Monthly Archives: March 2012

Your “Property”

Iberia was running late. When we checked in, our flight from Barcelona to Madrid was already close enough that we had “Short Connection” stickers on our luggage. And now they were running late. We arrived in Madrid with less than a half-hour to make our flight to Boston. We didn’t know which part of the terminal we had to go to make the connection, but we knew that it was in another building and that we had to take a train to get there. The signs directing us said to expect to take 21-28 minutes.We would have run to and from the train, but Lisa was carrying the ceramic vase we bought, so we fast-marched through the airport.

When we arrived at E.U. exit control there were no other passengers there—thanks to the fast march—but I decided to use the “connections with less than 1/2 hour” lanes out of principle. The border guards looked at my passport, (maybe) looked at me, used his big stamp, and waved us through. Fortunately, we didn’t have to go through security again, and we just had one small stop before our gate where they double-checked people with American passports to make sure that we had them and were on the up-and-up.

Simple. And appropriate. If we had looked suspicious or acted oddly or not been running through the airport to catch our flight, I’m sure we might have gotten a little extra scrutiny. And that makes sense.

Furthermore, when we were going through security at Barcelona’s airport it was an easy and relaxed experience. Here’s what it was like. First, after waiting in almost no line, someone who looks an ordinary civil servant looks at your passport and boarding pass to make sure you’re going the right place and have the documentation to get there. Next, you take all of the metal out of your pockets, take off your jacket, watch and belt, and go through the magnetometer, to meet your items on the other side of the X-ray machine. The security guard sees your pump, points at it, gives you the thumbs up, and goes about his business. Your pants may hang low; they may wobble to and fro; but you can throw your bags over your shoulder and saunter over to a nice collection of tables to reassemble yourself. The trays aren’t deep, decaying, table-busing tubs; instead, they’re shallow, smooth, and easy to take things out of. Your Euros slide nicely back into your hand and into your pocket without you needing to scrape your fingers along the bottom of the tray to retrieve them.

Notice that at no time did you have to (a) take off your shoes, (b) get an aggressive pat-down, (c) let go of your wallet, (d) explain your medical device, or (e) feel rushed or under suspicion.

Let’s compare and contrast this with going through security at Boston’s Logan International Airport—with which I am quite familiar—the last three or four times.

You arrive at the airport, check in, and go to a long security queue where a uniformed representative of the U.S. government looks at your documents under a black light and then back at you skeptically, considers the situation, and then writes something inscrutable on your boarding pass which might translate into “Bonne Voyage!” or “Send this man directly to Gitmo.” You go through another queue where you jostle with other people who are taking everything out of their pockets—wallet, coins, keys, glucose tablets, Kleenex, scraps of paper, chapstick, the random Stop & Shop card, etc.—and putting it into a bin along with their belt, shoes, jacket, and watch. You walk (in your socks with a hole near the big toe) to another uniformed officer, point at your pump and say, “I’m not supposed to take this through the back-scatter X-ray imager.” To which he replies, “It’s okay. You weren’t supposed to take them through the magnetometers.” Uh-huh. Okay. You’re the boss, chief.

You stand, holding your pump facing a device that showers you with X-rays. They say it’s safe, but radiologists who have looked at the images suggest it actually does penetrate the skin and sinus cavities and have called it “the biggest low-dose radiation clinical trial without informed consent ever performed” (or something like that). Another TSA agent somewhere else can see that you don’t have any weapons, but then you will still get an extra-thorough pat-down.

After a few seconds, you step out of the machine so a guy (for me) can ask, “What side is your property on?” Do you mean my pump? “No. Your property.” Oh. My junk. The one thing I didn’t take out of my pants. Uh huh. And then comes the very thorough going over. Up one leg. Down the other. All the way around the inside of my waistband of my pants. Down both arms (since they were less visible because I was instructed to hold my pump in my hand.

Going to Buffalo last week, after the TSA agent who swabbed my pump and hands walked away to test for explosive residue, the woman behind me said quietly, “Makes you want to go through again, huh?” We New Englanders have dry cynicism down cold.

