My pancreas is an overachiever

Long time, no blog. Been busy. Work. Now-19-month-old. Accidentally started a business, as you do.

But none of that is what I want to talk about today. No, this is another health post, also known as “my body is a bit shit, really”.

So, my shoulder is coming along nicely. I’m mostly out of the sling, except for when I jar it (n.b. when stepping down from the bottom rung of a stepladder, make sure you are, actually, on the bottom rung), and I have a lot more movement back. I still can’t wear t-shirts, which, as I discovered just yesterday, is nothing at all to do with getting them on (“this is so easy! Why have I been avoiding it?) and everything to do with getting them off again (“… oh bugger”). Yeah. Can’t do that without stretching your arms over your head to some degree.

But, on the whole, it’s getting much better, and is having far less impact on my life now, which is great!

The rest of my body, however, is struggling. Starting karate was so great, for a multitude of reasons, but one of the less-great things about it (and exercise in general) is that my body can’t physically keep up with how much energy I burn. I’ve had issues with low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) since I was a teenager, and the only medical advice I got on it was “just don’t eat sugar”, advice which was noted and duly ignored.

If it was a once-in-awhile thing, it wouldn’t be so bad, but it’s pretty much all the time. I need to eat really regularly, and if I don’t then I start to get low. Shaky hands, foggy brain, slurring words, losing my balance, lots of other fun things. I also get grouchy, which the good Captain can attest to. Poor guy.

I can mostly manage it by eating as regularly as I can manage, and as healthily as I can manage, and bolstering it artificially with sugar when I need to. I’m not saying this is a good thing to do, because it’s really not. If you have similar issues then DO NOT DO WHAT I DO! Seek medical advice that goes beyond “don’t eat sugar”.

But with more regular exercise, and particularly muscle-building exercise, it was getting out of control. I couldn’t sleep at night, because I was hungry and my body won’t let me sleep until I eat (this is possibly a defence mechanism to stop me from slipping into a coma overnight due to low blood sugar). Eating at 2am is not generally considered healthy, but not sleeping all night is also unhealthy, so I picked the lesser of two evils.

I was constantly losing focus at work as my blood sugar dropped between meals or even snacks, and the shared Milky Way bars in the back fridge were disappearing at an alarming rate as I desperately tried to keep myself going.

It just wasn’t working.

The last time I went to karate, I had run out of time to eat breakfast in the morning, and as a result, I didn’t even make it through half the class before I started to crash and had to stagger across the dojo to sit down. It sucked.

So, today, I saw a dietician. She is amazing, I’ve seen her before when I was pregnant, but with what turned out to be hyperemesis, she was really fighting a losing battle. But this time, I think we can win!

As it turns out, there are a couple of potential causes of hypoglycaemia, but in my case the most likely one is the overproduction of insulin. Basically, any time I eat, my pancreas gets a little excited and produces too much insulin, which makes my blood sugar drop lower than it was before I ate. As a result, I get low, and need to eat more to bring it up again… but pancreas, insulin, blood sugar falling… you can see how it can be a vicious cycle.

This is a problem, not just because of my blood sugar fluctuating and making me feel icky (plus the slight risk of coma, death etc), but because it means my pancreas is overworking, which can cause it to wear out sooner than the rest of me. That puts me at an increased risk of diabetes later on in life, which I’d much rather avoid, if possible.

On a slightly more superficial level, it also makes it difficult to lose weight, because my body doesn’t need all the calories I’m consuming, but I have to eat to keep from crashing.

It needs to be fixed.

After some discussion, the dietician and I (I’ll share her name once I have a chance to ask her permission to do so) agreed to focus on diet and lifestyle, and if we don’t see any results, then follow up with my super-awesome GP for *shudder* a fasting blood glucose and insulin test.

(I did the two-hour fasting BGL test when pregnant and thought I was going to have a seizure because I crashed and my body went out of control. I was spasming and nauseous and nearly collapsed altogether. By the time the two hours was up I was back to a normal level, but it was awful. I’d rather not do that again if I don’t need to.)

In the meantime, I am on a low-GI, low-GL, low-fat, protein rich, everything else good for you-rich diet that will hopefully keep my pancreas under control and retrain it to only release the insulin that’s needed. I am also contemplating praise and a sticker chart, to reinforce the message.

