I’m all for the message that kids and people with T1 Diabetes can do anything they want to. I certainly don’t want the Bear to let her diabetes stand in the way of anything and it would really push my buttons if anyone tried to tell me I couldn’t do X because I have diabetes. We’ve all had to deal with those situations when someone asks “can you/she eat that?” or people who are surprised to learn that we do various things despite having diabetes. On social media and blogs and elsewhere you can find proud messages that PWDs can DO ANYTHING — and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
But, just between us, sometimes I struggle with the fact that I can’t always do what I want to do in the way that I want to do it – because of my diabetes in that situation. This isn’t a truth I would feel good about making into a meme but it still exists for me and I think about how to talk about it with the Bear.
Tonight, I went to a track workout hosted by a local running group that I am a member of. I’ve been a member for 2 years, but haven’t participated in many of their activities because I’ve had such a great group of my own to run with. Unfortunately, my own group has dwindled and I’ve been running alone mostly and not as much as I should so it seems like a good time to try out this other group to stay motivated. There’s a big difference between the two groups though. My group got together after doing a beginner 5K class and we are all at about the same pace and fitness level with similar interests in recreational running. This other group is made up mainly of more serious and accomplished runners who run longer distances (marathoners!) and are fast and strong and interested in getting faster and stronger in a concentrated way. I don’t think they would describe themselves in exactly this way, but as someone who is a long way away from their level, this is how they appear. Everyone I’ve met in the group is very nice and very welcoming to a newbie like myself, and the group workouts are set up to accommodate different levels, different goals, and also for everyone to work at their own pace and comfort level. Still, everyone there outpaces me by a ton
All of that is just background… I don’t expect to keep up with anyone in the group, but I like the opportunity to challenge myself in my own way and learn from these more experienced runners. I have been looking forward to going to the workout tonight and working on my pace. When I left work, my blood sugar was running high (about 220) and I wanted to correct (since I wouldn’t start the workout for 2 + hours) but didn’t want to overdo it so I only bolused for half of the suggested correction. I only bolused for half of the carbs at dinner and set a temp basal rate of 15% for the hour before the workout. When I left the house though, my blood sugar was only 113. I hoped that the food was just taking a bit longer to hit my system and drove over to the track. I had a Level gel (15g CHO) before the core workout and when we started the intervals my blood sugar was still only about 106 on my CGM. I extended the temp basal (still at 15%) and started the workout. Halfway through the second lap I just didn’t have any energy and my CGM was reading 90 and dropping. I left the track, went to my car and got glucose tablets – chewing up 5 of them on the walk back to the track and then doing a jog lap. Another lap later, the CGM finally didn’t have a downward trending arrow, but it was stuck at 80. I ran maybe 6 more laps at various paces, all on the slow side. I ate 2 more glucose tablets but was afraid to eat more based on past experiences when I have kept treating stubborn lows during exercise only to spend an extended time fighting highs later*. Eventually, when the CGM arrow again started trending down and others in the group were finishing their high intensity workouts (8-12 laps at paces more than two times faster than my best), I gave in and spent the last few minutes drinking water, watching some of the other runners and chatting with a couple of women who turned out to be nurses in their day jobs and who were amazingly comforting and knowledgeable about diabetes.
I hate it when my diabetes feels like an excuse. And, I hate it when it really does get in the way of doing what I want, in the way that I want to. Diabetes didn’t keep me from going to the track workout, and it didn’t stop me from running, but it did impact how I had hoped to be able to do my workout. Sometimes, having to insist that I can do anything that I want to regardless of diabetes just makes me feel bad when diabetes really does get in the way. There’s no solution to this… I’ll still stand up in the corner of “diabetes can’t stop me!” and I won’t ever tell my daughter that a door is closed to her simply because she has diabetes. But, I also know that sometimes we will be disappointed because diabetes slowed us down or made us wait or kept us from reaching a goal on a particular day, in a particular activity. It takes a lot of resilience to get back out there the next time, and the next time. Luckily, living with diabetes gets us a lot of practice in being resilient.
*And, here’s how the feels are complicated… I made the right choices to slow down, to eat the glucose I did, but also not to eat more. My blood sugars have been pretty ok tonight, with one minor almost low that was easily treated and no lingering, after-exercise highs. So, yay me for managing it as well as I could in the moment. That is just balanced with the frustration of not being able to get the blood sugar where I needed it to be during the exercise opportunity.