Eventually, once it’s clear to The Man that you’re not a terrorist, you get to go collect all of your stuff that’s been sitting unattended on the X-ray belt: wallet, fancy watch, coins, glucose tablets, Stop & Shop card, hand luggage, etc. Plus, oh yeah, your shoes and belt. Good luck finding a nice, out-of-the-way place to put everything back on. You’re going to be in the way and feel rushed.

And don’t get me started about coming back into the U.S. from another country. Getting into Canada is easy: “Are you transporting anything to sell or give away in Canada? Do you have any guns?” The UK and E.U. don’t care about anything as long as you’re not trying to stay for an extended period of time. Australians (and Californians) just want to make sure you aren’t bringing any microbes in that might destroy the local flora and fauna.

But coming back into the U.S. lately has involved a whole bunch of suspicious questions and needless queuing, especially to declare that I have nothing to declare. Just put an “OK” stamp on the duty card and let us walk out of the airport already. Jebus.

Is this really the right way to make us safe? Has this actually stopped anything? (I doubt it. And you know if it had, the TSA would be crowing about all of the Mega-Badness they prevented.) So why treat passengers like criminals? (BTW, I get less intense scrutiny when I visit my brother in the pokey.) Why subject us to extra-thorough screening because we have medical devices? (It’s not like they haven’t seen insulin pumps or CGM transmitters before.) Why, more than ten years after 9/11, do we still have a ridiculous system for getting through airport security and customs?

I have my suspicions, but I’ll just keep them to myself so that I don’t get branded as anti-American and put on a “no fly” list.

Hint, it’s part of the “fortress mentality.” (Which is also the reason why architecture from the 1960s and 1970s sucked so bad.)

Posted in Canada, Diabetes, Europe, This is who we are, Travel | 2 Comments

Pain Cave


I remember seeing the photographer and thinking, “I’m going to try to look good when he takes the picture. Nothing to betray the hurt I’m in right now.”

Yeah.

Posted in Canada, I am Rembrandt, Running | 7 Comments

If You Have to Ask the Price… Canadian Edition

One of the best things about last weekend—and there were so many—was the conversation. Scully let me crash at her cute little house, and we talked. A lot. In fact, I was a bit worried that I was boring her by the end of the weekend. But evidently not, because she kept the conversation going.

What did we talk about? There was the usual stuff you would expect: diabetes and running and bicycling; races we’ve run; people we know in common; Canada and the United States; what we do for a living; and Lisa. We also talked about India, movies, photography, food and our issues about it, English, French, Montréal, relationships, and the Ontario building code. Not to mention a whole bunch of personal stuff that we’ll just keep to ourselves, m’kay?

We spent a long time on Friday night talking about healthcare costs and insurance in the United States and Canada, who pays for what, how much things cost, how easy it is to get access to services, and so on. (I think this is the diabetic version of “How do you say        in your country?” BTW, the answer in Canada is “toque.” Isn’t that precious?)

Basically, it comes down to this: In both the U.S. and Canada, it’s fairly easy to get low-out-of-pocket-cost access to doctors and basic procedures if you have insurance, but prescription medications and diabetes supplies are wicked expensive in both countries. Some drugs cost consumers/patients less in Canada, but pump and CGM supplies have much lower copays (for some of us) in the U.S.

There’s a form of rationing in Canada by limiting how much various plans will pay for, as well as by de facto waiting lists for non-emergent procedures. While in the U.S. we let our employers and insurance companies ration our care by determining how much they’re willing to pay for. In the U.S. and Canada if you have more money, you have better access to helpful things (such as CGMS and all of the test strips you need.) And in both of our countries there are slow-moving regulatory systems that keep us from having access to the most exciting self-management devices and technologies.

I’ve been thinking about all of this in the context of the on-going debate over the U.S. healthcare law, which turned two last Friday, the day that I left for Canada. Happy birthday, Affordable Care Act! Monday, as I flew back, the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing arguments about whether it would survive to its third B-day. [1]

Leaving aside the politics of healthcare in the U.S., one thing is clear: Taking care of our diabetes costs too damn much for what we get. No one in any country should have to make choices about whether and how to manage the basic parts of their disease based on costs. The only way we’re going to fix the healthcare crisis in the U.S. and make it possible for people with chronic illnesses in any country to afford what they need is to lower the overall cost of healthcare so that money is free to go where it’s really needed.

