What The Hell’s The Difference?

I’ve made reference to nutritionists and dietitians a lot in many of my posts.  In truth, I’ve used them both during my many years of dealing with Diabetes and especially anytime there’s been a major change to my therapies.  For example, I spoke with a dietitian when I started on the insulin pump, back in 2015. I casually rolled my eyes at the prospect, wondering what this person could possibly teach me about eating well after over three decades of being Type-1 Diabetic.  Imagine my surprise when that appointment led to learning about carbohydrate counting.  Everyone was blown away by the fact that I had come so far and no one had tuned me in to the concept before that.  It’s no wonder that my A1C’s used to be in the mid to high 8’s.

Since I just posted about dieting and fitness yesterday and made mention of both dietitians and nutritionists, I had someone reach out and ask me, “What’s the difference, if any, between a dietitian and a nutritionist?”  Well, shit! I don’t know…  Or at least, I didn’t know until I decided to research it and look into it. My search brought to me to a Canadian website call Dietitians Canada. What I learned is that in Canada, “Dietitian” is a protected title, much like physician, nurse or pharmacist. “Nutritionist” is also a protected title, but only in the Provinces of Alberta, Quebec and Nova Scotia. But what’s the difference between one or the other?

We’ll, for the most part, anyone can provide nutritional information or guidance and call themselves a “nutritionist.” They’ll still help individuals reach certain health and fitness goals by aiding in the implementation of proper diet and exercise. Although nutritionists can have varying degrees of education fro what they do, the problem is that because there’s no regulatory body overseeing nutritionists, some may have no nutrition-based education at all. I’m certain that some of you could see the potential problem with that…

Dietitians do a lot of things that nutritionists don’t, such as research, influencing policy and creating diet and food plans for people with chronic conditions such as, oh, you know… DIABETES! In order to become a dietitian (in Canada), one requires an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution in human nutrition and dietetics, followed by over a thousand hours of supervised on-the-job experience. Then they need to actually register with the regulatory body within their Province or Territory.

Quite a journey to take, and they do a lot more than what the every day patient sees when visiting them in the clinic. The article I linked above goes on to explain that, “dietitian are committed and required to stay on top of emerging research, skills and techniques.” In other words, their training is constantly ongoing as they have to keep abreast of new information and developments that relate to their field. The article also explains that to ensure you get the most qualified nutrition professional, look for the acronyms “RD” or “P.Dt.” Since dietitian is a protected title in Canada, a nutritionist shouldn’t have those included in their names.

Lastly, the article ends by warning about titles such as “Registered Holistic Nutritionist” and “Certified Nutritional Practitioner” as these are not provincially regulated health professionals and there’s no telling what level of education they’ve obtained from a private institution in order to gain that title. There you have it. Now, you know. And now, I know. One of the things I love most about writing this blog is that I practically ALWAYS find something new to learn and research. ☯

Your Body Needs Balance

Nothing quite beats those exciting first weeks of making a major change to your life. Especially when it’s for the overall improvement of oneself.  Maybe you’re deciding to take your fitness in hand and start a new workout regime. Maybe you’ve decided to try a new diet and alter your eating habits.  And maybe…  Just maybe, you’re smart enough to know that you likely need to do both in order to reap the rewards from either.  Maybe.

It’s safe to agree that every person is different.  Everyone’s bodily functions are basically the same, when you get right down to it.  But each and every one of us will respond to different things in different ways.  This is why certain fad diets will appear to have greater results for some people than others.  And those are usually the ones you see advertising the product or diet. But I digress.  The same can be said for fitness routines.  And I’m not talking about preference.  I’m talking about results.  Maybe you prefer to lift weights but you get more results from doing cardio.  That kind of thing.

