A new marathon of sorts

Dear Princess,

It’s time to face it, you are not normal, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but when it comes to life with Dear Diabetes, no matter how hard you try to deny it, you do have limitations.

Yes, you can run way past the time the dogs come home; yes, you can climb the Grouse Grind and continuously improve your time; yes, you can give birth; yes, you can travel the world; and yes, you can say goodbye to one beloved career and go back to school in your mid-30s, full-time and pull off some pretty spectacular grades.

Yet, still, all of that is limited by Dear Diabetes.

Let’s talk school, shall we.

I am nearing completion of my second semester, which has been an incredibly challenging semester compared to my straight A’s of the first semester. I have worked so hard, my brain is so fried, and that two week break I get in April before the next semester starts cannot come soon enough.

Two days ago I had a chemistry exam; an exam I felt I was prepared for days leading up to it, but that I started freaking out about one to two days prior. I’m sure that’s normal for most students, but what’s not normal is the blood sugar drama that accompanies the freak outs.

Seriously, I'd like to kick the person who started these signs, and double kick the person who came up with this one specifically!
Seriously, I’d like to kick the person who started these signs, and double kick the person who came up with this one specifically!


Stress causes high blood sugars. Stress causes low blood sugars. High blood sugars cause stress. Low blood sugars cause stress. High blood sugars cloud focus. Low blood sugars obliterate brain function.

Normally my blood sugars go high during an exam, which I’ve slowly started figuring out how to counteract before they take hold. But on Monday, they went the opposite route, down a path towards bottoming out.

What the freaking hell Dear Diabetes?

All morning I was dealing with lows, but I still thought I’d be facing highs later on (my exam didn’t start until 2:30 p.m.) so I didn’t make any changes to my insulin dosages. One hour before the exam, they were 6.4. Perfect. Ten minutes before the exam, they were 4.0. Borderline effing hell! I popped a few dates, lowered my basal rate by 50 per cent for the 75-minute exam duration and hoped, prayed to the exam gods, they wouldn’t go pass-out style.

Sound familiar?
Sound familiar? This was me one year ago.

Does this sound familiar? Kind of like some of my runs, hey, when Dear Diabetes gets a hold and takes control. And just like those runs, where I’m constantly thinking about what Dear Diabetes’ next move is going to be, I spent that entire exam checking the shakiness of my hands, taking stock of my vision, wondering am I okay? Should I test? What if they are low? What if I can’t complete this test? All the while trying to name alkenes; convert alcohols and carboxylic acids into esters and water; and draw high-energy, chair-conformation cyclohexanes.

I left that test mortified, not confident in my results at all, worried, broken. I walked for a long time thinking about it all and relating it to the struggles I’ve had with some of my past runs and the feelings I had with some of those runs affected by Dear Diabetes. And that’s when I had The Moment.

The Moment is a moment that I don’t have often, rarely in fact, but a moment that had me wanting to punch my fist so hard into the trunk of tree, desperately wanting to be normal, to be free from this disease. If only for 75 minutes.


• 2:20 p.m. BG before: 4.0
• Temp. basal: -50 per cent
• Carbs: 3 dates (no bolus)
• Time: 75 minutes
• Distance: To organic hell and back
• Average pace: Finishing with the sweepers
• 3:50 p.m. BG after: 4.1

But hey, test results came back today, and even with the Dear Diabetes drama, I still pulled off a decent 77 per cent; not as high as I would have liked, but given the drama, a mark I can be proud of.

1 thought on “A new marathon of sorts”

  1. debbie hickey

    dear katie – all of us who reach for the stars and actively stretch towards our dreams emerge from our efforts transformed. when you have a dream and are working hard to see it realized, just know in your bones that the journey counts just as much and sometimes more than the destination! not easy to hang onto this message when health issues enters the picture – but maybe your journey with diabetes and the passionate heart with which you have conquered so many obstacles is a loving and vital lesson for others. maybe that’s your A+.


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