This week witnessed my annual diabetes meltdown, about once a year at this time I seem to screw something up and it sets a giant diabetes snowball of rubbishness rolling to it’s inevitable conclusion by the side of a road somewhere with a can of pop, a chocolate bar, shaky hands and the overhwleming desire to weep like a baby.
I always like to work on my diabetes, to calculate what I did wrong and where and why and how I can learn from it. I thought it might be informative to walk through my process of failure analysis, to go from a hotel in Washington to the side of a Wilderness campground in East county san diego.
The fun began last Sunday, I flew to Washington DC on Friday night for a weekend of AYUDA meetings, it was a great chance to catch up with friends, meet our new volunteers and sit around, be tempted by a seemingly constant supply of food and move very little (apart from the inevitable merengue session which seems to occur every time the Dominicans are about) . Obviously lotsa food, less activity more insulin. By Sunday I was running about 200% of the basal I had been using for a 30 hour training week.
On returning home on Monday I felt great, I rode 150k and only needed to eat a muffin 2 hours in and had no highs no lows, it was a little ewindow into the world of those of you who have a functioning pancreas. And it was nice. On Tuesday I did a group rid ein the morning, taught all day, was inundated with students in my break and didn’t eat, I stayed good all day and didn’t have any hypos. I had gradually begun reducing my basal that morning as my activity and metabolism were ramping back up. Tuesday night I dropped my basal along the same lines, now down to about 140% my heavy training basal. I think this would’ve been fine if I had eaten well on Tuesday but I didn’t. At some point on Tuesday night I must have gone low, and, not wanting to wake up high before the group ride I ate some dextrose and went back to sleep. I didn’t want to wake up high because I like to take very little insulin before a ride, I leave at 6:15 to make it to the ride and I don’t want to get up any earlier to wait on insulin action.
On Wednesday morning the lack of “bounce” from my breakfast (an English muffin and a Korean pancake, so multi culti) should’ve been a clue. I rode up to the start of the ride with some mates, good pace but not splitting it. I had to hit it a bit harder to make it to the toilet in time to make it to “climbing weight” before the ride. I felt a bit low and ate half a twix, once the ride got going I was pretty clearly pretty low, riding with fellow type one diabetic rick benson was fun and we enjoyed exchanging quips as we rotated in the paceline, perhaps so much I forgot to eat/ drink enough. 25 miles into the ride (and about 0 miles into my training for the day) I had a gel, we turned around and for some reason the group started to drill it. At one point I looked down to see I was riding at 55kph on the front, for the first time in my life I actually went crosseyed, like really crosseyed, from pedaling hard. Hlafway back I went pretty damn low and couldn’t seem to rectify the situation with my drink mix. I sat up at the end of the hard section of the ride and ate a powerbar, I kept up tempo pace ot meet a friend, grabbed a muffin and the other half of my twix and a protein bar and a cocnut water on the two hour ride home. I still felt pretty cracked when I got back, I tried to eat lots but my stomach was less than happy about the amount of crap gurgling around in it. I could barely stomach a small hamburger for dinner (Wednesday id my hamburger/ burrito day) even though I’d put in 170k My sugars were all over the place, I dropped my basal right back to the low dose but clearly by not fully correcting the low the night before and eating insufficiently on Tuesday my glycogen was drained. With such a low basal and low stores my blood sugar would shoot up and then drop down as soon as I bloused, diabetes was not my friend.
Thursday was a pretty easy day, 90 min spin to work and them meetings and teaching 11-9. I was pretty stressed with some issues pertaining to my pupils’ pastoral care which I won’t go into and again, basically ate carrot sticks and the beer and pizza my supervisor bought for the meeting. Same as Wednesday night I was super up and down. I got home at 9:45 and didn’t want to worry about the possible implications of a nighttime hypo so I ate some salad and went to sleep.
Friday seemed to be the day when everything evened out, a nice spin ride around the bay and no lows, 3 decent meals and even a sneaky beer. Saturday rolled around, I had been going to race but finances won’t stretch to a hour solo drive right now. I had planned a group ride but my mojo for riding with 4th cats in aero helmets is so low, I didn’t want to go and say something nasty when really, by going on the ride I should expect people to ride unsafely etc as they do so every week. I elected to ride 5 hours on the mtb with a friend in celebration of his impending 40th.
Setting off on my merry way I carried (for those of you who care about such things) two mini twix bars, two homemade sweet potato cranberry vegan muffins (vegan before 6pm , it’s good for you AND the planet), a bag of almonds, some carb chews, a protein bar and a powerbar. For the first two hours I carried all that stuff about and ate none of it (I was preoccupied with bouncing about off rocks, smiling and saying things like “gnarly doood” so that they wouldn’t be able to tell I was a roadie. The nest two hours were nothing short of miserable, my glycogen was totally drained again, I was shaky, my reactions were slow, I fell off, I felt like crying, I ate everything and briefly spiked my blod sugar sky high before my muscles soaked it all up and my brain remained shrouded . We made a navigation error and I just couldn’t face a 2 mile 20% climb to get back on course, my buddies kindly agreed to roll the easy way home. We missed some sweet singletrack (dooood) but quite honestly, I had stopped having fun 90 minutes before.
I was riding with guys I’d known for years and guys I had just met and it always upsets me to let my diabetes slow me down in front of either group. It was all I could do to hold bake the tears, not because ei was frustrated but I just get an inexplicable urge to cry when I am that low for that long. Sitting by the car, sweating, shaking, gulping soda and pounding fistfuls of pretzels I didn’t look much like an experienced cyclist or diabetic. But humility is good.
That night I forced down som e ice cream, again I had no appetite but I knew the sugars and fats would keep me alive, I ramped up my basal and made a smoothie to put by my bed for the inevitable “waking up low” moment. I woke up on Sunday and drove to a race in La, even a couple of pieces of toast and a bowl of cereal before a 3pm race felt awful in my exhausted stomach. I resorted to industrial quantities of caffeine and honey to get into race mode. Even that resulted in some of the most painful stomach aches of my life in the race. I actually may have vomited on some cat 3 bloke who we were lapping (in my defence, if ou dress as Robocop, ride a +35 stem and get dropped like a hot rock, you would make anyone feel sick) Made a couple of half arsed attacks and moved up well at the end, right in prime position for the inevitable mass get down. I made it out ok but seeing my friends Rashaan and Justin bleeding and broken was a pretty pants end to my day.
I managed a 41/2 hour ride today, felt a little better and ate plenty, training on my own on the road is easier, I can stop I can control intensity I can eat when and where and what I want. I didn’t want to share this as a pity party but as a window into what it’s like to ride bikes, have diabetes and try and do the two to the best of your ability.
Oh well, I’m in the airport loung now and the beer and pretzels are flowin’!