Let’s spend less time thinking about how we pay for things and spend more time trying to make them more affordable.


1 — I’m sympathetic to the argument that it’s Constitutionally strange to compel a citizen to buy something from a private entity. Of course, I also completely buy the argument (a) that a citizen’s failure to have insurance has a significant detrimental impact on my ability to afford my insurance, doctors, and prescriptions and (b) that everyone needs to use the healthcare system, often at times that they don’t expect. Both of these make “buying” healthcare much different than buying a car or anything else “for the common good.” Finally, as much as any other part of the core American value system, I am a firm believer that being a nation that values the rule of law is part of what has helped the U.S. become the more-or-less equal, free, and prosperous society that it is now. If the “individual mandate” portion of the law is ultimately deemed unconstitutional, I wouldn’t be grievously disappointed if the Court overturned it (even though I like it).

Obviously, the answer is more radical—and likely much more legal—than the current system of forcing people to buy private health insurance. Get rid of the ineffective system of private insurance as the primary gatekeeper to healthcare, put everybody into a single-payer system, and pay for it via federal taxes.

Posted in Canada, Diabetes, Health Care, This is who we are | 3 Comments

All the Way Around the Bay

Sunday, I ran Around the Bay, the 30K race in Hamilton and Burlington, Ontario, that I’ve been writing and worrying about here for many, many months. Let’s just cut to the chase.


I ran the 30K in 2:57:18. [1] That’s a PR for me, partly because I’ve never done a 30K (18.6 mile) race before. In fact, it’s the first time that I’ve run longer than 14 miles . . . ever. I’m happy with the time. I’m happy with how I managed my diabetes during the race. And I’m happiest that I finally met two of my diabetes best friends. (My “dia-besties,” if you will.)

I’ll write more about the fantastic weekend I had with Scully and Céline after this brief race report.

I’d been thinking about how to approach this unknown race during each of my training runs over the last couple months. My thinking involved this rough plan: Don’t run too hard for the first 20K, suffer through the 6K of hills, and then see what I had left for the final 4K to the finish. I was hoping for about 8:30-9:00/mile all while keeping my heart rate around 150 BPM. Several times on most of my recent training runs you could hear me saying (quietly) to myself, “Slow the fuck down!” (I seem to have a potty-mouth when I’m by myself or in similar company.)

On Sunday, the first 20K were actually pretty good. According to my Garmin, I was doing about 8:30/mile but at a slightly higher exertion than I was hoping: about 155-160 BPM. Unfortunately, my Garmin lies, and I did the first 20K at a very, very consistent 9:25/mile. Oh well, I still felt really good. Then the hills arrived, as I knew they would. The first couple weren’t so bad, but by the end of the second kilometer of hills I was hurting. I kept going, but the last four kilometers of hills were just plain brutal. In fact, they were bad enough that the 4K (allegedly) downhill run into the finish was an ongoing dialogue between my brain—which knew that the finish was drawing ever nearer—and my body, which just wanted to walk for a little bit. The last 10K took exactly an hour—which is only 20 seconds per mile slower than my earlier pace—and I made it to the finish with enough left for a good kick. See, always listen to your brain. “Shut up, legs!”

I survived. My joints didn’t fall apart. My conditioning wasn’t as bad as I had feared. And my diabetes regimen was on-track. (I was 200 mg/dL at the start, 180 at 12K, 140 at 24K, and 125 at the finish. That’s 11.1 mmol/L, 10.0, 7.8, and 6.9 for my Canadian friends. Yay!)

That was the race. Now for the good stuff!

Céline and Scully convinced me last year to do this race last October, and I had been super-excited about it since then. I love going to Canada. Heck, let’s just say that I love Canada. Period. It’s the people and point-of-view mostly. So I had hoped this trip was going to be a great mix of fantastic people, beautiful scenery, tasty food, a fun race, a whiff of international intrigue, and—what’s this?—curling.


