In the last month since I’ve updated the site here, a LOT has changed with my diabetes. I’ve been working on an ongoing project with Glu (as yet unnamed) which has had me traveling about in the Southwest–and I am working on a handful of new things for LivingVertical as well, including a new L.E.A.D. project which will likely be an ongoing effort. I know it may seem like nothing is happening here from the outside–which is often the way it goes when you are working on a handful of creative projects, trying to make ends meet and traveling–but things are coming together!
As you may know, I have long been a proponent of a low carb, whole food based diet–because I think that the benefits of eating that way outweigh the costs regardless if you have diabetes or not. It was only recently, when climbing in Zion National Park this February that I really began to question the benefits of strictly eating to my blood sugar rather than eating to my performance goals. This has always been a struggle for me, because having an A1c in the 6 range is a really important goal–as is climbing hard!
Adjusting to a job, a family and a temporary move to the east coast has pushed me to work harder to find time and opportunity to climb and build my fitness–and the obstacle I kept running into was that I was always dog-tired. It hit me in Zion as I flailed on the crux pitch of Touchstone–by the time I made the challenging moved, I was simply out of gas. I decided, sort of by accident to try eating more carbs when I picked up a huge rack of Croissants from Costco. If I’d had the option of buying fewer, I would have gone that route, but they only had a dozen or more so off I went. In the following days, I was left with the obvious responsibility of eating those delicious, buttery carbs–because it’d be irresponsible to let them go to waste!
I noticed a few things–I was sleeping better and when I’d wake up, I didn’t feel like a zombie. I wanted to get out and climb. So I did. And during the last few days of my time in Zion, I felt a significant boost in my energy that I had not felt in years. I wasn’t climbing super hard–but I was able to sustain significant effort and recover enough to keep on climbing. A few croissants were the breakthrough for me. Feeling energized while climbing was something I’d forgotten about–and being tired and sluggish all the time really had robbed me of the joy of being outside. Suddenly, it felt like there was a whole world of possibility to discover–again!
Having returned from Utah, I tried to transition my newfound openness to carbs into my training here in Massachusetts. It worked, but there was a critical link missing–my blood sugar. See, I had been able to increase my carbs in Utah without too much impact on my blood sugar because I was way more active. No long periods at the office or on a train. Now I needed to figure out how to tailor my insulin dosing appropriately to make up for that fact and still keep the elusive balance between performance, energy and blood sugar.
Enter my new CGM, the Dexcom Share. So for my entire life with diabetes, I have been behind the curve technologically. All the white noise about new gadgets has always been lost on me. When I’d read reviews of new diabetes kit, I’d dismiss it out of hand because after all, who the hell can afford that stuff? For the first time in my life, I found myself in a position to get a CGM–not just any old CGM–the Share that everyone was buzzing about. This was the first major advancement in diabetes that I have been able to own and appreciate since Lantus came on the market. I wasn’t super interested in the fact that I could literally share my blood sugar readings with others–honestly I just wanted to own my very own CGM and see about really dialing in my carbs.
In short, this thing has blown my mind and given me control that is a gargantuan leap forward. I changed the way I dose my insulin–less so the quantity and more so the frequency. In a 24 hour period I will routinely not go above 160 and not have significant lows. I am eating an appropriate amount of carbs (still not loading up on rice or pasta though!) by adding 30-50 grams per day–for a total of around 120-150g–and working out everyday. I am taking injections much more frequently–up to 15 per day in some cases. It’s more work on some level but the results are SO worth it. I have also been really surprised at how much more I like interacting with my CGM via my iPhone rather than the receiver itself. The range of the receiver exceeded my expectations as well. I can walk all around the house or office without having an extra device on my person and still be able to quickly see what my sugar is doing.
I feel like this has been a monumental leap forward for me. I didn’t like the pump and I’m fine with saying that. I can also happily tell you that on MDI I am keeping an average BG of–well let’s see. I’m installing the desktop app to give you an actual answer rather than speculating about what my average has been. Average BG has been 113, 1% high 6% low. I had decent control before, but this is definitely a new level.
Now the question I have to answer is what am I going to do with this newfound ability to dial in my diabetes, and where should I take it? I feel like this is pretty obvious but I want to be sure you note that Dexcom has no interest in me that I know of, and they didn’t ask me to write this. They aren’t paying my costs for the Share nor are they giving me free supplies. If they wanted to sponsor LivingVertical in an upcoming climbing project that’d be stellar but I’m not holding my breath. That’s as good a job as I can do with disclaimer language before I become downright cheeky. I liked this device way more than I expected to–and it’s WAY more accurate compared to the old Seven that I used during Project365.
Please support the work LivingVertical is doing by making a small monthly donation to the blog via paypal (right hand column on desktop or scroll down on mobile. 1 dollar a month from each of our readers would cover the costs of maintaining this website. You can also buy one of our diabetes empowerment photo prints!