“That Won’t Work…”

Hmm, how do you know? I hear people say this phrase a lot, especially as it relates to their goals, health, finances and careers. And I don’t necessarily mean the people who may say this because they have actually tried a similar thing and have a REASON for believing it won’t work; I mean the ones who say it won’t before even trying. Those are the dangerous scenarios and the ones that can set an otherwise capable person up for failure.

Fear of failure can be an insidious thing and can cause serious repercussions in a person’s life. Imagine if, all the way back in the late 80’s when my health was waning and there was a very real possibility that side effects of Type-1 Diabetes would end my young life, that I had looked at karate and said, “Mmm, that won’t work…” There’s a very real chance I wouldn’t be writing this post, right now, as I would be dead.

It’s right on par with my parents, who spoke almost those exact words when I finally revealed I was studying karate, despite the fact I had been doing it for a few years at that point and my health had improved ten-fold. I’ve often had students who have had this unfortunate belief, where they’d walk into the dojo and start training but as they saw what would eventually be expected of them, chose to give up rather than try and make something work.

The important thing to remember is that nothing is impossible. Does that mean that YOU will necessarily be capable of it? Maybe not. But there’s a big difference between something being impossible and something being beyond your capabilities. The key is recognizing that difference. And there’s nothing stopping you from actually trying to. Remember, there’s a huge, HUGE difference between “failing” and “being a failure.”

Failing at something means you tried. It means lessons have been learned, important lessons, that you can carry forward into the next thing you do or try. And although something may be out of your range or capabilities, this doesn’t make it impossible. It simply means you may have to examine other options. As the old saying goes, you’re not a failure unless you fail to try.

One of my favourite quotes, ironically, doesn’t come from a philosopher or teacher, not one of my instructors or a literary source (technically). No, one of my all-time favourite quotes about failure is from the character of Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek, The Next Generation. In a certain episode, he says, “It is possible to commit no mistake and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life.” Important words from the most unexpected source. ☯️

Get A Problem, Solve A Problem…

Life can be difficult to navigate, especially when you stack financial, familial and work-related responsibilities into the mix. Many people actually hit the pillow from exhaustion at night but can’t sleep. Even when the body is tired, the mind keeps churning and it can play hell on your health and one’s wellbeing. And I’m sure I don’t have to tell any of you how stress over long periods of time can cause all sorts of health-related issues, as well.

Stress and exhaustion will lead to poor performance and results, which stresses you out further, which leads to less rest and eventually trying to cope through some rather unhealthy means. The thing is, life will give you deadlines. It almost impossible to avoid; certain parts of your life will require results within a certain period of time. Makes sense, right? It would be great if one could make your way through life at your own pace but some things simply won’t wait. So way stress over it?

The obligations and deadlines won’t disappear but the stress can. I may be oversimplifying it and making it seem easy but it can be done. Once one acknowledges that work will continue to come and you simply need to remain consistent and committed, the stress will begin to melt away. The other important aspect is to recognize that there are periods of time where you simply CAN’T do anything about the tasks waiting for you the next morning. Thinking about it and stressing over it during your down hours does nothing for you. AND it takes away your down hours.

Work and responsibility won’t go away. So when you get home at night and have some time that isn’t work, take the time to relax and enjoy that time. Your health will thank you, your soul will thank you and it will go a long way towards reducing the suffering in your own life. And it’s much easier to help others once you’ve helped and healed yourself. Food for thought… ☯️

Just A Little Inspiration…

Once in a while, i find something that either inspires me, motivates me or that I just flat out like. I found this little paragraph online while casually surfing the web. I don’t know the source (hence why it’s quoted “Anon”) but I like it and I feel as though it can be a little pick-me-up for the middle of the week. Enjoy…☯️

You can rise up from anything.
You can completely recreate yourself.
Nothing is permanent.
You’re not stuck. You have choices.
You can think new thoughts.
You can learn something new.
You can create new habits.
All that matters is that you decide today and you never look back.

– Anon

Never A Smooth Journey…

Lack of education is a consistent problem within medical circles, meaning that many people view certain illnesses through a lens that’s not befitting or may not be appropriate to the actualities that a sufferer feels. One good example are all these videos you see on line where someone will approach a driver parking in a handicap spot and start betraying them Fort parking there, despite having a handicap placard. The ‘complainer” has no fuckin’ clue what internal issues that person may be dealing with, but they always seem to assume they shouldn’t be parking there.

