Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sweet Update

A little drop'll do ya: the Victoza which has helped me manage my type II diabetes.
I realize it's been a wee while since I gave you an update on my diabetes. I do hope you haven't been fretting too much. Sorry to have worried you, dears.

But all is well. (There. You really don't have to read further if all you're interested in is the bottom line.)

A little over a year ago, I did a random blood-sugar test and learned that my previously stable diabetes had gone kind of haywire. My glucose was 19.5 mmol/L - quite a bit higher than the normal (i.e., non-diabetic) high of 6.5 mmol/L.

Since then I've made some moderate lifestyle changes and have (at last!) found a really keen family doctor. (She's even written a standing order for quarterly blood tests.)

Moderate lifestyle changes have included:

  • Increasing the fruits and vegetables in the whole family's diet. Our home-delivery of vegetables has made a big difference in this.
  • Cutting down on heavy or greasy lunches. Unless there is a social event, which might happen once a month, my typical lunch might be a small bowl of vegetarian soup or some fruit and a hard-boiled egg.
  • Moving my body. The yoga class that I've started taking with Steve is a far cry from what most people would call a workout, but it does get me off my arse at least once a week, and I do work up a sweat. (Mind you, I work up a sweat just by breathing, so that doesn't really count.)
I'm far from perfect, of course. I haven't cut out occasional desserts or alcohol. And I'm not exercising every day or enough to raise my heart rate.

But one good indicator of success is that I haven't gained any weight since losing about 15 pounds when I started taking Victoza. An even better indicator is that at my last quarterly blood test, my A1C (a 90-day evaluation of blood-glucose levels) was 5.8%. (Normal is anything below 6%.) So, yippee for me!

It was such a good result that my doctor said I could consider reducing my medications - provided I kept a close watch on my blood sugar.

I was hesitant to do so, but then I had a couple of hypoglycemic episodes, so I realized it was time. (I've described a low blood sugar event before. It is scary. And it also makes me overcompensate by "panic eating" - binge eating.)

Through all of this one of the best pieces of advice I can give to someone who is just learning to control their diabetes is this: take your blood sugar frequently and track the results.

There are three reasons for this:

  1. You may start to notice patterns, as when I noticed that the previous day's behaviour had an effect on today's test results.
  2. You can't lie to yourself. You can't pretend that the cookie you had for dessert made no difference to your body: the meter says otherwise. 
  3. Over time, you will start to see positive results on the chart. 
If possible, find a tracking program that includes a graphic chart like the iBGStar app for iPad and iPhone. (You can get the app for free, without buying the iBGStar glucose meter.) Here's why I think it's important.
This is the chart of my tests for the first 90 days that I was tracking.
Even though those results might be alarming, they also showed me that the efforts I was making were making a difference. My meter has an alarm setting which allows me to set it for a two-hour post-meal reminder: an excellent tool for someone who's trying to learn how different meals affect her body. I also bought an extra monitor for at work, so I wouldn't have to remember to bring it back and forth. (I bring it home on weekends to enter the data into my program.)

And just to add to that, here's today's chart.
90 days - up to today.
Would you look at how nicely nestled most of the results are within that blue band? 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Day at the Beach

Until we moved here, I don't think I had ever been to a beach any time but high summer, when the humid heat drove us to the water. I would brave the crowds of vain teenagers (with their cigarettes and loud music), unruly children (who kick sand in my sandwiches), and unsightly people in unflattering bikinis and thongs - all so that I could enjoy the beach.

In winter, the crowds are gone, but the sun is not.

Today, after putting the makings of an Irish stew into the crock pot, Steve and I walked down to the shore of the Ottawa River to see what we would see. Here is what we saw.
The breakwater juts out into the river, protecting the bay.
You can see the person flying a kite.
Even in summer, this lifeguard tower is no longer used.
I think it should be used for the naughty children who kick sand in my food. What do you think?
In "high season" it is impossible to get this picture without a handful of people in the way.
Some of the walking was a little treacherous, as the sun had melted the snow, which then turned to ice as temperatures dropped.
Steve also pointed out that the picnic pavillion was a former trolley station. So sad the trolley no longer runs!
Walking home, the wind was at our backs - an appropriate situation for St. Patrick's Day - so we weren't as cold. By the time we got home, I was sweating, despite the -10 Celsius weather.

Still, we made hot chocolate, spiked with a dram of Grand Marnier for a chocolate-orange treat. Perfect.

Not your typical beach day, but all the better for it.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

I'd like to be "low maintenance."

Me, in grade 12, I think.
It cracks me up, now, to think of the amount of time I spent on grooming when I was younger.

The plucking, shaving, perming, and moisturizing. The eye shadow, mascara, concealer, lipstick, and blush.

I fretted about the bags under my eyes and every out-of-place hair. The last thing I would do is go out au naturel. Only looking back do I realize that I could have, and would still have been pretty.