After a very short flight to Buffalo and a short drive, I was viewing Niagara Falls, a beautiful and impressive force of nature. So much water. So much spray. So much noise. Unfortunately, the short flight messed with my already messed up sinuses, and my hearing was off all weekend. I guess I’ll just have to go back another time (with Lisa, of course) to hear the full rumble of all of the water going over.


I was a little late getting to the curling rink to meet with Scully and Céline because I had to sit in the rental car for a little while waiting for my blood sugar to come up after it went over the falls in a barrel. [2] I knew next to nothing about curling on Friday morning, except that Céline does it and that I would meet her and hang out with Scully while she did her slippy shuffleboard-thing with stones and brooms. Fortunately, one of their common friends came along to explain the whole thing.


Afterward Céline’s Doug posed an innocent question: “Would you like to throw a stone?” (He might not have said “throw.” I made up a lot of descriptions about what was going on, to everyone’s amusement.) When in Canada, do as the Canadians do, eh? Yes.


Let me tell you, it’s a lot more difficult than it looks. Coordination and balance are not my best attributes. Plus, curling ice is literally more slippery than a hockey rink because it’s all bumpy and stuff. And it’s all because of this guy:


Anyway. The rock stone weighs 20 kilos (44 pounds) and takes a bit of work to get moving. Well, not so much work if you know what you’re doing. Then you can make it look easy. Eventually, I actually got one all the way down into the box on the other end of the ice. Before going out on that high note, though, Doug had to chase one down before it went into a neighboring lane. And I looked like this a lot:


But look! I think I’m ready, Céline. Just don’t ask me to go out and scrub sweep.


The rest of the weekend I spent with my Dia-besties. After picking up our race numbers and swanky “Older Than Boston” shirts, we set out to do two very important things: buy chocolate and buy cheese. We drove all over the Niagara region, chatting the whole time as if we’d known each other for years.

Even though I’m home now—and it’s time to give my passport a bit of a rest for a while—I think it’s worth saying again: I had such a great time this weekend!

Stay cool, Canada.


1 — Fortunately I’m mostly fluent in converting between metric and ‘merican for all the important measurements: temperature, distance, weight, diabetes, etc. [Back . . .]

2 — Plus, I got a little confused getting back to the QEW. [Back . . .]

Posted in Canada, Diabetes, I am Rembrandt, Running, Travel | 4 Comments

Odds and Ends, Follow-up Edition

Hi, dear readers. The big post about our recent trip to Barcelona is going to need to wait a little bit longer. I’m still a bit jet-lagged, and I’ve just barely started going through the 1,700+ photos from our trip. But I have a lot to say, and I’m eager to get it down. Especially since I leave for Canada tomorrow to run Around the Bay and meet some wonderful people. I seem only to be able to think about one thing at a time, so it’s best to get it out of the way before embarking on a new adventure.

Speaking of tying up loose ends, here are a few follow-ups to recent posts.

I. What to listen to next? I wanted to listen to something new, but I wasn’t sure where to go next. Then yesterday on the way home, I heard an NPR segment on U.K. reggae. (It’s okay. You can admit that you listened to it to, and that you occasionally discover new music via public radio. Your sense of being special and nonconformist is safe here, friends.) One of my earliest memories of music that made me sit up and take notice was hearing a bit of calypso, so it feels a bit like diving back into the music of my early youth. Years later, when I first started listening to some early 80s British music, I was amazed at how much reggae and ska influence there was in it. (And then there’s this.) So why not dig into reggae for a while?

II. No hablo español. Turns out, you don’t need to know Spanish to have a good time in Barcelona; most of the shop clerks, hotel folks, and wait staff knew enough English for us to communicate. And the locals are at least as friendly as the French to people who try to speak a few words of the local language before asking if they know English. (I will grudgingly say the Spaniards are perhaps even a little friendlier.)

Often people could tell after my first few words of Spanish that I wasn’t very proficient, and they just switched to English. Evidently, Lisa and I don’t look Spanish either. One woman at the Madrid airport tried to say something to me in Spanish, which I didn’t understand, so then she asked, “Nicht verstehen?” (“You don’t understand?”) After I answered, “No,” she proceeded to try to speak to me in German. She could have also said one of the two or three things in Arabic I remember—”لا أفهم؟”—and my answer would have been the same. (I was telling Lisa how bizarre it is that I can say “I don’t understand” in Arabic and German but not Spanish.) So I countered with “¿Habla ingles?” and “Parlez-vous français?” with the same result. My helping her was not meant to be. Anyway, I guess that we look more German than Spanish.