The same can be said of Diabetes… When I was first diagnosed with type-1 Diabetes, I can easily admit that I thought very little about it, other than the fact I was getting free food while in the hospital. To my credit, I was only 4-years old at the time but even as I got a bit older, the innocence of childhood kept me rooted in the belief that nothing would happen to me because, well, I was a kid! And bad things don’t happen to kids, right? Oh, I was so wrong…

Throughout my life, I’ve gotten some of the worst comments about my Diabetes. Any of you who have read previous posts will already be aware that telling me that “it could be worse” is without a doubt one of my biggest pet peeves. What an absolute verbal slap in the face, to tell someone with a life-long autoimmune disorder that has no cure and debilitates, that it could be worse… Sure, I know it could. But that doesn’t make my journey any less difficult.

I have no illusions that Diabetes is alone in that arena but the reality is that there are a number of issues that a person with Type-1 faces that anyone external looking in may not notice. One good example, and likely the best, is the lack of access to insulin. For most people, they’re of the impression that so long as you eat well and take insulin, Diabetes pretty much leaves you alone. unfortunately, this is about as far from the truth as one can get…

Insulin is required for more than just controlling blood sugars. The reality is that prior to the creation and wide distribution of insulin, someone with type-1 Diabetes usually only lived for about 10 to 14 days, at most. Diabetic Ketoacidosis would kick in and the patient would soon succumb. That’s why I always have a bit of a laugh when someone says, “Why don’t you just eat completely carb-free to and exercise to keep blood sugars down?” Ah, if only it were that easy.

So, here’s problem: what if you can’t easily access or afford insulin? What do you do? Just curl up and wait to die, I guess? Not a year goes by that I don’t read about the rising costs of insulin and how some people will go to such extremes measures as ordering insulin over Amazon or crossing borders to get it cheaper in another country. Imagine that? besides feeding and supporting a family and trying to make a life, yo-yo need to wonder where your next shot of life-sustaining hormone will come from? It’s through that lens that I write this post today.

I’ve lived through periods where I had to choose between buying food to get me through the week or splurging on a bottle of insulin to stay alive, albeit while starving. I’ve dealt with having to ration and manage how much insulin I used, stretching a single vial to twice or even three times it’s intended capacity, in order to make it to that next paycheque that would let me get another bottle. I’ve also dealt with failing health care systems that don’t acknowledge the fact that like many other illnesses, this isn’t going away, it’s for life and that life will dramatically shortened if I don’t have the benefit of proper medical attention and the medications I need to live.

These days, I’m pretty fortunate and I count my lucky stars because I’m in the employ of a career that provide medical coverage for everything I need. The insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring has been a life-altering option that’s almost guaranteed to have added years to my life. Not everyone is as fortunate, which is why when I post about nasty side effects, the negative side of Diabetes and how I’m just tired of it all, it’s done for educational purposes and not necessarily to complain.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way… Although life has had some rough climbs, over jagged rocks and while barefooted, I’ve managed and fought my way through. Life is worth it and only by fighting for it can one keep a grasp on it, however tenuous… I may look healthy, I may eat well, live reasonably well, exercise and maintain myself but make no mistake; beneath the veneer of all my efforts lies a tumultuous storm of complications that I’m keeping at bay. And the first time I fall asleep at the helm could be all it takes. Food for thought… ☯️

Like Riding A Bicycle

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and despite the fact some of my followers may have wondered why I didn’t post about that yesterday weren’t here to see my two sons and I showering my wife with gifts and taking her out to eat before relaxing at a park so the boys could burn off some energy. Combine that with the fact i spent an hour on the phone wth my own mother and I think we’re good. Mother’s Day is one of those holidays where one need only to open their favourite social media platform to see the words plastered a few dozen times by a few dozen people. But I digress…

Once everything was said and done and I had hung up with my mother, I decided to take advantage of the unexpectedly nice weather (it was supposed to be raining) and take my first bike ride. I had been putting it off for days, despite some rather balmy weather we’ve had in Regina but since everything was said and done and my wife had settled in for some television and cross-stitch, I decided to blow the dust off… Although my original thought was to ride a short, 10-kilometre stint that should only take me about half an hour, I stopped just shy of 7. Out of breath and sweating profusely, that 20-minute ride was enough to show me that I have plenty of work this summer, rebuilding what’s been lost while my rib cage healed up.

