Sunday, 21 November 2010

Writer's Block!


Sorry that things appear to have dried up here recently! I had an inspired start to the month with some ridiculous subject matter to work with and then…writer’s block! Grrr!!!! Actually, I haven’t been totally silent, I have been writing another blog, A History of the Forum in 100 Posts. I stole the idea from BBC Radio 4’s ‘History of the World in 100 Objects’ but it seems to be a popular method of reviewing how the Diabetes Support forum has developed over the first two years of its existence. Members new to the forum can find out what sort of things have cropped up in the past, both good and bad, funny and horrific, and old timers can get all warm and nostalgic!

Hopefully, more poetry ideas will invade my head before too long!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The Eye Hospital

I went to the Eye Hospital today as a follow-up to my retinal scan a few months ago. The doctors were concerned that my eyes showed ‘diabetic changes’ so wanted to investigate further. The initial part of the appointment was very much the same as having a retinal scan – drops in eyes to dilate pupils to the size of dinner plates, wait for them to take effect, then have retinal photographs taken. Having your pupils dilate like that has the inevitable consequence of making everything seem exceedingly bright, and also makes it impossible to focus on any text smaller than large billboard size.

Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I realised that the waiting room was liberally spread with reading matter of all varieties – a bookshelf, stacks of magazines on a table, and an extensive range of pamphlets covering a broad spectrum of physical ailments, their symptoms and treatment. Looking around at the other patients it was clear (even through blurred eyes!) that none of them was capable of reading any of this without the aid of the Hubble Space telescope! I don’t think they had quite thought this through…!

Now you’ve had your drops, please go and sit down,
Before long they will call out your name…
You just need to wait whilst your pupils dilate
And your retinas start to inflame!

But let me just show you, for it may be some time,
Our library of books old and new!
We’ve novels and thrillers, and can’t-put-them-downs,
There’s bound to be one to suit you!

Or if you prefer, there’s a fantastic range
Of magazines to flick through and browse!
There’s fashion and cars and gardening and golf,
Or farming if you’ve a passion for cows!

If that’s not to your taste, take a look over here
At our leaflets displayed in this rack!
There’s all you need know about things ‘down below’
Or ways you might injure your back!

In an EYE hospital nurse? Have you quite thought this through?
It ought to be no big surprise
For the reason we’re here is abundantly clear –
We’ve got something wrong with our eyes!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

A Whipworm a Day Keeps the Doctor Away!

More bizarre research findings. Apparently, it’s been discovered that people infected with certain species of parasitic worm are less prone to autoimmune diseases and allergies, including Type 1 diabetes, asthma and allergy, Crohn’s Disease and Multiple Sclerois. What better programme, therefore, for the government to conduct than to intentionally infect the populace with these wondrous colon cohabitants? Imagine the huge reductions in healthcare costs if all these conditions could be averted! Surely a small incentive to the doctors in the community would encourage them to start prescribing without delay!

Given your family history
We think that it is critical
That you consume three times a day
A worm that’s parasitical!

A worm, you say? You must be mad!
What good would that do me?
Prescribing worms, good gracious –
What kind of doctor can you be?!!

I’ll have you know, dear patient,
I’m a doctor up to speed
On all the latest guidelines
That the government has decreed!

We have to get our patients
To consume three worms a day,
And if we do then they’ll come through
And triple all our pay!

Physician, keep your whipworms,
I’m afraid I must decline…
I suggest you take them back and stick them
Where the Sun don’t shine!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Pig Sushi

Just when I think I have heard the most bizarre research being conducted into finding a cure for diabetes, along comes another, even more extraordinary notion! Pig sushi definitely makes it into my top ten potential cures! Apparently, according to this New Scientist article, scientists have been exploring the potential of using porcine islet cells coated in a seaweed-derived extract to transplant into humans. The pig cells used are taken from a special breed of pig which lives only on Auckland Island south of New Zealand, which has been isolated for over two centuries and is free from any organism likely to infect humans. The seaweed helps to overcome the possibility of the cells being rejected by the host body.

I await with wonder and eagerness the ‘cure’ that will trump Pig Sushi on my all-time list of diabetes cures!

Waiter, excuse me, but what’s this dish here?
It sounds quite revolting and decidedly queer!
For I always thought sushi was made out of fish,
But what you are offering is a quite different dish!

Ah yes sir, pig sushi – a specialty of ours,
And a dish that’s possessed of some magical powers!
It’s pork wrapped in seaweed from the Sargasso Sea,
And it cures diabetes (though there are no guarantees!)

But why so expensive for seaweed and pork?
Is it served with champagne and a solid gold fork?
Do they fly pigs from China on a business class fare?
Do they pluck strands of seaweed from a fair mermaid’s hair?

Not quite sir, but almost, for the pigs that we seek,
Live south of New Zealand in a herd that’s unique…
Some say they are tended by mystical elves,
And they don’t need a plane as they fly here themselves!

Well it sounds like a meal that is fit for a king!
Whoever could imagine such a remarkable thing?
Bring it at once! I can’t wait to be cured!
And there’ll be a large tip, of that be assured!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Jobsworth

Unfortunately, there are a lot of very poorly-informed people around who are in positions where they can wield their power to make life difficult for us. Recently, a member of the forum recounted how she had gone for an appointment with a Job Centre official who proposed that, since using insulin might be a barrier to obtaining a job involving driving, why didn’t she stop using it and try diet and exercise instead? I’ll leave it to you to imagine the collective response of other forum members to this ridiculous and dangerous suggestion! Did the official think that using insulin was a ‘lazy’ way of managing diabetes? I despair!

Yes? Who’s next please? Ah, come and sit down!
It’s just a few questions, so no need to frown!
I’ve had lots of training, so you’ll be in good hands,
I’m well up on vacancies and market demands!

It says on your form you’re diabetes, type 1?
Can you just let me know how long that has gone on?
I know all about it – the same as old Uncle Bob,
But it never stopped him from getting a job!

Or was his type 2? Well, they’re pretty much the same –
They’re both diabetes, so what’s in a name?
But you’re using insulin to keep levels low?
Uncle Bob never used it, as far as I know…!

So why don’t you try? Give the insulin a miss?
You need to try harder – much harder than this!
Uncle Bob, I recall, only took the odd pill,
You could do the same, you just need the will!

What’s that? Oh that’s nonsense! Of course you won’t die!
You’ll never find out if you don’t even try!
If Uncle Bob could do it, then I think so can you,
Or I’ll cross you off our list without further ado!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

A Hallowe'en Diagnosis


Come in, come in, my little one, the spell has taken hold!
For though the sweat drips from your brow, it seems your flesh is cold…
And sickness grips your stomach such that nothing there remains,
Your blood and urine honey sweet, and acid fills your veins!

But fear ye not, my little one, a poultice I will make
To stop the shaking of your limbs and thirst you cannot slake!
So lie down on the feathered bench whilst I prepare the charm
And soon the anguish in your mind will be replaced with calm!

Before I act to make you well, a contract you must sign,
And whilst you hold to all its rules the spell remains benign!
But should you stray but for a day, then havoc will you reap,
And it may be that demons come to take you in your sleep!

So take this spike to pierce your flesh, should e’er you wish to eat,
If you would save your eyes and heart, and long retain your feet!
The juices in this vial serve to pacify your food
Without it, live a hellish life, with foul and blackened mood!

