Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bike touring/camping. Not for the faint-hearted.

Have I got a blog post for you.

In three full days I injected a whopping 5 units of rapid acting insulin where on a normal day I probably take closer to 10 (PER DAY). One of those days I took NONE AT ALL. During those three days I still had loads of lows.

It's called bike touring.

Ryan and I set out for a 3-day cycling and camping trip. Bike touring can be many different things but for us, this trip was about carrying all our belongings and camping equipment on our two-wheeled donkeys. According to my Garmin we covered 358 km in 3 days and spent almost 20 hours total in the saddle. We may have bit off more than we could chew but we like to go all the way when we do things. We knew touring was no joke but I'm not sure we realized just exactly what it would take out of us. We were asleep inside the tent both nights before the sun even went down. We didn't pull out our headlamps once.

Eating potato chips and resting our aching backsides. Approx. 70 km into day 2.

The route Ryan set up was phenomenally beautiful. The first day we rode 100 km on rail trail which was mostly flat and provided wonderful scenery. The second day we skirted along the edge of Lake Erie all day passing through cute little beach towns and a constant view of the lake. The final day we rode the Welland Canal trail from start to finish, something neither of us had ever experienced.

This is my donkey.

Our speeds were pitifully slow due to the beasts of bikes we were riding and all the gear we had to carry. This meant long days in the saddle which was the whole purpose of the trip. We found that somewhere between 80-100 km is where our butts started to scream out in pain. I had a saddle sore from the previous week and this trip only exacerbated that. Note: don't commute in jeans with no chamois. There's a difference between sit bone tenderness and saddle sores. Sit bones feel better after some time off the bike but saddle sores don't just go away. We hoovered ibuprofen and willed that shit to just go to the source of the pain!

3 days of getting jostled around inside my pannier! Look at all those rounded corners and loads of fairy dust!

I annihilated almost an entire container of glucose tablets over the three days. Along with a whole bunch of dates. Even though we weren't moving too fast or putting out too much effort I still suffered low after low after low. I was reducing my Lantus to 6 units twice a day and felt that any less than that was just too little! I probably should have gone less but I didn't want to risk being high. Most of you know by now I'd always much rather be low.

Aaaand... because it wouldn't be a "Scully story" without a bad twist to it.....
(trust me, I don't want shit to happen, it just DOES)

The heat and sunshine took a toll on my body for sure and by the morning of day 3 I was a mess. I had woken up feeling fine. I ate half my oatmeal before getting knocked down with diarrhea followed by extreme nausea. I even had to change my bike shorts because I didn't make it to the bathroom in time :(. We had to delay our departure because I was crumpled up into a ball. GI upset, bowel pain and anxiety. Getting home... the longest and hottest day yet. I don't know if it was a result of the previous two days on the bike and really not eating much at all. I'm never able to eat much when I expend a lot of energy. I spent the first half of this day in a really bad place. The nausea lasted until about 3 in the afternoon, I just couldn't stomach anything more than a few sips of sweetened drink mix. We had to keep stopping in the shade so I could relax for a bit. I took gravol after gravol trying to ease my stomach. I knew small sips of drink mix wasn't going to get me home but in the end? we DID get home and I had hardly consumed a thing.

Just before leaving camp the morning of day 3. Looking at this picture and remembering how I was feeling is going to haunt me.

It got to the point where I felt like my sodium, potassium and electrolytes were all out of whack. I bought a bag of chips and proceeded to LICK THEM. GROSS. I didn't want to eat anything but was trying to get sodium in the most archaic way I could aside from unloading a packet of salt directly into my mouth and risk gagging. This seemed to help a little.

When we did get home I drank two glasses of water with two Nuun tablets in each and 1/2tsp of salt. I calculated it to be 3690 mg of salt! Pretty much the equivalent of almost 2 days worth of sodium depending on which source you cite. I couldn't quench my thirst which had me freaked out that it was more than just dehydration.

So with the blood sugar...
Day 1 I took a couple units with breakfast which proved to be the wrong decision because I fought lows for the first couple hours of riding. The next time I took insulin was the morning of day 3. TWO DAYS LATER. I also had 2 or 3 alarms set during the night to get up and test. When I did take a unit the third morning it proved to be the wrong decision also as I went low while I was super nauseous trying not to be sick. Good combination. I've got diarrhea, nausea and now I was low as fuck trying to suck back glucose tablets. My blood sugar readings were amazing for three days! I was pretty stoked that I had gone that long without any insulin. No, it did not feel like I didn't have diabetes. The constant lows were a steady reminder. I tried to see if I could go the whole three days without insulin and it looks like I could have because I took a single unit half way through day 3 and went low again. I just get so anxious with a BG reading of 10.0 mmol/l (180 mg/dl) but in retrospect I could have just let that number ride and it would have come down on it's own with the cycling.

At one point 1/2 can of regular ginger ale saved my life and brought me back to the land of the living. Not just to fix a low but to settle my stupid stomach.

In the end? We had the time of our lives. It was absolutely amazing. I wish I hadn't felt so shitty on the last day but I'm proud that we made it home. I was certainly doing everything I could to not have to call for a pick-up. I really wanted us to accomplish what we had set out to do.

Selfie stick tricks! Can't believe I managed not to fall while fucking around with getting the phone right all while riding my wonky-ass donkey of a bike.

We make the best team. Nothing like 3 days, 360 km and a lot of ups and downs to make the communal ass pain more epic. I love this man.


  1. Oh my!!! What an adventure Scully!

  2. You are amazing. The diarrhea will be a treasured memory for decades!

  3. What a great adventure

    I referred your blog to the TUDiabetes blog page for the week of May 23, 2016.


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