Outrun Diabetes Creates a Lump that Won’t Go Away

I started my car and enjoyed the warmth. I hadn’t realized how cold I still was until I began to feel the tingling of life coming back into my fingers. I quickly put my car in drive and hurried down the hill to catch up with the runners.

It didn’t take long to be in a caravan of people and vehicles.  The slow-moving procession allowed me time to think. Quickly memories began to play out in my mind’s eye.

I thought of the groups of people talking amongst themselves. They were introducing themselves and telling their diagnosis stories.  As people with diabetes do, they were comparing insulin delivery methods and sharing experiences that only other people with diabetes understand.

I remembered seeing insulin tubing peeking out of someone’s running gear. I wondered if the owner was concerned about the insulin breaking down in the tubing because of the cold.

The group continued into the heart of downtown St. John’s.  The RCMP allowed safe passage through busy intersections.  We were still going slow enough that it was safe to continue to allow my mind to wander a bit more.

I watched a young man jump out of the pilot truck.  Being a D-Momma, I instantly panicked.  Was someone low? Did they need glucose? Had a site fallen out? What was going on? It turned out that nothing was going on.  The young man was taking video and pictures to continue to document the journey.  He had probably been in the truck to simply warm up and was now back out with the rest of the group.

The pilot truck was filled with diabetes supplies and glucose.  Sebastien Sasseville is the first person in Canada to use the new Animas Vibe. He has a pump and CGM giving him data at all times.  He has a great concept of how diabetes, exercise, extreme temperatures, and food all interact in his body. He would not be low after less than an hour of activity and hours of adrenaline.

I watched as runners slowly dropped off.  Cars began to take their exits and return home.  I felt a lump in my throat.  I had been a part of something amazing.  This was the start of a journey that would touch thousands of people living with diabetes.

I don’t normally get sappy and emotional over things like this.  What was wrong with me? I don’t know but there was so much hope surrounding this run.  This run would not result in a cure but it showed hope.  Sebastien showed that anyone can do anything that you set your mind to.  He tells people that you do not need to be an athlete to challenge your body.  You don’t have to climb Mt. Everest or run across Canada to challenge yourself.  You simply need to set your own goals and work slowly and steadily to achieve them…no matter what limitations you may think you have.

I watched Sebastien run off with only two other people accompanying him now.  I turned my vehicle onto my exit.  I drove along a bit further and pulled off to the side of the road.  The lump was still there. I remained moved by that picture of a young man jogging  followed by one vehicle. Sometimes he would run alone but Sebastien would never be alone.  Along his run, he would carry with him the well wishes of many people that he has already touched.  He will gather up wishes of people that he will meet along the way.  He will spread hope and awareness.

I took a breath and pulled my car back onto the road.  This had been a morning that I would not forget for a very long time.
Outrun diabetes

The Beginning of a Run To Outrun Diabetes

outrun diabetes truck
A Run Across Canada to Outrun Diabetes…now I have driven across Canada.  I did it with two young children and my mother. It was amazing. The country of Canada is diverse and incredibly scenic. In car, we drove long hours and took a couple of weeks to make the journey
Sebastien Sasseville will take nine months and do it on foot. He is going to break the country down into a number of marathons and travel at least 200 km per week…on foot.  He is not going to enjoy the view from a plane or even a car. He will be enjoying the view from the comfort of his running shoes.  What a view it will be!

When I drove across Canada, many people thought I was crazy.  It is an incredibly long drive.  Heck, it’s a long plane ride! Driving however allowed us to truly see the beauty of each area. We ate meals in provincial parks and were able to spend time stopping to meet with family and friends along the way. It was an incredible experience for all of us.  Now imagine running this same distance. The view will be that much more intense.  The chance to interact with many more new people along the journey will be incredible but face it you still think its crazy! I don’t blame you.

I live in the most eastern city in North America.  This means that many people come here to start epic runs much like Sebastien has.  Sadly, with a few notable exceptions, most fade off into obscurity and never finish what they have started. I have no doubt that this will not be the fate of Mr. Sasseville. He has climbed Mt Everest.  He ran 250km across the Sahara Desert.  He has completed over seven Iron Man competitions all while living with diabetes.  Running across Canada is just another challenge that he will meet.

It was with that knowledge that I layered up and headed to Signal Hill.  Signal Hill offers a magnificent view of both the Atlantic Ocean and the city of St. John’s and surrounding areas.  It is also cold, windy, and did I mention cold? I had on my long underwear, an extra shirt under my sweater and gloves that would work with my camera.  I was going to have as much photo documentation of this event as I could.

