Type 1 Diabetes & Persistent Post Concussion Symptoms

What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger?

Life with Concussion

Some call it Post Concussion Syndrome, others call it Persistent Post Concussion Symptoms … I call it pain and frustration!

In June 2019, the second last day of the school year, I had just left one of the schools I was working at and headed to the paddle centre. As I was in a line of about 10 cars waiting at a red light, and boom … hit from behind. This wasn’t the first time I’d been hit from behind. It happened in 2012 as well. I also had a car turn into me back in 2007. But this was the first time that the pain didn’t go away. Along with the pain, I had issues I’d never had before: significant brain fog, extreme fatigue, trouble writing, couldn’t read, nausea, tinnitus, could see the big picture anymore, couldn’t problem solve, couldn’t think five steps ahead or anticipate, driving made everything worse, then the depression set in, and, honestly, I just couldn’t function!

I’m not one to ask for help, and it took me a long time to be ok with asking for help. My head injury journey is far from over. Vision therapy (yup, that’s a thing!), vestibular therapy, acupuncture, physiotherapy, clinical counselling, massage therapy, chiropractor, occupational therapy, hhmmmm, yeah, the list goes on. I feel like treatment of my condition is a part time job (was full time for the first year and a bit), on top of trying to get back to working my full day job, training and pretending I can still be an athlete, and now moving more into the coaching role.

Life with Type 1 Diabetes

My first introduction to Diabetes was in Grade 4. I did a project on Banting and Best’s discovery of insulin. I found it fascinating, the work that they did and how their discovery helped so many people worldwide.

My next intro to Diabetes took place in the office of my family doctor. Five days after my birthday in 2006, I was told that I had Type 2 Diabetes. Talk about shock! But it did explain a lot of what had been going on since 2004 and even earlier. I just couldn’t fathom that an active person like me could have Type 2. I wasn’t the stereotypical 40 year-old, sedentary couch potato. I was a former varsity athlete, a physical education teacher, a National Champion Paddler for goodness sake. Answers came in February 2007 when I finally got to see an Endocrinologist. After chatting for a while about my life she was convinced that I wasn’t Type 2, that in fact I was Type 1 and that she was starting me on insulin that day and we’d wait for the test results to confirm. She was right! Insulin gave me back my life.

In July 2007 I started on an insulin pump. I had spent months researching the different pump companies trying to figure out who to go with, they all seemed so alike! But it was the rep from Animas that I met in June that solidified my choice to go with Animas. One, the Animas pump is waterproof. As a paddler, that was my main criteria. Second, I had already met the rep a few times out on the water. She and her crew even still had one of my paddles that I had loaned them for the Yukon River Quest. It took us a few minutes of chatting to figure out how we knew each other but from then on, I’ve never thought twice about my decision to go with Animas.

Life on the pump has been wonderful. I no longer worry about going hypoglycemic while on the water. I don’t have the highs during the day that I used to on MDI (since I used to take little or no basal insulin so that I could paddle).

My pump has traveled with me a lot over the years as I race all over the world. At every event I’m asked “what’s that thing” and I love answering. I love telling people about Type 1 Diabetes and that it’s NOT the same as what they hear about in the media all the time. I love debunking the myths that people with Diabetes can’t do exercise, that we can’t compete on the same level as everyone else.

In March 2014 I was introduced to the Dexcom G4 Continuous Glucose Monitor. This device helps me track my blood glucose in (almost) real time. I can see which way I’m trending and I can better track patterns.  Thanks to my Dexcom I have been able to fine tune my basal rates and better time my mealtime insulin delivery but most of all, it takes a lot of the anxiety out of paddling. I know that my Dexcom will alert me to when I’m dropping quickly and if I’m going hypoglycemic while paddling without having to try and get a drop of blood to test in the middle of the lake (or ocean!).