I harp on diets quite a bit, because I subscribe to the fact that it isn’t so much what you eat. It’s how much of it.  The number of meals a day isn’t as important as total calories consumed.  This means that all the fad diets out there (and I’m hesitant to bash them by name or brand, for obvious reasons) really don’t do shit for you, unless your body’s system requires something specific that may be provided by the diet.  Granted, if the average adult consumes between 1,500 to 2,000 calories a day, I wouldn’t recommend eating 2,000 calories worth of cake. Or butter.  You’ll do damage to yourself in ways I can’t explain because I’ve never been stupid enough to try it.  Not least of which is to wonder how that would affect someone with Diabetes. But anyway, moving on!  I’m not a doctor, so take this in with grain of salt.

It’s pretty important that there be a balance between your eating habits and your fitness goals.  If you’re typically a non-active person, you may start to notice some negative side effects if you suddenly jump into a new and increased fitness routine.  This is especially true if you don’t alter your eating habits to keep up/accommodate whatever physical activity you undertake. If you start working out 3 to 5 times a week without increasing your caloric intake or altering your overall diet and eating habits, you could experience symptoms like fatigue, irritability, weakness, dizziness and crankiness.  Not to mention that if you don’t include proper hydration in there, that’s a whole other ball of wax.  The same can be said if you try to diet without any physical activity.  You may be eating better/healthier but you may not see any noticeable results because the HUMAN BODY NEEDS TO MOVE!

It can occasionally be rough waters to navigate; especially if your fitness goals involve weight loss.  The average person has this belief that eating less means fewer calories, which means loss of weight.  In truth, the human body is designed to do everything possible to keep you alive and functioning.  This can lead some people to actually gain weight.  The idea behind that statement, is if you’re running hungry through most of your day your body will recognize that it doesn’t know when you’ll feed it next and will double down on storing the extra calories for later.  Guess what?  All the extra calorie storage?  That’s called fat.

So what can a person do to ensure they’re doing it right?  Well, there are a number of things that one can do and a number of professionals that you can get involved, such as a nutritionist/dietitian, personal fitness trainer and especially your family doctor.  Any and/or all of those people can help get you on the right track for your goals.  Have you ever purchased a workout DVD (do people even buy DVD’s, anymore?) and noticed that it practically always says, “Don’t start any new fitness routine without first consulting your family physician?”  There’s a reason for that.  Maybe your specific medical history conflicts with what the workout would have you doing and cause injury or put you at risk.

A dietitian or nutritionist can help you by providing nutritional information, meal planning and eating habits that can help you make the most of your workout without making yourself sick.  Picture yourself doing Cross Fit after eating at a Chinese buffet.  Not the greatest idea, right?  Sometimes, we all need a bit of guidance to do things properly. Fitness trainers, especially if they’re certified, can help you find fitness routines that fit your lifestyle, body type and can accommodate medical conditions that could hinder you or put you at risk.

Lastly, you need to hydrate.  This is true whether you work out or not.  The human body needs water.  If you do a heavy workout in the summer heat, you need to be mindful of hyponatremia,which is a condition where you sweat out all your mineral salts.  It can cause headaches, nausea and loss of balance.  I’ve had it a couple of times, when I’ve gone cycling in the hotter weather. In those instances, you need electrolytes and mineral salts and you can drink water until you die, it won’t make a great deal of difference.  Wow, don’t I sound like the harbinger of death…  Bottom line is, stay hydrated.

The take away lesson here, despite how long-winded and wordy I tend to get, is that if you start a new workout routine, be prepared to alter your diet to accommodate.  Maybe there are vitamins and minerals you simply aren’t getting enough of.  Maybe you need to ACTUALLY eat three balanced meals a day.  Be prepared to adjust, and remember that any fitness or dietary changes you make may be slow in showing results.  Proper health and fitness is a marathon, not a race! ☯

Goodbye, Old Faithful…

When you get used to certain equipment, it can be pretty horrible when it fails, breaks or gives out on you. I had just such an instance last week, when my lancing device broke. I don’t know how these devices are put together inside. In my head I picture a simple mechanical construction of a rubber band going taut as you pull the trigger back, only to be released when you push the button. No matter how simple or complicated it may be inside, the lancing device I’ve used for the past half decade finally decided to give out. I’d pull the trigger back without the tell-tale click, and there would be no response when I’d push the button.

