nearby, so just a few seconds. And the last time the fire alarm sounded, I was on my feet gathering my things before anyone else was rolling back from their desk.

I don’t mess around with this. If it’s ever a real emergency, or even if it’s not but we have to wait, it can quickly become a real emergency for me. I have had low blood sugar while waiting for the signal that it was safe to return to work, and I had to wait extra time to go back in while the candy I had just eaten raised my numbers.

When I was in high school and college I felt bad for carrying the “mom” purse (one of my friends dubbed it the “Mary Poppins” purse. “Hermione bag” would work too.). I was the only one who kept so much on hand, but I was always prepared as best as I possibly could be, even though back then I had no emergency worries about blood sugar. But often I was the one who had snacks or other needed things for my friends when they had none. As it turns out, that practice of preparedness has helped me improve my technique and I can face most situations well.

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The day of the 5k

I had been training for six weeks and now it was the night before my first ever 5k. You could say I was excited, nervous as all get out, scrambling to make sure I had everything I needed for the next day, both plenty of fast carbs and water, and my blood glucose was beyond high.

I spent the whole evening over 300. For a touch of perspective, that’s where I was when I was diagnosed and had no real functioning insulin from my own pancreas (remind me and we can talk about the “honeymoon” period sometime).

I later found out I had a bad insulin pod, but because of my ignorance not realizing there could be a problem with the pod itself I checked the site itself, thought it looked fine, and went on with my regular things to try to bring my numbers down. More water than I can stand, frequent checking and corrective insulin doses, and a bit of exercise.

The numbers refused to budge. Eventually the desperate need for sleep overcame everything else, but there was fear. Fear for my numbers to stay too high overnight and put me in danger. Fear that even without that happening that I wouldn’t get to run, that I shouldn’t run.

I went to bed having finally brought my ketones down, but still not sure how long it would take to recover from blood glucose over 400 and still not sure if I should run or if I would even feel like a human in the morning.

Looking back I am embarrassed and how I wish I had just replaced my pod, but at the time all the crazy factors were so new or so rare that I did not know what to do. Now I know better and am less afraid.

But by morning, even though I was back down under 300, the ketones were back, higher than before, and I just did not know if I should run, if the ER was in my near future, or if I should take care of myself at home.

It was not the triumphant beginning to my first 5k I had been hoping for.

Keeping an eye on my numbers, I decided to continue the plan to ready for the race. It ended up being a decent choice.

It was chilly that morning. Great for running a distance, but cold to get to the starting line. My teeth were chattering on the walk up to the park. Check in was simple and I pinned my number onto my Shinsuke Nakamura WWE “Strong Style” shirt. I was wearing a jacket over it but knew by the end of the race I would have warmed up enough I would be able to take it off. Plus, I wanted to show off my dia-gear. I had my Omnipod on one arm and my Dexcom CGM on the other, fully visible.

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I had time for a bathroom stop before we began so I checked my ketone level. It had come down some. Feeling more confident with my choice I jogged over to the pre-race warmup and got my head in the game. It would be okay. I might not run as well as I had been hoping. I had to be careful and non-judgemental. Sure I had wanted to put in a “good” time, but I went back to my original base goal: cross the finish line.

We lined up, they cheered us on, and then.
We were off.

A major cluster of warming up trotting people. I kept to the side knowing I would be one of the slowest. This was my first race. My body had been suffering all night. Don’t judge, don’t judge, just cross the finish line, you can do this. One foot in front of the other and stay hydrated. Keep an eye on your numbers for dropping; I had my pockets full of fast carbs just in case.

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Photo Credit: Andreas Gehring

It was cold. But I was breathing and kept going. I alternated my pace from cheerful walking to trotting to a medium slow jog and back again. The other day previously I had started off for a run around my neighborhood with Shakira songs encouraging me until I slipped into a way overzealous pace and my numbers plummeted–I turned around and walked home. So on this day, no music. I would enjoy the weather and listen to bird chatter and myself.

The 5k had become what I had wanted it and running to be. It was me time.

And actually, it felt pretty good.

Don’t get me wrong, the first mile? The first mile especially was hard. But once I passed that marker I just thought, “Okay, one mile, one mile. Not bad. I just have to do that two more times. I can do that two more times. I can.”

Honestly, that 5k, once I got started, that’s the kindest I’ve been to myself mentally in a very long time.

“I can.”

I rounded the first turn and knew a water stop was coming up. I was carrying my own bottle, but I wanted the little paper cup. I imagined it would taste better, keep my supply lasting longer, stay hydrated, stay hydrated, and it was part of the event, of being an official runner that I didn’t want to miss.

I was right. It was delicious. And I figured I was about halfway. I could definitely do this. My numbers were still really high, but I was satisfied for one that they weren’t on a scary rise like before.

Volunteers and funny signs were spread throughout the race to encourage us — my favorite sign being “Run like you just stole something” — and I soaked it all in. It helped keep my humor up, helped me stay in that good frame of mind, and I kept breathing.

Eventually I came upon the lot where we had parked our car, knew it wasn’t much farther to the finish line, so I decided it was time to push. I could do this. I kept my pace up to jogging and didn’t slow down to walking. Not much farther, don’t slow down, you got this.

People were already leaving by that time, but I just kept going. I knew I was near the back, not much ahead of those deliberately going slower with strollers and walking. That’s okay, just keep going.

Then I neared the last turn before my family, waiting for me all this time, would be able to see me. And I felt good. The final stretch, victory in sight.

Another encouraging volunteer and some more funny signs, with these ones my favorites were “There are zombies behind you!” and “Don’t slow down. People are watching you!”

There it was. The crowd, the finish line.

I picked up my pace.

