A Type I Diabetic’s Journey to Her First Triathlon
This is the first in a series of blog posts by Jess Buchanan, a Vermont woman training for her first triathlon. Jess was diagnosed with Type I diabetes in 2007.
What do you think of when you hear the word diabetes? Well, my name is Jess, I have Type 1 (T1) diabetes. I’m here to challenge your knowledge and my body as I train for my first triathlon.
Type 1 diabetes means that my pancreas doesn’t produce insulin at all. Therefore, I need to inject insulin to keep my blood sugars in a “normal” range (between 80 -120mg/dL. Learn more about the symptoms, treatments and dangers of low and high blood sugars). Managing your diabetes to allow for optimal blood sugars helps to avoid any of the complications associated with diabetes.
T1 diabetes used to be known as “juvenile diabetes” because it was only diagnosed in children. Doctors today are diagnosing T1 in people well into their forties; hence, the name change. There is also Type 2 diabetes (T2), which used to be called “Adult-Onset,” which is caused by the body not knowing how to correctly use the insulin the pancreas secretes, if it even produces enough in the first place. There are also other types of diabetes.
I was diagnosed in April of 2007 when I was 26 years old. I have chosen to use an insulin pump to help manage my diabetes. It’s called an Omnipod and I usually wear it on my arm or belly. I also wear a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) made by Dexcom that allows me to better see patterns in my blood sugar as it measures my levels constantly. I like to think wearing these two devices simultaneously makes me bionic.
Exercise is important for everyone, but as a Person With Diabetes (PWD) it can help tremendously with diabetes management. At the same time, PWDs also have to be careful about WHEN and HOW we exercise. Cardio activity will help lower blood sugar and will continue to do so for 24 hours. So, you have to make sure your blood sugar is high enough to not risk going low either during or immediately after your workout.
I am by no means a gym rat, but I do work out regularly. I’m currently developing a more regimented workout schedule in order to work on both my strength and endurance. On top of my workout, I need to make sure I am staying hydrated enough and also eating well, and often! I’m planning on eating 6 small meals a day with the right balance of protein and carbohydrates to keep me sustained, feeling full and hopefully keep my blood sugars managed well enough to keep diabetes from interfering with my training too much.
I plan on this being challenging on so many different levels, and I welcome every one of those challenges. I hope you’ll join me as I blog about my process. I’ll be sharing my workout plans, my favorite meals and post-workout snacks and also how having diabetes plays a big part in this training. Should you have any questions, I would love the opportunity to answer them for you. In the meantime, check out the links within this post to learn more about many other diabetes topics. Check back next month for an update!
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, dietician, nutritionist or endocrinologist. I am a T1 PWD who is eager to share my own experiences and lessons. Nothing written in this blog is to be taken as medical advice as I have no formal medical training. Should you have questions about your own care, please speak to your doctor.
Jess Buchanan grew up in Colchester, Vermont. She has been a Type 1 diabetic for 6 years. She enjoys cooking, reading, singing, dancing, working out and planning her 2014 wedding while playing with her pet bunny Grier.