Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 in review - the absolute best ride of the year

The knock on the door at 6 am wasn’t necessary since I was already awake. I was tired but still couldn't sleep even if I seemed to have tossed and turned all night between Adele's 2 or 3 blood sugar checks. Her numbers had been relatively stable throughout the night after a low low (in the 1's - scary) before supper the day before and lots of carb-counting guesstimation. Based on the constant shuffling in the adjacent bunk, I would say that Adele didn’t sleep very much either.

We were pedaling out of Pohénégamook, Québec in 30 minutes so I slipped on my chamois and riding jersey as soon as I got out of bed. Throwing my leg over my bike, I soon realized that it was going to be a chilly start on that late August morning. I appreciated the Belgian knee warmers (or layer of embrocation) that I had just rubbed into my legs. Within about 10 minutes of riding, my gloveless hands were frozen and the thick fog had condensed on my Jawbones. The wool socks were however keeping my toes pretty cozy. My numb fingers stumbled to open the Larabar retrieved from my back pocket. Breakfast on the bike it is again this morning…

Adele was sitting shotgun in the trailing RV with Dr. Ali keeping her company while driving. We needed to cover about 50 kms to the New Brunswick border before the next team of riders took over. Even if my discomfort was making me look forward to the warm comforts of the RV, I recognized a deep feeling of aliveness that made me smile as I pedaled.

The weeks leading up to this year’s Cyclebetes national relay and Mike’s Bike Shop Cyclebetes 200 ride to cure Type 1 Diabetes had me second guessing my involvement… What I mean by this is not questioning if I wanted to ride or not. But rather the cost, complexity and effort of getting everything ready seemed so daunting. I’m very happy that I didn’t act on these feelings since the 2011 ride seemed to be the best yet.

It was the first year that Adele was with me for the trip. She didn’t ride, but she talked about riding in the future. That made it all worthwhile. I hope that her experience helped her to realize “why”. Why I do this, why it’s so important and why this ride is really more than just a ride. Taking the group picture before our Moncton Mike’s Bike Shop 200k ride with Adele and all of my friends and family by my side gives me one of the absolute deepest joys that I have ever experienced in my 43 years of living. There is no drug in existence that even comes close to producing such a high….

Too often I still get caught up in the numbers. Such adventures really throw a stick into the wheels of daily Type 1 management and this trip was in no way different. That week was more about basking in the positive energy generated by our new family of “do something” people who “get it” rather than focusing on the many high and lows. What better way to expose Adele to life’s most powerful force in this world – attitude.

Looking back at the absolute best ride of the past year, I would really like to thank all of our sponsors and everyone else who have supported my efforts. Thanks to my wife who endured my crankiness leading up to the ride as well as the fatigue, sleep deprivation and recovery the week of our return to real life. This also includes the anonymous online donors… In it's 5th year, our 2011 ride has brought our total raised to $46,000 closer to my dream of a cure!  From me, Adele and the rest of our family (including our extended Type 1 family), THANK YOU !!

Photos by Don Ricker photography and Jason Brackman

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Use only as directed

Imagine purchasing some over the counter medication or picking up a prescription at your local pharmacy and checking the dosage label on the bottle which reads:

“Dosage determined by trial and error. Try the dosage that you think will work and either raise dose if it is not enough or lower if it is too much.
Warning – Too much of this medication may cause unconsciousness and sudden death if not treated promptly while too little of this medication will cause debilitating long term life-threatening side effects leading to an eventual slow painful death.”

As crazy as this seems, that’s pretty much what Type 1 gamers are faced with. Doing their best, guessing doses of a drug where the difference between the correct amount and too much or too little is very often so small, much less than a single drop. Yes, we do have a trained medical team to support us in this process, but at the end of the day, the Type 1 gamer becomes the final decision maker at determining insulin dosages.  There were no doctors or diabetes educators around when we did our 2 am blood glucose check on Christmas morning. Add all of the other mostly uncontrollable variables (like exercise, stress, fatigue, hormonal changes…) and the guessing game of how much insulin is just enough becomes a very, very complex equation. What works one day does not necessarily work the next.  Even if you do every single thing right, the result is still a roll of the dice…

Last week has been a roller-coaster of blood sugar values either low (in the 2’s) or high (14+ or even higher) – normal values are between 4 and 7. Entering the pre-pubescent period has not been very good to us. Even after all of these years, every single day is still a battle. Yes, there are some good or better days, but each and every bad day is a brand new war. 365 days a year. No holidays. Every single minute of every single day and night. That’s the Type 1 gamers life…

You’d think that after close to 10 years of experience gained playing this game that we’d have all of the answers and everything under control eh? Most everyone else seems to think that. After all, it’s just Type 1 Diabetes right? Think again…