You must perform the ritual till dawns the far off day
The curse is lifted from your kind, and only then you may
Tear up the contract, cast away the sharp and bloodied spike,
Then go out to the restaurant and order what you like!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Beware the Grape!

Advice given to people newly-diagnosed with diabetes, particularly Type 2 where no medication may be required, can sometimes be a little on the inadequate side. One forum member related that her only advice on being diagnosed was ‘don’t eat grapes’. So, why are we searching for a cure for diabetes when the solution is so simple? Instead of trying to cure diabetes we should be trying to cure people of the compulsion to eat grapes!

It seems you’re diabetic - now, I know that that’s not nice,
But there’s no need to panic, just follow my advice!
It’s quite OK to fill yourself with strawberries and bananas,
But banish from your life for good the grape and the sultana!

The world is spending far too much in searching for a cure,
Instead they should be spending it repelling grape allure!
For that’s the only rule you need to keep yourself in shape –
It doesn’t matter what you eat if you reject the grape!

I know that when you see a grape you feel a strange compulsion
To eat a bunch for every lunch – but treat them with revulsion!
Forego the humble currant and dismiss the wizened prune,
Then forget you’re diabetic, you’ll be practically immune!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Ode to a Dumpling Dear

My poem for National Poetry Day!

There lived far off, in distant lands
A maiden fair, but plump
All ripe in bloom, and comfy was
The flesh upon her rump.

She lived her life in bliss pursuit
Of puddings, cakes and pies
And heedless she about the growth
Of poundage on her thighs.

Her face rotund would smile at all
The pastry cream delights
The soup suffused with lard and oil
And sugary, chocolate bites.

And then, one day, into her life
A stranger chanced to pass
A Northerner, uncouth and rude,
Remarked upon the lass:

"My word my girl, I do believe
You've set my heart a-thumping
For ne'er have I seen such a mass
I needs must call you 'Dumpling'!"

"Yes, Dumpling Queen, my Dumpling Dear!
You've made me all a-tizzy,
I warrant that you keep a league
Of chefs and bakers busy!"

These words at first did not connect
So strange his ways and speech
What could he mean? What did he say?
A whale upon a beach?

But slowly, surely, as she thought
And pictured in her mind
An explanation formed and grew -
He wasn't being kind!

A raging fire began to burn
Within her heaving breast
That rose and fell with every breath
Her inner wrath confessed.
Her angry heart beat faster
Could her clothes withstand the test?
Pounding and rebounding
'Gainst the fabric of her vest.

And with a roar, she then declared,
"No, I shall never rest
Until the day I rid the world
Of this base, uncultured pest!"

"No more shall I be 'Dumpling Girl',
The subject of such jest!
Henceforth I shall be 'Lovely Girl'
The fairest and the best!"

She looked around, but looked in vain,
For Northern man had fled!
The sight of all that quivering flesh
Had filled the man with dread…

And as the fire within her burned
And she searched far and wide
The quantity of flesh she bore
Did inch, by inch, subside!

Each minute past saw ounces melt
And she grew sleek and slim
Diminishing the wrath she felt
Her fury growing dim.

"Perhaps this Northern man was kind
To emphasise my girth -
Perhaps his tender parts should not
Be bruised for all they're worth."

"Maybe just a well-placed knee
When he suspects it least
Will compensate sufficiently
For being such a beast?"

When next they met, the Northern lad
Could scarce believe his eyes
Could this fair sight before him now
Be the product of those pies?

He gasped at first, and then he groaned
For barely did he see
As the region that would hurt the most
Connected with her knee…

We wonder were her model looks
The reason for the cries
The high-pitched voice, the curious gait,
The water in his eyes?

No more would she be 'Dumpling Girl'
This lovely lass so light
And he would nurse his bruises
In the small hours of the night….

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The Doctor will see you now...

I’ve been reading too many stories lately about people being called in to see the doctor and when they get there he’s got no idea what the appointment is for, has the wrong notes which he hasn’t read anyway, and makes wholly inappropriate assumptions or rude and thoughtless comments. Why do such people join the medical profession in the first place? Not for the money, surely?

Now, why have you made an appointment?
‘You asked me if I would come in!’
And why did we ask you to do that?
'I can’t think what the reason might have been!'

Well, let’s have a look at your records…
I see that you’ve had a few tests.
That must be why we want to see you -
To decide what to do for the best!

This test says you’ve just become pregnant!
That’s odd for an eighty year old!
I must say that you’re looking well though,
It’s the hormones that do that, I’m told!

Ah! This test says you’re diabetic!
I’m guessing you must be Type 2,
For Type 1s, it has been my experience,
Are much slimmer and younger than you!

What’s that, you’ve been Type 1 for decades?
You’re not pregnant because you are male?
Well then, please would you go, for I’m busy you know,
And I don’t have the time for your tales!

Monday, 4 October 2010

The Dangers of Left Nostril Neglect

The world of health is truly bizarre. Common problems that have afflicted mankind through the ages have engendered many weird and wonderful theories about their origins and how they may be prevented or cured. One of my favourites of the day has to be the prevention of diabetes through the practice of ‘Nadi Sodhana’ - the yoga technique of alternate nostril breathing! Apparently, the yogis have known for centuries about the ‘nasal cycle’, whereby humans favour one nostril over the other for breathing. The preferred nostril in a healthy individual apparently changes over a period of about two hours, but should one nostril exceed its allotted time significantly then dire consequences can ensue!

Breathing predominantly via the right nostril is apparently one of the major causes of diabetes! But wait, you can’t escape by favouring your left nostril, for this will put you at risk of developing asthma! Fortunately, both diseases can be avoided by learning to optimise your nasal cycle. I feel this should be taught in every school…!

Madam, please excuse me, if I may be so bold,
I’ve noticed how you’re breathing, because the day is cold!
The vapours you’re emitting cloud the autumn air,
Revealing that you’re risking things you may not be aware!

What nonsense sir, please leave me be, and let me on my way!
You don’t know me from Adam, what a stupid thing to say!
I learned to take in oxygen since I took my first breath
And I don’t intend to change my ways until I meet with death!

Forgive me madam, but you must! Or one day you might find
Your life afflicted by disease – the diabetic kind!
For you don’t use your passages to optimum effect:
The right one is in favour, but the left one you neglect!

My passages? How dare you sir! How could you be so rude?
Your language, sir, is intimate, and borders on the lewd!
Oh madam, let me clarify! I’m speaking of your nose!
For when you take in oxygen, that’s mainly where it goes!

You need to learn to use the left, and I can teach you how!
I’d like to stick my finger up – that’s if you will allow?
Be on your way you awful man, or we will come to blows,
And you’ll find trouble breathing when I spifflicate your nose!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Too old for Type 1!

A member related on the forum today how his practice nurse had insisted to him that he couldn’t possibly have Type 1 diabetes as he was too old! Erm…I was 49 when I was diagnosed, and recently a new member joined having been diagnosed Type 1 at the age of 65! No doubt this is a cunning money-saving exercise – by reclassifying the adult Type 1s as Type 2 the doctors can withdraw test strips and other medication on the basis that only insulin-dependent Type 1s need them!

