Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Hypo..

Easter Monday was a rough diabetes day. The morning started well enough although a standard and regular breakfast did send my sugars surging with no dip back down looking likely. I started to add more insulin to the mix and eventually the upwards trajectory stopped and dipped back down. Inevitably it came down faster than it had risen and with a lot of insulin on board was not stopping.

To rewind a little, it was about 4 o’clock in the afternoon and I needed to ring my dad, as I made the decision to do so my Tomato app (this is the app that works with my MiaoMiao) alerted me that my sugars were at 4.2mmol. I got something to eat and also grabbed the laundry from the washing machine and thought two birds with one stone. I can talk to my dad whilst I sort that out. While talking to my dad I noticed that I was struggling to find words and was not able to focus. He probably thought I was distracted and as he needed to go anyway we finished the call after an uncharacteristically short time.

My sugars were showing as 4mmol, I grabbed some glucotabs and ate 4 of them. This finished the open packet on my bedside. I went downstairs and sat down at the kitchen table, Susie was cooking and asked if I was alright. I explained that I was struggling with a hypo, she got me some orange juice and I started on a fresh pack of gluco-tabs. I ended up eating the whole packet and still my sugars were not rising. It’s a waiting game now, my sigars were at 2.7mmol and I started to get the sweats. It was now 5 o’clock, Boris Johnson was doing the Covid briefing, and as we sat at the table, I fell asleep. Or maybe I passed out?

Susie woke me and suggested I go and lie on the sofa. I did so immediately falling asleep again. I had checked my sugars before doing so and they were at 3.7mmol and rising. I think I was asleep for about an hour. When I woke, I was freezing cold, the massive sweat I had sat on my body cooling me. My sugars were 9.2mmol and still rising. I gave myself some insulin and when and had a hot shower. I stayed in there for ages not wanting to leave the warmth. Eventually I had to get out. I don’t think I have ever dried myself and got dressed so quickly! I went downstairs and had some dinner. My sugars continued to rise. The boom after the bust. Topping out at around 15mmol. They started to come down and before I went to bed were at 9mmol. I went to bed early and slept almost immediately. As is the norm I woke about 1am to go to the loo and checked my sugars, they were at 10.5mmol and I had no insulin on board.

I used the pump to calculate and administer a correction dose. My sugars were then stable at around 9mmol for the rest of the night.

I have not had a hypo like that for a long time. When this happens it’s an odd feeling. Like I am somehow disconnected from it and yet experiencing it vividly. I remember feeling a bit confused when I was on the phone with my dad and yet didn’t just say what was happening and that I needed to go. When I was at the kitchen table I don’t know if I fell asleep or if I passed out. Similarly, when I decamped to the sofa. Whilst I can remember the motions, they are clear as I imagine looking down on them and yet simultaneously foggy in that moment. This might be memory playing tricks on me, my recall making it clearer than it was at the time.

Either way it felt like it was happening to someone else with me as a bystander.

The legacy of this is a feeling of dehydration (my skin feels very dry and thin and I feel sticky inside), I have a persistent fog in my mind and a slight headache.

Today is another day though, right?

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

fast enough to clear the forest, slow enough to see the trees



How you enjoy your running is such a personal thing but what does it mean? It’s even harder to explain or define than why you run as you can at least attribute something tangible to that question, “so I can eat cake” or “to keep me sane”.

I have had it levelled at me that I wasn’t enjoying my running even if I thought I was and that I need to get back to that. Like I was doing it wrong somehow, how could I enjoy my running if I was pushing hard all the time. How could I possibly enjoy running hard or long or both? What do I know!?

I heard a quote some time ago, I think it was attributed to someone from the bike manufacturer Cervelo, it was, “fast enough to clear the forest, slow enough to see the trees”. That really resonated with me at the time and continues to do so, I take that into my running every time wherever I am. That could be the streets around where I live, the hills in the area or a trail or a different and new city or town. Being fit and able enough to cover a distance that will see me able to take in sights and sounds and seeing things that many won’t. Particularly early mornings when I tend to go out, you see a very different city or trail first thing in the morning.

I have a couple of memories that really stand out for me and my running. Moments where had I not been a runner I would never have experienced them and are totally why I love running and what it gives me.  

Majorca 2008
We were on a family holiday staying in Son Cutcut, nearby was a hill at the top of which is the Santuari de Nostra Senyora de Cura, a monastery that has since been converted to a hotel and restaurant. The views across Majorca from the top are stunning. It is a beautiful spot. I had run up there early one morning, no traffic on the roads and when I got there no-one was around. Maybe a caretaker or gardener watering plants. Certainly there were no tourists. Looking out across the land as the morning mist evaporated under the rising sun was a beautiful moment. Whilst I am not a religious person, looking out I found myself thinking that I could see why people did believe in something other than what we know. It was just too perfect to have been an accident of geology. I haven’t changed my views but I can see why people hold them.

The Alps 2013
Staying in Abondance in France, a village towards the foot of Morzine, one morning, again an early start, I ran to the top. Initially on road then on trails and footpaths emerging at the top after seven-or-so miles of uphill running (OK running and walking!). As I made my way up the mountain I was looking across the valley and watching the sun peek through the gaps in the peaks casting long shadows across the valley. At the top the views across the valley were unquestionably and unsurprisingly stunning. The words do not do it justice. But what made it all the more remarkable was there was no-one else around. I was stood at the top of an Alp totally on my own. I am certain there would have been other people in the area but where I was stood and as I looked around there was no-one. Moments like this are why I run. To have that and be able to experience in that way is just such a privilege.  

