Tuesday, September 30, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 98
Weight 187
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 123/73, 52

Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.    
        G. K. Chesterton

Yesterday, after the surgery on my lip, I had a strong preference for foods that were easy to eat (a banana smoothie, which I drank through a straw, for instance). These foods were also rather high in carbohydrate, so it's no surprise that my fasting test was uncharacteristically high today (especially as I didn't exercise yesterday). I'm hoping for a better result tomorrow morning, as I was more careful about carbohydrates today, and I did do a solid workout. (A lunchtime run -- 4.5 miles.)

If anything, my lip is looking more raw today than it did yesterday, but it's less sore, and I'm being less cautious in touching or moving it. I'll just have to have faith in the healing process.

In other news, a woman in the nearby community of Middletown, California was arrested today for disorderly conduct while wearing a cow suit. Well, actually, the cow suit wasn't part of the charge -- apparently you can be arrested for disorderly conduct in Middletown whether you are wearing a cow suit or not. However, the cow suit makes the story more newsworthy. It certainly made for a memorable mug shot:

What behavior brought on the arrest, if the cow suit alone was not sufficient grounds? Reportedly she was "chasing children in her neighborhood", and also "urinated on a neighbor's front porch". After the latter incident, the police told her to go home and stay there. But wouldn't you know it? An officer later found her "causing traffic problems on North Verity Parkway". I don't know what you have to do to cause traffic problems in Middletown, but it's not a big town by any means, and I suspect the cow suit played a big role here.

Police reported that, during her trip to jail, she was verbally abusive and smelled of alcohol. However, they did not speculate as to why she was wearing a cow suit. And there the matter rests, apparently. I'm not sure we'll ever get to hear her explanation. Maybe there's a perfectly logical explanation for all this, and now I'll never get to find out what it is!

Well, say what you want about me, but I have never urinated on a neighbor's porch while wearing a cow suit. In fact, I've never worn a cow suit at all (a killer-whale suit, yes, but that's another matter entirely). I'm less certain that I've never caused traffic problems on North Verity Parkway, but if I did, I certainly wasn't arrested for it. Of course, it could be that the difference here is "profiling". The police always seem to go out of their way to pick on people dressed as cows -- you see it every day. Plus, it's easy to set those people up for a conviction. You bring the neighbor to the police lineup and say "which one of these people urinated on your porch?", but since only one of them is wearing a cow suit, the outcome is pretty much a foregone conclusion. "That woman there! The one with the udders! She done it!". And we call this a system of justice!

Monday, September 29, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 85
Weight 185
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 111/71, 50

When we ask advice, we are usually looking for an accomplice.   
        Joseph-Luis LaGrange

Usually Sunday is my day off from exercise, but I decided to reserve that for today (my appointment with the oral surgeon sort of threw my Monday schedule off). So, yesterday morning I went for an easy 4-mile run at the lake. Later I went down to San Francisco to play Irish music at a pub. Playing fast Irish tunes, especially when you don't know a lot them and you're trying to pick them up on the fly without making a sorry spectacle of yourself, requires a lot of concentration. That is why I recommend playing at an Irish music session the next time you're trying to take your mind off a planned visit to an oral surgeon (or, for that matter, the next time you're trying to take your mind off the biggest and most idiotically unnecessary financial crisis since 1929). See how unconcerned I look?

The visit to the oral surgeon this morning wasn't too bad. The only thing that really hurt was getting the novocaine injected right into the middle of my lip. (It burns, in a way that I haven't felt when it was injected into my gums during dental visits.) In short order he removed the darkened patch of skin, and then cauterized the wound by burning it with a laser. "You're going to get a bit of a barbecue smell here", he warned me. Actually, it wasn't the sort of aroma you would be likely to encounter at a barbecue, unless grilled brake-pads were on the menu. I wonder what sort of barbecues he goes to.

He gave me a prescription for pain-killers, but predicted that ibuprofen would be all I would need. So far, that prediction has held true. There's a little bit of soreness, nothing major. The wound on my lip looks conspicuous to me, but I suppose to other people it just looks as if I was eating chocolate chips and forgot to swallow one of them.

Just before the procedure they measured my blood pressure at 138/80. I told them it's usually a little lower when I'm not just about to have oral surgery. "We see a lot of high blood pressure", they said. I bet they do.

Apart from my yoga class this evening, today was a rest day for me; I plan to do a pretty hard run at lunchtime tomorrow.