Note: there isn’t a word of truth in any of the following poem!

Mr Jenkins? Your appointment has been rearranged,
And since you’ll have turned 40, your diagnosis has changed!
We know that we told you that you were Type 1,
But now you’ve got older, I’m afraid that is wrong!

Type 1 diabetes affects only the young,
And you’ve got a foot on the middle-aged rung –
On the ladder of life, I’m afraid you’re too high,
And your fountain of youth is decidedly dry!

So, because you’re too old, you’ve been reclassified,
There’s no point in complaining, though many have tried!
You’ll be very pleased to learn that you’re a Type 2,
That’ll be cheaper for us, if not better for you!

You won’t need to test, so you won’t need those strips,
And you’ll no longer suffer those low sugar dips!
We’re withdrawing your insulin, you’ll be diet-controlled…
What’s that? Don’t blame me sir – it’s because you’re too old!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Something doesn’t smell right!

As I’m running on behalf of Cancer and Bio-detection Dogs in the Great South Run this year, I thought I would pen a little poem about a typical scenario where a faithful furry friend helps his owner realise that his sugar levels are dropping low…(if you like the poem, please sponsor me at http://www.justgiving.com/sniff-for-life )

What’s that Towser? Please leave me be!
Stop licking my hand, and pawing my knee!
I’ve already fed you, so it’s surely not that –
If I give you more biscuits you’ll only get fat!

We’ve been to the park and played with your ball,
You chased a black cat till it jumped up a wall!
Your legs must be tired, why don’t you just rest?
Go lie in your basket, and don’t be a pest!

Go bother a neighbour and leave me alone!
Go sniff your bottom, or bury your bone!
I’m getting quite tetchy, I think you can tell –
Is there something wrong? Is it something you smell?

My goodness, dear Towser! It seems you are right!
Oh thank you my friend for detecting my plight!
My blood sugar’s low, and you knew straight away!
In future I’ll know what you’re trying to say!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Food glorious food!

One of the main problems with diabetes, putting aside the horrific and debilitating complications that it may bring, is that it affects one fundamental aspect of your daily life – eating. You may be able to get away without eating at all for a day or two, although that isn’t to be recommended, but sooner or later you are going to have to face food. With that comes the inescapable fact that everything you eat, whatever it is, needs some consideration – ideally careful consideration. Principally, you are concerned with the amount of carbs in the food, and this will then be further refined by a consideration of the type of carbohydrate and what other food types may be consumed with it. The amount of fat is a consideration, particularly saturated fat, as it is thought to contribute to cardio-vascular disease – something diabetics are already at greater risk of- plus, it will delay digestion of carbohydrate. Salt is another consideration: diabetics are advised to keep their blood pressure at tighter and lower levels than the non-diabetic public, and salt can contribute to high blood pressure.

So, there is no escaping having to think about diabetes each time you eat, if you are to succeed in keeping your blood glucose at healthy levels. Most people can live with this most of the time, but on occasion the fever grips you and you feel compelled to rebel – to eat all the stuff you shouldn’t and reassert your authority over the dastardly disease!

It was with this in mind, therefore, that I recently decided to have ‘Day of Indulgence’. I was prepared to inject whatever vast amounts of insulin were required to cover the outrageously sinful food I intended to consume, although I hadn’t really set out much of a plan about what that food would consist of. First meal of the day was a ‘blowout breakfast’ – egg, bacon, beans, fried bread, extra bread and a large mug of tea:



By lunchtime I wasn’t particularly hungry, so settled for two slices of melted cheese on toast, a chocolate cream éclair and ten pieces of dark chocolate:



Evening meal was a large Cornish pasty with chips, peas and carrots, followed by another chocolate cream éclair and a strawberry Muller rice:


 
Surprisingly, my blood sugar levels were fine throughout the day. I took measurements before each meal and two hours post meal and never rose higher than 8.9 mmol/l (160 mg/dl). This was probably due to the large amount of fat in each meal, which would have caused the food to digest more slowly. I was surprised also that, following my instincts only, I had indulged mainly by eating fatty foods rather than sweet ones – although obviously there were sweet foods consumed. I had imagined beforehand that I would want to sate my cravings for whole cakes or boxes of jelly babies, but apparently not!

This is not an experiment I intend to repeat in the near future. Despite ‘missing’ this type of food generally, I found that, in practice, it was far too fatty for my palate these days, so it looks like I have trained myself to be a ‘good’ diabetic!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Influenza Extravaganza! Step this way!

As a diabetic, I fall into the extra risk category should I contract flu. The extra stresses placed on the body’s systems trying to fight off the virus can result in climbing blood sugars which, if not properly controlled, can result in high levels of ketones with the potential for developing DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) – a life-threatening condition. For this reason, I am advised to have a vaccination against the most common strains in the autumn of each year to provide extra protection. For me, under the NHS, the vaccination is provided free of charge. However, my doctor receives a payment from the NHS for every patient he treats, and since the process only takes a few seconds this can be a very lucrative venture.

In order to maximise this earning potential, the surgery tries to encourage as many people as it can to take up the offer. When I was dropping off a prescription yesterday I was quite astounded at all the brightly coloured bunting and flashy posters decorating the whole place, as though there was some huge, historic celebration planned! And so I imagined, what might the doctor’s letter be like inviting me to this extravaganza…?

The postman came, is it for me? My goodness, what is this?
A letter from my doctor, oh no! Something must be amiss!
Dare I open it, and see what fate is in store for me?
Or should I leave it sealed and stay in ignorance, fear free?

The envelope is staring up, I can’t escape its gaze!
Oh, how I wish I’d given up my wild, unhealthy ways!
My doctor never writes to me, just when the news is bad,
But no – I’ll have to open it, or it will drive me mad!

What’s this? A card all glittery? Whatever could it be?
A party invitation? And please ‘RSVP’?
What joyous grand occasion are the celebrations for?
I read on in bewilderment, in order to learn more…

‘We’re happy to inform you, after months of preparation,
The time’s arrived for you to have your new flu vaccination!
There’ll be some cakes and sandwiches, and of course a bar,
But if you intend drinking, please leave behind your car.’

I couldn’t wait! The day arrived, I walked into the room,
The disco lights were flashing, I could hear the music boom!
And party poppers threw their coloured streamers in the air,
And conga-dancing patients laughed and weaved between the chairs!

A pretty nurse came up to me and whispered in my ear.
‘Would you like to join me in my office over here?
I’ve got something to give you – I promise it won’t hurt!
And it will make it easier if you first remove your shirt!’

So willingly I followed her, my shirt fell to the floor,
I gazed at her expectantly as she swiftly closed the door.
‘Now close your eyes for my surprise, I’m sure you’ll find it fun!’
She stuck a needle in my arm, announcing ‘There! All done!’

Saturday, 25 September 2010

A month to go! Woof! What's that I can smell?

Well, the Great South Run will take place a month tomorrow so I really need to get myself in shape! This will be my third year of running the GSR with diabetes, and having run for the two big diabetes charities in the past two years (JDRF and Diabetes UK) I decided to run on behalf of a smaller charity this year. So, I have chosen the wonderful Cancer and Bio-detection Dogs UK, who train dogs to sniff out signs of a number of conditions, primarily cancer, hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) and Addison's crisis (a problem with the adrenal response system). These animals can be lifesavers in detecting early signd of cancer, or alerting people to potentially lif-threatening hypos - particularly in young children who may not be able to articulate how they feel - or people with poor hypo-awareness.

