Wayback Wednesday – Karate and 10k


Picture of my hand with a BG line chart in the backgroundCourtesy of the “Wayback Machine“, I bring you the early entries I made in my online diabetes journal.  This was back before Blogger made things easy, and I had to write the entries in HTML.  The journal is no longer available, but thanks to the wonderful tools available on the internet, I was able to find much of my old stuff.  I’d like to share one of the old entries with you.

Running a 10k with a blood sugar of 450 mg/dl is one of the purest forms of torture known to all that have walked the earth.  And yes, this is where I was passed by a speedwalker…

10 Mar 2003

Well, things have changed again. Some good, some not so good.

We made a big decision to close down the flower shop. There were a lot of things I should have done better from the start, and some decisions that I made much too quickly, which all came together to bring about the shop closing.

While I have mixed feelings about how it all turned out, I learned a lifetime of lessons and experience. Being my first attempt at running my own business, I really did not know what I was doing. While I think things went well for the most part, I greatly under-estimated the amount of time & money that it would take. Mostly money. Topped off with some disagreements with my landlord, and a few other factors, we decided it would be best to close down.

I still maintain a cooler of roses at Anoka Meat & Sausage, which keeps me in the business a little bit, and at a much lower overhead cost than running an entire retail store. If I had been smarter about things from the start, I would have gone in that direction instead. It would have been better to buy a handful of small coolers and work to get them placed in small shops and stores around the area. Everything seems crystal clear when you look back on it.

I wish I was able to see things that way *before* I take other actions. While I appreciate all of the experience I’ve gained, and lessons I’ve learned, it does get tiring to learn so much that way.

The timing worked out pretty good for the family though, as we just had our second baby, it was very nice for all of us to be home together. I’ve been spending much of my time helping out, playing with Bryce, and trying to find the next avenue to explore for employment.

It seems that my depression is rearing it’s head again. My health in general has been going downhill lately. My weight is going up, my cholesterol is high and my A1c hit 10.1! With the layoff we have had to switch insurance companies. So, I’m in the process of trying to get my new system all figured out.I need to get back onto some type of regular schedule, start exercising, and eating better. It’s all easy to say, and I’m well aware that I have to do it, but to actually get going has been terribly difficult for me. Most of the time I spend my days sleeping everything away, then stay up all night telling myself “I’ll get back on track tomorrow”.

I am a master procrastinator.

Depression is really hard to fight out of. It’s also easy to use it as an excuse for everything.

I am completely overwhelmed by the thoughts of how much work is needed to obtain and maintain good diabetes control. It seems like such a tremendous amount of work that I can’t even find it in myself to get started. Sure, I test my blood sugar and take my medications, but that stuff is all bare minimum. For example, what good does it do to test my blood sugars if I don’t track them anywhere? How do I know if I took the right amount of insulin for my meal if I can’t remember to test again in 2 hours? How do I know what my carb to insulin ratio is? How do I know how many mg/dl one unit of insulin will drop? What about stress & emotions? How do I effectively handle exercise?

A couple summers ago I was really doing great with my exercise. I was going to a martial arts class three times a week, lifting weights a few times a week and I even ran a handful of 10k races. There were two incidents that really scare the crap out of me. Maybe my demeanor is different now than it was then, but I’m so turned off by all of the work that I would have to do to prevent those incidents that I’m using it as an excuse to avoid things!

The first incident was at the martial arts class. This was an extremely challenging workout routine that lasted just shy of two hours. The gym was not air conditioned, and it was HOT that day. Nothing so outrageous that you would not go outside, but I’m thinking mid to high 80’s. Having gotten through class, I was in the locker room changing clothes. All of a sudden I felt like crap. I was sick to my stomach and felt terrible. I thought that it was heat exhaustion or something, and managed to change clothes and drive home to lay down for a while. 

Once at home, I tested my blood sugar, and it was low – DUH! Not even once did I think I was having a low blood sugar! I drove home, probably about 15 miles while my blood sugar was low! I don’t even want to think about what could have happened if things went bad. Once I figured out what was going on, I got something to get my blood sugar back up, and then rested for a while to get things back together.

I’ve been diabetic for 23 years, and there have only been a few times where I did not know I was having a low blood sugar (while awake). The way I felt in the locker room and on the way home was very different from any low blood sugar I had ever had. There were none of the regular indicators. Now, how tricky is it to have to watch out for the symptoms you know about, but also watch out for the symptoms you don’t!?!?!!!

The other incident happened while I was running my last 10k race. This day was also a very hot day – a day where running 10k sounded pretty idiotic. About halfway through the race, I felt so tired that I could barely convince my legs to keep moving. You get a lot of thoughts in your head at this point. You figure that maybe you are not pushing yourself hard enough, or that your fatigue is all mental. You feel like you have to finish the race, just keep going, you can rest later.

It got so bad, that I figured there was something wrong. Maybe my blood sugar is low. That would make sense, because most of the time, exercise drops your blood sugar. So I took some stuff I had with me to raise my blood sugar. After what seemed like forever, I finally got to the finish line. I rested for a bit, then made my way to the car to check my blood sugar. It was about 450!!!!!!

Well, no wonder I felt like crap! No one feels good with a blood sugar that high! That’s also why I was so tired – with so much sugar in my blood, I’m sure there wasn’t as much oxygen getting to my muscles as there would normally be. Our bodies are not meant to have blood sugars that high, and things just don’t work the way they are supposed to when it is so out of whack.

My blood sugar was pretty much Ok before I started. I think it was 210 or so. I figured that I would want it a little high to compensate for all the exercise I was going to do. I also removed my pump for the duration of the race. But, things went the wrong way. It’s such a delicate balance to get exercise right. It’s very frustrating. 

So, then you start to think about how to prevent something like that. I came up with a game plan for the next time I run a race. I would carry more stuff (which sucks when racing – imagine having to wear all your gear while trying to run 6.2 miles). That way I could test during the race. It would mean that I would have to stop running in order to do the test, because the meters and equipment that is available today would require getting a test strip, inserting it into the meter, poking my finger, getting a drop of blood, placing it on the little area on the test strip and waiting for the result. Maybe if I had another set of hands I could do it while running, but…

I would also have someone meet me at a water station as close to halfway as possible. They could be there with some extra supplies just in case. That is the game plan I came up with. But, I’m still kind of “gun shy” about racing because of what happened last time. It’s scary because you are out there by yourself, and are usually at least 3 miles away from your destination.

There is also the night I had my seizure, which was kicked off by playing basketball.

Exercise is probably one of the hardest things to get “right” as far as diabetes goes. All of the incidents that I have had could have been prevented had I been doing my job right (testing before & after, keeping testing equipment & supplies nearby, etc.). It just seems like so much to do sometimes. I just wanted to do things that other people do, without all that extra mental “baggage”. On the flip side, if I could just get my stuff together, and do my “job”, exercise probably would not be so hard to control.

Life with diabetes is a constant struggle, with so much to keep on top of. It just plain burns you out sometimes.


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Scott K. Johnson

Patient voice, speaker, writer, advocate, and Senior Community Manager at Blue Circle Health. Living life with diabetes and telling my story. All opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent my employer’s position. Read more…

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