Sunday, February 26, 2012

I Like it When You're Here

The Odenettes: Aunt Connie, Me, Debbie and Mom
Last night I headed upstairs to get ready for bed and turned on the bedroom TV. Forrest Gump was on - right at the part when Jenny dies - right when Forrest says 'Mama always said, dying was part of life. I sure wish it wasn't.' The timing was... we'll say highly coincidental... Forrest Gump was my sister Debbie's favorite movie and today was the 3rd anniversary of Debbie's passing. 

I have always hated the month of February, the holidays are long over and the weather is usually so bad. Spring usually hasn't yet sprung and I have a hard time finding anything to look forward to. It was an awful blow to watch my sister struggle through February in 2009. There is no way to explain or describe to you what it is like to know that the end is coming for someone that you love with everything you are, that is such a part of your life that you're not sure how you or your family will ever be the same when they're gone. 

Towards the end it was hard for Debbie to express a thought clearly. She had to really marshal her energy both mentally and physically to get something out. The day before Debbie passed I was visiting with her and getting my things together to head home for the evening. I went by to give her a hug and kiss goodbye. I saw in her eyes that she was wanting to tell me something so I paused for a few seconds, not sure that she was going to be able to tell me what she wanted, but definitely wanting to hear what she might say. She gave me a small smile and said 'I like it when you're here'. It was like she had give me a gift of pure gold, and it was the last thing she said to me. 

So I watched those last few minutes of Forrest Gump last night and as the theme music was closing the movie, the same music that was used at Debbie's service, I went around the room touching everything I have from her. A necklace she wore, a dresser that was in both our rooms when we were kids that I now have, a teddy bear that sat in our Dad's childhood rocker in her home, and the last birthday card she gave me.

And to use another Forrest Gump quote, for now, 'that's all I have to say about that'.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My Lowest (Blood Sugar) Lows

Helen Mirren attempts to warn me of the vast conspiracy.
This is my attempt to take a 'light hearted' look at the scariest fact of diabetes - hypoglycemia - a.k.a. low blood sugar or the lows. It's not really a funny topic, and it certainly doesn't feel funny to you or your friends and family when it's happening but it does sometime result in some funny stories.

Before I had my pancreas surgery I had diabetes education classes and meetings with my endocrinologist where we discussed low blood sugar. I learned to logically recognize the symptoms so I would be aware when it happened but I was in no way prepared for the reality.

While I recovered in the hospital the nursing staff and the endocrinology team kept a close watch on my blood glucose so I didn't experience a low for my first week as a diabetic. It wasn't until I started recovering away from this hospital in a near by hotel that I experienced my first real low. I woke up in the early morning hours and felt 'prickly' all over. I was soaked in sweat which was a foreign feeling for me since I am not much of a sweater. I struggled mentally to understand what was going on and couldn't grasp it. I couldn't focus and felt an overwhelming sense of panic - could I be dying? It only took about about 30 seconds or so for me to understand that I was experiencing my first low as a diabetic but 30 seconds is a long time to feel that kind of mind searing panic. 

Over the past several years I've learned to deal with lows. Having good control on your blood sugar is often a fine line between a good number and a low. Luckily I am not susceptible to seizures and have never ended up in the ER for a low. I'm also not likely to get angry - you sometimes hear about diabetics who get really upset and unreasonable when their blood sugar is low. I am more likely to get things mixed up in my mind and use words incorrectly or forget the word I'm trying to say. I think my friends and family now know if I start acting spacey that it's likely my blood sugar going low. 

What truly can worry me though are the lowest lows - likely when my blood sugar drops into the 30s or lower. This is a scary place where coherent thought and reason leave and any stimulus gets folded into my reality.

A couple of years ago, while cleaning around the house and watching the US Open, I found myself truly distraught over the fact that Serena Williams was sent out to the court to play when her blood sugar was so low. How dare the officials allow her to do that? How could she play so well when I knew how lethargic her limbs must feel. Fortunately I realized soon after starting to cry in frustration for her that it was me that had the low blood sugar.

Funniest though was sitting on the couch several months ago and watching the movie Reds. The movie is about several CIA agents who have retired (selectively or otherwise) who band back together to avenge a friend's death who had uncovered a conspiracy plot. Actually, it's quite possible that I don't properly remember the plot - don't take my word for it. Anyway, I became convinced during the move that the characters were trying to warn me that MY LIFE WAS IN DANGER and that I was to be a victim of this conspiracy. I became so convinced that I became determined that I couldn't let Ellen, who was sitting on the other couch 10 feet away from me, know that I was now aware of this conspiracy as she might possibly be involved. For several minutes I was wrapped up in this hypoglycemia delusion and did my best to hide it from Ellen by sitting still and quite as possible. Like I said - I've never been angry or violent when low but if Ellen had questioned me at this point I might have reacted badly - so I can see how it happens. 

Interestingly, low blood sugar symptoms vary from person to person and from occurrence to occurrence but here's my short list:
- Tremors (more than usual) :)
- Sweating Buckets
- 'Prickly' Skin
- 'Itchy' Tongue
- Confusion (e.g., not being able to remember/say the right word)

And with my lowest lows:
- Tears
- Delusions

Time to start shoving in the candy!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Whew... Recovery Week

I've finished my first training block and it's now recovery time. I've been feeling a little run down over the past week and had quite a bit of soreness so recovery is coming at the right time.