Saturday, September 27, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 83
Weight 185
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 110/64, 63

Logic, like whiskey, loses its beneficial effect when taken in too large quantities.   
        Lord Dunsany

After my awful mood yesterday (in which even a minimal 30-minute workout seemed like a terrible burden to be asked to bear), I was relieved to find that I had no such attitude problem today. As planned, I went to the state park and did a long trail-run. By the time I got started it was already getting hot (92 degrees), but even so,  I was able to complete an 8.3 mile route, and it involved a lot of steep climbing. 

I did get a little fatigued around the mid-point of the route, but I got over it. The last third of the distance was downhill or flat, and a lot of it was shady, so I did okay. I carried sugar in case I needed it, but as it happened I didn't need it.

I didn't run into many other people on the rails today, I assume because the weather was hotter than forecast (which kept the more easily-discouraged people at home). The few runners and mountain-bikers that I did see were obviously more dedicated than the average participant in their sports. Some of them were pretty old. That shouldn't be surprising; my experience is that older athletes are tougher on average than the younger ones, presumably because only the toughest young athletes become old athletes. (The less tough young athletes become older non-athletes.)

I'm increasingly feeling a camaraderie with older athletes. On one of the more difficult climbs today, I passed an older mountain-biker who was walking his bike up the hill rather than walking it. As I ran past him he said "You've got more energy than I do!". I said "I'm pretending to have more energy than you do!". I continued up the hill, and down the other side of it, and just as I got to the bottom of the hill he caught up to me and passed me (riding this time, rather than walking) and he said "I made up for it on the downhill!".

Becaue I'm so committed to exercise as my primary diabetes therapy, I need to believe that it will be possible for me to keep doing it for a long time. Therefore, I need the inspiring example of older athletes who keep on giving themselves exercise challenges as they get into their 60s and beyond. When I'm out there on the trail, a few miles from any paved road, and I see someone running or cycling toward me, I like to see gray hair and a wrinkle or two on them. It gives me hope.

Friday, September 26, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 87
Weight 185
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 114/72, 55

If you would make a man happy, do not add to the sum of his possessions but subtract from the sum of his desires.   

I just got back from a workout that seemed to last a lifetime. It was actually 30 minutes. Did it seem long because it was exceptionally difficult? No; it was an easy gym workout, not a hard run or bike ride. Did it seem long because I was tired today? No; I wasn't tired at all. The only reason it seemed long was that I didn't feel like doing it. Even the easiest task seem can like a terrible burden when you are not in the mood (which I guess is something women have been trying to explain to men for a long time now).

Ordinarily I would have gone for a run at lunchtime, but my usual running buddies weren't running today, and I didn't feel like going out in the heat by myself. I was planning to go for a long run after work, but I wasn't quick enough about getting home and changed and ready to go, and I was afraid I'd run out of daylight. So I went to the gym, but I had a hard time talking myself into going there, and once I was in the car I had an almost overwhelming urge to keep driving past the gym and go somewhere else -- anywhere else -- instead. Something in me just didn't want to deal with exercise today. And when I got to the gym and climbed onto the elliptical trainer, time stood still, and all I could think was "this is the most boring thing a human being can possibly do".

Not that any of this matters. Exercise is a necessity, not something I do when I feel like it, so I have trained myself to do it even when it's the last thing on earth I want to do. I don't usually have to go through this struggle with myself these days. I used to have to cope with it all the time. I'm glad I've made progress in this regard, but nobody is perfect, and I suppose I will always have to struggle with myself over this issue once in a while.

I hope I'll be in a better mood tomorrow, because I think a long trail-run would be good for me, and I don't want to waste all day trying to talk myself into doing it. The ideal thing would be to do it early in the morning; not an easy thing for me to achieve on a Saturday, but every once in a while I manage it.

I signed up for a 10K footrace the following weekend, mainly because some people I know are doing it. Unlike most other 10K races I've done, this one is on a flat course, so I'm hoping I can make a good finish time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 87
Weight 185
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 117/72, 55

When you have eliminated the impossible, what ever remains, however improbable must be the truth.   
        Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Tonight was the performance (at the Paradise Ridge winery, which is about 2 miles from where I work) for which the rehearsals had been held in Berkeley (which is about 60 miles from where I work). The event was an annual fundraiser for an organization of priests who minister to inmates in prison, but none of the inmates were present; it was all very middle-class and respectable.