Once I got back to the house and sat down to rest with some fluids, I looked at the punching bag and decided to tentatively throw a few “light” punches to test the waters… That is to say, i wanted to see what would still hurt and what wouldn’t. A couple of straight and hook punches on each arm showed some mild aching but no sharp pains or debilitation. This meant that should be able to slowly start doing some work, physically, over the next week and slowly introduce myself back into karate. My plan for the week is to start doing some short sets with light weights in order to strengthen newly healed muscle and get things nicely stretched out. Once that’s done, I should hopefully be able to sneak my way back into by next week. Fingers crossed! ☯️

Give Us A Smile…

There’s a lot of suffering and negativity in the world. This is aggravated by the fact that most people stagger through their day without interacting with the world around them. in an unfortunate society where technology reigns, people often tend to smile at their smart device far more easily than they would for the person who serves them their morning coffee or thank the bus driver who dropped you at the destination you needed. There are a lot of little things one can do to improve the overall tone of one’s day and body language means everything. Here are some of my favourites…

1. Smile. That probably seems pretty basic and hopefully you haven’t decided to scroll past this post because of it but a smile is the most basic of positive actions. It’s universally known, bound by no language or culture. Hell, even someone blind who has never set eyes on an actual smile will know how to do it and it will mean the same thing to them despite this lack of visual knowledge. Smiling at someone in any circumstance will not only make YOU feel better, it may just add some positivity to someone else’s day. Even when out in public and you happen to be looking around and lock eyes with someone for a moment, a small smile (maybe not a sustained, toothy, creepy smile) will let that person know that their existence is acknowledged and will add a positive twist on their day.

2. Say Thank You. This seems like such a small thing and many people would argue that if they go to their favourite drive thru in the morning to pick up coffee, it’s the employee’s job to hand you your coffee AND you’re paying for it. What’s the thank you for and why is it necessary? Those questions and that line of thinking tell me you need a nap because you’re cranky. Saying thank you to someone, anyone, for something they do, whether it’s serving you coffee, holding a door open or helping you with your transaction in a store, not only validated what they do for them and shows them you acknowledge their existence, it will make you feel good and keep you humble. After all, I’ve bought Tim Hortons coffee for brewing at home but it still doesn’t taste as good as getting it directly from the source.

3 Make Eye Contact. This is something that seems to have gone the wayside in recent years. People seem uncomfortable with basic eye contact but it’s SO important in proper communication and body language. Something I’ve started to do when I’m out somewhere and I have sunglasses on, is I’ll lofty or remove the sunglasses to allow for proper eye contact. This allows me to show the person I’m interacting with that they have my undivided attention. It also allows them to see that the smile I mentioned in the first point is genuine as opposed to forced or faked.

Even if technology rules today’s modern society and we’re all lost in our own little digital world, we’re still human and there’s still a need to interact with each other and try and keep the world as positive a place as we can. A little smile or a thank you can go a long way. Without even realizing it, you may inadvertently alter the course of someone’s life, just by looking them in the eye, smiling and saying “thank you.” Food for thought… ☯️

Let’s Get Physical… Therapy…

The body has a number of redundancies in place that happen when healing from a wound or injury. This includes the fact that if your go without using muscles for a significant period of time, they’ll shrink, wither and potentially get weaker. There’s also the issue that if the injury INVOLVES the musculature and it needs to Medan be regrow, the new muscles will need quite a bit of work before they can be used at the capacity that they were prior to the injury.

A good example of this is reflected from the fact that for just a little longer than a calendar month now, I’ve gone without karate classes and basic exercise. And no, this doesn’t make me lazy! No, YOU shut up! I’ve slightly reduced my food intake, within reason, and I’ve kept myself moving. I simply haven’t been training as hardcore as I usually do. As a result, I’ve dropped from 217lbs to 209lbs (or 98 to 95 kilograms, for you metric folks).