I wish all recovery weeks started with a day off like I had today. I slept in, did my strength workout, went shopping for sports nutrition, had a massage, and have been lying about on the couch ever since. In fact I will be taking my recovery so seriously that I am skipping tonight's Master's swim since I'm really struggling to keep my blood sugar up today. Even if I got in the pool this evening I would likely have to get out of the pool early. 

Despite the ominous rain forecast for Saturday we ended up with turned out to be a beautiful day for an easy-ish 50 miles on the Silver Comet. Monika and I felt a little guilty doing the pancake flat Comet trail but after working so hard the past two weeks we figured we had earned a little bit of a break. We still pushed it a little but mostly just enjoyed the trail and fairly warm weather.
25 miles - time to turn around and head back.
Sunday's plan called for a 10 mile run but my usual training partner, Sarah, was out of town. Further complicating the plan was the arrival of that rain that had been promised for Saturday. Regardless I had to get my miles in and was lucky to have Cristin meet me for part of my run. As we ran down Columns drive Betty drove by and we were able to pick her up about 1.5 miles into our run. This turned out to be a perfect plan for me as it gave me some varying tempo work. It rained and we were soaked to the bone but that was one of the easiest long runs I have ever done and we ended up with a little over 11 miles - excellent! At the end we ran into Anne and Mary Beth who were just about to start their run. What a dedicated group of athletes - rain or not - you gotta get it done.

Me. Anne, Mary Beth, and Betty. Soaked!

Monday, February 13, 2012

COLD Training Weekend

Bundled up at the river with my partner in training crime - Sarah.
Photo silliness courtesy of Ellen.

It's been a particularly mild winter here in Georgia but we finally got an arctic blast this weekend. My training partners had already made plans to meet for a 50 mile ride in Cartersville so I got up to truck it out of town for 80 miles. I already didn't feel good about the temps but seeing 18 wheelers on the highway getting blown out of their lanes really gave me pause. When I arrived at the cycling park the only car there belonged to Monika. I jumped in her car and we agreed this was a stupid idea so we hopped back in our cars and headed back into town to ride the computrainer at Cadence Bikes. I am beginning to enjoy riding my trainer A LOT and putting me on a computrainer riding an ironman course really gets me excited. Last week was 40 miles on the IM Canada course and this week was 50 miles on the IM Germany course. I almost hit my goal of averaging 18 mph - next time.

So while I can handle riding a trainer for several hours - I still haven't brought myself around to running a lot of miles on a treadmill. So I bundled up for a late morning run at the river. I met up with Jo, Cameron, and Sarah and we quickly warmed up. I'm trying out this new thing - running fast. Coach Mary gave me an LT test this week where I had to run all out for 3 miles. I didn't look at my watch the entire time since I didn't want to see what I was doing and was shocked to see that I finished in 25:27 - something I would have never guessed possible. So now I want to do a few bursts to see how fast I can go. Obviously I'm not targeting a fast run for IM but I'm having fun playing around seeing how fast I can go for short bursts. 7:45 avg for 1.5 miles yesterday! I'm starting to have more confidence in my running ability than I have in the past.

So all in all - feeling strong and confident in my training at this point. No low blood sugar episodes either - booyah! I know to relish this feeling as it won't last. It's inevitable to have ups and downs in a long training season but today - I'm feeling good!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Fartleks and Fried Grouper

I couldn't resist that blog title.

Last week ended up being crazy busy. Coach Mary has started delivering personalized training (and the tests that go along with that), I had a work deadline, and I made a quick trip to Florida for my friend Joel's memorial service. Oh, and I had/have a cold. Nice.

For posterity, here was my training week:

Strength - 1 hour
Masters Swim - 1 hour

Indoor Cycling at Cadence - 1 hour

Cycling Lactate Threshold Test - 1 hour
Strength - 1 hour

Running Fartlek (Speed and Cadence intervals) - 1 hr. 10 mins./7 miles

Day Off

Indoor Cycling at Cadence on the Ironman Canada course - 2 hrs. 20 mins./41 miles

Run - building for Publix Half - 80 mins./8 miles

Missed/Didn't Do
Swim - Baseline Time Trial - between travel and my cold I didn't feel up to this

I had a whirlwind trip to Florida on Wednesday night for Joel's service on Thursday morning and came back to Georgia on Friday afternoon. Though quick, I wouldn't change the trip since it gave me an opportunity to see Joel's family, visit with my mom, and have a great, mind clearing run around my old high school on Thursday afternoon. Very importantly, I also got to have one of my favorite home town treats; a fried group sandwich with fries, cole slaw, and a beer. Mmmm, mmmm! Nothing says home to me like Fried Grouper.

That run on Thursday also made me realize just how much I slack when running. It hasn't necessarily been a secret to me that I don't run as fast as I can but I didn't realize that I could go faster over distance. Generally I run the same 10 minute mile no matter if I'm going 3 or 13 miles and my heart rate stays in the 150s to mid 160s. Coach Mary's heart rate material dictated that our running lactate threshold and heart rate should be higher than our cycling equivalents. That is not the case for me since I am much more comfortable pushing myself on the bike. So no more - I'm going to work on pushing the run a little harder. I have a 3 mile, all out, lactate threshold run this week and I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do. 

Lets do this!