Thanks to “Sesame Street” and my mom teaching me a few words as a preschooler, I can count to twenty and be on the look out for “entradas” and “salidas” and “peligro.” When we had to use Spanish, we were still able to buy things and order food, and I even gave directions to a woman looking for the street she was walking on. By the time we left I had the simplest of conversations with the check-in agent at the Iberia desk in Barcelona, which only broke down when she asked what kind of seats we wanted for the flight back to Boston. I laughed when she said that I speak Spanish very well, and she seemed amused when I said that I don’t speak Spanish at all.

And then there’s Catalan, which was everywhere in Barcelona. It’s a beautiful, funny thing that sounds not quite French and not quite Spanish. At any rate, I found the Catalan menus easier to read than the Spanish ones. Boy oh boy, did I want to speak French a lot on this trip. . . .

III. City Running. I have decided that big cities are not easy places to run in unless you’re willing to make a commitment to travel to a nice place to run: along the Seine or Thames, Central Park in New York, the Domain in Sydney, the waterfront in any city lucky enough to have one, etc. Suburbs are easy enough to manage, but if you’re staying in the city where all the action is, there’s just so much stopping and starting.

Except Boston. Somehow Boston has been blessed with plenty of long streets with minor side streets, meaning you usually don’t have to stop at every corner. And these streets take you quickly to the Charles River trails or to the Emerald Necklace and its parks. I’m trying not to sound parochial—especially since I don’t run in Boston often—but the number of people running all over Boston at any time of day just helps prove the point that Boston might be one of the best running cities in the world.

Nevertheless, I needed to run on our trip. This vacation was a perfect time to taper, but I still had to put a few miles in every other day just to keep my legs fresh and ready. (My orange New Balance shirt and I have now run in five countries on three continents.) So if you’re staying in the L’Eixample neighborhood of Barcelona and you need to run a few miles, what to do? First, use the Passeig de Gràcia or the Rambla Catalunya to head to La Rambla, the super-touristy pedestrian area. If you finish your run before 9:00AM, you don’t have to dodge many people. Also—and this seems true for most European cities—head to the old city where the streets are one-way, windy, narrow, and designed for pedestrians. You’ll often get lucky and an early-morning delivery vehicle will block traffic, letting you run in the street without too much worry.

Just have a good idea where you’re going and don’t get lost.

IV. Pool ladies. Honestly, it would be easier if the four of them weren’t trying to swim in my lane.

Posted in El Hombre Guapo, Europe, Life Lessons, Running, Swimming, Travel | Leave a comment

Do One Thing at a Time…

From Tony Schwartz’s Harvard Business Review article “The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time” comes some advice for knowledge workers:

1. Do the most important thing first in the morning, preferably without interruption, for 60 to 90 minutes, with a clear start and stop time. If possible, work in a private space during this period, or with sound-reducing earphones. Finally, resist every impulse to distraction, knowing that you have a designated stopping point. The more absorbed you can get, the more productive you’ll be. When you’re done, take at least a few minutes to renew.

2. Establish regular, scheduled times to think more long term, creatively, or strategically. If you don’t, you’ll constantly succumb to the tyranny of the urgent. Also, find a different environment in which to do this activity — preferably one that’s relaxed and conducive to open-ended thinking.

3. Take real and regular vacations. Real means that when you’re off, you’re truly disconnecting from work. Regular means several times a year if possible, even if some are only two or three days added to a weekend. The research strongly suggests that you’ll be far healthier if you take all of your vacation time, and more productive overall.

Let’s recap. Focus = Peanut Butter. Having boundaries on your time = Chocolate. Put those two great tastes together!

Posted in General, Life Lessons | Leave a comment

Santa Maria del Pi

We’re back. It was a great trip, and I have so much to say about it and Barcelona. Right now, though, I’m so tired. It feels like 2:30 AM tomorrow morning, even though it’s not yet 10:00PM in Massachusetts. So you will have to wait a little bit longer for the travelogue and pictures.