The charity are hoping to train 50 dogs over the next three years, so any money raised will be extremely welcome and put to excellent use! Please help if you can by clicking on the 'donate' button at the right of the screen or going to my just giving page.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Wear your socks inside out!


Feet are important to everyone, and for people with diabetes extra care needs to be taken to ensure that there is no risk of damage or infection as this can be much more difficult to treat and heal than in a non-diabetic person. Personally, I was advised to wear socks without seams in order to reduce the possibility of them rubbing and causing blisters. Recently on the forum, however, I read that a person had been advised to wear their socks inside out – presumably for the same reason!

I spoke to my doctor, he’s a wily old fox,
And he gave me advice about how to wear socks.
Now, perhaps you’d expect that there’s only one way,
But apparently not, as he went on to say:
Since you’re diabetic (there’s a tick in the box)
Then you have to beware of all life’s little knocks,
So look after your feet, for they’re what help you stand,
And roam far and wide through this wonderful land!
It’s true that there’s nothing that’s so far from your mind,
For they’re much lower down than your chest or behind,
But follow my guidance and you’ll need both your boots
For perambulation and leisure pursuits!
Keep your feet warm, well-protected and clean,
And come in to see me if they swell or turn green!
Most important of all - and of this there’s no doubt –
Always remember, wear your socks inside out!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Birmingham forum Meet, September 2010


Had an absolutely brilliant day yesterday in Birmingham meeting up with fellow forum members! It was a lovely, sunny day to begin with, but sensibly we ensured we were comfortably esconced in the Penny Blacks bar when the inevitable rain descended. Really nice venue, with a lovely outlook across the canal - Birmingham has certainly improved since my last visit about 20 years ago! There was a really good turnout, and clearly a lot to talk about as everyone was busy chatting away for the next nine hours! Lovely bunch of people - thanks to all for coming, and a special thanks to Shiv who oganised it, and sheperded me back to the Megabus stop at the end!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Flock to Skipton!

Sorry about the lack of posts lately – I’ve been away from the connected world and don’t have the foresight to try and organise guest posts! I’ve been up in the lovely Yorkshire Dales visiting family and friends. The weather was superb, and I really felt quite a few pangs at having to leave all that lovely countryside when it came time to depart.

I don’t go away much, but it did occur to me how one very fundamental thing about holidays has changed forever for me since I was diagnosed. Before, the whole idea of a holiday was to ‘get away from it all’, to be footloose and fancy-free, without a care in the world, let yourself go…and a thousand other clichés that are clichés because they are true! Not any more, alas! I can’t leave my diabetes behind or forget about it, in fact I have to think about it even more as I am away from my usual routine, eating different meals at different times, different activities – all can have an impact on your diabetes, your insulin doses and of course, your blood sugar levels. I also had to get organised so that I wouldn’t forget any of my essential supplies. Extra worry at the airport in case someone challenged me about all those needles and mysterious liquids. Worry in case anything should go wrong, even though I wasn’t leaving the country – what if my pen broke or the insulin leaked or got too hot?

Thankfully, I didn’t forget anything, was waved through at the airport, had some lovely meals in lovely surrounding and with some fine people, oh! and a few colourful sheep sculptures! Here are a few pictures:

Friday, 27 August 2010

Run Success Hurrah!

Cobden-Mousehole-Bitterne

After Sunday’s almost complete fail I decided that the most likely cause of my panic attack symptoms was the increased blood pressure medications I had started taking the night before. In my head, being prevented from running in order to take some pills seems completely wrong, so I decided to go back to the previous dose, which I appear to be able to tolerate. My health is clearly improving anyway, and running can only help that. I have been having to reduce my insulin requirements over the past two weeks – novorapid is now down by about 40% and lantus down by an astonishing 60%. I’m now on such a low dose of lantus that, pretty soon, I’ll be spraying more into the air with my pre-injection airshot than I will actually be injecting!

The strategy appears to have worked. I went for a somewhat tentative run on Tuesday and managed a shortish two and a half miles. I’m still very slow in comparison to ‘the old me’, but you can’t hurry these things, plus I’m older, I broke my leg and I have diabetes! The run was fairly uneventful and pleasant – weather was conducive, being coolish and overcast, with a slight drizzle. I think the Scots describe such weather as ‘dreicht’! Had a couple of days off, then went for a three miler yesterday, again no real dramas!

Today, I decided that I should put Sunday’s demons to rest and tackle those hills again. This time, no sensations of panic (not that I felt panicked before, just the symptoms of such) and I was really surprised at how good my breathing was up the first hill. Given that the hill is at a gradient of over 30% I was pleased to discover that my pace had also improved on this section, now heading towards 11 minutes a mile. My legs were a slightly different matter, as they were still a little tired from yesterday, but a few weeks ago they would have been so tired I would hardly have been able to walk – so certainly progress there! I didn’t run as far as I had intended because I started to get the little twinges in my right calf that have put me out of action in the past, so I cut the route short. Still very challenging though, and very pleased with it!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

A Wee Dram!


Diabetes is an expensive disease to treat and manage, and costs are increasing all the time with new, more expensive therapies and an ever-increasing number of new diagnoses. How can these costs be reduced? Is there some way that we can take advantage of the natural sweetness of a diabetic’s urine – first observed in ancient times and giving the disease its name – and generate some kind of income from it?

Indeed there is! London designer James Gilpin has proposed using the sugar-heavy urine excreted by diabetics to ferment high-end single whisky! Imagine then, the scenario: diabetics regularly attending at their local distillery in order to supply this valuable resource, gaining credits in return in order to fund their treatment! The resultant spirit can then be sold throughout the world, carrying the renowned imprimatur of the Scottish Government!

(With huge thanks to @CureT1Diabetes for the inspiration!)

Another diabetic? Ah! Please just join the queue
And pick a flagon of your choice from those in front of you.
I hope you’ve been behaving, and kept those levels high!
We have to keep the quality up – it’s hard, but we must try!

What’s that? You’ve never done this? You’re newly-diagnosed?
Then let me tell you what the Scottish Government has proposed!
You’ll know it costs a lot to treat you, now you’re diabetic?
Well here’s a way we’re hoping that you’ll help us to offset it!

You’ll have to come here twice a week to earn your testing strips,
And glug a flagon of this juice – no dainty little sips!
You might try eating salted nuts to sharpen up your thirst,
Then hopefully your bladder will be full up fit to burst!

Then make your way just over there – you’ll see a wooden trough,
Try to hold your breath because the smell might make you cough!
When you’re finished, shake your thing so we don’t lose a drop,
And in return then you will earn a voucher for our shop!

You’ll find a nice selection there of whiskies we’ve produced –
We sell them all around the world, so health costs are reduced!
So, if you’ve ever wondered what’s beneath a Scotsman’s kilt,
It’s a pint or two of liquid gold, and ne’er a drop is spilt!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Go on! Have a pie!