The performance went well -- not perfectly by any means, but well enough to keep the audience happy. I had a few solo turns at the beginning of the concert (which is hard, because you have to do the high-pressure part of the performance when you're not warmed up yet). I would characterize my playing of these solos as rough but acceptable, and sometimes that's the most you can hope for. This performance wasn't really about solo moments, anyway. It was an ensemble performance, and a rather loose and informal one in many ways. We tried to play it the way we would have played it if we had been jamming on somebody's patio.

It's a great relief to me to have this performance done -- I never felt I was able to devote enough time and concentration to it. I used to be better at that sort of thing, because I used to have more discretionary time. When you're diagnosed with diabetes, you are in effect given a new and demanding hobby, and you have to devote a lot of time and attention to it. For me, the big time-consumer (apart from maintaining this site) is exercise.

A lot of people with Type 2 say that they can't make time in their schedules for regular exercise. I think what they really mean is that they aren't willing to give up anything else, so that time is freed up for exercise. I have taken the attitude from the start that exercise is something I have to do, and therefore will do. Exercise is a non-negotiable requirement; everything else will have to get in line behind exercise. It isn't exercise that I have to "find the time for", because it's a given that I'm going to do the exercise. What I have to find the time for is the whole category of things which I am inclined to do, but which aren't as important as exercise. Sometimes music gets sacrificed.

At least I don't have a TV set in my home. That's a big time-saver right there. However, I'm finding that I can spend just as much time on the internet as I ever could on TV. At least when I'm web-surfing I often learn something.

It was warm today, about 83 degrees. There were four of us running together at lunchtime, and one of the others offered to show us a nearby trail which I had never run on (in fact, I never knew it existed until today). It turned out to involve running over a lot of private property where we didn't belong, and I wasn't too comfortable about that. Still, it was remarkable to run from the office and find myself, with a mile or two, in the woods, with no houses in sight. The trail went straight up a big hill, so it was hard going. Before too long, though, we emerged from the woods and got onto a well-traveled road, and we used that to get back to our starting point. It was only about four miles, but it felt like an adventure. Tomorrow, though, I think I'm going to stick to one of our tried-and-true routes. One of those routes goes by the same winery where we had the concert tonight; maybe we should go running up there tomorrow, just for the relief of being there and knowing that I don't have to play a solo in front of an audience; all I have to do is keep running.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 86
Weight 185
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 123/72, 58

He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp posts -- for support rather than illumination.   
        Andrew Lang

I went to the dentist today, and he didn't like the look of a spot on my lip; he sent me to a specialist to have it looked at. (The fact that the specialist agreed to see me the same day was a little startling.) The specialist took a look, and said he thought that what I had on my lip appeared to be... a freckle. Well, that had been my assumption, too. However, he said there was a remote possibility it was melanoma instead, and therefore the spot should be removed and biopsied. He's going to be doing that on Monday.

Probably it will turn out to be nothing, but until that is confirmed I have something else to worry about. That's okay; worrying is something I'm pretty good at. But I'm counting on its being a freckle. I'm not ready to cope with any more health issues right now. I haven't got diabetes fully mastered yet -- not perfected, anyway -- so I'm not ready to move on to the more advanced challenges yet. I think I'm years away from being ready to cope with heart disease, and as for cancer -- I can't squeeze that one in for a couple of decades at least! As far as those diseases are concerned, prevention will have to do for now; it's all I have time for.

However, I suspect it is a good thing, now and then, for people with diabetes to be reminded that there are worse diseases available. Diabetes patients tend to spend a lot of time feeling sorry for themselves; sometimes they have reasonable grounds for feeling that way, but often they don't. If you are going to declare yourself to be one of life's great victims, you'd better have a more serious complaint than "I want pizza and I can't have it".

Tuesday, September 23, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 83
Weight 185
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 121/77, 55

Certitude is not the test of certainty. We have been cocksure of many things that are not so.   
        Oliver Wendell Holmes

Once again, I had to hurry down to Berkeley for a concert rehearsal right after work, and I got home late. The performance is Thursday. After that's done, I'm going to be very reluctant to sign up for more performances that involve anything remotely as unpleasant as driving 60 miles to a rehearsal on a weeknight. I don't like spending that much money on gasoline, and I especially don't like spending that much of what should be my free time on Highway 101. The one area where amateur musicians have an advantage over professional musicians is that amateur musicians can afford to adopt a policy of "if the gig isn't going to be fun, don't do it". I'm adopting that policy as of Thursday.