In the meantime, here’s a little scene we stumbled upon on Sunday.

(Watch this video on YouTube.)

The amazing thing about this is that the church and the neighborhood are only a couple blocks away from La Rambla, the busiest, most touristy part of Barcelona, but it felt like another city entirely. It was the best kind of travel accident.

Posted in Europe, Travel, Video | 2 Comments

Wicked Nervous

We’re going to Barcelona tomorrow, and I’m having a wee bit of anxiety. Somehow I feel unprepared. We haven’t even packed yet, I don’t 100% sure how we’re getting from the airport to the hotel. And I don’t know Spanish or Catalán.

But everyone says Barcelona is fantastic, and even Lisa says not to fret.

So I won’t.

Much.

And probably not at all after we arrive.

¡Ay!

Posted in El Hombre Guapo, Europe, Travel | Leave a comment

Fear

Age v. Fear graph

Don't fear insulin (or the reaper)

Posted in Diabetes, Life Lessons | 2 Comments

Diabetesville


FarmVille image from Best FarmVille Farms blog *snicker*.

I have often wished there were a really convenient way to convey to people without diabetes how it takes over parts of your brain life. I think I’ve figured it out: FarmVille.

You know Facebook, right? Of course, you do. So, you probably know FarmVille, too.

Just in case you don’t, here it is, as I understand it. It’s a game that I don’t want to play but it taints whatever I’m doing in Facebook. Consider this typical in-head conversation I might have while perusing Facebook: “Oh look, James is starting another amusing political rant. . . . Oh! Miriam is having a baby! That’s exciting. . . . Kittehs! . . . Cute baby pictures! . . . Nina is in London. Again. There’s no “Jealous” button. . . . Poor puppy is wearing the cone of shame . . . Jeanne found a fancy duck on her farm, and wants my help?! WTF is this? . . . Oh! A YouTube video! I love videos! . . . Heidi needs my help to plow her wheat field?! Make it stop! Make it STOP!! . . .”

At least, that’s how it was until Mary taught me that I could ignore all of the FarmVille notifications. Now I only think about it when I visit my mother-in-law’s Facebook page.

But that’s diabetes. If you have it, it takes over your mental timeline (to use the Facebook lingo).

“Well, here I am at work, getting ready to do all kinds of awesome stuff. . . . I wonder what my blood sugar is. . . . I’ve been working for an hour or so and making great progress. . . .” BEEP BEEP BEEP!! “My CGM tells me that my blood sugar is rising. Should I do something about that or wait for the insulin to kick in? I’ll wait and get back to work. . . . I wonder what my blood sugar is.”

If only there were a safe way to “hide all notifications from diabetes.” *sigh*.

Posted in Diabetes | 3 Comments

Long Run

Yesterday, I did my last long run before I run Around The Bay (ATB) on the 25th. I think I’m as ready as I can be.

What a difference a week can make. Last Sunday I headed out to do the same 14-mile route, but I didn’t make it the whole way. After running five miles on the increasingly snow- and ice-covered trail, I was tired and starting to feel a new pain. [1] After another four or five miles of slower running and a few unsuccessful attempts to stretch it out, I decided that discretion was the better part of valor and just packed it in.

By contrast, my run yesterday started with me wearing shorts and being helped along the trail thanks to a decent tail wind. I had a plan, too. My goal was to run in the neighborhood of 8:30-9:00 per mile and keep my heart rate right around 150 BPM. Every few minutes I told myself, “We are going to take this easy. We are not going to be speeding up to catch people.” And for the most part that worked. When I got to the high point of the route at mile six, I was still feeling really fresh. In fact the first 10 miles were pretty easy.

When I turned into the wind in the 10th mile, I started thinking about ATB even more. Scully told me about how the hills on the course are packed into the last 10+K. I slowed down because of the wind and then a bit more as I started going back uphill toward home. I figured this is how ATB would be as well.