I couldn’t see my family, I knew they were in the crowd. I hoped they could see me.

Gosh it felt good.

One final tiny turn, off the starting path to the final stretch to the finish line marker.

I sped up again. And I was actually smiling.

There it was, I had done it. Ketones and high blood glucose and sick with worry and just not sure what to do, and after six weeks, I was at the finish line.

When I started up and decided to run a 5k, I wasn’t sure if I could. But I was doing it, even with all the worries of high blood glucose and ketones. I achieved a personal victory.

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Later that day I got rid of all remaining ketones, changed my pod, and brought my blood sugar back down into range.

I felt like I won more than a race. I had won a physical, mental, and emotional battle. And that I can carry with me moving forward.

Five thousand meters

Life is sprinkled with a lot of negativity, ya know? It’s easy to feel down about things that aren’t right, cuz let’s face it, there are a bunch of things that aren’t right. It always seems like there’s one more major thing needing done or a metaphorical fire that needs put out before the last crisis or bill or injury or damaged relationship or whatever is taken care of.

And I’m not even getting into politics.

But, there are also a lot of good things, sometimes discouraged by the bad, sometimes shamed by ignorance, and sometimes overlooked or seeming insignificant in the moment. But the little good things keep me going. Otherwise, bleh.

And I don’t even have clinical depression.

Go hug someone (with permission).

In less than a week, I will run my first 5k race. Ever. And I choose to do it because of and for the good things. And to counter some of the bad.

I wanted a healthy challenge. Something doable, manageable, good-for-me especially in the long run…haha, and something that would kick off former shaming I’ve heard that nestled for too long between my ears. And the time is now. I’ve been working on it, training in my own manner, and I’m going to do something that I’d never previously thought I’d want to do, and practicing something that I’ve watched be shamed by people I used to admire.

I run now.

In the past when the temperatures rose and strangers slipped into their sturdy athletic shoes to take to the roads and sidewalks, I have seen people get genuinely angry to just watch others run when they happened to pass by. Because they were running in public? Because they chose this for their health? Because it’s an activity that doesn’t require much financial investment to reap huge physical rewards?

Because the angry folk couldn’t? Or wouldn’t?

I dunno. But I do know the anger was one reason, subconsciously perhaps, that I didn’t want to take to my neighborhood streets after a tiring workday or on a quiet weekend, even though I knew it would help me with everything DeTickles, with endurance, with strength, with resilience, with confidence, with everything.

It was a negative that shamed a positive. For no good reason. Maybe a reason, but not a good one.

And now I run.

And I run for me. I’m joining the countless others who have decided to lace up their shoes for their own good. I’ve joined the Type One Run Couch to 5k community, and I intend to continue running after Saturday, as part of the Type One Run community and maybe joining others, maybe even more locally.

Because I know something the angry people don’t.

This is right for me. And I like it.

The 2018 Charleston JDRF One Walk

Last week was the JDRF One Walk in Charleston, which I had been looking forward to since I found out about it in January. The DeTickles Dynamos team grew to five members by walk day and I know I had a lot of fun raising funding and awareness for Type 1 Diabetes research.

I wear my DeTickles on my sleeve, proudly baring my Omnipod insulin pump on my right arm and my Dexcom continuous glucose monitor on my left. And this is a shirt for one of my favorite WWE wrestlers, Shinuske Nakamura. The front reads

I wear my DeTickles on my sleeve, proudly baring my Omnipod insulin pump on my right arm and my Dexcom continuous glucose monitor on my left. And this is a shirt for one of my favorite WWE wrestlers, Shinuske Nakamura. The front reads “Strong Style.”

I couldn’t wait to meet more Type 1s in person, to celebrate what each of us had accomplished and what we do on a daily basis, and to walk with my head high surrounded by loved ones who support and encourage me all the time.

The walk ended up being a little different than I expected. There wasn’t as much interaction among strangers unless you went to a table like the JDRF Advocacy table or talked to representatives from Omnipod and Medtronic and Dexcom and the like. But there was a picnic-like area for teams and families that came together to eat and play games until walk time. And I did meet a gentleman who has lived with T1 for sixty years (my friends, he has seen some stuff–including huge improvements in treatments and options, which is exactly what we’re raising money for [there’s still some time to donate!]), and I’m pretty sure I talked to the Omnipod representative who helped me bypass the six month wait time that insurance requires in order to pay for my Omnipod pump ($$$$ but thankfully he helped me save and it was sooo worth it; I was literally freaking out with each mealtime injection). And I got some sweet swag: an Omnipod drawstring bag proudly proclaiming me a Podder, which I’ve turned into my gym bag, a multi-use Type 1 Looks Like Me scarf/hat, and a couple other things. Plus free snacks!

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The walk was beautiful through a very nice neighborhood and at just over a mile long seemed to take no time at all chatting with the fabulous DeTickles Dynamos. And at the end, one of the walk sponsors, Moe’s, provided everyone with super tasty chicken and beef burritos.

I’d love to meet more T1s in person but I was too shy to randomly introduce myself to anyone there. Still, I’m thinking this is a pretty great event and cause, so I may see about volunteer opportunities and probably make some more friends then too. All in all, a very good time and great to see so many people there. I even saw my Endocrinologist there! Bless.

My thanks again for the support financially, emotionally, physically that I have been given as a diabadass and as team captain for the DeTickles Dynamos! I would do it again.

Note: This post links to several companies not associated with DeTickles Diaries. I wanted to express my thanks for the Walk sponsors and to make it easier to learn about some of the tech and treatment options available for People with Type 1 Diabetes. This is what we live. These are our improvements in the last hundred years. And this is what raise money to continue to better, so T1Ds can thrive with less physical and emotional hassle and more peace of mind.