If you're wondering how I could have been so foolish as to sign up for such an undertaking in the first place, allow me to point out that the concert venue is close enough to my workplace that I could walk there from the office. It sounded so easy. The convenience of the performing location blinded me to the possibility that the rehearsal location might turn out to be inconvenient to an almost gruesome degree.

Well, live and learn.

I managed to fit in a 4-mile run at lunchtime. The warming trend continued, unfortunately; it was about 88 degrees. I think my body had already got itself out of summer mode (based on the cool weather last week), so it was unprepared for the heat. I felt okay during the run, but started to feel bad around the time I finished it. I suddenly developed a headache just at the end, which I interpreted as a fatal aneurysm. It must have been something less serious, because I'm still here. (My imagination is always ready to leap ahead to the worst-case scenario; it's a family trait.)

Monday, September 22, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 84
Weight 186
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 120/82, 50

Errors using inadequate data are much less than those using no data at all.   
        Charles Babbage

One of the odder things that diabetes can do to you is to turn you into your parents.

Remember how it used to seem that, whenever your parents got together with relatives or friends of their generation, the main thing they talked about was the great issue of who is sick, and with what disease? Remember how you used to wonder how it was possible for them to know so many people with so many things wrong with them, and how they managed to learn so much about strokes, broken hips, dialysis, and chemotherapy?

Then, around the time that you develop diabetes, you suddenly realize that your own conversation has started to revolve around health problems (your own and other people's). Somehow, over the years, you have managed to become acquainted with a great many people who now have something or other seriously wrong with them, and their situation is becoming increasingly interesting to you because it has begun to seem personally applicable. You've joined the club. Congratulations: you are your parents now!

This is on my mind because of a concert I went to last night. It was a local house-concert -- a rather large one, as house-concerts go, and as houses go for that matter. The hosts managed to find room to squeeze in an audience of a hundred. It was an evening drenched in nostalgia, sentiment, and a hint of sorrow, and mostly for reasons not entirely connected with the music.

The performer was the great fiddler Jerry Holland, from Cape Breton (in Nova Scotia). A lot of us local musicians remember him fondly from his visit to California in the summer of 1994, when he taught at the Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School. (The audience last night included several fiddlers who had studied with him that year -- myself included.) Last year we learned that he had been diagnosed with bone cancer, and he was facing the amputation of one of his legs. His doctors eventually decided against amputation, but he had to take a lot of difficult radiation treatments. Obviously he has had to curtail his performing schedule, and I was surprised to learn recently that he was traveling in the U.S. a little bit this month, and would be giving a concert right here in my neighborhood (his only performance in all of California, apparently).

Considering that cancer, radiation therapy, and the passage of 14 years had intervened since I last saw him, he looked pretty good, and apart from the fact that he needs to stay off his leg most of the time, he seemed to be his old self, and he played beautifully. One thing about him which hadn't changed (and which I might have attributed to his cancer, if I'd never seen him before) was his sentimental nature. Between tunes he tells a lot of stories about friends and family (mostly about his father and his son), and anything that triggers a strong enough memory is apt to make him cry. He explained that this is a trait he inherited from his father, who could only get three words into singing his favorite Irish song before breaking down ("For years I thought it was a three-word song"). Most of the music he plays is lively dance-music, but he also plays (and composes) slow airs in the old Scottish style. He can play them without crying, but sometimes he gets choked up when he talks about them, or rather about the circumstances under which he wrote them. One of the  pieces he played last night was a tune he wrote for his son. I was wondering if I could learn it, and was pleased to discover tonight that there is a YouTube video of him playing it. Check it out, it's a gorgeous tune -- but keep your handkerchief at the ready:

Often it seems that musicians who are facing a life-threatening disease are able to reach deeper into the emotions of a piece of music than they could have done before. It's hard to know if this phenomenon is for real, or if our knowledge of the situation influences what we hear. Maybe we wouldn't notice any special expressiveness in the performance if we didn't know what the musician was going through. Still, for what it's worth, in Jerry's performance last night I thought I heard something special, a kind of emotional nakedness that I don't remember hearing in his playing in earlier years. Maybe I'm fooling myself about that; maybe not.

I managed to get outside for a 4-mile run at lunchtime. It's a lot warmer than it was last week (in the 80s), so maybe this summer isn't quite over yet, after all. It's forecast to be warm the rest of the week, too.