Why is it in this health-conscious age, with government campaigns ringing in our ears, that so many food establishments fail to act and provide good, wholesome and healthy fare? Recently a lady on the forum related a tale of how, in a health and fitness club or all places, she had found it virtually impossible to purchase food that would satisfy her hunger without clogging up her arteries, spiking her blood sugar levels and sending her blood pressure through the roof. She was compelled to bring her own food, but warned by the manager that this was against the rules and she would risk getting her membership cancelled if she persisted. Here’s how I imagine the conversation went…

I’m so sorry madam, you can’t eat that here,
We’ve a rule against bringing in food,
You’ll find what we offer is healthy and fresh,
So don’t eat your own – that’s just rude!

Our menu is here, please read and you’ll see
The wonderful things that we sell!
Both savoury and sweet, vegetarian and meat,
And a wide range of soft drinks as well!

For our sandwiches we use only fine refined bread,
As white as the snows before Spring!
We can fill it with Spam, crispy bacon or jam,
Or sausages fit for a king!

Ah! I see our pork pies have just caught your eye!
They’re served with a big plate of chips!
Come on, don’t deny that you’d love one to try!
I can see that you’re licking your lips!

What’s that? A nice salad? No, I don’t think we do,
There’s never much call for that here…
We’ve some nice battered fish you could have if you wish –
We make all our batter with beer!

Now, to wash it all down, then you could go to town
With a full sugar energy drink!
The cups are so big if you fell in you’d drown,
And there’s no finer tonic – don’t you think?

What’s that? You’ll decline? Well, I feel I must say
That you look like you need a good meal!
For you’re thinner each day, like you’re wasting away,
Just imagine how much better you’d feel!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Run-Fail-Why?

Run - fail :(

I was all set this morning for a good run of around four miles or so up and down some of the local hills – blood sugar was at a good starting point (9.3mmol/l – 167 mg/dl), legs had recovered from Friday’s run, I had food in my belly and the weather appeared good, overcast and a little humid, but dry. However, within half a mile of setting off I felt absolutely awful! For some reason, as soon as I set off I felt a surge of adrenalin course through my body. Adrenalin is fine if you’re a sprinter, but for long distance, aerobic running it’s something that you only really want when you need to pass the runners in rhino costumes at the end of a marathon to save you from humiliation! The effect of this was to make my heart start racing, my breathing to become por and erratic, and the muscles of my legs to fill with lactic acid, making them instantly weak and devoid of energy. Within half a mile, I felt I had no choice but to stop running and try walking for a while whilst I recovered. By now, I was feeling very hot and light-headed. After I had recovered a little I tried running again, but very quickly the sensations came back and I took the decision to turn round and return home.

I absolutely HATE giving up on a run! It’s this stubbornness that has got me to the end of many a race, often miles past the point where something was telling me I ought to stop – most notably in The Hague half marathon in 2008, the year of my diagnosis. I’m sure that, had I known my blood sugar levels during that race I would have been flagging down the ambulance – but I made it! So what happened this morning? It has taken me a good hour or so to feel fully recovered, although I still feel a little light-headed. My blood sugar had remained largely unchanged at 9.6 (173) on my return so it wasn’t a sudden rise or fall in that. Thinking about it, I appear to have suffered all the symptoms of a panic or anxiety attack, but with no discernible cause.

The only thing I can attribute it to is that last night I took the first increased dose of my blood pressure medication, so I’m wondering if the symptoms were a result of a sudden rise then fall in my blood pressure at the start of my run. I’m tempted to go back to the old dose of medication, as I know my blood pressure has been improving and I suspect the slightly high reading the doctor took last Thursday was high partly due to the anxiety of having it checked. Given the huge changes in my blood sugars and insulin requirements over the past couple of weeks, it’s perfectly reasonable (in my head!) that I might also be getting a significant improvement in blood pressure that simply wasn’t indicated in the single test performed by the doctor. However, since I don’t have any equipment to accurately test my BP at home – I have a wrist monitor that invariably shows the same figures! – this can only be speculation. I’ll have to weigh up the options of whether it is worth ignoring the doctor’s advice and not increasing the medication.

So annoyed that I couldn’t complete my run!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

It's behind you! An alternative to injections?

Is there a solution for those poor insulin-dependent diabetics who have needle phobia? A less embarrassing method of delivering insulin when in a club or restaurant than having to get out all that paraphernalia and drawing attention to yourself? Apparently so – a company called Oramed Pharmaceuticals have been working on a different method of delivering insulin, via rectal insertion of a suppository! Imagine how much more socially acceptable this would be than injecting in public – how could anyone possibly object to someone pushing something up their behind before eating? Oh, if only Messrs Banting and Best had put their energies into this method of delivery, then we wouldn’t all be marked out as druggies and junkies by a shocked and disgusted Joe Public!

Ah, welcome Mr Jones, to your annual review!
I hope that you’ve been keeping well?
There’s been an advancement – it’s something quite new,
You can’t wait to hear, I can tell!

I know that, for you, there’s a deep-seated fear
Of each insulin injection you face,
You might even say it’s a pain in the rear,
Well, here’s something I’m sure you’ll embrace!

‘What? Is it a pill I can swallow each night?
Oh, that would be perfect for me!
For, try as I might, needles give me a fright,
And hurt like the sting from a bee!’

Not a pill that you swallow, though you’re on the right lines,
Nor a patch or a gum that you chew…
Now I hope you don’t mind, please expose your behind,
And I’ll just ‘introduce’ it to you!

There now, that didn’t hurt! Did you feel any pain?
It’s quick and so easy to do!
Oh dear, it’s popped out! I’ll just try it again…
Now don’t squeal or fart till I’m through!

You’ll soon get the hang, when you’re out on the town,
Of inserting this handy suppository!
You just need to turn round, pull your trousers right down,
And discreetly fill your rectal depository!

Ups and downs – hills and blood sugar!

Cobden-Glenfield

I’ve managed to get out for 5 runs in the past 8 days, which is a huge improvement over my previous efforts. Not running very far, as yet, but the runs are challenging nonetheless, involving some very steep ascents and descents that test the legs and lungs! I’ve come to the conclusion that I run much better on such varied terrain. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to me, as most of my early running days were on the big hills of Sheffield and the Peak District, but I think I had started to forget this and have been, until recently, only running through the park where the terrain is only ever so slightly undulating.

Cobden-Mousehole-Peartree

This fact was proven to me in the fourth of my recent runs. For the previous three, I had run a demanding and varied hilly course and had thought that to then run on the flat would be a piece of cake – far from the truth! I found it much harder, not so much on the heart and lungs, but on my legs which quickly tired and left me aching for two days afterwards. It seems I’m much better suited to the effort and challenge of a hill, followed by the relief and recovery of crowning it and running down the other side. I think I also get a bit bored now running through the park as I have done the same route countless times over the past 10 years, so the change is very welcome!

Riverside Park-Mansbridge

My fitness is improving accordingly as is, I hope, my health. I had a visit to my doctor this week and there has been an improvement in my blood pressure, although it is still a little on the high side so my medication has been increased slightly. I also asked about my recent retinopathy scan and the worrying news that I now have ‘moderate diabetic eye disease. The doctor had a letter that provided more detail – apparently, what I have is still the background retinopathy reported last year, but the specialist had observed deposits rather closer to the macula than might be hoped for. Really, it’s the luck of the draw as these deposits can form anywhere on the retina, it just so happens in my case that they are potentially threatening the one area that is chiefly responsible for central vision. I don’t know yet if I will require any treatment for this, so I have an anxious wait until my aapointment at the eye hospital comes through.

