The wind is pushing up against my face and rushing though my wet, tangled mess of hair. Rocks fly up behind me as I kick them back. Dirt stains my legs as I dash though a muddy puddle. The ground bangs beneath my feet and I hear the sound of my heavy breath. I know I'm working hard, but I always keep my blood sugar in the back of my mind. I am tired, and I think I might be low, so I stop for a second and quickly test my blood sugar. 160. Nope! I can keep going! I'm a cross country, or long distance runner, and managing diabetes while on any sport team or while performing any exercise is just as important as training and working your hardest!
Although difficult at times, balancing exercise and diabetes is a task that is completely manageable as long as appropriate attention is directed toward the issue. After school every day, I have practice. Beginning at lunch time, I check my blood sugar every hour up until right before I begin to run. Based on my blood sugar and the trend at which I see it is increasing or decreasing, I deliver the appropriate amounts of insulin or drink/eat carbohydrates. My endocrinologist has drawn up a plan on how many carbs to eat and how much insulin to give based on many factors such as time, exercise intensity, blood sugar, etc. My plan is adjusted to my personal life and body, and I try to think ahead for my runs as much as I can. Immediately following the conclusion of my run, I check my blood sugar again. I always carry some sort of light-weight carb with me, such as glucose tablets, Pixie Sticks, or even juice.
However, there are times when, no matter how hard you try, your blood sugar will not cooperate. For example, my team was practicing for an upcoming race by performing some speed work. We were running a workout that has come to be known as "Lake Loops" by my team: You run around a 1.1 mile lake as fast as possible and try to keep the same pace three or four times in a row, plus some added extra mileage somewhere in the middle. Needless to say, it's usually pretty tiring, and it usually results in a low blood sugar for me. Last Monday though, when we were performing this exercise, I was determined not to let it drop my blood sugar. Unaware of what that day's practice would consist of, I had consumed a lunch that probably wasn't the best choice of foods. It contained almost all fast-acting carbs and no long-acting carbs such as pasta, bagels, or potatoes. Although I had delivered the correct amount of insulin, my blood sugar had still been pretty high all afternoon. Insulin. Insulin. More insulin. Then, bang! 77 right before we begin to run! Obviously I can't run at 77! I quickly scrambled for some juice to raise my blood sugar and pulled out my handy-dandy peanut butter granola bars to provide protein to maintain the blood sugar. Within 15 minutes my blood sugar was up to 180 and I was out running. When I was done I checked my blood sugar and it was 120. Not low, but since I knew it was dropping and I had just exercised, I ate yet another peanut-butter granola bar. An hour later I was 130, and two hours later I was 125. I listened to my body and my personal feelings to maintain and control my blood sugar. Wow! This just goes to show that with hard work, diabetes and exercise can happily get along.
It is important to know your body while you are exercising. If you feel low or high, or if you exhibit symptoms of low or high blood sugars such as shaking, fatigue, dizziness, lightheaded-ness, etc. always stop, check your blood sugar and deal with it accordingly. Never continue to exercise if your blood sugar is too high or low.
Orlando Brown, Football Player. Nick Boynton, Hockey Player. Scott Coleman, Swimmer. Scott Dunton, Surfer. Chris Dudley, Basketball Player. They all play different sports, eat different foods, live in different places, and train in different ways so they can exercise and be the best in their sport. But what do they all have in common? That's right, you guessed it! Type 1 Diabetes. Each exercise is different, but with diabetes you can do whatever you want and be great at it too! Gary Hall Jr. is a United States Olympic Swimming Gold Medalist. He checks his blood sugar 14-15 times before a race! Chris Dudley is a basketball player who attended Yale University, played for various NBA teams, and who has been on insulin since 1981. Jay Cutler is a quarterback in the National Football League and has type one diabetes. Missy Foy is a marathon runner who trains on a course where she can often stop and test her blood sugar. When she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, four doctors told her that she would never be able qualify for Olympic marathon trials, but she proved them wrong! So many athletes have type one diabetes, and they all pay close attention to their diabetes all the time to keep tight control of their blood sugars, and to stay on top of their health and their game. With the right control and attention, as well as help and approval from your endocrinologist, you too can manage diabetes and play any sport at the same time!
The members of our monthly support group live hundreds and thousands of miles apart. We always live in different time zones, and we look different, but yet, we can all support and encourage each other, because we still share similarities too; encouraging others to take control of their diabetes, and exploring new ways to handle our own diabetes. In the recent September support group, this truly was the essence in the air that is shared around the world. Motivation, support, encouragement, self-esteem, and a friendly atmosphere was felt as the support group went along.
The support group on September 29th (U.S.) and September 30th (India) took place over ooVoo video call, and was attended by Jack, Alex, Hannah, Dr. Santosh Gupta, guest Diana, and the group in the Haridwar, Inida. After some introductions, the kicked off with some great news to set the tone of the wonderful meeting. A special announcement was made congratulating Dr. Gupta on her extraordinary achievement of being honored as a World Diabetes Day Hero for her spectacular works in India and throughout her career! Dr. Gupta is going to continue to inspire people around the world because of her hard-work and dedication toward helping people with diabetes. Congrats, Dr. Gupta, you truly deserve such an amazing honor! Continuing on that note of good news, Jack and Alex discussed how they were handling living away at college! Jack even told us how he is totally independent with his diabetes care now! The members of Pen Pals United are accomplishing great things, even while helping with and/or managing their own diabetes!
Next, a young boy, Krishna, serenaded the audience with his beautiful love song that he wrote and performed! It was a great song, and Krishna had an amazing talent! Then, two children from Haridwar asked Jack, Alex, Dr. Gupta, and I questions about handling diabetes and keeping a normal, healthy, happy life with it. The first answer discussed how you need to stay positive and optimistic when handling diabetes, and that it is ok to feel angry that you have it sometimes, but that with the help of friends, family, and doctors, a type one diabetic can still have a happy lifestyle! The second question led to a conversation about eating what you want, as long as you stay healthy, eat in moderation, and administer the correct dosing of insulin to account for the amount of carbohydrates eaten. I told everyone that my friends and I sometimes play a game where we guess the amount of carbs in food or guess my blood sugar and whoever is closest wins! This helps to make managing diabetes something fun, and includes friends in the process.
Following the question and answer session, I shared an inspirational quote with the group. I used the saying "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it is about learning to dance in the rain." to display that you must make the best out of an undesirable situation, such as diabetes, and try to live the best life you can while dealing with it. Then, Jack made a powerful presentation where he told everyone attending the support group to promise that they would stay positive with diabetes. Staying positive can help your blood sugars, and improve one's self-esteem. Jack instructed everyone to think of two positive things about themselves or in their lives that they must say to themselves every morning when they wake up, with the intention to start the day out happy, and to keep everyone optimistic. We all thought of our two motivations, then, after a few closures, said farewell and signed off until next time.
The support group went so well! With everyone participating, perfect internet and sound connection, and a great sense of encouragement, I felt great after the conclusion! I, and I can safely assume Jack, Alex, Dr. Gupta, Diana, and everyone who attended the meeting in Haridwar, felt the same way; that there are people who understood how you feel, and that there all around the world, there are people just like you.
Hello everyone! I'm Hannah! I'm 16 years old and have been living a normal life with type 1 diabetes for 10 years! I'm so excited to share the journey of Penpals United with you through our blog!