Complications…

hands

Being a 29-year veteran of Type 1 diabetes, I’ve lived under the scepter of “complications” for most of my life.  I’ve always had a vague awareness of horror stories where people lost their feet, went blind, or had to be on dialysis.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve known that keeping a tight watch on my blood sugar would help me keep my extremities healthy and functional, and avoid vision and kidney problems.  For decades, that was the extent of what I knew about the potential side effects of T1D.  There were certainly times when the fear of complications loomed larger (for example, any time I visit the eye doctor), and times when they significantly receded into the background (um, “college”).  And so far, I’ve gotten the all-clear with every eye exam, blood test, and endocrinologist appointment.

Until about a year ago, when, ironically, while my body was asleep, the pins-and-needles feeling from my hand falling asleep started to actually wake me up.  It began very sporadically, then increased in frequency.  For months I told myself it was just because I slept on my side, and it must be cutting off circulation to my hand (despite, you know, sleeping this way for like 20 years).  I finally mentioned this in a routine doctor visit last year, was asked to put my hands in a upside-down prayer position (which I later learned was a quick version of the Phalen’s Test) and when I did not experience symptoms after a few seconds, was told, “well, maybe start sleeping with a neutral wrist brace, it might just be because you curl your hands when you sleep” (true).

For about 6 months, that did the trick.  I’ve been sleeping on my right side for oh, about 20 years now, and my body doesn’t respond too well to me trying to change that.  But the comfortable little brace I ordered from Amazon seemed to make my favorite position possible again, tingle-free.  For the low price of $25!

Until… around Christmas I noticed the pins-and-needles creeping increasingly into my daytime life.  While driving.  While drying my hair.  While reading a book or playing a game on the iPad.  What had once happened one or two nights a week was now happening several times an hour during the day.  It was not painful, but it was SUPER ANNOYING.  Especially because I’d gotten this sweet calligraphy set as a Christmas gift and couldn’t use it without the damn tingling in my hand.  It not-so-slowly went from irritating to slightly alarming.  Especially when, after two doctor’s appointments, I was referred for testing to rule out Diabetic Neuropathy.

I did not have the typical signs and symptoms of neuropathy — it was only one hand (neuropathy is usually bilateral), and I was experiencing no pain or loss of function.  Just a hand that seemed to have narcolepsy.  HOWEVER… when someone even indicated that I might possibly have one of the dreaded “complications” that had hung over my life for nearly 3 decades, I had a little freak out.  Which led to a big freak out… which I honestly do not have much when it comes to diabetes, but this was a special occasion.  After a few weeks of anxiety, I was inappropriately happy when I got a clear and definite diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (a diagnosis that came by way of needles and electric shocks and about 4 doctors appointments, mind you), treatable with a minor surgery.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is actually a complication of Type 1 Diabetes.  I just didn’t know about it before (otherwise, I totally would have worried about it more)!  A very simplified explanation is that anyone with T1D is more susceptible to tendon thickening (which is the root cause of CTS).  And as someone who works at a computer, types a lot, and in her spare time holds a lot of books, chops a lot of vegetables, kneads bread and pizza dough knits and crochets (I kind of sound like a grandmother…) and has begun this new weightlifting routine… well, my wrist was probably even more ripe for this than that of other people.

So, in a few weeks I will go under the knife.  I’m also asking my endocrinologist to up the amount of test strips I’m prescribed so I can maintain even tighter control of my blood sugar than I have been (why test only 7-8 times a day when you can shoot for 9 or 10?).  I’ve been doing well – above average, even, but there’s always room for improvement.  My first complication has a way of reminding me of that.  Especially because there’s always the chance that the first could also be the last.

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Running! But not.

shoesI love running.  On Version 1.0 of this blog I documented many running adventures, from the Summer of 2013 where I set out to run weird and small 5ks, to the winter of 2014 where I trained for a 20-mile race in rather brisk temperatures and learned that it turns out I don’t really like running 20 miles.  I’ve been running regularly for almost 15 years, and I cannot imagine it not being a part of my life.   I spend a lot of my time reading running blogs, running magazines, running books, and I am more often than not following a training plan for some upcoming race (though, for the rest of my life I plan to keep these below 20 miles!).

Until now.  I just recently celebrated the 3-month anniversary of the last time I ran more than 1 consecutive mile (actually, it was 6, and all of them hurt really bad).  It was not a joyous anniversary.  When I stopped blogging in late fall, I was really confident that I was at the end of the Plantar Fasciitis That Ruined Fall.  Only it turns out I wasn’t.  I started following a very gradual “return to running” program given to me by a physical therapist.  It started out with a week of walking, then alternating walking with speed walking, then alternating walking with slow running… and that’s there I stopped.  I could not get past 90 seconds of running alternating with 90 seconds of slow running without pain.  On days when I do 30 minutes of walk-jog intervals, it takes equally as long to stretch and massage my legs and feet so I can make it through the day (and the next day) comfortably.  That is ridiculous!

