Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Let the training begin!

Training for Ironman Couer d'Alene (aka IMCDA) has officially begun. I am keeping my diet in check using nutridiary.com and planning and logging my training with trainingpeaks.com--both are excellent sites. I am also working with a local triathlon club that is offering a group training program, so I will get to know a bunch of other people training for this race. The general schedule is swimming 3-4 times per week, riding 3 times per week, running 3 times per week, and doing some weight training 2-3 times per week. Let's see, I guess that adds up to 11-13 workouts per week! It's good that I enjoy these sports! Sometimes, a short run might be tagged onto the end of a ride, which is called a "brick" workout. The idea here is to train your legs how to make the switch from cycling to running. Along the way, I will also venture to race 2 half-ironman triathlons--one in March and one in May.

I wish I had a handy tool for compiling all of my diabetes info. It would be especially useful if I could plot BG's, insulin, and food intake right alongside the exercise info. I have done this by hand in the past, but it is time-consuming and doesn't give me the sort of graphs that would be most helpful. If anyone has a solution, please chime in!

I just wish the weather would warm up here. I hate to sound like a whiny Californian, but it is really cold. When the temp's fall below 40 and there is a cold wind coming off of the ocean, it makes for a nippy ride on the bike! (I guess I should be grateful I can still ride my bike in January, though, right?)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Would it kill you to spell it "LOW"?

Have you ever seen this on your meter?

I had a scary episode of low BG this morning. In fact, I think I made a new low record. According to my Ultra OneTouch meter, I was "LO" (as they like to spell it), which means I was below 20 mg/dL. Needless to say, it was a very unpleasant experience. I think there are several factors that contributed to this, so at least I have a good explanation and can learn how to avoid this in the future.

First of all, my Dexcom is not working. The sensor that I have been using for the past week has been an A+ sensor, tracking my actual BG's quite nicely. Because of the unfortunate requirement to reset the sensor every three days, it was no longer working. (It worked fine up until the 3-day time limit expired and I reset it, which imposes a 2-hour delay while it calibrates.) Anyway, I was hoping it would start working last night but it didn't so I guess I'll have to insert a new one soon. The end result is that I didn't get the tip-off to low or falling BG's that I have begun to rely on with the Dexcom.

Secondly, I think my insulin sensitivity has gone up. I've been exercising a bit more in the past few days (but not a lot more than usual) and have also been eating less. My total daily insulin dose has been reduced by about 25-30% and I have lost maybe 1-2 pounds in the last week. These things usually increase my insulin sensitivity.

Fortunately, at the time of the low, I was close to work, which is a medical center. I found 2 hospital employees to help me; I think one of them was a nurse. I am really grateful for the help of these two people. Since they were medically trained, they didn't freak out and didn't call 911 when I declined the offer. I explained that I was a type 1 diabetic, that my blood sugar was really low and that I needed some help. I was fairly sure that the 2 sports gels that I had eaten would pull me out of it, but was concerned because I had also taken Symlin this morning. I don't think I've ever felt that close to passing out (except when I did pass out once after surgery, but not for low BG!) One of the people asked me if I needed more food. I would take anything and ate both of her yogurts. I hope she found some other breakfast. I also ate the remnants of her Christmas candy canes. I started feeling better pretty soon and they agreed that I was looking better.

Not to be too glib, but now, that I've seen both "LO" and "HI" on my meter, after 18+ years with type 1, does that make me a real diabetic? (Of course I would never intentionally go this low!)

And why do some people pass out at 40 and others not? I've never passed out because of low BG.

Eating Insulin

Science Daily reports that a research team in Taiwan has come up with a successful way of administering insulin orally. Their approach is to encase the insulin in a shell composed of a polymer found in the shells of shrimp. Once the nanoparticle passes through the stomach, it is apparently absorbed in the small intestine. What I didn't understand from this news blurb is how the insulin is actually released once it passes through the stomach.

