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I’m cured… along with a long walk.

I’m cured.. I can hear all my T1 friends yawn no seriously read on ;-) .. tabloid headline with no substance alert.

I like to think I’m a glass half full person, but the last year has dished out a tricky hand of cards. 2016 kicked off with the news that my core temperature was regularly dropping to alarming levels (circa 32 degrees) after and during long exercise. Getting out for long days in the hills was not on the cards.. even without the hills other scenarios still triggered these episodes (race to the stones, ITERA). It also had been confirmed that I had neuropathy in my feet (I was loosing the sensation in my feet – not great for a runner).

Its another small factor but from the numerous tests it was found that my testosterone is low – it doesn’t leave me with a squeaky voice but may explain why I’m so often tired.. more regular injections.

It was also a busy year for my business – the events I love seem to all come to head this year, with some big new events many time consuming but enthralling. Open Tracking was stepping up with more trackers being hired out year on year. Add to that a family with 2 amazing children for whom I didn’t want to be that Dad who missed them growing up and having fun with them.

The upshot is, without an objective of competing in an event or the time, coupled with a number of challenging conditions (hypothermia, type 1 diabetes and low testosterone) – I had put weight on. This in turn meant my insulin requirements had gone up.. and over Christmas I was struggling to get my blood sugar levels under control. My background insulin requirements were fine but when I ate food and gave myself insulin my BG levels just would not come down for many hours.. often even after a long walk – occasionally I’d over dose with the inevitable hypo having been in the teens for hours.

A call to my doc and he suggested I go on Metformin (or sometimes known as Metfartin – fortunately I’ve not suffered those side effects).. within days all was good and my blood sugar control was back on track.

Still after popping pills, injections and being wired up to alsorts of medical kit – I’m still overweight and missing my days out on the hills. By chance a visit to Lancaster over the New Year with the family, the kids were at the leisure centre and I set off for a walk up the Lancaster canal to Hest Bank. A nice late afternoon stroll.

It got me thinking – why not a big day out walking along a canal. OK hardly as glamourous as a Lake District mountain but with regular train stations it was easy for me to pull out, along with no hills it would make it an easy day to manage my blood sugar levels.

Maps printed with the canal highlighted from Kendal along way south, bag packed and alarm set for 4am on a Sunday morning early in January. I had it in mind I could be out for a couple of days. 5am at Oxenholme station on a very dark and misty morning, the first field was proper wet and within 20 mins my feet were sodden. But I soon found the old canal and got on with the walk, by 7 I was at Crook for a coffee at the Texco garage. I was enjoying the history of what was clearly the M6 of its day.

Hincaster Tunnel just outside of Kendal

As the day rolled on my sodden soft feet with the lack of training were I could tell getting a little sore. With the neuropathy in my feet I know I need to be uber careful – damage here could take months to heal. It was 1.00pm and I was in Lancaster. I’d had a good innings for the day BG levels fine, but really didn’t want to risk damaging my feet. So I cut it short – I’d still done just shy of 30 miles. I got a bit cold (understatement) walking through town – jumped on a train and home by 4.

Where is this cure james?? patience.

Roll on 2 weeks and the kids are away on a residential 3 day trip to Coniston (I love our school for what they do with the kids). So again pitched it to Lisa lets walk to Lancaster day 1 and see how far we get day 2. We started at 11 after dropping kids off so was able to see the first section in daylight also avoiding the wet field.

A week on Metformin and my BG control was a lot better but now I was finding that out on this long day I had to suspend my pump (switch it off – NO insulin) otherwise I’d go low. I was eating around 60g of carb an hour.. Heart rate ticking over at around 120. In the past I’d have run out of energy but all was good – must be witchcraft..

small bolus after breakfast – 11 to 6 walking

We were both a little pooped by Lancaster – pizza at a weatherspoon type pub and as we left I got very cold. We both got in to a proper run with duvet jackets and packs on up the high street. It worked but not a great solution for the hypothermia. Travel lodge was the accommodation for the night.. both in bed by 9 and fast asleep.

Prior to the trip I had booked the 2nd night in Liverpool. It was a long way away – but my rough guess was that for the whole trip 1/3rd to Lancaster – 1/3rd to Preston – 1/3rd to Liverpool. No science just a cursory look on the maps and not taking in to account how wiggly some of these canals can be. The map was folded in such a way that I could only see about as far as 6 miles past Lancaster. Using poles and following a canal I just left it tucked away and forgot about it.

We left at 6am – there was no frost and we tried to do without a head torch but as we left the town and in to the tree cover – before we got wet we had to stop and find those torches. It was cold, I had 3/4 tights, fleece and waterproof – my experience is more that once you get up to speed its easy to get to hot. 3hrs later still cold we stopped and faffed with shoes off to get over trousers on and more clothes. It was not much more than freezing. And we were both still doing the funky chicken after the 30 miles the previous day. Yet again I had to turn the pump down to suspend and occasionally found myself lowish having to eat.

lancaster canal

Photo from Geograph

We got to just before Garstang – I was hanking for a warm coffee. I didn’t know how far we had to go but was worried I was pushing my luck with my wife this was in danger of being a real sufferfest. So I suggested we go as far as Preston which I thought was about 4 miles past Garstang and catch the train to Liverpool and make use of the booked accommodation (apartment for £50 instead of £150). Be another day to try and kill ourselves.

the unexpected 18 miles after turning over the map

At Garstang I turned over the map.. Preston was more like another 18 miles.. gulp. Big smiles as ever from Lisa and we got back on the trail – up till Garstang I’d enjoyed the trail but further south we got less the canal path is used and the more muddy it got. We made it to Preston around 5ish – for 11hrs I can honestly say we really didn’t sit down and only stopped to get stuff out of our bags. Over the 2 days we had clocked up around 65 to 70 miles.

A little low in the afternoon over treated with a whole packet of randoms

Along the route there is much to celebrate the history of the Lancaster Canal with money still being spent to keep it as a tourist attraction for canal boats. Its a shame to see where it terminates in Preston no mention of what it is but rather a collection of rubbish in the water. It was still a mile to the station and was nearly 7 by the time we both took our shoes off in Liverpool.

The cure – all you need to do is keep walking at about 4-5km/hr Non-stop and eat regularly, don’t need insulin.

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