Yesterday was something of a practice run for ATB. I wanted to see how my muscles and joints felt after a few difficult months of injury and rebuilding: Everything felt fine. I hoped to get a sense of where I was with my conditioning: I’m not the fastest I’ve been in the last couple of years, but I’m pretty sure I can go do the distance. I wanted to work on my pace: I held back and averaged 8:50/mile and 150 BPM over the 2:02 of running 14 miles. Diabetes? I started at 118 mg/dL and ended at 113. Woot! [2]

My fourteen miles yesterday were also the longest I’ve run. Ever. I had hoped to be running closer to the 18.6 miles of the race by this time, but this is as close as I’m going to get before race day. I know I can do the distance, but I wouldn’t mind knowing what those last 4.6 miles are going to feel like when I’m already tired. I’m excited to find out.

I’m also very, very eager to meet Céline and Scully. They talked me into doing this race, and to be honest, meeting them was a much bigger draw for me than the race itself.

Next stop: Hamilton, Ontario.


1 — The butt bone connected to the hamstring bone connected to the calf bone connected to the foot bone. Or something like that. Suffice it to say, they all hurt last week . . . except (ironically) my foot. I suspect I need to work on strengthening my stabilizing muscles.

2 — Temp basal of 80% starting an hour before I started. A Greek yoghurt (20g of carbs) about 10 minutes before I started. A couple of glucose tablets to give me an initial bump. An energy gel every 40 minutes. And 16 oz. of water every hour. Let’s see if I can bottle the magic of yesterday’s run.

Posted in Data-betes, Diabetes, Running | 3 Comments

The Hidden Dangers of Having Women at Lap Swim

Number of Pretty Women at the Pool v. Ability to Keep Track of My Lap Count

This Morning, I accidentally swam 2,250 yards instead of 2,000.

Posted in General, Life Lessons, Swimming | 1 Comment

Blister-proofing

Do any runners with diabetes out there know how to help me with a wee, tiny, almost insignificant problem?

I met with my endocrinologist today, who is awesome and was really happy with my spiffy 7.3 A1c. But she was not happy with the black callous on the end of one of my toes. This toe—the one next to my big toe on my left foot—frequently gets bruised or calloused. It doesn’t bother me—even if it blisters it doesn’t seem to hurt—and it’s been worse-looking in the past. (This was the toe that lost its toenail around this time last year before I got shoe inserts and learned how to take better care of my tootsies.) But I understand where my endo is coming from, even if I don’t agree that it’s a problem.

Does anyone have suggestions for things that I might try to keep my toes looking dainty and endo-approved?

Posted in Life Lessons, Running | 2 Comments

Logging for Lent

I’m not Catholic. Well, not anymore. I was once—briefly—but that’s a long story for another time. Nevertheless, I like Lent.

A major aspect of Lent is becoming a better person, which doesn’t necessarily mean giving something up. (I did give up TV for Lent in 1991 and ended up missing the entire ground portion of the First Gulf War. True story.) Instead I see it more as a chance to make or break habits.

This year, after many years of not observing Lent, I decided to record my blood glucose readings, boluses, and other major diabetes events for the 46 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter. I hesitated to mention my goal here earlier when it would be possible to bail, but today is the 15th day, and I feel like I might be able to keep it going.

Tomorrow, my endocrinologist and I will discuss my recent 7.3 A1c—Yay!—along with rest of my diabetes self-management. She likes to see my BG readings in a particular format; it isn’t my preferred style, but having all of the data recorded on paper will certainly help me tonight as I prepare for tomorrow.

Personally, I feel motivated to use this data to spot (and fix) some trends using the data. I don’t really enjoy journaling much at all, and if I’m going to take the time to do this, I’m going to make the most of the experience.

Only 31 days left!

Posted in Data-betes, Diabetes, Life Lessons | Leave a comment

Shuffling Through

Friends, I need you to tell me what music I should listen to next.

Here is some context. Since sometime back in January—it seems like forever now—I have been shuffling through the “Four- & Five-Star” playlist on my iPod. [1] Since then I haven’t listened to much else. (On my iPod, that is. Read further down for a bit more craziness.) This is my typical style in a nutshell. “2,215 songs, eh? That shouldn’t take too long. I’ll just play the whole thing straight through before moving on to the next project.”

So here I am, a couple months later, finally closing in on the end, with fewer than 100 songs left to go. And I’ve loved every minute of it.

