Friday 9 November 2012

Exercise Induced Lows

Today's NHBPM prompt asks for a descriptive account of a memory. I've deviated a bit from the task, and written more of an evolution of a problem, rather than a specific, one-time memory.

In case you're not familiar with my blog, or my story, let me start off by stating that I do not have diabetes. My 11 year old son, Dylan, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in November of 2005, at the age of 4.

I, however, have struggled with hypoglycemia for as long as I can remember. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, low blood sugar was a regular occurrence for me. If I skipped breakfast, my blood glucose would tank by 10:30 or 10:45 am and I would start shaking uncontrollably until I ingested fast-acting sugar. I slowly learned the importance of breakfast, but then in my twenties, the causes of my hypoglycemic episodes expanded. Suddenly I couldn't handle large amounts of simple carbs anymore. I had to eat protein at every meal and keep simple carbs to a minimum. Over time, it became an easily manageable problem.

In my late twenties I took up running and at first everything seemed ok. But as my endurance increased and my runs consisted of 10-25km each, I was faced with a new cause of hypoglycemia: inefficient carb-loading. For the first few years of my running career, I could get away with a pre-run snack of a banana and a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter. And I would carry a bottle of Gatorade, and a tube of dextrose tabs, with me at all times to cover my regularly occurring mid-run low. That worked for a while.

Then last year the lows became more extreme. Suddenly the recovery got slower and I would feel weak and shaky for half an hour after treating the low, making the rest of my run near-impossible. At this point some people might have considered giving up running, but I love it. And not just for the exercise; running is my stress relief, my time to myself, and my time with nature. So I gave up the nature part and started doing all of my runs on my treadmill. Boring, yes, but still effective.

In May 2012 I got involved with the 90 day challenge and everything changed. The shakes I was drinking daily left my blood sugar stable all day and my lows stopped happening. Suddenly I could run outside again, plus I could run faster and further than ever before. It was amazing! I went 6 months without a hypoglycemic episode...until today.

I upped my exercise regime quite substantially this week, adding some intense strength training, and speed intervals to my running. The increase was clearly too much too fast, and my body responded with a brutal low. It kicked my butt. I had to stop moving, take in 45 grams of fast-acting carbs and wait half an hour before feeling somewhat better. I had almost forgotten how scary it feels during that waiting period. Almost...

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