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One year on

29/11/2011

Today, one year ago I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

It has been a full year of learning. There has been highs and lows emotionally and blood sugarwise.

Special thanks to my family for their support, friends for being there for me and to God for being my rock. I wouldn’t want to imagine trying to tackle diabetes on my own, it would be a million times harder!

I am looking forward to the future it is exciting!

 

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Slanghoek Triathlon

25/11/2011

Was super nervous going into this race after my vomiting stint at Clanwilliam. But I took the lesson learnt and applied them to this race.

Two hours before the race I went and ate a bowl full of muesli and yoghurt, this was to increase my sugar levels and give my stomach time to digest the food before the race.

We left Cape Town in the pouring rain but arrive in Slanghoek to sunny skies. Perfect weather!

I got suited up and headed down to the water for a warm-up. The water was pretty much freezing and after the warm-up I waited on the bank of the dam for the start and almost froze my butt off!

I had a good swim and came out the water in first with another dude. I had a quick transition and headed out on the bike in first.

The bike leg was great! It is a off-road triathlon so I was on my mountain bike. I felt good and saw myself pulling away from the chasers. Slanghoek is a beautiful place to ride in, incredible views, fun river crossings and riding through the vineyards!

I came into transition 2 with about a 2 minute lead. This was perfect as two weeks before I had torn my hamstring badly and needed a lead to ease my hammy into the run. It was hurting the whole time but was holding and so I was happy. About 2km to go I looked around and saw a guy catching me so I had to speed up which caused me quite a bit of pain with the hammy. Luckily the guy didn’t bridge the gap as I am almost 100% sure my hammy wouldn’t have held for a sprint finish!

So I finished the race in first, my first triathlon I have won! I am pretty chuffed about that!

What I learnt:

  • Eating 2 hours before the race to increase sugar levels is perfect!
  • No energy drink on these shorter races, my stomach doesn’t feel good when I am trying to go fast with energy drinks in it.
  • Always eat as soon as possible after the race, to replace the sugar you are burning.

Here are a few pics from the race:

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Diabetes Awareness Campaign

25/11/2011

November has been Diabetes Awareness Month.

I was asked to participate in a Diabetes Awareness Campaign on the 14th as they wanted someone who uses exercise to help manage their diabetes. I gladly took up this offer!

So a couple of weeks before the campaign they sent a photographer (David Bloomer) to take a few photo of me in a place where I like to exercise, which was at Silvermine Dam. I felt a bit awkward because I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do and I am no model but David was great.

Now the campaign was at Kingsbury Hospital and it was great! I got to meet other diabetics who are all managing their diabetes differently. I think I walked out of there really encouraged as I got to see so many stories of people who are not letting diabetes manage themselves but they are managing diabetes. Really encouraging!

So as it is Diabetes Month, please go get yourself check. If you are not sure how, send me a message. It is a simple finger prick test and takes less than 30 seconds.

Here are a few pics David took:

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Check out his website: http://www.davidbloomer.co.za

Clanwilliam

07/11/2011

I love Clanwilliam! It brings back amazing memories of racing, relaxing and chilling with friends and family.

This October I went up to race the Clanwilliam Triathlon. My sister came up with me which was awesome to spend some time with her! This race kicks off the triathlon calendar in the Western Cape and draws a lot of people!

This year my race didn’t go as planned.

The race was at 3pm which made me unsure how I was going to raise my sugar levels, what was I going to eat and when? I ended up getting caught up in racking my bike at the transition that I quickly ate 2 energy bars (huge mistake!) before throwing on my wetsuit and heading for my warm up. There was no time for them to properly digest.

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The swim went pretty well. I didn’t get kicked or shoved at the start and I didn’t have to swim over anyone this year. Shoulders ached a bit at the beginning but I was soon able to settle into a rhythm. I came out of the swim in 16th and had a fairly quick transition and was on the bike in 12th.
I went into the race knowing my cycling was my weakness. Two guys past me at the beginning of the bike but my legs were burning too much to match their pace. The next two guys who caught me I was able to join and we worked together until the end of the bike. That bike leg had my legs hurting. Went into the transition in 16th.

I have been doing a lot of work on my running, so I figured as we started running that I would be able to make up some ground. But alas I think I blew my legs on the bike. I felt pretty pup. I was holding my position until 2km from the finish were I was hit with intense nausea and I started vomiting (it wasn’t pretty) in front of the refreshment station. Unfortunately while I stopped to vomit (not hardcore enough to vomit and run at the same time) I was passed by 16 people and so finished in 32nd position.

I was super frustrated and annoyed but I have learnt some valuable lessons!

  • To raise my sugar levels before the race I must stick to what I use for training (muesli and yoghurt).
  • I must eat this pre race meal at least two hours before the race to give my stomach time to settle.
  • Train more with an energy drink, my body needs to get use to it. I have gotten in the habit of just using water.

I will never stop learning but I hope with time the lessons will be fewer and not as hard.