For the non-Diabetics who may not know what this is, a lancing device is a small, pen-like plastic device that holds a lancet, which is the small needle that’s used to pierce your fingertip in order to test your blood sugars. Despite being on an insulin pump with continuous glucose monitoring, I still need to test my blood glucose via finger poke at least three times a day in oder to calibrate the CGM. I also need to test occasionally because apparently my blood sugars are TOO normal and if you go 2.5 hours without needing any microbolusing, the pump gets all pissy at you and wonders if there’s something wrong. It’s SUPER annoying when you’re trying to get eight hours of sleep. But I digress…

Since this was the evening and everything was closed, I had no choice but to do something that I haven’t seen done since the 1980’s. I had to hold a lancet in my fingers and manually jab my finger. Now, you may be thinking that this sound like such a big deal. The problem, you see is that doing it that way is extremely painful and usually causes injury in the form of bruising and sensitivity to the finger. A lancet’s needle can be anywhere from 1/8″ to 1/4″, and the lancing device controls how hard and how deep the needles punctures your flesh, making for a controlled and more comfortable experience.

Doing it manually just means you’re decimating your fingertips, especially when you get a brute like me with no control over how hard he does stuff. After three tests of doing it the ol’ fashioned way, once before bed and twice when I woke up, I decided that was enough to look into a replacement. I have three other USB glucomètres as shown in the photo above, but none of the lancing devices were with them. I searched in all my supply boxes but I never found the extras anywhere. I’m quite positive I haven’t ripped through 4 lancing devices in the past ten years, but the question remained as to where I put them.

Anxious to find some comfort and fervently aware that my pump would be pestering me for a calibration within the next hour or two, I ventured out to my local pharmacy with the hopes of purchasing a new one. Upon my arrival at the pharmacy, I explained my situation to the pharmacist who explained that lancing devices are usually included in glucometer bundles and don’t come as a standalone item. because of this, the only way to get a new lancing device is usually by purchasing a new glucometer package.

Luckily, he had some samples left over from distributors, and one of them happened to be the Bayer MICROLET next, which is the next generation above the one I had been using. He offered it to me, free of charge. I held my hands out and accepted the lancing device akin to receiving a great gift. I was grateful to my pharmacist for taking this step. And after several days of using this lancing device, I can say it was definitely worth the trip. Small favours… Sometimes you get lucky. Jus’ saying’… ☯

Here Comes The Heat! 🔥

Sunshine can be wonderful… Some warmth, Vitamin D is produced, flowers and plants begin to bloom… There can be a lot of benefits to there warmer season approaching. There can also be some pitfalls, and one needs to be aware of the requirements to enjoying the sunny outdoors without getting burned! I’m no fan of extreme heat, but even I can enjoy a sunny afternoon, albeit in the shade. In recent days, the temperatures in Regina, Saskatchewan have reached the mid to high 20’s, even reaching the high 30’s on the Celsius scale. It’s made for some dangerously high temperatures leading to several heat warnings for my area.

With those high temperatures, there are a number of things you should bear in mind before venturing out into the heat. Especially if you’ll be working out or exercising. And ESPECIALLY if you have Diabetes. Different people will have different reactions. In my case, being out in the extreme heat for too long tends to make my blood sugars drop. A doctor once told me its because my body is working harder to lower my core temp and as a result, my system works harder. Maybe so, but I remain skeptical. I’ve been in high temperatures on enough occasions where nothing’s happened to my blood sugars to convince that may not be the case.

But dehydration can be a very real thing, and it can sneak up on you if you aren’t careful. This can be the case whether you have Diabetes or not. Keeping a water bottle and consistently sipping water throughout the day can help to prevent dehydration and will help to regulate your body’s core temperature during your time outdoors. It can also help prevent nasty conditions, such as heat stroke.

