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Ankles, Caves and Pumps

ANKLES

Just over 3 years ago I had what I thought was a minor fall on a mountain bike, was out doing a recce for one of the Open5s and fell off my MTB on one of the boardwalks around Gisburn Forest. I just turned my ankle.. swelled up quite a bit. A year later and I was having an operation on my ankle to sort it out. Tricky to know if it did the job as a few months later I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and struggled to get back to the long days out.

Hully Gully in Gisburn Forest

Hully Gully in Gisburn Forest

 

Roll forward 18 months and coming off the Tour De Hellvelyn  amongst other things I noticed that my ankle had swollen up. Mentioned it to GP as my thinking was I’d only done 34 miles and in the summer I’d have nearly another 150 miles to go – so if something needed sorting best get on the case now.

So 8 days ago I popped along to Barrow hospital to see the orthopedic consultant. He seemed to think it was fine, but flipped out that I’d lost the sensation in parts of my feet. Its a symptom that some diabetics have and to be honest it doesn’t get pretty. He was keen we got straight on the case and sort this out. Must admit left me a little unnerved . not like I’ve had diabetes that long.

CAVES

On the weekend we had an Open5 Adventure Race down in the Mendips, we set up what we could on the Saturday. Dinner at an odd pub and then the plan was a for few of us to follow Eddie on easy caving through trip in Goatchurch Caveren. Its one that many school groups and scout groups use. I’ve done many of these and pretty comfortable in a cave – usually its a 30 min trip that would take a school group 1/2 day. It was also pretty close to the pub so didn’t really change anything when I had food – gave myself enough insulin to balance the carbs in the beef and ale pie.

As it turned out it wasn’t just outside the pub, more like a 15 min walk up a hill. I took a small dry bag with my meter and few bites to eat. Once at the entrance I was 8.8 all good. In to the cave my fellow cavers were having their own moments, I was really enjoying it – great place to be on Saturday night. No dramas..

Which way is up?

Which way is up?

 

Then Eddie suggested we took a look at the smartie tube, didn’t really think twice as I was feeling more than comfortable. Before I knew it I was in a very tight tube which was about 20m long and it was getting pretty physical to get through it. It was an out and back so no turning back, I had to get through but I knew that my heart rate was rising with the physical effort, above 150 and I know my blood sugars plummet.

Eddie in the smartie tube, and I'm bigger than him!! Photo by James Kirby

Eddie in the smartie tube, and I’m bigger than him!! Photo by James Kirby

 

I may as well be in the middle of the Cairngorm plateau, this really was not the right place to have an epic. We got to the turn around point as others chuckled about the crazy situation we were in. I’d left my meter at the other end and had started to shake.. we just had to get on with it and get back out. I needed to do it as calmly as possible, over the years I’ve learnt when running, how to relax and reduce my heart rate – I guess I have the right temperament to calm down as this would be an easy place to get it wrong.

Who farted?

Who farted?

 

Found my meter and I was sweating / shaking and my blood sugars were not particularly low 5.2 but popped a few glucose tabs. Still not out. Another 20 mins later scrabbling around and the fresh air had met my face.

You know I kind of like caving, but I think with exception of the odd show cave I’m not sure I will do it again. I was not phased by the technical aspects of the cave, more about having a hypo in an awkward place. I’m not going to paint the picture but caves are not great places for diabetics to sort themselves out if they get it wrong. If you have not done it you should go caving its a great experience.

Nearly out

Nearly out

 

GP – brief visit to see the GP during the week.. put me on statins another tablet to take every day for the rest of my life. Pretty common for diabetics and the idea is that reduces your cholesterol level.

PUMPS

Friday 8th was a big day in my diabetic diary. I was seeing the diabetic consultant, on the cards was for me to go on to an insulin pump. This is pretty serious, its a small unit about the size a pager with a tube and needle that is effectively permanently connected in my stomach. Why would I want to do this? well sport.. its hard as some of the blog stories have told to do sport. Injecting is a bit of a thump of insulin, your pancreas doesn’t do that. I’d met a few people on pumps and from what I’d read most who do sport recommend going on to one.

To be honest I was deliberately running my blood sugar levels high before I cycled or went for a run. I’d found that I could go from 15 to 4.5 in a 50 minute run. That’s scary and unnerving and I’ve no doubt, like many people, I hate being put in a vulnerable position especially out on a long run or long bike ride.

I was chilled about it – the consultant knows far more about diabetes than me so if he said no, I was cool about that. But if its a yes, I’d be keen to get it ASAP – it would take a few months to get use to it before the HOWFAST run. It was a go and I’m 4th on the list, hopefully will have one in the next month or two. Lets hope I get use to it quickly as the consultant says it normally takes 6 to 12 months.

stock image of Medtronic Veo insulin pump

stock image of Medtronic Veo insulin pump

 

So happy days.. I can see I may have to change a few plans, it may work out that the Fellsman (60 mile event) is too soon after getting the pump. If I have to can it no worries – also good news was that my feet problem is not linked to my diabetes. For diabetic foot, problems come about after 5-6 years after really poor control. Still have poor circulation and will have to see another consultant about that one.

The story continues, and just for the record the team from the NHS at Cumbria Diabetes do a top job.

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