Despite the weight loss, it isn’t great news. The pounds I’ve shed come as a result of lost mass, not weight reduction. My muscles have shrunk by virtue of being used significantly less in the past month and doing next to no physical activity. So, I started trying to do a few little things. I started by raking my front yard, which probably wasn’t the greatest thing to start with, since the movement puts direct stress on the area of my torso that I injured. It also doesn’t help that my 7-year old was supposed to help but ditched me in favour of playing with his baby brother. Damn kids. But i digress…

For some people, physical therapy, or physiotherapy as its also known, is required in order to get back up on the proverbial horse after an injury. This usually involves an actual therapist who will use hot and cold, massages and certain exercises to help recover from injury as opposed to using prescription drugs or mainstream therapies. You may be asking, “But can’t I get massages, apply heat and cold and exercise on my own WITHOUT using a therapist?” Why, yes. Yes, you can. The difference is a therapist will have certain specialized and focused methods of getting you there faster and in a safer manner.

I’ll admit that I would be the first one to injure myself further by doing too much, too soon. hence why I’m trying my damndest to take it slow and ease back into things. That being said, I’m chomping at the bit to start doing stuff, especially in light of the fact that the weather has been so nice in my area. The other important aspect besides one’s weight and muscle mass, is that absolutely EVERYTHING affects blood sugars in someone with type-1 Diabetes. So it becomes all the more important to closely monitor your blood sugar readings, especially if your level of fitness and your food intake are changed. ☯️

Let’s Get Some “Cycles” In…

I always get a kick out of the term “putting some cycles in.” It’s a term my boss uses as a unit of time measurement when referring to projects and things, rather than just saying how much time it takes. “I’ve spent a lot of cycles working on this…” Love it! But my title mostly refers to an actual cycle, or bicycle. With the warmer weather kicking it into high gear and the snow having apparently made a disappearing act for the season in Saskatchewan, getting my bike out and prepped for as many kilometres as my body will permit has become my seasonal challenge.

Since my trips out on the bike can often reach the hundreds of kilometres in one sitting (I only achieved 100kms on one occasion, it’s usually closer to 60-80 kms), I’ve many people Diabetic or not, ask me how I manage such distances, in the heat, without severely low blood sugar levels and avoiding dehydration. I did this last year but I thought I would provide the list of things I ensure I carry with me when going out on the bike.

First, I should point out that I have a couple of attachable bags on my bike frame; one that sits up beneath the seat and one that sits on the top bar of the frame in front of me. The one underneath the seat carries a small, basic travel first aid kits with gauze, disinfectant and bandages (and band-aids) because you never quite know when you’ll fall off the bike and cause minor injuries that shouldn’t sit untreated, especially if you’re far from home. this small pouch also carries at least one version of fast-acting carbs, which for me, means jellybeans or Swedish berries. If I have room after all that, I’ll also jam a couple of granola bars and some protein. This location is great for all of that because being under the seat keeps it all out of the sun so it stays cooler, for the most part (it also keeps the chocolate chips in my granola bars from melting).

The pouch on the top bar has a windowed cover, which is supposed to allow me to display my iPhone. this is so that I can watch the mounting mileage counting on the screen. The two issues I’ve found with this, is the summer heat will often cause the phone to overheat and stop functioning until it cools or will outright kill the battery. The issue with the former is that I’m stuck either sitting still in the summer heat until my phone cools down or I keep peddling, all the while not logging the right amount of distance due to the phone cancelling out. So now, I just keep the phone blanked and hidden inside the pouch.

I also keep my wallet or at minimum, SOME form of identification in the event I’m in an accident or get lost, etc. I usually bring my debit card in the event I need to purchase further food or transportation home if I get sick or something of the sort. If I’m using a source of music that can’t be clipped on my clothing, it also sits inside this top pouch. Last but not least, I carry a bottle of water on a bottle rack on the frame as well as a bottle of water on a belt pouch around my waist, equally to roughly a litre of liquids to stay hydrated.

Some people don’t find this to be a lot but the reality is that even on a long-distance ride, you need to find that sweet spot between staying hydrated, not filling your gut to the point it starts sloshing around in your belly and preventing the intake of TOO much water while simultaneously losing mineral salts through excess sweating. This causes a condition known as hyponatramia. This is where you have too much hydration versus the amount of mineral salts in your body. That’s why electrolyte drinks can be useful. I generally keep a bottle of water and a bottle of sugar-free Gatorade and alternate between the two.