“What’s this all about?” you might ask.

It’s all about appreciating and being mindful of what I have. Sometimes old things get lost amid the new, and I am certainly one of those people who is always on the lookout for something new. It seemed like a good time to reacquaint myself with some of my favorite songs.

I didn’t get much opportunity to listen to music for many years when I was young, and what I did hear was grabbed when my father wasn’t around: on the school bus; while watching TV shows like Johnny Cash’s variety hour, “Hee Haw”, and “Solid Gold” with relatives at holiday time; from my grandparents’ car 8-track player where I heard amazing adult-contemporary songs by John Denver, Elton John, Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, etc.; and when driving around with my mother. I remember Prince’s “Delirious” and Alabama’s “Elvira” making huge early impressions. Such is the kind of life I’ve led.

As a result, I have very, very eclectic musical tastes. My life has basically been a nonstop journey of hearing a new (to me) kind of music, falling in love with it, finding more of it, getting really deep into a few of that genre’s artists, and then bumping into a new sound or singer.

But I’m not fickle. I still love all of those other songs. I just forget about them without a reminder.

(This is also why I embarked on the “Listen to all of the CDs” project at Christmas-time. To make things interesting, I started at Zydeco and am working my way back to ABBA. I’ve been stuck on U2 for the better part of a month. We have a lot of U2, and Lisa decided to buy some of their early albums . . . you know, just to help me out.)

“What exactly do I like?” you might ask. You know, the usual:

  • Sad female singers
  • Angry male rappers and rockers
  • Contemporary Québecois neo-trad and pop, bhangra, Asian underground, electronica from Newcastle, cumbia, Persian folk songs, indie rock, alt country, dub remixes of Sufi folk classics, New Wave, industrial, punk, old-timey Appalachia, shape-note singing
  • Anything sung by Emmylou Harris or Tracy Chapman, composed by Arvo Pärt or Bach, or touched by Daniel Lanois or Bruce Springsteen
  • Singles of recent vintage, selections from albums that were released during the black-hole of my college years, things I loved in high school, recordings from before I was born, and songs that were written centuries ago
  • Any song that incorporates an organ or hurdy-gurdy
  • Pop, country, rock-and-roll, hip-hop, folk, gospel, liturgical, jazz, blues, Latin, classical, R&B, soul, so-called “alternative” and “world” music

So . . . just about anything except contemporary Christian. [2] And Celine Dion; she definitely gets the gas face.

What music do you think I should bump into next?


1 — Even though most of the songs in my iTunes collection are unrated, over the years I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to “vote up” the songs I really like so that I hear them more often. A “four-star” song is one that I really like listening to, while five stars are reserved only for tracks/concerts/music podcast episodes that I will never, ever skip once they start playing. (It’s dangerous really, especially when there are several five-star songs in there that are 10 minutes long, some that are 30+ minutes, and even a few hour-long club mixes.) [back . . .]

2 — I don’t know what it is about praise/Jesus music that turns me off. After all, when Emmylou sings about waiting to meet her savior, I’m totally down with that. Mahalia Jackson singing about “moving on up a little higher?” No problem. I fall apart when Odetta tells how “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho” and when Sweet Honey in the Rock are “Climbing Jacob’s Ladder.” I love Hildegaard von Bingen compositions, Catholic masses, and Alan Lomax’s recordings of Evangelical congregations. Patty Griffin’s recent “Downtown Church?” Fantastic. MC Yogi raps, “Jai Ganesha,” and I say “And also with you.”

So what’s wrong with the stuff that’s played on Contemporary Christian channels? Perhaps it’s because—based on what I’ve heard from recent iTunes free downloads—it has spirit but no soul. My Jesus songs need an edge, I guess. As with any genre, if the music tells me that it’s all alright now or that everything will be taken care of in the end—and really believes it—I don’t want it. When the Cox Family asked, “Will there be any stars in my crown?” in their 5-star-rated song of the same name, they hit the nail on the head. Or perhaps I just like it when artists sing about god but not to it.

After all, everybody has to have at least one genre they dislike, right? Otherwise, they would have no taste whatsoever. [back . . .]

Posted in General, Hoarding | 4 Comments