If I were to buck the beauty advice now, however, the results would be less palatable.

And lest you leap to my defense and chastise me for being hard on myself, I don't feel unattractive or unlovable without my make-up and underpinnings.

I just feel that Hollywood and the plastic-surgery machine have changed our expectations about female beauty, to the extent that I honestly wonder when I'll be able to stop the colouring, plucking, shaving, and layering on of cosmetics. Not to mention the "shapers" and underwire architectural support. And the manicures.

Last summer, I saw an elderly woman making her way across an intersection, dragging a bag cart behind her. She did not look like a homeless person, but she was not "done up" either. Her breasts swung low, a counterbalance to her stride. Her hair was clean, but not styled or dyed.

At first I silently mocked her: "Someone get that woman a bra!"

But, really, would it have made any difference to her? She was comfortable, independent. Does she also need to strive to be beautiful until her dying breath?

I don't see many men going to the lengths - and expense - that women do.

This may well be another step in my "crunchy" trend, but, honestly, I don't think 50 looks all that bad. So why should I fight it?

[Having written this entire rant, I'm now going to go put on concealer, lipstick, and a bra as I have a date with a handsome young man - who sees me like this every morning and still thinks I'm beautiful. The lipstick is for my own vanity, not his pleasure.]

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Long in the Tooth

I always thought the expression "long in the tooth" meant that teeth kept growing as you got older, like ear lobes and noses do.

Instead, I noticed that the gums around my teeth seemed to be making a slow retreat, like glaciers.

When I visited the dentist last summer, he suggested I switch to a soft toothbrush as it would be gentler on my gums. Unfortunately, I unconsciously compensated by brushing harder.

Result: the gums got worse. :(

So I saw a gum specialist who informed me that I need surgery in three different locations in my mouth.(Double sad face.)

They had shown me a really short video in the office, but because I'm curious, I Googled the procedure. Here's a video to show you all the fun.

Looks easy enough. I'm sure I could do it in a pinch.

Yesterday, I had phase one. I opted for oral sedation (because I'm a wuss, and I don't believe experiencing greater anxiety adds any value).  Even so, my heart rate was high the entire time. It actually jumped 15 bpm when the dentist walked in.

The surgery itself didn't take too long - maybe half an hour. They finished up by pasting a product that looks like chewing gum over the surgical areas, to protect them. Great invention - kudos to whoever came up with it.

I came home, climbed into bed and slept. Steve brought me ice cream and my meds at 5 and 9, as ordered, and then I slept through the night. Today, I'm feeling swollen and a little tender, but not half as bad as I'd feared.

One down, two to go.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hair Fail

Left: the concept          |            Right: the failure

I boasted mentioned a while ago that I've started a Pinterest board for hairstyles. The idea was to find inspiration for ways to keep my super-fine, stringy hair fashionable yet out of my face. (I hate it when hair touches my face. AHHH! GETITOFFMYFACE! kind of hate. It's like tiny strands of spiderweb . . . )


But lately I've been stuck in a rut. I pull my hair into a high ponytail, loosen it a little so it sort of poofs around my face, then wrap the tail around itself. You can sort of see the bun here.

It's not glamorous -- it's slightly "granny-ous," truth be told -- but it is tidy and professional and keeps the spiderwebs off my face. I like it. And it's good to have a go-to style that can be office-ready in less than 20 minutes (which is what it takes if I blow-dry and style).

But I do get bored. So I decided to click through my Pinterest options for inspiration.

The style shown in the picture at the top was called a low chignon. Very chic, very simple.

Very much meant for someone with thicker, wavier hair than mine, and probably with fewer layers cut into it. As my 'do slowly sprang out of it's bun, I pretended that I'd been going for a messy look. I took the picture just to see how bad it was. Conclusion: switch to a ponytail for the rest of the day.

Ah well. I'll keep trying. Let me know if you have any tips for skinny hair.

Well THAT was close!

I staged this pic, but this is
where the wallet was.
Without the flash from the camera,
it was almost invisible.
On Tuesday evening as I unlocked my car door after work, I glanced down and saw my wallet lying on the dirty, wet concrete floor. It had lain there all day, after evidently falling out of my purse when I got out of the car in the morning, my hands full.

The wallet was soggy and dirty, but untouched. Credit cards, identification, all were in their usual pockets.

I thanked my lucky stars as I contemplated the tedious task of replacing the contents. 

I've been through the hassle three times before, once when my purse was "picked" while I was a student with a measly $20 to my name visiting Versailles (the summer I was a missionary in France). (It occurs to me that mentioning the trip to Versailles really undermines the idea that it was a mission, but we really did work hard.) 

Fortunately, our "foster parents" for the summer had only given us a small amount of the cash we had deposited with them. (They also kept all the passports in a safe.) But that lost $20 was hard for me to swallow. My Social Insurance Number was also in the wallet. I know better than to carry that around with me now.

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