As I drove up the hill, I wondered what I would see. Would there be a big crowd or would it be small? I had been asked to spread the word about this event and I had.  There seemed to be a lot of interest but this was a particularly cold day.  A storm was brewing, would people really show up?

outrun diabetes start groupA news vehicle merged onto the road behind me.  There would at least be media coverage.  As I parked, I saw clusters of people chatting and working to keep warm. I saw a few people who I knew. We said hello, talked about the weather, and of course what was about to happen. Everyone agreed, we were at the start of something amazing.

runners to outrun diabetesThe energy level was high.  There were many people of varying fitness levels and ages  ­waiting to start the run.  They would accompany Sebastien for at least the first mile.  Sebastien was busy doing an interview when I first arrived but soon joined the crowd. There were pictures of the pilot truck.  There were pictures with Sebastien.  There were pictures of the group.  Finally, he prepared to start.

The air no longer seemed cold. Sebastien thanked everyone for coming out.  The grin on his face had not left. The incredible energy and hope on Signal Hill that day was tangible.  It was the most incredible thing that I had ever been a part of. Together we began to count down to the start of this epic journey.

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1…and they were off.  A group of runners, walkers, younger and older, pumpers, people on needles and people without diabetes.  It was powerful group.  I continued to click and watch. There was the police escort, the front jogger, Sebastien and friends, followed by the pilot truck.  As the entourage made its way down the hill, the chill returned and I headed back to my car.  I had been part of history.
.outrun diabetes start


Diabetes and Exercise…What I learned last week

In the past few months my son has really gotten into body building.  I am not talking on the competitive Mr. Universe scale of things, but simply getting fit, building muscles and looking “buff”.  He was following the George St. Pierre workouts and is currently working out to the “Body Beast“. I am excited to see him taking an interest in his health.  I am impressed to see the muscle tone and the dedication that he is giving these efforts but it is also presenting new challenges to us–how to manage diabetes and exercise!
I was therefore overjoyed when I saw a poster from my Animas rep stating that she would be bringing two people into our area to speak on just that topic! I was dying for my son to actually attend and learn himself.  He was equally sure that I could go and bring him home the Coles Notes version!  In the end, he won with the valid excuse of having to study for final exams.
The night’s two speakers were Sebastien Sasseville and Heather Buckle. Both of these people are extremely athletic and living with Type 1 diabetes.  You may know Sebastien from his mountain climbing expedition to the top of Mount Everest, his recent run across the Sahara, or perhaps his many IronMan races. His motivational talk incorporated how important his diagnosis of diabetes has been in his personal growth as well as to his development as an athlete.
He explained how vital it was to have dreams and actually work towards them! With or without diabetes, it is important that we refuse to be still and we continue to evolve at all times. He refers to diabetes as a houseguest that is now your roommate and how you must learn to live with him/her in order to get the most out of your life.  He reminded his audience living with diabetes that it is not about the A1c, its about the journey to get there.  As a personal life coach, it was great to hear him reiterate some of the same things that I had recently talked about in my “Normal is Just a Setting on the Dryer” session!
Sebastien also spoke a bit about his control and how he handled his diabetes care. I was surprised (although I should have intuitively known this) that the same exercise at different times of the day has to be handle in different ways.  This was important to bring home to my son who may workout at 8pm on a weeknight but 2pm on a weekend.  I tend to worry about workout times more in the terms of “let’s make sure he is not low during the night” and that is where it ended. This was a great talking point to use when I got home.
Heather continued the discussion on how to handle exercise and diabetes care by giving some great information on physiology.  She has been living with diabetes for 27 years and is an athlete as well as a physiotherapist and Certified Diabetes Educator.  She offered tips that my son and I had not even considered!
She noted that basal rates should be dropped by even a small bit up to two hours BEFORE exercise, the importance of eating within 15 minutes of exercise, and keeping an exercise diary.  She is the first person to show me real guidelines for when you can and cannot exercise when dealing with a high blood glucose level.  Its a question that parents often ask me when writing up plans for school–when is my child too high to participate in gym class? It turns out that the magic number–with or without ketones, is 17mmol (306mgdl).  Even without the presence of ketones, after 17, you will go higher with exercise! Fabulous to know for real world application!
Heather also showed us scenarios of why you may go higher after prolonged exercise even it you managed to stay in range for the entire period of exercise as well as how to fix this!  She talked about supplements, as well as the effect of temperature on insulin absorption.  Another light bulb moment for many people was when she discussed using multiple basal rates for one exercise time period! If you were doing an activity that required various levels of intensity, use various temporary basal rates.  This made many audience members go “Of course!” A final tidbit to remember–injuries will raise blood glucose levels. Duh! but still how often do we really think about it?
There was a lot more that both Heather and Sebastien had to say but those were some of the key points that were important for us.  Exercise is vital and as important as insulin when living with diabetes.  Attitude is everything–diabetes is not going away anytime soon so make it a positive part of your life!  Enjoy taking care of yourself. Enjoy being active and be the very best that you can be. Great messages from wonderful people!
exercise and diabetes animas