Tarahumara Iskiate

COVID 19 – I hope that you and your families are staying safe during the coronavirus. Please take care.

I surveyed the competition and twisted, nudged and wormed my way towards the starting line settling in with the other 300 plus athletes from schools around my State. 

We initially sprinted through a paddy field and established into a more appropriate pace weaving in and out of numerous kampongs on our way to the finish line.  I floated past date palms, stray dogs, shrines (and as it turned out, a few other runners too) over the 6 km course and finished in the respectable top 10.

As I stood on stage, I only just managed to walk over in time to shake the Datuk’s hand. It was a lucky guess that I recognised my name in the flurry of Bahasa Malaysia.  I remembered how much I love running when it stops!  As a diabetic I am still able to run. Perhaps even better than I did before as I now take even greater interest in my keep fit and healthy habits like my life depends on it. 

The Tarahumara tribe are the Mexican Indians in Chihuahua who are hailed as the best distance runners in the world. They conquer ultra marathons, taking out the pros, and are famously known for racing in sandals.  Their stamina is attributed in part to chia seeds. They combine it with lemon and water to create a drink known as Iskiate.

Chia does mean “strength” in ancient Mayan language. The tiny black seed comes from the Silvia Hispancia – a member of the mint family native to both Central and South America. As a low carb and nutrient packed seed, they are super-foods, especially for diabetics. They reduce blood sugar levels, promote weight loss, possess antioxidants and do so much more.  The Tarahumara tribe drink it daily and not just when they’re running marathons.  Seeing as chia seeds are good for runners and health conscious diabetics they are now part of my life.     

The next time I’m on a podium I’ll need to juggle listening for my name, checking my glucose levels and probably taking a fast acting snack!

 I wonder what Type 1 diabetic Tarahumara runners can teach me?

Glucose upon publishing: 7.5 mmol/L

Easter Bunny self-isolating?

COVID 19 – I hope that you and your families are staying safe during the coronavirus. Please take care.

Happy Easter everybody! I hope you all have a wonderful day and perhaps some of you might even celebrate in the way that I usually (at least used to) do on Easter Sunday – by indulging in a chocolate Easter egg or ten.

It may have become apparent to a few of you from my posts that I really do like chocolate. In fact, one of my favourite T-shirts has “chocolate doesn’t ask, chocolate understands” emblazoned on it.  I haven’t had the heart to wear it since my diagnosis 72 days ago but it is now time to get back in the saddle and bring it back into my life once again.

I think that it is only right, that on Easter, I pay homage to chocolate by dedicating this very post to it. Now, throwing Type 1 Diabetes into the mix does change things up a little bit this year. Prior tradition goes a bit skew-whiff but I will not settle for no chocolate.

Type 1 Diabetes means controlling blood sugar; chocolate can cause blood sugar to rise. Abstaining from it or limiting the amount is preferable to keep blood sugar at a nice and stable level. It is best to avoid it for someone like me but that does not mean it is totally off limits.

NEWS FLASH!  There is such thing as diabetic chocolate but it is not a viable option for a chocoholic like me. 

Although its name may sound more appropriate for a Type 1 Diabetic, it can contains just as much fat and calories as a normal bar and may actually increase blood sugar to the same extent.  It costs more too.  Not to mention, it has a nasty effect on the gut – oh dear.

A dark chocolate with 70% cocoa is a much better option as it contains antioxidants that might help the body to use insulin more efficiently. Its richness also means you eat less of it. 

Unfortunately, the Easter Bunny didn’t manage to find a dark chocolate egg this year. He must be self-isolating.

On that note, I am off to go have a cube of dark chocolate.

Glucose upon publishing: 4.7 mmol/L

Nightmare on Sugar Street

COVID 19 – I hope that you and your families are staying safe during the coronavirus. Please take care.

Nocturnal hypoglycemia refers to low blood sugar at night time. Although potentially dangerous, if somebody wakes you up it can be fixed with three teaspoons of sugar down the hatch to get levels back to normal.

I recently had an experience that made me wonder whether my dreams had something to do with nocturnal hypoglycemia

As much as I would love to tell you about my happy dreams, such as, being gifted a golden bathtub of Belgium chocolate sea shells by a pelican, this was my dream last night:

It is dark. It is cold.  I watch as this man prods a gun into the pinkish belly of my dog. He becomes greatly angered by the dog’s reluctance to show weakness. Not even a whimper escapes her K9 lips (do dogs have lips?).  He squeezes the trigger. Tears stream down my face and at this very moment my glucose monitor sounds with the urgent alarm. My blood sugar level was too low and was getting lower. I then demolished a strategically positioned snack and rolled back over to find out what happened to my dog and perhaps change her fate.

I tell you this because I later found out that the low blood sugar, or nocturnal hypoglycemia, at night did in fact relate to my experience of vivid nightmares. It is a symptom of this. How interesting. I am fascinated by psychology so the science of dreaming has occupied my mind in the past. Who would have known that dreaming and diabetes would relate to each other?

I am happy to say that my dog was in perfect health when I awoke. I gave her many extra pats on the head that day.

Glucose upon publishing: 4.8 mmol/L

Chocolate Labrador:

Dear Dr Banting

Dear Dr Banting,                                                                   

You do not know me but I know a lot about you. The invention of the internet by another genius called Tim Berners-Lee gives me the ability to learn about you on a small electrical device about the size of a hip flask. We call it a smart phone.

