Sunday, February 26, 2012

Diabetes Awarness - Meet Scully

This year in conjunction with the Race to Cure Diabetes 5K (Register HERE find out information HERE) I am doing some diabetes awareness.  As a runner I was interested to find out what it would take to be a runner with Diabetes.  Meet Chris Scully, an awesome woman who is insanely active and just ran her first marathon.  I met her while at my sister’s house a year ago.  She drove down from Canada to support Joe in his JDRF walk.  How cool is that? I contacted her about doing an interview for this fundraiser and she was game so …. Here we go (my comments are in purple).

When were you diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes?
 At the age of 22, July 2002

Does it run in your family?
 Absolutely no family history of either Type 1 or Type 2

What was it like adjusting to life with diabetes?
It was difficult to say the least. I didn't get any proper training or education at all in fact my Doc didn't think to treat me with insulin for two months. I was flying by the seat of my pants for the first few years of diagnosis.  Scully lives in Canada, their medical system is different but, this is scary, it could have killed her.  Eaaaakkkkkk!

How did you life change?
I had to pay attention to what I was eating. I had to be careful about exercising. I had to deal with highs and lows and constantly never being in the sweet spot. It was a very steep learning curve to say the least.   From reading her blog and listening to my sister (with Joe’s care) I gather that this is a constant battle no matter how long you have the disease.  A type 1 is always searching for the sweet spot and everything seems to effect their numbers.

How did your family react?
Everybody was in complete shock. At the time none of us really knew the different types of diabetes. They all said I was too healthy and fit to get diagnosed with diabetes. We all later learned that it was nothing I did (or didn't do) to get diabetes. My mum wanted to go after my doctor for not treating me but we were all too busy and weak to deal with anything but learning how to keep me alive. Yes, I was living with my parents at 22. I had just moved home from college and was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

Other impacts?
I didn't take it seriously enough until I began feeling crappy all the time. It certainly made my couple years teaching in Taiwan a mahoosive headache. It impacted my friends a lot, especially my boyfriend at the time. He was just as scared as I was.

Were you athletic before you were diagnosed?
Yes I was but I wasn't as into endurance sports as I am now. I was a rock climber, mountain biker, snowboarder, back-country camper etc. I was a runner too but I hadn't been doing it seriously yet. I was just getting used to learning that I was going to be a long distance runner.

How did that change after you were diagnosed?

Scully in a recent Snow Shoe Race. Can you see her smile?

It took me years to understand the basics of exercise and diabetes (I'm still learning). I remember snowboarding with my pockets full of candies. I remember going camping and getting stuck in the middle of the night with a low because my food bag was hanging in the trees. Or another time a raccoon stole all my food and I was on a slippery slope of adventure to get out and call for help while trying not to expend too much energy. I was backpacking alone.

Basically, any physical activity meant I had to carry sugar somehow, somewhere on my person, no matter what! Even if it meant attracting bears. Ok never would have thought of any of these issues.  Super impressed with Scully’s adventurous nature and that she didn’t let Diabetes stop her.  I am floored by her.

Last year you ran your first marathon, wahoooo! What was training like for that?

It was a giant mixed bag of trial and error. A lot of testing my blood sugar while running. My blood sugar would react depending on the time of day and the duration of the run. Also, the heat of the summer and the type of run would effect it all differently. So a speed workout in the morning vs. the afternoon would have a significantly different effect on how I managed my insulin levels. It takes a lot of pre and post run insulin adjustments since most of the time I need to set my pump at least an hour before I plan to exercise. I had to try and predict how things would go on race day by experimenting with different types of fuel and the timing of carb intake. In the end I felt like I had encountered any situation which made me feel confident that I could make decisions on the fly should anything happen. And happen it did! due to a diabetes crisis that I had no control over my marathon was wrecked before the gun even went off. Aside from that I can't count how many times high or low blood sugars ruined a run for me. I said, "there's always tomorrow" so many times.  Wow!! Just Wow!  I think most of us will agree this is stuff we never thought of.  Just running a marathon is hard enough but with all of the Diabetes care it is a whole other ball game.  Super impressed that she started and finished her 1st marathon.

What goes into a marathon (4+ hrs of activity) for a diabetic, what do you have to consider that the average runner out there doesn't have to think about?

She says the picture says it all.

Well see the answer above for a start. The biggest difference is that yes, we all experience pre-race anxieties but people without diabetes don't understand that stress severely effects blood sugars. So to manage stress levels is hard. I might not lower my insulin AS MUCH on race day as I would on a training run of similar duration. We also need fuel just like the next person but fuel usually means carbs so there's a delicate balance that exists between input and output. Personally, I adjust my insulin so that I am expected to take in gels. I just have to be sure not to miss those gels. Finally there's the baggage. I choose to run with a glucose meter so I can test while running because I can't afford a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) as often as I'd like. I will also carry more gels then the next person in case I go low. Some diabetics will drink the Gatorade that is provided but I can't stand the pasties.

Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder and many type 1's have other issues like with Gluten. I believe that is your case as well. How does that affect your training and life?
Yes Auto-Immune disorders tend to hang on to each other. With one often comes others. I also have Celiac disease so I can't eat gluten. It certainly effects my life but I just remind myself constantly about how awful I used to feel. That thought alone is worth it to me. Gluten free options are often much higher in carbs so I try to limit them. For training? well, it just means I have to plan in advance new and exciting ways to get my nutrients. That aspect is not unlike someone who didn't have diabetes. Being gluten free kind of still sucks no matter what.

My Sister Reyna and Scully last year.

I know right now you are sitting in your chair thinking…Holy CRAP!  That woman is amazing.  I totally agree. 

Happy Running Everyone!

Go enter the 5K HERE.  We need to find a cure for this.


Unknown said...

WOW, Just WOW. I can not even imagine all she has to go through. I am so impressed with her drive and determination.

I am familiar with Type2 Diabetes (runs in the family), and I have to be honest I never realized just how different the two were.

Scully you are one Amazing woman!!!

Thank you so much for sharing her story Tara, it really brings a light to this disorder.

Anonymous said...

Scully and Tara, this is a great post from both of you. Scully you are an amazing lady. Hugs to both of you. Jos's Grandma (Tara's Mom)

Scully said...

Wow Tara...
This was beyond my imagination.. you portrayed me in a way I've never really seen myself.
THANK you! Thank you from myself and all my other type1 diabetic athlete friends! I wrote this with them in mind.

Unknown said...

Ah...WOWZA! Scully is an inspiration to me, not only as a woman psuedo-athlete-wanna-be, but as Joe's mom. He can do anything and everything he sets his mind to. Scully has helped me see this, visualize this for Joe time and time again.

Great article Tara! Thank you!

Unknown said...

Scully's awesome. :) Great interview.

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