So for the past month, I’ve abandoned the running altogether in favor of lots of cross-training activities, stretching, acupuncture, stretching, trying out new foot taping techniques, and stretching.  I have found some great resources, including my new favorite YouTube Channel, Athletes Treating Athletes, where I learned some alternatives to “writhing around on the floor with a tennis ball” to get at knots in the deep muscles of my calf (it still involves a tennis ball, but less writhing).  I keep tennis balls in my office, bedroom, living room, and purse.  No joke.  I have learned how to use KT tape (which, as far as my foot goes, I’ll give a “C”.  It’s okay, but not the life-change Kerri Walsh had me expecting).  I have also begun a legitimate strength training routine – I met with a trainer at the gym and learned how to use all the machines I usually skip in favor of a treadmill.  I’ve been lifting weights at least 2-3 days a week, AND I’ve begin doing things like the Arc Trainer and rowing machine.  I’ve totally been getting my money’s worth out of my yoga and gym memberships, and gradually I am learning to combat stress in ways other than running (although I’m glad the meditation app I downloaded was free… it hasn’t been quite as effective as I’d hoped).  And in time, the pain in my foot has steadily decreased.  Not disappeared, but certainly decreased.

But oh my, do I miss running!  I find myself reminiscing about all the crazy things I did last winter, like run 9 miles of loops through the plowed side streets of my neighborhood when the sidewalks were too icy.  Or needing to put Vaseline on my face before heading outdoors.  And learning how to simulate hills on the treadmill.  Like, voluntarily.

Plantar Fasciitis SUCKS.  Yes, it is possible to run through the pain, but the risk of even worse injury is a real thing.  I’ve talked with two people who’ve had this for YEARS.  I do not want to be them (also, I talked with someone whose friend had surgery for this and ended up dying… which I think actually had nothing to do with plantar fasciits but some pre-existing health problems but I also don’t want that fate to befall me).  I also would like to stop having to spend so much time thinking about my shoes (seriously, buy stock in Dansko, I’m keeping the company in business) and my calf muscles, but I’ll trade it if it means this recovery can stick.  Come spring, I really, really, really want to run.  I also want to run tomorrow, but I will continue what I’m doing now if the results will be positive.

PS: Spell check wants to make “fasciitis” into “fascist” every time.  Spell check is smart.

you-better-be-running

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The blog that wouldn’t die.

I figured it was time to climb out from under the rubble and remove the “Under Construction” sign.  For many days over the past few months, I haven’t given a thought to my blog.  But on the days that I did, I realized that what I wanted to do was start from scratch.  I’ve done a bunch of playing around behind the scenes, deleting and rearranging and adding and removing… but today, on a rare totally free lunch hour (no work to do, errands to run, TV shows to catch up on or books to read!) I decided that I am going to start all over!

I have not disappeared due to anything bad.  Sometime in October I just found myself bored of my blog, super annoyed with spam comments, and not pleased with the amount of my down time that I spent online.   Having a blog and simultaneously loathing all other forms of social media makes me a curmudgeonly oddball in this online world of 2015.  I had a conversation with a friend recently where we talked about the internet — to me, it is mainly like a library.  I love the information at my fingertips, I love the ability to find quick answers to weird questions (recently, “solutions for odd-shaped closets?” and “best arch support for calf pain?” were in my Google history), and wow, I am CRAZY about the recipes!  When I spent more of my time in actual libraries, I’d frequently run into someone I know or someone looking for a similar book, and have a nice conversation.  That is my dream for the internet.  I love writing, I love reading what other people write, and the ability to interact in a positive, supportive way.  What I don’t love: every time I read an online article, an icon of my husband’s Facebook profile pops up and invites me to comment (somewhere, an internet overlord is like, “there is this guy in Ohio who looks at a lot of women’s shoes online!” LOG OUT, dude!) ; the crazy unfiltered way in which crazy unfiltered people can be mean to each other with no consequence (truly, can you imagine being mean to someone in person about how they handle their medical condition?!); MyFitness Pal gently but constantly encouraging me to “add friends” (trust me, my real friends aren’t interested in what I had for lunch and the feeling is mutual).

I don’t want to give up my little corner of the internet, and I know that despite me posting absolutely nothing for several months, there are still people visiting this site.  So, because I tend to be very polite, I thought I’d write a little something as I continue to figure out how to redo this whole thing.  My 120+ posts from before are safely stored away in my virtual attic, to be reminisced over at another time (probably, the same day I try on my high school letter jacket or re-read a Sweet Valley Twins book), but I am looking forward to doing something new here.  With colors and fonts!  Stay tuned.

PS: My pancreas still doesn’t work, lazy jerk.

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