Make sure you wear a hat, loose-fitting clothing that allow the expulsion and venting of heat and apply healthy doses of sunscreen to prevent sunburning. The sun emits ultraviolet rays, which can cause damage to living tissue after prolonged exposure, as well as being linked to skin cancer and a whole bunch of other nasty conditions. thesis the same celestial body that’s responsible for all life of Earth. Ironic, isn’t it? The same thing that’s responsible for our survival can also be deadly, after too much exposure. Such is the balance of life.

This is where sunblock comes in. Sunblock is defined as a gel or topical ointment that helps by reflecting UV rays away from the flesh, which prevents sunburns. You should always apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, before stepping out into the sun. In Canada, I’ve never seen anything lower than 15 and nothing higher than 50. When I visited Okinawa, they actually had some SPF 110 and they apologized for not having anything stronger as we were there in october and it was “off season.” Wow. 110, and they had nothing stronger.

I’ve read some articles that have explained that anything more than SPF 30 to 45 doesn’t offer any ADDED protection and should be reapplied just as often. And to clarify, SPF stand for Sun Protection Factor and is a multiplier to how long you can be in the sun’s light. So, if you step outside and you’d get a sunburn in 10 minutes, and SPF 15 allows you to be out in the sunlight for 150 minutes before needing to reapply. This is theoretical and like all things in life, is dependent on the person in question. If I were to burn in 10 minutes and apply and SPF 110, I find it hard to believe that I could spend 18 hours in the sun before needing to reapply.

Men’s Health has a pretty decent article about how much sunblock you should be applying. The takeaway is to ensure that you apply liberal amounts and be sure to cover all the areas of exposed flesh. Most people tend to dab some on, here and there. You want to make certain you spread your sunblock on evenly and properly. And if you use a spray sunblock, make sure you spray uniformly and evenly, to ensure you prevent UV damage to any areas of your skin. As per my usual preaching, drink plenty of fluids and test your blood sugars often. It can mean the difference between maintaining proper health during the summer months or succumbing to the hotter weather. ☯

Goodness And Right, My Goodness!

Roy T. Bennet once said, “We should be brave to stand up for what we truly believe even if we are standing alone.” I first heard a version of this quote in 2014, when I was posted in a small, southern Saskatchewan community that had it painted on one of the walls in their high school. theirs read, “Stand up for what you believe, even if you’re standing alone.” I like both versions and they both ring true with me, considering they tend to diverge slightly in their wording.

But today’s post isn’t about what one believes in. It’s about being good. What is a good person? Is it constantly doing good deeds? Is it doing unto others as you’d have them do unto you? Or is it simply the act of living simply and minding your own business without bringing harm to others? I could easily argue that being a good person is a combination of all those things. You don’t need to wear a cape and run around saving people all the time, but I believe you should damn well give it your best if you find someone who needs your help. After all, it’s also been said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

I think that if you can live a genuine life of not causing suffering in others, you can easily be a good person. Of course, that’s the Buddhist side of me, coming out. But there are so many things that are easy to do in life in order to be good… Simple things, like holding a door open for others, helping someone carry something heavy to their car or helping a friend pack up and move from one home to another…

The possibilities are endless. But I think the ultimate test comes from seeing what you do when you aren’t being watched. Get your minds out of the gutters, you perverts! I don’t mean anything nasty! I mean what actions and steps you take to be good when there are no consequences and no one is watching to see what you’d do. I think this speaks to the nature of a person’s character and how “good” they truly are.

One really good example of this, is the shopping cart conundrum. I’m sure you’ve read about this on Facebook or some other online forum. Basically, the question has been asked whether you return your shopping cart to the cart corral after you’ve loaded up your car or if you leave the cart sitting in the parking lot and drive away. I’ve heard some folks say that it helps with job creation, justifying the need for a job position that fills the role of collecting these carts. Others say that it’s cruel to make minimum wage workers scavenge the lot for these carts in the depth of winter or sweltering heat of summer, to collect the carts you failed to bring to the corral.