Saturday, September 20, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 81
Weight 186
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 102/63, 63

Like the ski resort full of girls hunting for husbands and husbands hunting for girls, the situation is not as symmetrical as it might seem.   
        Alan Lindsay Mackay

I went back to the farmer's market today, and after I returned home, I got out the camera and produced another work in the photographic genre that I am beginning to think of as Softcore Produce Porn:

I guess I'll know I've taken this too far when I start choosing vegetables entirely for their photogenic qualities. That's not always the best way to decide what you're going to eat; the most photogenic wild plant in this area lately, with a festive mixture of dark green and brillian red leaves, is poison oak.

The weather warmed up a bit today, reaching the low 70s in the afternoon. I decided to do a trail-run, starting around 5 PM. It was a 7-miler. As usual, I felt awful for the first few minutes, and worried that I wouldn't be able to handle this. Also as usual, I soon felt better, and became stronger as the run went on.

Along the trail I passed a guy coming the other way who was hiking rather than running, but despite that was sweating (and apparently suffering) more than I was. He was about 80 pounds overweight, and my impression was that he wasn't accustomed to physical exertion. I imagined that he had been diagnosed with diabetes, or some other serious problem, and was under doctor's orders to lose weight and get more exercise. In other words, he was me, but me from eight years ago. I was like Scrooge being forced to relive scenes from his own past. I hope it works out well for him.

My calf muscles were still a little hypersensitive from the cramping yesterday morning, and while running downhill my right calf muscle was wanting to cramp again, but it never quite did. I'll do a little stretching before I go to bed tonight. My hip didn't bother me, so I guess that myserious problem is healing.

I think my blood pressure reading tonight was the lowest I've ever recorded. The trail-run probably had something to do with that. A really hard workout, especially if it's off in the quiet of the woods and fields, seems to bring my readings down a lot.

Friday, September 19, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 82
Weight 186
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 131/78, 54

In mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them.   
        Johann von Neumann

I payed a price for yesterday's bike ride. At 4 AM I woke up with a very painful calf-muscle cramp in my left leg. Half an hour later, the right leg did the same thing. Apparently my yelling and cursing didn't wake the neighbors -- the police didn't come by to investigate.

I've always been prone to muscle cramps, particularly in the calf muscles. I try to fight it with yoga and other stretching, but yesterday I didn't do any stretching before or after my bike rides (of which there were four, all told -- getting too and from work, and getting to and from the luncheon across town). I guess I was thinking of those bike rides as "transportation", not "exercise", so stretching somehow didn't occur to me. That'll teach me.

When I got up this morning (by "up" I mean climbing out of the bed, not sitting up in it and howling, which was an earlier phase of the morning), both legs were still sore from the cramping, and both felt like they were prepared to start cramping again at any moment, which is scary. I was a little nervous about going for a run at lunchtime, but it turned out to be okay. It was good weather for a run -- cool without being cold. It started raining in the afternoon, but not until we completed our route and got back indoors. It was a good solid run. 5.3 miles, and hilly. My legs didn't bother me during the run -- I think they felt a little better for being used. I did a lot of stretching after the run, to make up for the stretching I didn't do yesterday.

In the evening I was supposed to go to a "restorative poses" workshop that my yoga teacher does once a month. This isn't the hard kind of yoga; it consists only of resting poses that relax you and make you very sleepy. It might sound like the perfect thing for sore, crampy legs, but I was worried about going, because my muscles tend to cramp when they're most relaxed (at 4 AM, say, to take a random example). I dithered over it all afternoon, but in the end I decided to go. I didn't actually get any cramps during the workshop, but a couple of times I felt one coming on and had to straighten my leg suddenly to head it off.

Exactly the same blood pressure reading as yesterday, I note -- I guess the yoga relaxation didn't work any magic there. I feel relaxed, anyway. Surely that counts for something.

Thursday, September 18, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 80
Weight 186
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 131/78, 54

Although this may seem a paradox, all exact science is dominated by the idea of approximation.   
        Bertrand Russell

I couldn't do my usual lunchtime run today because we were taking a coworker out to lunch downtown. I filled the exercise gap by riding my bike to work, and also riding it downtown to the restaurant and back. It was no great distance, but the hills made it a real workout, at least coming back. The ride going to the restaurant was comparatively easy, so I didn't arrive looking sweaty and exhausted. I gave myself a 15-minute head start on everyone else (they were coming by car). It ended up taking me 22 minutes to get there. And then I waited for them, because (as usually happens when a group of coworkers tries to drive somewhere together) it took them longer than expected to get together and go. I certainly didn't beat them going back, though, as we all left the restaurant at the same time and I had a lot of human-powered climbing to do.