Paris 2015
I had a similar experience a couple of years later on another family holiday. On our way back from the Dordogne we stopped in Paris for a few days. I had snuck out of the hotel leaving the family sleeping and gone for an early morning run. I made my way towards the Champs Elysee going through the Louvre on the way. As I got to the Louvre I found myself in the area where the raised glass pyramids are that you can look through and see down the underground entrance level. There was not another person there at all. I had it to myself. A place normally swarming with bustle and tourism and I was the only person there. It was eerily quiet, the sun was still low in the sky with the shadows long across the concourse. It was remarkable to be in a city and there not be anyone else around. I have had similar experiences to this in London on early Sunday morning runs.

Those are three moments that I can recall off the top of my head and whilst they are abroad and in new and exciting places they are still runs and let me tell you I really enjoyed them. I have had experiences within half a mile from my front door that have been rewarding in totally different ways. Coming down a hill very local to me a herd of cows galloped down behind me, past me and beyond. Not one of them coming closer than a couple meters to me. They just wanted to play. Seeing deer through the woods and making eye contact briefly until they disappear silently. 

I’ve seen a family of wild boar on the trails in the Forest of Dean, not something you see very often and not as scary as I was expecting having always been told that they are incredibly aggressive.

It doesn’t always have to be an external stimulus to make it enjoyable either. Those moments when you get to or close to a flow state are sublime. No sooner have you started that you’re done and feel great without really much specific memory of the middle bit. Being totally immersed in the physical sensation of running so much so that everything else just fades to a background. The canvas on which you painted your run.  

As I think more about what constitutes enjoyment I realise that it’s completely personal and doesn’t actually need any explanation. Often it will be beyond explanation. It’s a feeling, something deeply personal. I don’t think it matters whether you are a 30minute 5km runner or a quicker than 15min 5km runner there is something that gets you out there doing it, it might be easier to describe it as the why I run but if you don’t enjoy it you’re just not going to do it. 

How you enjoy it is entirely up to you and anyone telling you otherwise is totally missing the point. It’s often said that when someone says something about you it is actually what they think of themselves and I’d suggest this is one of those moments.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Game Changers - a response to the responses..


I have been thinking a lot about the response to the The Game Changers documentary that was released in the last month or two. The response I have seen, as part of the vegan community, is that this is nothing new. It’s almost an I told you so sort of response. The benefits that the hero of the film describes and experiences being what many vegans have experienced and continue to do so. I include myself in that. Anecdotal it may be but that doesn’t make it wrong and let me tell you that to me it those benefits are incredibly real.

The other response has been to debunk the claims in the film. The tipping point for me was the Joe Rogan podcast (episode #1389) where Chris Kesser spent the best part of 3hrs debunking the claims in the film. I started to listen as I thought I was interested in the counter point. I managed about 20 minutes and then thought why am I listening to this? It’s not going to change my mind and if anything I will just get frustrated by what I am hearing.

You come to a realisation that it’s just a different view point and worse it’s just people arguing a point of view. The objectors to The Game Changers site the lack of scientific evidence or the selective choice of scientific evidence to support the claims that a plant based diet would be better for all. The naysayers seek to debunk the science. 

I am no expert but I am pretty sure you can find a scientific report or reference to justify more or less any stance you want to take (with the exception that the earth is most definitely not flat!). The Game Changers, much like Cowspiracy and What the Health before it, offer a perspective that there is another way. The reality is that many or maybe most people do not realise that.

The other facts are that, particularly in the USA, but the Western world has epidemic levels of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other conditions labelled as lifestyle conditions. Obesity rates continue to rise and with it health has maybe never been worse.

Whatever we have been doing to date is clearly not working for an increasing number of people.

Considering this further you realise that there are no pro-meat or pro-dairy documentaries. There are millions of pounds of advertising and vast amounts of marketing telling us that milk, meat and eggs are good for us. That we should consume for protein and strong bones and teeth. 
  • that what our pizza really needs is more cheese in the crust 
  • that what we need in our burgers are extra patties and bacon oh and more cheese
  • that milk has calcium that makes our bones strong
  • that eggs are full of vitamins. 
It goes on and on. You then realise that this marketing has existed forever. Or certainly in my lifetime. If you are of a certain age you grew up in a world where consumption of this type was totally normal without there really being a viable alternative.

Where’s the film that describes how a vegan, we’ll call him Jack, who weighs in at barely 9 stone, has a pallid complexion and no energy. He has tried to sustain himself on plants but it’s just not working. He is vitamin deficient, his skin is dry and his hair brittle. Then someone in a white coat looks at his diet and suggests that he starts eating steak and eggs and maybe drinking cow’s milk. Over the coming weeks and months his body builds, his energy and vitality returns and the once barely 10 stone Jack is now a heroic 12 stone of muscle and confidence.

That film does not exist. That film will never be made.

That for me is the crux of the argument. Debunkers want to have their say as they want to protect their way of life and a film like The Game Changers questions that. It shines a light on behaviour that has always been that way. As a culture we grew up on meat and two veg. That was then and this is now. Where are the videos of celebrities and athletes that continue to eat meat telling us that? There aren’t any. Maybe they don’t need to as they consider that normal, it was and has been so for many years, you could argue that it’s been that way almost forever. The Game Changers represents a challenge and shift to that normal.

There is a lot of emotion bound up with food. We use food to celebrate and commemorate. We share our tables with friends and family and commune around food. A small subtle change to that makes everyone question their behaviour whether they want to or not. Then the response is an emotional one, people that continue to eat meat feel they need to justify themselves. That’s what I see the debunking as. An emotional response to something external that actually doesn’t warrant it.

It’s nothing more than choice. If you eat a traditional diet and watch that film and it makes you maybe change your behaviour a little then great. If it doesn’t have any affect on you then move on. The point of view offered by meat eaters is just a different point of view. Their normal is being challenged and they don’t like it.

Normal is being redefined. There really isn’t anything normal anymore.