Cobden-Midanbury-Woodmill-Riverside Park
There has been another, rather profound effect on me from my increase activity levels – my blood sugar levels have started to drop at such a rate that it has been hard to keep up by lowering my insulin doses. Two nights in a row I was awoken with hypos of 2.1 mmol/l (38 mg/dl) and 2.7 mmol/l (49 mg/dl), despite having snacks before bed. Thanks goodness I woke up! I have been lowering my basal insulin (lantus) as well as lowering my meal boluses (novorapid), but still battling lows so the effect of the exercise is even more profound than I can predict! I seem to be just about getting it right now, having reduced my lantus from 8 units to 5 and being very sparing with my meal bolus. My total daily dose is now around 30 units, with my basal comprising less than 20% of the total – normally, the split should be around 40-50% of TDD! Perhaps I’m nearly cured!

Hoping for another, longer run tomorrow, I’m already feeling a lot healthier and have much more energy, although I’m still a little on edge when going to sleep at night because of those hypos as they were the first night ones I have had for several months.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Silly Sally Sugar Lump

There’s a lot of talk these days about the modern Western diet and how it is contributing to the rising numbers of people being diagnosed with diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Processed foods are often made more palatable by including varying amounts of sugar, salt or fat. Less sugar often means more fat, and vice versa, so it’s hard to keep track of how far off a healthy diet any particular foodstuff will take you. For this reason, I tend to cook my own food from fresh ingredients whenever possible, but it is still difficult to avoid the salt and sugar in so many foods where it might not be expected, certainly in the quantities often used. Manufacturers include these elements because they know that our palate and brains crave them, and without them food may taste bland and uninteresting.

Since my diagnosis I’ve become a lot more careful of the food I buy, checking packets before purchase and comparing products to make sure that I am buying the healthiest of what is available. However, although companies are now obliged to print the quantities of constituents in a standardised format, this standardisation does not apply to the size or clarity of the text – so I can often be found whipping out my spyglass (so to speak) so that I can read the tiny print on packaging. I feel this is wrong, and is effectively hiding that information from me – possibly even discriminating against me because my eyesight does not match that of a hawk in its prime, and making it more difficult for me to make decisions about carbohydrate content that are crucial to my blood sugar control! It’s like any ‘small print’ really, that is a legal obligation to display, but there are no rules on whether it should be actually legible to a person with average vision.

I feel a campaign coming on – writing to food manufacturers asking for an explanation of why they choose to effectively hide this important information away. I think I know the reason, but it would be interesting to see how they wriggle out of their obligation!


Silly Sally Sugar Lump would often take the blame,
For making humans huge as hills just mentioning her name!
She knew that humans fell for her, and longed for her sweet kiss,
So she’d hide away in all their food, the wicked little miss!

She had a friend called Sammy Salt, so similar in name,
And he agreed it would be fun to join in Sally’s game!
And though they tasted different, they hid themselves quite well,
Blending in with savoury and sweetened food as well!

Sally hid in Chinese food, as spicy as could be,
And Sammy hid in puddings which you might think are salt-free!
Then governments decided they would stop their little racket,
By forcing companies making food to name them on the packet!

But governments had missed a trick, so companies were free
To hide the names by writing them as tiny as can be.
So humans often overlooked just what their food contained,
And their pernicious influence on taste buds still remained.

It’s time to make it obvious, for they can harm our health,
Though Sally’s game has made her name, and no doubt fame and wealth!
A little Sally does us good, she cheers our heart and mind,
But too much Sally day-by-day you’ll find is not so kind!

As for Sammy Salt, you’ll find that we need him to live,
Too much of him, however is a certain negative –
So count each gram that you consume, and never more than six,
Eat both in moderation and be wary of their tricks!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Diabetic tamagotchis...

One of the people on the diabetes forum suggested that it would be a good idea if trainee medics were made to carry around and care for a tamagotchi-type thing that was programmed with diabetes. They’d have to check its levels, feed it, ‘inject’ it, cope with activity and illness etc. Then, at the end of the training period the tamagotchi could be checked for its ‘HbA1c’ to see how well they had been looked after.

Of course, the device would be programmed with all the variables that make life as a diabetic so interesting and fun, plus a few random unknowns just to spice things up every now and again! At the review, the medics whose devices had fared badly would be castigated for their poor control – taking no heed of their protestations about inexplicable readings and assurances they had been working as hard as they could…

Welcome to the lecture! Now this may sound prophetic,
But by the time you leave this room , you’ll all be diabetic!
Don’t worry, we’re not going to tie your pancreatic duct,
But take part in some training that is often overlooked!

You’ve read all about diabetes - that’s all well and good,
But that is generalistic, so I think that you all should
Discover how much work’s involved to keep your levels steady,
So take your tamagotchis and start them when you’re ready!

I’m sure from all your reading you’ll know where you should begin?
For every gram of carb you eat, then you must type it in,
And if you’ve done some exercise, like gardening and such.
That might affect your levels, so estimate how much…

And if you get a virus, then your levels might climb high
And sometimes you’ll be really bad, but never find out why!
And maybe in the morning, as you watch the rising Sun,
You’ll be afflicted by the lovely dawn phenomenon!

Those of you on insulin, you’re all allowed to test,
If not, then we won’t let you as you might become obsessed!
I’d like to see you all back here when three months have gone by
Be warned – if you should fail we’ll want to know the reason why!

Three months pass...

Ah Jones! Your tamagotchi isn’t looking very good!
I can’t believe you’ve tried at all, I thought you understood?
Your A1c is dreadful, so can you please explain?
Or must I just repeat myself time and time again?

What’s that? This diabetes lark is harder than you thought?
But you said when you started it was nothing of the sort!
Perhaps you’ll have more empathy when patients come to you,
And acknowledge the complexities they speak about are true!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Pick a cure, any cure…

I’m becoming increasingly disturbed at the deceitful, exploitative charlatans that purport to be offering ‘cures’ for diabetes. Often, their ‘treatments’ or ‘methods’ are potentially life-threatening, playing on the fears of vulnerable people for pecuniary gain. There is currently NO CURE for diabetes. It can be managed, sometimes to the extent that a person can live a full and healthy life without the need for medication – but even then, it is never cured. Should such a person indulge just once on the wrong foods, it will quickly become all too apparent that they are not cured, but still subject to their body’s inability to cope with the resultant glucose in the way that a non-diabetic person could.

Some of the following are actually presented as ‘cures’, offered to millions on a daily basis, and no doubt drawing in a few unsuspecting souls who are convinced by the pseudo-medical mumbo-jumbo that supports their vaunted claims. See if you can guess which ones are being aggressively marketed on the web at this very moment!

Drinking bleach, magnetic water,
The toenails of your first-born daughter,
Wearing tin foil underwear,
Eye of newt and nose of bear,
Whelk infusions, ultrasound,
Keep your earlobes tightly bound,
Drink fresh rat milk every night,
Never eat an egg that’s white,
Spend a weekend with a goat,
Wear some seaweed round your throat.
If a pig is facing West,
Rub some pickles on your chest,
Eat raw carrots by the pound,
Only eat a fruit that’s round,
Bathe each night in fresh manure –
All these guaranteed to cure!