Latest Levels (HbA1c)

21/10/2011

I recently had my HbA1c, it is a very interesting test.

Your red blood cells are made up of haemoglobin, now glucose sticks to the haemoglobin to make haemoglobin A1c or HbA1c. We use the percentage of this test to get my estimated average glucose. This is a very handy test if you are a diabetic because it gives you an idea in how you are managing your diabetes. With everything there are flaws like if I go hypo (low glucose levels) and then hyper (high glucose levels) my average could be the same as just keeping it normal. Basically your red blood cells live for 8-12 weeks which means that if you are trying to improve your measurement then you should get tested every 3 months, but if you are stable then you only need to get tested every 6 months.

OK so that is the quick biology lesson over.

So I had my HbA1c done and it came back at 5.9mmol/L. This is a pretty good result which I am very happy about! I was a little nervous when I had the blood taken because I think my “Honeymoon” phase for the diabetes is over, which means it is harder now to control my glucose level, if I don’t inject enough insulin will remain high and wont come down until I either exercise or inject again.

Still in the Green!I know sport is saving my butt when it comes to managing my glucose levels!

Debi and her Insulin Pump

05/09/2011
Debi and her husband Derek

Debi and her husband Derek

Luke referred these questions to me since I’ve worn a pump since 1991.  My name is Debi Nunley and I was diagnosed with diabetes in November of my last year of high school in 1980, in my hometown in New York.  From the day I was diagnosed, I continually sought out the most knowledgeable and up to date medical insight about diabetes I could find.  In 1982, I was accepted into a diabetic study at Yale University and gladly took part.  Due to the brittleness of my diabetes, meaning my blood sugars varied dramatically even when I was doing all the right things, the doctors at Yale offered me the trial of one of the first insulin pumps invented.  When they showed me the pump and I saw it was the size of a kitchen toaster, I vainly turned their offer down. 

Over the following years of testing a ton and tried to do everything right to keep my blood sugars as accurate as possible, I had little success.  My doctor’s only solution for me was to increase the number of injections I took to six injections daily.  I did this for years, wanting to do whatever I could to not allow this disease to control me from living a “normal” life or doing anything I desired to.

In 1989 I relocated to Oklahoma and raised support for living expenses, to volunteer full-time with a teen, outreach organization.  I began to hear about the insulin pump once again and how it has become a great tool to gain better blood sugars control.  For the next two years my interest grew since I would soon be traveling to other countries, leading groups of teenagers and needed better control from my constant highs and lows.  As I inquired more in-depth I found that the cost of the new insulin pumps was much too high for me to even consider while living on raised support.

In 1991, I was preparing to go on my first two month trip to Venezuela when a friend approached me with a gift to help with my food and medical expenses I so desperately needed. They blessed me with the exact amount of money to cover the full cost of my first insulin pump and a year of supplies! This was truly a God miracle and I’ve been blessed to wear one ever since.  So 20 years later I can say wearing the pump has been only beneficial in so many ways in my life! There’s much work that goes along with wearing the pump but the help it’s been has been well worth it!

I’ll share just a few of the benefits I’ve experiences with my pump which most importantly has been its accuracy and convenience!  I wear it just tucked into the waste line of my jeans most of the time and no one ever notices it. If they do get to see it, it gives me a great opportunity to educate people about this disease that most people have little knowledge about! I had my first son in 1998 and my second in 2000 and ever since I’ve loved my pumps alarms and use them daily, especially the one that reminds me to test two hours after I eat a meal for better awareness and control. Another thing it offers are all the various settings for different activities. For instance, when I go to the gym or hike up a mountain here in beautiful South Africa, I no longer have to eat more carbs before and load up with juice in my bag! I just need to remember to lessen my basal rate (the continual slow amount of short acting insulin the pump releases every three minutes in replacement of long acting insulin) or even turn it off for optimum control!  I was never able to do that with injections, it always seemed to be a guessing game to me.  Another advantage for me is something called the “Bolus Wizard”. This has lessened my brain work as it’s a part of the pump that calculates the amount of insulin it will need to deliver according to my blood sugar at that time and the amount of carbs I will eat. The Bolus Wizard does the adjusting accordingly and helps me by calculating for me the perfect dose needed by tenths of a unit (which was also never available with injections)!!!

All this to say… for me… living with diabetes is a major challenge and a lifetime of work but I wouldn’t want to live without my insulin pump as part of me as it helps to keep my body in more stable control and helps me to live a more “normal”, active life!!

I hope and pray my information encourages you to keep your head up and to contact your physician to hear his input!!

Thanks, Luke for having me share and I’m here to help any fellow diabetic that wants more info or needs encouragement!  We’re in this together!  You can reach me at debinunley@gmail.com, anytime!

Beautiful place I live in!

31/08/2011

I haven’t been sitting around doing nothing. This winter has been incredible! Sunny days, warm weather! Very strange but I have tried to make the most of it! Here are a few photos of where I have been.

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