This morning started like most of my mornings do. My alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. (a little later than usual), an hour before I was supposed to meet a friend for a easy 70 minute run, I reached for my pump and set the basal rate to 30%, and tried to steal another 15 minutes of sleep before I had to get up. When the second alarm went off (some of you may wonder how Jessica puts up with it – you’ll have to ask her), I dragged myself out of bed and went to get ready to run.
Adam has still not come to terms with being weaned and for the last couple weeks we have fallen asleep later than usual, but before him. So this morning when I got up, I was far from awake. I did the usual things, coffee, clothes, email and check my blood sugar. It was 167. This was a bit higher than I wanted but 40 minutes after lowering my basal rate, it was fine. I punched the numbers into my pump and without thinking, pressed ACT again and again and again and again (I think it takes 4 ACTs to inject), giving myself an unnecessary bolus of 1.3 units of insulin.
I was too tired to panic. I considered eating something but was scared of a blood sugar rollercoaster. So I put an extra gel in my pack and headed out.
It didn’t take very long for the effects of the insulin to start taking a toll on my running. My first mile was slow as usual, but then when I tried to pick up the pace, I just couldn’t. I kept running feeling sluggish and heavy. Seeing that I was having a hard time, my friend asked me if I was okay, I told him about my morning mistake and said I had better stop and check. My blood sugar was 62.
We were about 2.5 mile in to the run and I really didn’t want to stop, although I wasn’t at all sure I could continue. I had a gel and decide to push myself for another mile to see what happened. A mile later I was 82. Not high enough, but better.
As my blood sugar got higher, my pace started to pick up. My non-diabetic friend, who has observed a few of these episodes, told me how amazing it was to watch me. How in a matter of minutes I went from running well to not being able to move and then a few minutes later coming back to life.
I agreed with him about the process but explained that there is a price and that a low like I had just had would cost me a marathon.
I try to not think of myself as a handicapped runner. When I compare my pace and my race times to the people I run with I don’t give myself extra credit for diabetes. This is who I am, and just as some people are taller, quicker, lighter, I am diabetic. This is what I was given and I need to do the best with it that I can.
This is how I usually think of my diabetes, not only when it comes to running. But today I felt differently. I pushed myself and ran eight miles. But when I got home and thought about what had just happened, with the whole JDRF 1 in 20 thing in the background, I thought of how it wasn’t just another obstacle, like a cramped leg, it was actually dangerous.
Today I caught myself at 62. It could have been lower, and in the past it has been. Being aware and understanding the danger involved with using insulin is important because, unlike a cramped leg which can be painful, dropping blood sugar needs immediate attention. Untreated, it could make me 1 in 20.