The best laid plans of mice and me…

Often go awry.

After a couple of crazy weeks, during which I worked full time hours whilst being officially “in charge” at work (whose crazy idea was that?) and picking up a couple of freelance copywriting clients*, I was so looking forward to going back to normal.

I was dreaming of my regular part-time shifts, lowering my stress levels, exercising more and getting my sleeping pattern back on track.

I was going to be early to bed and early to rise and I was gonna be healthy, wealthy and mothertruckin’ wise, damn it!

Then, just as I made all these resolutions to look after myself and get on top of everything, I got hit by the Cold of Doom that seems to have taken over half my twitter feed**.

I had one day off work where I was basically incapable of anything other than sleeping or watching the Kardashians do… um, actually, I’m still not clear on what they do. Luckily, it’s only a couple of days later and I’m well on the mend, but now the Captain and Munchkin both have it too.

So this is basically a bullshit “this is why there’s no real post” post.

I really will get on top of things one day! Maybe. Some of them, at least.

*My writing on this blog is in no way indicative of my professional writing. This is one big stream of consciousness. Sorry!

**At least three people.

Dirt, ducks and a dragon

We headed out to the Hyde Park fair today. The Captain was working on one of the stalls from about 12 to 5pm, and Munchkin and I joined him.

It was a whole lot of fun, but also a very long day – next time we’ll probably drop him off then join him for the last couple of hours.

We’d budgeted about $40 for the day, and I ended up heading to the atm pretty early in after we spent nearly all of that on lunch and drinks (paella and fresh squeezed orange juice – expensive, but so worth it!).

There were lots of cool attractions at the fair, a petting zoo, pony rides, entertainers, show rides and heaps of cool stores. There’s also a water playground, which I didn’t see until we were leaving – we’ll definitely be going back to visit that!

Water birds

But most of these attractions I saw while walking loops with Munchkin in the pram, in a futile attempt to convince her to sleep. While she was in a good mood, we mostly played in the dirt by a small playground, watched the ducks in the lake and petted other people’s dogs (with the owner’s permission, and only ones situated at stalls – if I’d let her approach every dog we passed, we’d still be there).

We did sit down by the stage to watch a beautiful dragon display.

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Once I’d replenished our funds for the day, I picked up a gorgeous handbag for $10, secondhand from a charity stall (I did take note of which one, then promptly forgot).

grey bag

This bag is actually the same brand and even the same colour and material as one of my all-time favourite bags, which got stolen when Munchkin was a newborn.

My old bag was too big to be practical for day to day use (except in those early days with all the baby paraphernalia), whereas this one is perfect for my life right now – small enough to fit in the storage at work, big enough to hold my essentials along with a couple of nappies and other toddler supplies.

Toddlers are so much easier than babies! (Most of the time, anyway)

We also brought home a succulent, after spending ages at the stall examining the different varieties.

The one we chose was quite tall, which I’m now reading may mean it’s not that healthy? I have no idea, mine are the grey thumbs of plant death. My lucky bamboo? Not so lucky. So we’ll see how that goes!

We also treated ourselves later in the day – coffee and ginormous churros for the cap’n and I, and a soft serve ice cream for Munchkin. It’s the first time we’ve let her have a whole one to herself, which goes to show that I am not above using junk to placate my tired, grumpy toddler. Parent of the year? I think yes!

She loved it though, and it totally bought us the extra hour we needed before we could pack up and go home. Like I said, we’ll definitely do things differently next time!

All up, we spent about double what we planned. If we’d realised proper food at fairs was so expensive, we might’ve planned better and had lunch beforehand, so we didn’t have to buy as much there.

The fair is on again tomorrow, so if you’re thinking about heading down, which I highly recommend you do, bring money  (including a gold coin donation for Rotary at the entry), maybe some get-wet clothes or bathers if you’re planning on hitting up the water playground, and your dog, as long as it’s safe and comfortable in crowds with heaps of people and other dogs.

Also, sunscreen – even though most of the stalls are in plenty of shade, the eating area and some of the rides are in the sun.

Oh, and wear comfy shoes – especially if you’re planning on being there awhile.

Go and check it out and then tell me about it, so that I might live vicariously through you!