The reality is that returning your cart costs you nothing. It usually takes thirty seconds to a minute of your time (big deal) depending on where the corral is located. But that simple act ensures that you prevent hazards to other vehicles in the parking lot, make life easier for the lot attendant who collects the carts and ensures that there are more carts available inside the store once they are collected. It also prevents blocking potential parking spots. If you DON’T return your cart, there is zero penalty, zero consequences and zero repercussions against you (except karma, but I’ll be nice and won’t go there). So returning the cart is a pure act of a good person, whether one believes they need to do it or not.

This is just one example, but there are plenty of others. Holding the door is another good example. Do you HAVE to hold open a door for someone? If your momma taught you well, you will. But you don’t have to. There are no penalties or repercussions if you don’t. You may even encounter a surprising number of people who won’t be grateful when you do. But it’s another pure act of goodness that only satisfies you, really.

Being a good person can mean a lot of different things to different people. At the end of the day, as long as you’re keeping things simple, doing what’s right and staying consistent within the laws of whatever place you live in, it’s hard to go wrong. Just remember that even when no one is looking, karma still gets its due. And if you do great things when people are watching but bad thing when you’re alone, that shit’ll catch up to you. Guaranteed. Food for thought… ☯

Happy Freakin’ Birthday…

I’ve never been much of a fan of my own birthday. Anyone who’s known me for any length of time knows that. But DAMN if there isn’t something magical about having a day all your own, eating cake and shit… It can be loads of fun. Well, today happens to be my lovely wife’s birthday. So, I’ll keep it short and sweet, since today isn’t about me and my propensity for being wordy as hell. Happy birthday to my beautiful wife. Although time marches on, we’ll never get older as long as we stick together! ☯

When Technology Falters…

I have a pretty firm love/hate relationship with technology. On the one side, I owe my survival to technology. Just to be clear, the term “technology” does not simply mean electronic devices. Strange how most people automatically jump to that. Technology means the sum and application of science, for a specific, practical purpose. By that definition, everything from my insulin pump and glucometer, all the way to the lancets used to test my blood, are a result of the practical application of technology.

Outside of the Diabetic realm, I’m also somewhat of a slave to modern technology. I enjoy and use my laptop and smartphone to the same degree as much as other people, and even my coffee maker is the result of technology, the likes of which I usually fail to realize until the power goes out for an extended period. It’s then and only then that one truly comes to realize that we live our daily lives through the use of modern technology.

Technology has brought us far, and even more so in the past hundred years. Especially with the invention of the microchip in the late 1950’s and subsequently, the creation of the central processing unit in the early 1970’s. When you read about the development and advancement of technology, it seems as though we’ve grown in leaps and bounds. But as with all things in life, there must be a balance. And for all the positive, there can and must be some negative. Such is the nature of life…

As such, I’ve taken the time to think about some of the more negative aspects of technology. With that in mind and remembering that this is simply an opinion-based post, here are my top 5 ways that technology has made things worse:

  1. Loss Of Privacy: The Internet is a wonderful thing. Personally, I’m addicted to information and learning, and have been a fan of having the world’s information at my fingertips. I’m of a generation that got to see some of the original iterations of the World Wide Web, from the painful screeching sounds of dial-up to the wonder and immediacy of high-speed. But with the access to the world’s information comes a price. Most technology, including your smart devices, laptops, even some vehicles, track you whereabouts, your search trends and your online preferences (some of which I assume you’d rather keep private). And given that the average household no longer maintains a landline and carries cell phones everywhere, there’s no getting away from potential callers who are trying to reach you. Many long for the days that one could leave one’s house and be out of contact until they reached their destination. Simpler days…;
  2. Lack Of Customer Service: I recently had an experience where I tried to call into a company for a specific services I was trying to obtain. I was greeted by an automated representative who responded and directed my call based on my responses. Much like you would have seen on television or in movies, I had to repeat myself numerous times, even when I finally lost patience and asked for a human representative. Automation is a negative for most aspects of society. it saves money for big corporations, but takes jobs away from living people and affects the economy accordingly. Which brings me to my next point…;
  3. Loss Of Employment: As I mentioned above, job automation costs people jobs. It doesn’t help that it’s so damned handy, in some instances. For example, certain fast food chains have ordering kiosks where you can place your order on a touch screen and pay by debit or credit card. Then, your only interaction with an actual human being is to grab your bag and go. It’s reduced such places to only one cashier as opposed to half a dozen. Job loss in such instances is unavoidable, when you can pay for the hardware and technology once, then simply maintain it. It removes the necessity for human resources, staff retention and training. It certainly seems appealing from an employer’s standpoint, but from an actual economic and employment standpoint, it’s a devastating blow;
  4. It Creates Dependence: As I mentioned in the opening paragraphs, we don’t realize just how much we depend on our technology until we’re found without it for a period of time. I’m reminded of this fact during a power outage we had, last February. The power was out for nearly nineteen hours. During that time, we found ourselves unable to do even the most basic of things. Make coffee, cook food, watch shows to pass time… We read books and stayed bundled up for warmth. We smartened up and made sandwiches and nibbled on finger foods, but we recognized that given the depth of winter, we were totally unprepared for an extended period without power. The eventual cooling of the house would have become dangerous. Although most people don’t think on it, we depend on technology in our daily lives more than we believe; and
  5. It’s Crippling Our Ability To Communicate: Communication is a kept skill. The less you use it, the harder it becomes to return to it. The use of electronic devices and smart phones has reduced/eliminated our ability to talk to each other in a normal manner. I’m sure you all know some of the situations that take place on social media. A person who would generally keep their heads down and scarcely say a word in public, suddenly becomes an outspoken, belligerent and even combative person. While some may view this as “developing” a person’s ability to communicate, one cannot effectively do so through the relative safety of a keyboard. If you walk down the street, you’ll undoubtedly see dozens of people going about their day with their eyes down, staring at a screen. Such has become the way of the world…

Technology can be wonderful and has provided more than we could have ever imagined. And I’m sure that as our technology continues to advance, we’ll continue to advance with it. But the nature of life and universe tells us that for every positive, there is always a negative. As long as we can keep an eye and acknowledge the negatives and take efforts not to be overwhelmed by them, we can certainly benefit and enjoy the positives. ☯

There’s No Alternative To Zen

Modern life can be pretty hectic, and the requirements of daily life can get in the way of some of the things we do for our own benefit and well-being. Mostly, I’m referring to my study of Zen Buddhism and meditation. I have to admit that the past three years have derailed a lot of the self-discipline and routines I had in place for myself. once of the biggest gaps I have is the ability to sit in relative peace and quite and meditate, uninterrupted. Think about it… When was the last time you’ve found yourself able to find some total silence?

Even as I write this, I can hear vehicle traffic, engines revving and the sound of my own house’s air conditioning unit droning away. Silence? Yeah, right… I’m sitting in relative peace in my garage to write, but silence still eludes me. And finding time to meditate can be difficult, if you live a modern life. There’s work obligations, familial obligations and overall life obligations. It can make it difficult to find one’s inner Zen. And if you’re not careful, you can find yourself trying to find an alternative to the bliss of Zen.

Meditation can provide countless benefits to the body and mind. Not only is it relaxing but it can improve concentration, blood pressure and heart rate. It can aid in the healing of injuries, mitigate pain and provide benefits for a proper sleep cycle. So why WOULDN’T you meditate? Haven’t you been paying attention as you read??? BECAUSE LIFE GETS IN THE FREAKING WAY!!! When you get used to meditation, the lack of it can leave a pretty noticeable hole in your existence, and people will often try to substitute.

I have to admit that I’ve been guilty of this, myself. Indulging in a smooth cigar, having a couple of strong drinks or some other calming vice can often seem like a good idea. But the bad usually outweighs the good. And regret always sets in. And if you guys know anything about me, it’s that I don’t believe in regret. So, what’s a person to do?

