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I refuse to hate my blood sugar: a runner’s post.

June 1, 2011

The Ottawa Half Marathon last weekend was a joyous event. It’s pretty powerful to experience over nine thousand people running en-mass like a bunch of crazies.

The energy of the race was incredible, and unforgettable. With no end in sight of people cheering us on, and a glowing, overwhelming camaraderie between fellow runners, I often found myself  just bursting out into cheers myself, waving my hands around – and I must have been beaming with joy for at least two of the two hours and ten minutes I spent running that race.

Plus the city is beautiful, the rain over the Ottawa river that started falling at 10k was magical, and the giant deluge of rain and puddles for the final hurdle was, well, a bonding experience among racers. I enjoyed every minute of it – and up until the 18th kilometer, found the whole thing pretty relaxing and not at all hard. That, in itself, is a stupendous testament to the power of baby steps.

You can see pictures of my giant grins, as well as my “final push” face in the final three K, on this snazzy and cool website. I love that these photos exist. Twenty one timed and measured kilometers later, and I am now in a whole new category of athlete. I am now, for realz, a “runner.”

 ~

And now we’re back to our regular scheduled program. Which in diabetes-land means a whole lot of unscheduled surprises.

Diabetes has been absolutely exhausting lately – a roller coaster ride that I never ligned up for, and that never seems to end. Take today, for example. I woke up on the low side. Following breakfast with a friend I soared to astronomical blood sugar readings. By mid-morning though, I started dropping so fast I had to nurse a glass of apple juice all through a work meeting to keep from crashing. And then it was comfortable, safe figures for the early afternoon. Then the snack I ate to ensure I had enough sugar to bike around the city on my various appointments – well, that seemed to send my readings to the moon and back. I hovered in the teens all evening, my correctional bolus shots seemingly having no effect at all.

I’ve spent a lot of this past year trying to cut unnecessary drama from my life. I feel wiser and stronger for it. And yet, what an irony that I’m stuck with a disease that comes with no end of drama. Every day’s another roller coaster ride. I rarely step back and recognize that – understandable, since it’s impossible to step back from a disease that’s constantly waving it’s little finger at you. Every day’s a new day, a new cycle of ups and downs, a whole little saga running below the radar of the normal world.

It is exhausting.

~

All things have their shadow side. These past few days I’ve been noticing some numbness in the ball of my left foot. This might just be some effect of pounding 21k out on Sunday. Or it could be the beginning of diabetic neuropathy – in other words, irreversible nerve damage in the feet that can lead to accidents, infection, and amputation.

I came home tonight – still riding a pretty high sugar reading – and slipping off my sandals, noticed again that weird fuzzy numb feeling in my left foot. “Okay hun,” I thought, speaking to myself sensibly and compassionately, “if we’re developing neuropathy in my feet, we’ll deal with it.” But then that little, terrified voice popped up – the one that reminds me sometimes that having a chronic disease is SERIOUS AND SCARY.

I don’t want to start losing sensation in my feet, it said.

I felt the tears-of-anger-and-rage stir up somewhere in my sternum.

Tonight, Tears-of-anger-and-rage? I asked them.

No, not tonight, they replied. And I felt the wave pass.

So I got up, sang a Vivaldi aria to cheer myself up, put on my running shoes,  and left for a run. Because, at least for now, I can.

~

Lately I find it impossible to be anything but totally cheerful and optimistic. My run tonight was magnificent – exactly what my body needed. The air is balmy and the breeze intense, and the city is pulsing with the sultry frenzy that befalls this European town come summer. I ran and ran.

And then my blood sugar dropped. I ate disgusting glucose tablets. And it dropped again. I ate more tablets. And I kept running. I ate the whole blasted package of gross dextrose tabs, plus a granola bar – all this just to survive a measly 45 minute run, and still couldn’t get my sugars out of the danger zone.

More drama. So much drama.

Sometimes I feel so entitled to be angry with my diabetes. And yet, despite that entitlement, I refuse to yield. I loved every damn minute of my run tonight. Leap-frogging blood sugars and all.

My diabetes has afforded me few moments of peace today, but gosh darnit, this day has been amazing, joyous, powerful and precious.

~

I sat on a couch this afternoon at a funeral parlour, sandwiched between two dear friends. They have each lost a grandparent in the past two weeks, and we were discussing the grieving process.

“There is no right way to grieve,” said one friend. “I’ve realized, as we get a bit older and become more adult, that life really isn’t easy. There are always hard times. You just deal with them.”

~

I’ve been back from my run for about half an hour .I haven’t had the heart to check my blood sugar – honestly, all that crap I had to eat on my run will probably only be kicking in now, now that I no longer need it to keep from passing out. And so it goes.

Diabetes isn’t really getting any easier. Sometimes I wonder if I am approaching my first ‘burnout’ (actually a term used in diabetes ed). Other times I wonder if I should be expressing more anger or grief over it.

Maybe I should be. But I’d rather keep finding life impossibly, wonderfully beautiful and awesome. I’d rather keep riding the runner’s high, despite the crushing, exhausting, never-ending blood sugar highs – and lows.

 

 

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