Anyway, it was a beautiful day for cycling. Sunny and clear, but comfortably cool, and very little wind. My only real difficulty was trying to stay safe in traffic. My town claims to be a bicycle-friendly community, but I'm not sure I see much evidence of that. When you're cycling across town, it's nice to have a bike lane, but it would be a lot nicer to have a bike line that doesn't suddenly vanish on you, in the middle of a high-traffic area. There are places in town where I just don't want to go on a bike. The worst problem is getting onto the other side of the freeway that cuts the town in half. There are underpasses and overpasses to take you there, but to get to them you have to make it through busy, narrow, terrifying intersections. Most people who are into cycling have to use their cars to transport themselves and their bikes to someplace where it's safe to ride, which does seem a little absurd. When you're using a bike to get around, you feel virtuous for using a form of transportation that doesn't burn any fossil fuels, but it's hard to retain that proud feeling when you had to haul your bike across town on the back of a car.

I don't know why my blood pressure is up today. Maybe it's because I measured it while I was thinking about the frustrations and terrors of cycling in town.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 81
Weight 187
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 117/73, 49

If you show the audience a pistol hanging on the wall in Act I, then in Act III  it must be fired.   
        Anton Chekhov

Well, it's all about flexibility. I couldn't run at lunchtime, because I had to attend a design review meeting and it didn't leave me enough time. In the evening, I was planning to attend an Irish jam-session at a local pub. I didn't feel like doing a gym workout today; I wanted to exercise outdoors. It was cool but sunny. After work I managed to get to Spring Lake in time to do a 4-mile run around it, get home, take a shower, eat dinner, and get to the pub before the music started.

It was a nice run. During the last part of it I became energized, and found that I could run fast (even uphill) and feel good. For the last mile I was running along a shaded path with a few rows of trees to the right of me, and a pond beyond that, and a brilliant golden sun setting over the pond, lighting up the leaves beautifully.

The Irish session was good. Besides myself there were three good musicians, and one who would be tolerable if he would only shut up and play (why do the people who have nothing to say have to say it so loudly?). Later we were joined by two more good musicians (two young girls form Ireland who have been living in my neighborhood because their mother's executive job with a local medical company brought the family here for a year or so). These girls are strangely modest about their gifts, and we had a hard time persuading them to lead any tunes, but they did a fine job when they did.

I won't be able to go running at lunchtime tomorrow either, as we're taking a coworker out to lunch to celebrate his 30th anniversary with the company. I think what I'll do instead of running is to ride my bike to work, and also ride it downtown to where we're having lunch. The ride to the restaurant will be easy, but the ride back will be uphill, so it will definitely count as a workout.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 77
Weight 187
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 118/71, 57

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.    
        F. Scott Fitzgerald

I caved in already! This morning it was damp, foggy, and in the 50s, and I put on a jacket when I left the house for work. Always a sad transition for me. At least it was a light jacket -- the thinnest windbreaker I own. No need to overdo it.

Running at lunchtime today, the weather was cool (and still foggy) when we started, and there was even a tiny bit of rain. Oddly enough, those few raindrops fell, and the sun finally broke through the clouds, simultaneously. By the time we finished the route it was clear and rather warm. Over the course of a 4-mile run, the temperature rose from the low 50s to about 70.

We had a new runner with us, a fellow at work who has long been talking about running with us some day, but has been afraid to take the plunge. Today he finally did. He thought he couldn't handle it, but he did fine. He only wanted to do 3 miles, so we arranged our route so that we could bring him back to the workplace after three miles, and we could tack on another mile by looping around the property. He'd been running by himself up till now, and apparently not enjoying it much; he said he was surprised by how much more fun it was running with other people, talking as we went. When you're working out alone, you're left alone with your thoughts, and if your thoughts are dominated by self-pity that's not a good thing. Much better to have the distraction of conversation. Of course, conversation tends to falter when we're running uphill, and getting breathless, but it resumes when the going gets easier.