The ideal solution would be to find an hour that you can allot for yourself. this can either be first thing in the morning before the family wakes up and your daily routine starts up, or lastly before bed. This also has the added benefit of sending you off to slumber with a relaxed body and mind, which can promote a better night’s sleep. The bottom line is, this is one of those situations where “there’s a will, there’s a way.”

There’s no alternative to Zen. So even when life gets in the way, it’s incumbent on you to find the time to make it a priority. There’s always an opportunity to make it happen. Meditation has been a staple of my life for over twenty years. When life gets harsh and difficult, it’s been one of the best coping methods imaginable. So maybe I need to put down the cigar and step back into meditative bliss. Food for thought… ☯

Turning Things Around

Yesterday’s post was pretty morose and depressing. I’ll be the first one to admit it. So I thought I would turn things around a bit and write about something a little more positive. My wife’s birthday is coming up in a few days, and I was trying to decide on something nice that I could get her. Given the current state of the world, going out for a night on the town is still out, although we’re getting closer to being able to do so. I found myself looking at alternatives and trying to think about things she may have mentioned she’d enjoy having.

I came up with an idea that would unfortunately require that I tell her what her gifts would be. This is mostly because I would need her input to ensure I got something she would specifically want. My first thought was to get a fire pit for the back yard. We’ve been talking about having one for a while and we avoided getting one because we believed we would likely be selling the house and moving in recent years. Since that’s no longer the case, we agreed to get one. Although I wanted to get one that connects to one of my propane tanks for ease of lighting and use, the small wood-burning pit is still wonderful and serves its purpose well.

It only took a few minutes to bolt the whole thing together, and we had the chance to blaze it up last Sunday when we had a friend of mine stop by for a coulee of cold ones. The photo above is of the shitty fire Nathan and I lit yesterday so I could snap a photo. I was out of wood and all I had were small brambles. It was pretty much out within ten minutes. But Sunday’s fire was mint, and lasted for the better part of an hour.

During my teen years, I spent countless evenings on local beaches with a fire burning, a few of us with some acoustic guitars and snack, crooning to easy music and simply enjoying the peaceful bliss of relaxing by a fire. There’s something soothing about the crackling flames and the warmth it projects while you connect and chat with good friends. I predict we’ll be making great use of this bad boy throughout the summer.

You may have noticed that I said “gifts.” My second thought was to get her a chaise lounger for the backyard. This could mean that on afternoons when she isn’t working, she can sprawl on the deck on her lounger, read a good book and even light a fire. If she chose to do so. But since it’s for her comfort, we’ve been shopping around to try and find something she’ll really enjoy. Sometimes, looking for what you want can be half the experience. ☯

Tilting Your Head Down To Cry…

I’ve written posts where I’ve referred to Type-1 Diabetes like riding a deadly roller coaster… The only difference is there’s no way to stop of get off of this ride. Some days, it feels amazingly overwhelming. The issues, complications and amount of control and attention that needs to be paid on a daily basis… It can get to be too much for some people. And despite my drive and determination, it can get to me, too.

Never much of one to feel sorry for himself, I’ve always fought hard against my unseen enemy. The harsh reality is that there are so many complications to Diabetes that I often lose track and wonder what’s wrong with me, forgetting that it’s all a part of the condition that I’ve had to train to love with, since birth. Yes, I know this post is likely coming off as depressing. And I’ll be the first to admit that it likely is. So recognize this fact: what I’m describing, depressing as it may be, is what every Type-1 Diabetic lives with on a daily basis.

Now that I’ve sufficiently harshed everyone’s buzz, I’ll provide an example. Last Monday, I travelled to Saskatoon for my eye injections, which happen every seven weeks. I was unable to secure a bus ticket, so I had to book a hotel room and stay the night since my oldest son goes to school and my wife has to work. Typically not a big deal, it still requires me to be away from my family for the night. I usually treat the evening like something of a mini vacay, indulging in a couple of pints at the pub in the hotel’s lobby while I binge-watch some Netflix on my cell phone.

