Countdown to Spring!

Officially, spring is T-9 days away. Finally! Of course, I live in New Hampshire, so we’ve still got at least a foot of snow on the ground most places. I can’t call spring “over” until mid-April at least. But the world is defrosting a little bit. I saw grass for the first time in months yesterday! I’d almost forgotten what it looks like.

And along with spring comes the beginning of the derby season! Officially our season doesn’t start until the beginning of April, when we can move into our regular season practice spot. During the offseason, we’ve been getting our skate on at skateparks and indoor rinks. When skating isn’t an option, we’ve been getting together to go over WFTDA rules and strategy. Our goal this season is to learn the rules so well that we have no penalties–we’ll see how that one goes 🙂 And, our training committee added a few new members to help run off-skates conditioning routines. We did maybe three off-skates session last season, and even though many of us don’t like it (hey, we’re there to skate), we can’t argue that it’s not good for us to do more. Training has said that they’re going to set aside practice time to do off-skates conditioning throughout the season. One of the newer committee members has even suggested we do a group 5k!

On my own time, I’ve been hitting the gym to do some jogging and weight training on my own. I haven’t been the most consistent with it, so recently I’ve booked some time off on my calendar in hopes that having the actual “appointment” would make me go. I’m way too scatterbrained to remember to go if I don’t have a reminder, as I have learned this winter. I don’t particularly enjoy running on the treadmill because it’s so boring (seriously, you’re running nowhere), but it feels very safe for me because I can keep a jar of glucose tabs and my meter on hand in case my blood sugar goes low. If I’m running outdoors, I need to carry around a fannypack or some kind of backpack to keep that stuff on me, and there won’t necessarily be people around to help me if I have a severe low blood sugar, unlike on the treadmill at the gym.

Plus, I really don’t want to be running over snowbanks and piles of slush.

I think it says a lot about how far I’ve come, both physically and mentally, since the start of last season. I was pretty shy and anxious when I started playing derby, and I didn’t have a lot of locally-located friends at the time. I also wasn’t in great shape–I could barely run, I had little muscle strength, and I had absolutely no idea what I needed to do to get my blood sugars under control. I spent the first couple months of the season barely being able to make it through a practice because I just couldn’t figure out a routine. (To be honest, I’m surprised I stuck that out–it’s incredibly discouraging to see everyone else working out and having to sit down and wait because my blood sugar is too high or too low. I’m also really insecure about it because it can look like I’m being lazy or like I’m giving up too easily. I haven’t had the most supportive teammates and coaches in athletic groups in the past, but my league has always been amazingly supportive of me.)

I’m giving it one last push to gear up for the season–I’m hitting up the gym to go through as much of the rest of that couch-to-5k program (I just finished week 4!), and I’m working on strengthening my derby muscles. I’ve also started doing some short conditioning exercises in the morning when I’m getting ready for the day. I set a second alarm on my phone, partially to make sure I actually get out of bed, but mostly to remind myself to do the exercises: side planks on each side (currently 60 sec each; goal is to increase by five seconds each morning), 15-20 slow lunges (I’ve always had a problem with lunges), and ten push-ups (I could do so many at the end of last season and now I’ve lost that!). At the gym I’m incorporating weights to my lunges and squats, and I’m doing some upper-body exercises as well. I refuse to start off this season totally out-of-shape. I want to get on the track and kick some ass as soon as possible!

So, T-22 days until we move back in and start setting up for the season. And I’m gonna make it count.

Real talk: diabetes is kind of a big deal and this article hit close to home

This morning the Diabetes Training Camp Facebook page posted an article titled “Stop diabetes ‘blame’” that really, really hit close to home for me. It was not an easy read–the first article linked to in this one was about a 22-year-old who died from diabetes issues, and the second was a link to a study that showed that t1d women tend to die earlier than t1d men–but it was such a good read. It felt very personal, too. This was something I thought about sharing on Facebook, but I stopped because it talked about so much stuff that’s so personal to me.

I’m not afraid to talk about my diabetes. I mean, obviously–I’ve got this blog, and I’ve got a tattoo on my left wrist that says “diabetic type 1.” There are a number of diabetics who like to keep it quiet, but I have never been able to do that. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that approach, just that I’m incapable of it.) But I still have boundaries there. There’s stuff that I talk about, like I’m not afraid to ask for juice if I’m having a low blood sugar or excusing myself to go take insulin after a meal, but there’s a deeper layer that I don’t really talk about to a lot of people.

This article hit that layer like a sledgehammer.

There’s a lot of scary things about diabetes. I’ve had nights (especially after particularly rough derby practices) where I’ve had to set alarms to get me up every couple of hours to make sure I was okay, even though I have a CGM, because my blood sugars can drop or rise too quickly for the CGM to catch it. I leave a trail of insulin pen needle wrappers and used test strips where ever I go, even though I swear I pick them all up. I have a pretty severe anxiety problem surrounding my blood sugars, because I’m terrified of my blood sugar going low and me not being able to treat it or catch it on time before I pass out (and potentially die). It’s a life-threatening disease, and even thought it seems like insulin fixes it, insulin is only a treatment, not a cure, and it’s not even predictable–it’s a total guessing game as to what my body is doing this week, and the rules to said game change unannounced and at random.

It’s also a lonely disease. I think that’s harder for me than the scary part. I tend to get two responses when people find out I’m diabetic: “You take shots all the time? I could never do that” or “Oh, I totally understand. Sometimes I have asthma when I run.” Neither of those is even a little bit comforting. To the first response, I say “Beats dying.” Yeah, kinda bitchy, but I really don’t appreciate being reminded that what I do is not “normal” and that it’s this whole extra thing I have to deal with*. To the second response: yeah, asthma is an issue, and it can get serious, I will give you that. And I don’t want to play Misery Olympics here. But I don’t understand what it’s like to have asthma, and you don’t understand what it’s like to have diabetes. It’s not a fair comparison to make.

And it’s so lonely because most people don’t get what it’s like to have a life-threatening disease. I’m hyper-aware of my own mortality because my life is completely dependent on this medication. If I don’t have access to that, it’s not going to take long before my body poisons itself (it’s called diabetic ketoacidosis). It’s terrifying to think about how fragile I am in that respect. On the other hand, if I take too much insulin, then I’m still in trouble, because it’s possible to die from hypoglycemic shock. Someone on the internet once pointed out how powerful insulin is because it can both keep you alive or it can kill you (if not used correctly). Not to mention it’s incredibly expensive and very hard to get access to outside of Western countries, but that’s a whole other can of worms.

Diabetes can’t be both a very serious condition that produces a variety of outcomes even when a patient with the condition is “compliant” AND a disease that is totally dependent upon a reckless drug (insulin) where success is completely and totally the responsibility of the person with type 1 diabetes. The message here – If you do not succeed, you did it to yourself. Don’t screw up.  

I don’t think there’s that much more I want to say on this, because there are a million more things I have to say on this topic, but go read that article. It explains the issue about a million times better than I ever could.

I just have a lot of feelings

*Seriously I really fucking hate hearing “Oh I could never take shots/check my blood sugar/do what you do!” Way to remind me that I’m not normal. Please stop saying it.