I am writing this letter to say thank you. Your discovery of insulin was a miracle and because of it I am now able to be the healthiest version of myself. The insulin helps me and many others take on Type 1 Diabetes with confidence knowing that we will be just fine with it by our side. Without your discovery I might have only had months to live.

An internet encyclopedia written by non-academics called Wikipedia said that you were born on a farm in Canada in 1891. I find that I develop, what I like to call, “Rudolph nose” every time I brave the cold. Perhaps you did too in the Canadian Winter? 

I also learned that you studied medicine after two events occurred: rushing to the aid of two men when the roof that they were working on collapsed and also having a close friend pass away from the noticeable symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes.  I find it incredible that not even a World War interrupting your medical education distracted you from your calling.  You were even awarded a Militarily Cross. Amazing.

Injecting insulin for the first time was no easy feat for me.  My fear of needles had to instantaneously “vanish” upon diagnosis. I would now say that needles and I are pals. We get along fabulously most days (we do have sharp moments in our friendship!).

It must have taken guts to have been one of the first people to ever inject insulin without knowing the effects.

I am so glad that you were recognized for your discovery of insulin in 1923 with a Nobel Prize and I am not at all surprised that you generously shared the credit and prize money with your lab partner Mr Best.

Dr Banting, I cannot thank you enough on behalf of all Type 1 Diabetics.  As a small token of my thanks I promise to educate others about you and to post some of your world famous paintings on my blog – a blog is an amateur writer posting articles on the internet.

I will never forget what you have done to help hundreds, thousands and millions of people just like me.

Best regards

Antonia

Glucose upon publishing: 10.5 mmol/L

Fredrick Banting – “The Lab” – 1925

Injecting Glamour

As you can imagine, I have been asked a number of questions when it comes to my Type 1 Diabetes situ recently. Happily, I have been very pleased to report that I will not be keeling over at anytime soon and that it is quite possible that I may even reach over 100 – just as my great-grandfather did.

A lot of people love to learn about celebrities. The psychology and rational behind why we follow and listen to some of the famous is why many are paid large amounts of money to endorse products or champion good causes.

I have found it useful when answering questions about my condition to harness the power of celebrity and indulge in the art of name dropping. Associating myself with famous people has been the quickest and most effective way to show that I am going to live and may even become successful at something! It has even started a sort of game of “name a celeb with Type 1” with the more competitive among you.

What I have also learned to do is tailor my “celebrity name drop” because it is most effective when it resonates with my questioner. Cricket fan? Wasim Akram is the celeb for you. American Football? Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears. British politics? That’ll be Teresa May. Filipino pop? Gary Valenciano. Olympic rowers? Steve Redgrave is the man. If none of those work how about Halle Berry? Bond Girl and a Catwoman. To my peer group, Nick Jonas is the G.O.A.T.* (Greatest Of All Time) for Type 1 name dropping. We love you Nick!

Hopefully you will now be able to associate some famous faces with T1D or T1D with some famous faces.

Hopefully you will now be able to associate Antonia with some famous faces and living to 100!

Glucose upon publishing: 8.9 mmol/L

Some faces for you: (scroll down)

Nick Jonas
Pop star
Teen idol
Actor
Halle Berry
Actress
Bond Girl
Wasim Akram
Pakistani cricket legend
Theresa May
Former Prime minister of the UK
Jay Cutler
Former Chicago Bears NFL player
Antonia
GG

Apple Cinnamon Cookies

After completing a tiring day at college I decided to relax in the way that I usually find most rewarding – baking. I absolutely adore chocolate cake but today was feeling more like cookie day. Perhaps more like an apple cinnamon cookie day! Off I went. Whisking and mixing and beating. Before I knew it, I had at least three dozen golden cookies emitting the most aromatic fusion of apple and cinnamon swirl. Yum. I will admit that I taste tested a few to make sure they were not poisonous (“wink wink”). As I went to eat my fourth, or maybe it was my eighth, my father stopped me.  “Come here Antonia, we have to have a talk” he said. I thus diverted from my original plan to taste test one more – to make sure for definite that the cookies could be safely consumed by fellow members of the household – and joined my father in the study room. It was from that very moment onwards that my life would change forever.

All the symptoms were there but my failure to recognise what they were made me shocked about the diagnosis. Of course, now, it is painstakingly obvious. Having had a hospital appointment a few hours earlier, I had expected nothing of it. Boy was I wrong! Imagine what may have happened if I had downed another cookie… My instant thought was that I should have eaten it! Food freedom would be stripped from me and my possible last hurrah was now down the drain. “……..something something diabetes blah blah blah……..” I recall my father saying. I did not know what to say. 

Here I am, a couple of weeks later, taking type one in my stride. No, I may not get to eat as many chocolatey goodies as I would like to. No, I may not be able to do sports whenever I fancy. No, diabetes is not a super power like flying or mind-reading but the truth is that I feel stronger than ever. It is already such a huge part of my existence so why not embrace it by sharing my stories with you? So I say, “Come at me diabetes! Whatchu got in store mah*?”

Antonia

*mah – Chinese question word/ local slang I have picked up

Glucose level upon publishing – 9.9 mmol/l