On this particular trip, my blood sugars were reasonably normal and everything was going according to plan. I got my eye exam, followed by dilating drops, followed by surface scans of the back of my eyes. Then I was attended to by the eye surgeon who provided the injections into my eyes. Yes, it stings. And yes, it sucks. Even with the localized freezing, you still feel the needle pierce your eyeball and a hot pain flare through your skull. Good luck getting that image out of your head, tonight. Anyway, once the injections were done, I staggered back to the hotel room, where I planned to nap for an hour or two to allow the immediate pain to dissipate.

I checked my pump and noticed that my blood sugar was running slightly high, having crept above 11.0 mmol/L. No big deal, I corrected with a bolus and slipped onto the bed for my nap. I set an alarm and drifted off to sleep. I woke up just shy of 6 pm and felt like I had been struck by a freight train. I knew right away, by my urgent need to urinate when I had drank nothing in hours, that my blood sugars were still high. I checked my pump and found myself above 15.0 mmol/L. What the fuck??? I once again corrected with a bolus and slipped into a shower to clean off the high blood sugar sweats before heading to the pub for supper.

My head was throbbing and I felt groggy, but I needed to eat, so I headed downstairs to my favourite irish pub and ordered a pint and a sampler platter, which contained some mozzarella sticks, deep-fried pickles and three chicken strips. Yes, please! Now, calculating a bolus for beer has become a fine art for me. I’ve got it down pat and can usually accommodate beer with insulin in a pretty balance way. And the irony is that the platter contained items that on their own, would be essentially carb-free. If they weren’t wrapped in batter. Bar food. Fuck me…

I bolused as best I could for the platter, knowing full well that the bar staff wouldn’t have nutritional information for their menu items (although they should) and that in the past, they’ve looked at me like some kind of an alien for asking. So I ate slowly and sipped slowly, hoping to let the insulin take effect faster than the carbs would. I think that I watched some American Dad of all things, and got back to my hotel room shortly before 9:30 pm. I had to attend some video meetings for my job, in the morning before checking out, so I didn’t want to stay up too late. But as I’ve often said, life doesn’t care about your plan.

The platter of battered foods was apparently the tipping point, as my blood sugars were still in the high teens when I attempted to go to bed. I bolused and the pump actually provided some units, which told me that my blood was actually running high and not just a byproduct of having just eaten. My alarm was set for an appropriate time the following morning, so I sipped some Gatorade (sugar-free, of course) and laid my head on the pillow and unceremoniously passed out.

I woke up at about 11 pm to use the washroom. I cursed myself for the beer and for the Gatorade, which I assumed was why I had awoken. After using the washroom, I checked my insulin pump. 22.4 mmol/L. What. The. Bloody. HELL??? I checked my levels via fingerprick to make certain it wasn’t some sort of misread on the sensor’s behalf. Blood sugar level was confirmed to be in the low 20’s. I bolused once again, piling more units into my system. I could bore you with further details, but the bottom line is I woke up just about every hour after that. You read that right: every FREAKING hour!!!

It took the majority of night and constant fluids and bolusing to bring it down to the mid teens and I started to almost feel human again, just in time to attend my meetings. I know what you may be thinking. There are a number of things that could have caused a spike in blood sugar. But I take it as no coincidence that my blood sugars had been fine over the previous 24 hours, only to have them go haywire after getting eye injections and eating battered food. Ultimately, my only crime may have been just that: indulging in a drink with some bar food. My punishment is going through an almost sleepless night. Such is the reality of Diabetes.

I know a number of my Diabetic brothers and sisters who eventually just close up shop and give up. When you face the prospect of such nights on a regular basis, it can overwhelm a person. And it sucks. I’m lucky with respect to the fact that I work hard to maintain proper control. Not everyone has the benefit of an insulin pump. I have a friend back home, whose father succumbed to Diabetes. He had no augury of control whatsoever, had blood sugars off the charts, ended up having his feet amputated and died about six or seven years ago. It can sneak up on you pretty quick, if you’re not careful. ☯