I imagine that this would be a boon for type 2 diabetics, especially, and possibly type 1's who use multiple daily injections or for young kids with type 1; however, I would not discontinue using my pump in order to take insulin orally. I just can't see how I would be able to achieve the same level of control. For me, the convenience of a pump is that it takes care of my basal insulin needs without me having to think about it, and I can administer a bolus by the press of a couple buttons without having to pull out a needle or a pill. And besides, I can hardly remember to take a vitamin pill, let alone multiple daily pills of insulin.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Way Up

Here's another picture from my ride today. I'm looking up from the sidewalk to the top of the first tower (coming from Marin). The camera on my phone didn't quite capture the intensity of the colors in this picture.

Marin Headlands, From the Bridge

As I returned from my ride in Marin County this afternoon, I had to stop and pull out my camera-phone at this view from the Golden Gate Bridge. We've had chilly weather lately, and the air was clear and crisp today. The views of the Bay and San Francisco were also postcard-perfect.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Calling off high fructose corn syrup

Over the past couple of years, I have worked to avoid trans fats. Although food manufacturers are now required to label the amount of trans fats in the foods, some still get away with using small amounts. Anywhere you see "partially hydrogenated..." you can bet that there are trans fats in the foods. I guess the FDA allows them to say "0 g" if it is below a certain amount.

More recently, I have begun efforts to also avoid foods with high fructose corn syrup (which I will abbreviate as "HFCS"). An article by Kim Severson from sfgate.com describes the history of HFCS and how, as our food became inundated with this ingredient in the 1980's, there was a strong, correlating rise in obesity. Also, the article describes studies to suggest that HFCS interacts with hormones, including insulin, leptin and ghrelin, in a way that may lead to weight gain. Some argue that HFCS itself has not led to obesity; rather, they suggest that the overconsumption of foods with all types of refined sugars is the cause.

I suspect that HFCS is added to many foods because it is cheaper than making a product with genuine, high-quality flavor. Instead of enjoying real fruit flavor in a yogurt, we taste the sweetness of HFCS with some artificial and small amounts of real fruit flavor. And we like sweet. Instead, though, why not use plain yogurt and add some non-sweetened fruit spread? I've also found that a small pinch of brown sugar, which is maybe 15-20 calories and far less than the amount used in regular yogurt, does the job just fine if I want something a little sweeter. (Would you add a dab of HFCS to your yogurt?) I've noticed that the less sweetness (from refined sugars) I have in my food, the more I learn to taste the natural and subtle flavors of the food.

I also suspect that HFCS is added to some foods that would normally be less sweet, just so that people are more inclined to eat more of them (and, therefore, buy more of them). I don't have any hard evidence of this, but the drive to make profits and to help people eat in moderation do not go hand-in-hand.

Along with my efforts to avoid trans fats and to eat more "whole foods"--foods that don't come pre-packaged or which have recognizable ingredients listed--I will also try to cut out any foods with HFCS. Actually, I think I'll try to cut back on all refined sugars. We'll see how it goes!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Cruising Star

So, here's a video I took of the starfish cruising along. Don't laugh--he really is moving! I was probably moving the camera along with him (it?). He started out with one of his arms poking out of the water. By the way, you can hear the waves crashing in the background.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Pacific Sunset

Originally uploaded by annetics.
We stopped at a beach off Route 1 near Pescadero, CA, to watch the sunset. In the east, a full moon was rising at the same time. It was a spectacular sunset on this first day of 2007.

Starfish Trail

Originally uploaded by annetics.
I took this photo at a beach north of Santa Cruz, California on New Year's Day, 2007. We watched as the starfish, with its stiff pink arms, glided along the bottom of this tidal pool. He was cruising right along. Underneath the star arms were lots of little whitish legs. You can see the mark one his arms made in the sand as he moved along. The seagulls seemed to fancy eating these creatures, or at least catching them.