Saturday, March 24, 2012

Red-Letter Day

Today I accomplished something for myself, a red-letter day. After I finished my doctorate in 2005, I decided to focus on my health and get in shape.  I was running 5 miles and biking 2 miles to get to the gym each day.  Then my life changed drastically.  I received my diagnosis of latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) or type 1.5 diabetes.  I received this news the day before my second nephew, Cole,  was born.  He will be four in August and I will be celebrating my fourth anniversary this year.  I remember that year as the year that I cried at work every single day.  I had pretty much given up crying after my dad died, but the challenge of managing the demands of a new role as reading coach and a new role as a human with a chronic illness were overwhelming.

I stopped working out due to cognitive overload and fear.  It felt weird to be on the treadmill at the gym and after 35 minutes "fall out" or eat candy.  One time when I was out walking, my husband had to find me on the road to bring me a coke. Crazy right?  Almost counter-intuitive!  When I played ultimate, my blood sugars soared.  My doctor didn't think that could be right, but numbers don't lie.  Just managing the day-to-day of the disease early on was a challenge and working out, more complicated.  Simple things like forgetting to wear my pump to work or to bring back-up supplies were problems that I needed to figure out. I put working out aside.

In August 2010, on my second anniversary, I decided that I was going to get my life back by giving myself the one prescription that makes a significant difference physiologically in my life, getting up and moving every day no matter what.  On the days that I work out, I use 10 units less of insulin  Initially, it was hard to break old patterns of putting work first and myself second and navigating my fears. It took several months, until April of 2011 to get it right. Several missteps got it in the way because I didn't have the right tools.  A continuous glucose monitor, a machine that checks my blood sugar every five minutes, changed my ability to work out, as well a friend, Jackie, who started walking with me.  Her mission was to figure it out with me.

Since then, we have sort of figured it out. I still have some lows.  I carry about $9000 worth of equipment when I walk\run, my pump, my cgm, my meter, my phone, candy, and ziplocs, in case of rain. Fortunately, like tonight, it never seems to rain on me, even when it looks like it.  Someone wants me to finish my task of taking care of myself. Since August, I have put over 369 miles on these feet, mostly walking.  But tonight, my red-letter day, I was able to run 2.6 miles without stopping, without lows, without fast-acting sugar.  I couldn't have done it without support. Tonight it was the support of my husband and daughter, but it was also on the wings of others who have helped me get this far. Thank you!

What can I take away from this to my classroom?  It is important to be patient. Change takes time.  A network of support is key.  Changing a lifetime of habits is hard work.  Be tenacious.


  1. Wow! I admire someone who can take charge and turn things around. Congratulations on your red-letter day and continue to manage your sugars, it's tough but it is with it.

  2. That's amazing, Beth! You're one of the strongest women I know.

  3. I often cannot comment on the posts because my phone fights me, but I love reading them. I'm amazed that each day you continue to find "big" topics to write about, and to make connections to several areas of life. I love reading and having an idea of something you're thinking about each day, especially since I don't get to speak with you often.

  4. You go girl!!!! Congratulations - I remember the years I worked back to health after cancer. oh so slow and careful. Just keep going you are worth it!!!!!


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