If these don’t work, or you feel funny,
We don’t care – we’ve got your money!

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Running the Southampton Alps!

Cobden-Mousehole-Peartree

I’m starting to get into a bit more of a routine now with the running, with three runs in the past four days. I had to take yesterday off as my legs were a little on the sore side from Thursday and Friday’s runs. It seems I may be getting a little addicted to the challenge of big hills at the moment. I could have gone for a relatively fast and flat run through the park alongside the river this morning, but I had a route in my mind that was an extension of last weeks ups and downs, but without the unintended loop back due to the map inaccuracies. This would take me on a wider loop, which turned out (as you can see in the pictures) to be almost heart-shaped!

Why all this determination to get back running again? Well, apart from the fact that I have the Great South Run to run in October, I got a bit of a shock the other day. A week ago I went for my annual diabetic retinal scan. After they’ve taken the pictures you have to wait to see if they will send you a letter. Getting the letter is not good news – at my hospital they only send you one if they have found something of concern. Unfortunately, on Thursday, I got the letter. It said that I have ‘moderate diabetic eye disease’, which is a worsening from the ‘background retinopathy I was told I had last year. My first thoughts were that I was going blind and I’ve only been diagnosed two years – how can this be happening to me? My HbA1c has been practically perfect since I got things under control, with numbers of 11.8, 6.8, 5.2, 5.4, 5.6 and 5.6 (the frist number was diagnosis, the one after about six weeks later). What do these numbers mean? Well, ideally, the HbA1c should be below 6.5 in order to minimise the damage that diabetes can do to the small blood vessels – particularly those in the eyes and kidneys. With my numbers I am well under that figure.

So, why has my retinal scan shown deterioration? The answer is more than likely the high blood pressure I have been suffering for several months now, as this is also a big factor, alongside diabetes, in determining how healthy or otherwise your eyes are. So, it’s a warning to me that I have to get the BP down so no further damage is done. As things stand, it is unlikely that I will need treatment, just more regular eye checks. The problem may even improve if I start looking after myself better. So, that is my aim – I already have very good blood sugar control, now I need to take every possible step to make sure my blood pressure is perfect!

Cobden-Glenfield

A lot of the steps I will be taking currently seem to involve running up huge hills! I’m happy to say, though, that I have seen a rapid improvement already in my pace around these hilly courses. Thursday’s run was 11 min/mile pace, and Friday’s 10 min/mile pace over the same route. Today’s run was slower, but I’m building more distance already, so now up to 3.1 miles (5k). I’m sure I could have managed a much quicker and longer run if I had opted for the flatter route! Main thing is not to get injured. My legs are not as young as they used to be, so can take a little longer to recover – I need to resist the cravings for endorphins and make sure I take rest days. Might not be too difficult, given the weather that is being forecast!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Farts versus Injections

There was a story in Wigan Today recently about a customer in a pub restaurant complaining when a woman with Type 1 diabetes injected at her table just prior to eating her meal. He claimed that she had upset his children and likened the act to the same social unpleasantness as breaking wind in public. Rather than taking the opportunity to educate his children about the unfortunate need for some people to inject in order to stay alive, instead he no doubt instilled in them the same prejudices he himself displayed.

So, are farts in restaurants more acceptable than injections? Let’s see what transpired…

Excuse me, I’m sorry, I must ask you to leave,
For our customers are shocked and distressed,
And there’s been a complaint that you made someone faint,
And the management are far from impressed!

But what did I do? I’m innocent, I say!
I was just sat here eating my meal!
I’m embarrassed and hurt by the things you assert,
Have you no care for how I might feel?

If anyone should leave, then that woman over there
Just frightened my kids by injecting!
So disgusting and crude, alarming and rude,
It is her that you should be ejecting!

So, you claim that a lady who must do that to live,
In a restaurant is far less befitting
Than to lift up one cheek and let out a slow leak
Of the gases that you were emitting?

I admit that I trumped, but it wasn’t so loud,
I don’t see what there is to discuss!
What did I do wrong? It didn’t take long,
I don’t see why you’re making a fuss!

Sir, injections are fine just before you can dine,
But a fart is a toilet-based act!
It is far from discreet and puts folk off their meat,
So in future, remember that fact!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Southampton Forum Meet!

Had a fantastic day meeting up with my fellow DM'ers here in Southampton today! Biggest surprise of the day was when Katie turned up - she's supposed to be in Australia! As usual, when in the company of diabetics, my levels hit double figures for much of the day, but it is always worth it!

Only took a few piccies, so here they are:

Nikki, Tom and Shiv


Duane, Sam and Amy


Fellow Bitterne Parkers!


Katie!


Nosh!


Lots of healthy chips 'n' stuff!




Sunday, 1 August 2010

Thank you Mr Map – not!

I was itching to get out for my run this morning – I had the route running through my head all of yesterday and was looking forward to the challenge. Back on Monday I reconnoitred a route that would involve even more monstrous hills than the ones I ran last Sunday, which now appear positively Lilliputian by comparison!

It’s still fairly early on in my efforts to get back to running decent distances, so I was a little apprehensive about how things might go. The start of the run took me up the same road as last week, but this time instead of turning off I kept running upwards. I had a quick glance at my Garmin as I reached the crest of the hill and saw that it was exactly half a mile. Gradient on this section was 14%, which may not sound much, but go out and find such a hill and you’ll understand that such a hill would not be found in Holland! More was to come. I was happy that my breathing was good - I have a good sense of how to pace my efforts, whatever the terrain, after 30 years of running experience.

The hill was followed by an even steeper descent. Many people might imagine that, slow as the climb might be expected to be, surely you would make up time on the descent, but that’s not quite true. Going up stresses the muscles of course, but the main limiting factor is the heart and lungs – you have to be able to take in enough oxygen to feed those muscles. Going downhill, however, brings a different set of problems. You can recover your oxygen debt as gravity assists your downward trajectory, but the impact stresses on muscles and joints is far more extreme. Over three times your body weight will be the impact force with each footfall, and given that I am currently heavier than I have ever been, this is considerable for me at the moment. I also bear in mind that my leg once snapped due to such stresses and that tends to temper my pace!

I then had a flattish stretch, just a slight incline before coming to what I expected to be my biggest challenge – a huge uphill section that was at an incline of 28%! I was struggling towards the top, I will admit, and thankful for the subsequent flat section before running steeply down again. I had expected that that would be the end of my need to run skywards, but not to be! I had taken a quick glance at a map beforehand, and estimated that I could escape the traffic of the main road over the last section by running down a side road, connecting to another road at the bottom and then having a flat remaining run home. Stupid map! Significant detail had been omitted (as I discovered later when looking online), meaning that I now had little choice but to run back up to the summit of the original hill that I had started from, this time from the opposite side. On this side of the hill the incline was 22%, so a real lung-burster at this stage! A final long descent then brought me home.

I was very pleased with my achievement. Although it again appears slow, the hills involved were huge and yet I still managed to keep going all the way. I’m sure that, as my fitness improves, I will be moving much faster up them so my overall pace will improve considerably. The run has given me great confidence to start extending future runs – just hope I can stay injury free for the duration! Love those endorphins! Hoping my legs won’t suffer quite so much as they did last week! Blood sugar levels weren’t bad – 8.1 mmol/l before (146 mg/dl) and 9.4 mmol/l after (169 mg/dl).