Spending the nicer seasons out on a bike can be liberating and it’s great exercise. But whether you have Type-1 Diabetes or not, it’s important to be prepared, especially if you plan on being out for a significant distance. proper preparation (say THAT three times fast) can mean the difference between a fun ride in the sun or a potentially harmful medical situation. Happy cycling! ☯️

Can’t Walk A Mile In Someone’s Shoes When It’s Painful…

Well over a month ago, I suffered a pretty painful injury during a karate seminar as a result of trying to spar like I was still in my twenties. I was doing pretty good, for a few minutes. In my head, I was moving with the same speed and grace as I did when I was first graded as a black belt. In reality, I was moving with the level of grace that a thick sap slowly moves its way down the trunk of a tree. And I paid the price in pain…

My opponent caught me with a straight punch to the upper ribs, with his dominant hand, no less. There are three important lessons to be learned from that experience; one for me, one for him and one for both of us. The lesson for me is that I shouldn’t have walked into an oncoming punch. Although I was throwing an attack of my own at the time, focus should be on preserving and protecting oneself first. You can’t protect yourself or others if you get taken out.

The lesson for my opponent is that at his level of skill, he should have been able to control his strike and even halt it short of impacting. One of the differences that I’ve noticed with Shotokan as opposed to Uechi Ryu, is that the practitioners are all in, on every strike, even in practice. Although this can be useful in developing strength to your strikes, it can be detrimental to one’s overall control. But I digress…

The lesson for the two of us, is that even a strike that isn’t at full power can still be devastating when properly applied. After all, if a strike from 1 to 10, where 1 is a light touch and 10 is the intention to kill, I seriously doubt that my opponent, who just happens to be a practitioner in the same dojo as I am, had ANY intentions of killing me. But the results of that strike have been enough to keep me on my ass for the past month, proving that an effective strike doesn’t have to be “all in” to be effective.

The past month has been increasingly difficult, especially in the first couple of weeks. I’ve had a hard time moving and every little thing, including but not limited to sneezing, coughing, burping and farting has sent me into spasms of pain where I’d be seeing stars for several minutes before it would finally subside. Don’t even get me started on the challenges of showering or using the washroom. A month has passed but the pain has not, although it is getting better. Damaged muscles can take weeks and even months to heal. But I’ve learned to appreciate some important aspects along the way…

My father has been wheelchair-bound for almost 20 years, now. Cursed with a degenerative spine, he’s been living with constant, 10 out of 10 pain for years. Nothing has ever worked for him or is expected to. It’s pain he simply has to live with. And although my pain is nowhere near at the level his is, I can appreciate certain aspects that constant pain causes. Here are a few things that you should never say to someone who is in pain:

1. “The pain can’t be that bad.” I’ve spent years hearing people talk to my mother and make that very comment about my father. For one thing, what’s only a 5 out of 10 pain to one person may be much, much worse for someone else. No one has the right to gauge your pain for you.
2. “Why are you so tired?” Constant pain is exhausting. People don’t tend to think so because when a person is in pain, their last thought is of getting sleep. The problem comes from managing that pain over a long period of time. It takes its toll on the body and can be devastatingly exhausting. Most chronic conditions will be like this. I have a dear friend who has fibromyalgia (hopefully I spelled that right) and although she wears a brave face, the constant pain makes getting through the day with a smile quite challenging.
3. “You’d feel better if you got up and did something.” No, no, I would not. I’ll be the first to admit that one shouldn’t just flop down and refuse to move until ALL pain has subsided. Besides the fact that sitting idle can be a problem for someone with type-1 Diabetes due to poor circulatory and nerve-related issues, there’s the danger of stiffening up from doing nothing, which can extend the amount of time required to heal. Don’t even get me started on loss of muscle mass and atrophy. But sometimes you gotta baby that injury and allow your tissues to heal. This can mean putting your feet up and letting the finely-tuned machine that is your body do its job and fix the injury before you push yourself.

Everyone’s pain is different. I can honestly say that although I’m not on the same pain level as my father, I can certainly sympathize with some of the issues he faces with his back being out of commission. Makes me appreciate all the more, how some people, even medical professionals, try to push him in ways his body is incapable of responding. Don’t ever judge someone else’s pain. You can never tell how an individual may be feeling or dealing with a particular pain. And no one has a right to gauge your pain but you. Food for thought…☯️

May The 4th be With You!

Happy Star Wars Day! One of the big things I love about Star Wars (besides the science fiction aspect) is how its transcended generations. I know it isn’t the most popular view, but I love how the new trilogy has brought out all the nostalgia, the excitement and the wonder that the original trilogy elicited. Since I’m still kind of nursing my wounds, perhaps tonight will need to be an evening of a couple of Star Wars movies…☯️