Apologies for no poetry lately – the Muse has deserted me for the time being! I have one or two ideas though, so hope to include a few over the coming week. Please look back through the archives!

Friday, 30 July 2010

Getting better, slowly!

My legs have finally recovered from Sunday’s hills sufficiently to tackle another run this morning. Thought I would try a slight extension to my recent runs through the park. I’m not worrying about times at the moment, apart from time on my feet, as I need to get some stamina and endurance built up. Going into oxygen-debt by running faster than I can currently sustain is pointless, so I just ran the route I intended, staying well within my aerobic capacity.

Things were fairly quiet – it’s strange how so much of the road traffic disappears when the school holidays start, I can only imagine (not having kids) that much of the rush hour congestion is caused by over-protective two-car parents driving their little darlings to the school gates rather than let them burn off any precious calories with a bit of a walk...

The air was cooler than of late, and still, meaning that I quickly began to heat up. The riverbanks were exposing their muddy banks, dark brown dotted with white where seagulls foraged for worms amidst the traffic cones and shopping trollies. Actually, it’s not that bad, the river is pretty clean. It’s very tidal, so when the tide is out just a narrow channel remains, revealing just how shallow the river is, despite its broad expanse. As I ran the Sun began to burn off the cloud cover and I began to heat up some more!

Thankfully, I wasn’t overwhelmed with dogs on the run, just a couple of mongrels more interested in the saliva-soaked balls that their owners were casting around for them to chase. It seems that modern dog-owners have cottoned on to just how gross a dog-spit drenched tennis ball is, so they no longer throw them by hand, but employ some kind of plastic launcher – such are the advancements of modern civilisation…

My legs were rather heavy over the last half mile, but that means that they managed the previous two and a bit without too much distress, which is an improvement as it means I’m gaining a stronger base. I’ve found in the past it takes me about three weeks to get back into being able to run a regular 5-7 miles, although as I’ve got older it does seem to be closer to three weeks rather than two! I’ve wondered about the diabetes too, whether that is having an effect on my endurance and recovery, or if I’m just finding that an easier thing to blame than the fact that I’m not the Spring chicken I used to be!

Levels were 7.9 mmol/l (142 mg/dl) before the run and 7.3 mmol/l (131 mg/dl) afterwards, which I was pleased with. I don’t adjust my insulin before the run, although I know of some people that either take none or at the very least reduce it by a considerable amount. For me, the effect comes afterwards, so that’s when I change my ratios – although it’s a completely subjective, finger-in-the-air adjustment, based largely on instinct and experience. I’ve also taken to injecting about 15 minutes before eating, as I’ve discovered that I often spike early, however GI-conscious I’ve been with my food choices. This morning’s readings indicate that I got it just right. 362 calories burned, but I’m not shifting any weight at all. I’ve got a doctor’s appointment next Thursday to see if my blood pressure has improved – if not, I’m likely to be threatened with more medication, which I’d really rather not have, so hoping staying off the booze for the past couple of weeks, plus the exercise, will have me nice and steady at 130/80e

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

My poem was read out at the No Sugar Added book launch!



About a minute in, a couple of lines from my poem are read out in this short video - I'm presuming they read the whole thing out! Weird to see people I've never met over on the other side of the world reading out my poem publicly! Exciting! Buy the book!

GSR Training update

Well, my poor leg muscles were totally wrecked after Sunday's hilly run! Why oh why did I choose to live in a two-storey house - the steps are pure torture! Interestingly, my left ('good') leg was significantly more sore than my right ('bad') leg. I've noticed this in the past, and can only presume it is because I tend to favour that leg and make it do more than its fair share of the work since breaking the other. So, I had a couple of days off from the running, despite my desire to get out there - it would have been folly, and embarassing! I did, however, go on a recce on Monday, seeking out even more monstrous inclines for future runs. I went on a wider three mile circuit of my home which involved some truly challenging hills that dwarfed those I ran on Sunday - definitely something to attempt in the near future, and something that I know I could extend for 10-15 miles around town now that I know where the new route fits into place. Rather shamefully, some of these local hills, less than half a mile from home, were new to me despite living in the area for nearly 11 years - I guess I've never had any reason to go off in that direction, and maybe been put off by the steepness!

I was hoping to have been recovered sufficiently by today to attempt a gentler run through the park, but the soreness, although diminished, is still there. Instead, I decided to join Gay Gasper (in the picture) on her 15 minute abs workout and followed this up with an 8k exercise bike session - both being low-impact. OK, I know that's not a lot, but it's something, and hopefully it will help keep my blood sugars in line, as they have been improving after last week's climb. Hoping for a run tomorrow!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Up hill, down dale!


OK, I’ve been laid up again with a muscle strain, so getting back into running is coming in fits and starts. When I was younger I would probably have just run through such an injury, but it’s surprising (or maybe not!) how much it focuses your mind on recovering fully when your femur once snapped at mile 23 of a marathon. I think the problem stemmed from the fact that I have a big nail going through my leg from front to back, about three inches above my knee – this has created a lot of internal scar tissue and altered the physiology of the leg somewhat.

Anyway, excuses over! I have been feeling a little jaded with running through the park – beautiful though it is – and fancied tackling something a little different today. A couple of days ago I was walking down one of the steep local hills, of which there are many around where I live, and I saw a girl running up on the other side. I was impressed. I don’t know what the actual gradient is, but it is steep, and it reminded me of my time in the Peak District when I too could run up such a precipitous climb! So, in an attempt to recapture my youth (that’s early-30s!) I decided I would go on a tour of the hills in the neighbourhood.

Starting from home, the first half mile was entirely, and heart-thumpingly, uphill. I had no preconceived notion of how I might cope, just concentrated on managing my breathing and running at the edge of my aerobic capacity. I knew it would be slow, but hey – this was my first such run in a while, and a course I had not previously tackled. I didn’t want to be a heaving, panting wreck after the first five minutes! Surprisingly, I managed to reach the first turn without too much distress, and suddenly I was descending quickly down a road whose steepness on the opposite direction impacted a completely different set of muscles and joints, or so it seemed! A pretty road with trees and large houses, nicely shaded and peaceful.

Eventually emerging at the bottom I took a short turn right, then right again to run upwards again, not quite achieving the ascent of the first climb, but not far off. A left turn down as I broached the brow of the hill, then another left and back down a road running parallel to the one I had just wheezed my way up. I was impressed I was still moving at this point, but decided to finish off the run with a little roundabout run to extend the route a little further and finally reaching home and blessed sanctuary for my bursting lungs and heavy legs.

Slow, and not that far, but not bad for a first attempt, so I’ll definitely be adding (and probably extending) it to my repertoire of routes, with every intention of stepping up the pace in future and smashing my rather embarrassing current personal best! After a shower and a short rest I then repeated the entire route, this time with my camera to record for posterity!


Distance: 2.09 miles (followed by a walk of the same distance!)
Time: 23’ 07”
Weather: warm and cloudy.
BG before: 10.4
BG after: 9.8
Ascent: 429ft
Descent: 386ft