My advice to anyone who has Type 2 (and therefore has an especially urgent need to exercise regularly) is to work out with others often. You need to be able to work out by yourself, of course, because that is often going to be your only option, but having regular exercise buddies makes the whole thing a lot easier, and helps reinforce the habit. When exercise becomes a socially embedded activity, doing it becomes more natural, more automatic. You don't have to talk yourself into doing it every time. Often you do it simply because you promised to do it, and promises made to someone else are a lot more binding than promises you made to yourself.  If you said you'd meet your friends at the State Park at 6 PM for an evening trail run, then by golly you'd better show up.

When you're not used to exercising regularly, you can waste a lot of time procrastinating about putting on your running shoes or pumping up the bike tires or packing up your gym bag -- spending that time asking yourself the supremely stupid question, "Do I really feel like doing this?". It can take months or years for the realization to dawn on you that it doesn't matter whether you feel like doing it or not, and that dithering about this while you assess your mood is as silly as asking yourself "Do I really feel like brushing my teeth?". Nobody asked you if you felt like doing it. Your feelings about doing it are irrelevant, because it has to be done whether you feel like it or not, so quit whining and get on with it. Having exercise buddies tends to clarify all this, and it greatly abbreviates the dithering process. 

Of course, finding the right exercise buddies is not always easy. You don't want an exercise buddy who is much, much better than you (or much, much worse). The ideal workout partner is like the ideal musical partner: someone who's a little better than you, but not too much better. Someone who will challenge you to improve, without making the challenge overwhelming.

Monday, September 15, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 94
Weight 187
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 124/69, 55

Doubt is uncomfortable, certainty is ridiculous.   

Yesterday was my non-workout day for the week; I did go for a walk, but that was it as far as exercise went. So, naturally, my glucose and weight jumped up a bit this morning.

I didn't run today, either -- I went to the gym after work for an aerobic workout, and then hurried from there to get to my yoga class. It's time-consuming, this healthy-living thing, but some things you just have to make time for.

The weather is starting to cool down a little now. It's foggy at night, and foggy in the morning; the temperature didn't get up to 60 today until almost noon. Now I have to think about changing the sort of clothes I wear when I go running.  I won't be losing so much water weight when I run, either, which is too bad because I enjoy the illusion. Every fall there's a morning when I have to put a jacket on when I'm leaving for work; it always feels a little sad -- it's a kind of defeat for me. That morning hasn't come yet, but it's coming soon. I'm sure some people have caved in already.

Trying to use my farmer's market vegetables before they spoil, I made a vegetable stew for dinner. It turned out very well -- the vegetables were still crisp and colorful (which I believe means that they were still retaining their nutritional value, which can be lost to overcooking).

The liquid was a mixture of vegetable broth and a soup-base I bought over the weekend at an Asian food-store west of town. It really didn't take me long to put this stew together; maybe half an hour. Being both impatient and lazy, I have to fight the impulse to reach for convenience foods instead of making something myself from fresh ingredients. But making it fresh is often quicker than you would think, and it's certainly better nutritionally. 

Saturday, September 13, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 83
Weight 184
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 119/75, 59

Ask your child what he wants for dinner only if he's buying.   
        Fran Lebowitz

Apparently you don't have to be an actor to get a bad review of your performance...

I was running this evening on the paved path that goes around Spring Lake -- a comparatively narrow path which must accommodate walkers, runners, and cyclists going both directions. If you're running or cycling there, small children are a constant concern, because of their tendency to lurch and spin this way and that, without ever turning around to see if anyone is approaching them from behind.

This evening I was trying to get around a man pushing a stroller, with his son (about four years old) walking beside him.  As I moved to the left to run around them, the boy (of course) moved to the left as well, standing in front of me but looking the opposite direction. The father said "Get out of the way, Jeremy -- there's a man running behind you!" The boy turned, saw me, and froze as I moved further to the left to get around him. As I passed him, he turned to his father and said, in a tone which accused his father of having made a mountain out of a molehill, "Well, he's not running fast!". 

Maybe I wasn't fast, but at least I felt good. Every once in a while, I go for a run and find that, for reasons unknown, running feels much better to me on that day than it normally does. Today was one of those lucky days. Even the hills didn't bother me.

I did get to the farmer's market this morning, but I decided against bicyling there. The things I bought looked so colorful that I arranged them for a group photo after I got them home:

Now the trick is to actually use them all before they go bad. I used several of them in a stir-fry for dinner. I managed not to ruin them through over-cooking (if they have no crispness left in them, you've gone too far).

Those colors provide more than a good photo-opportunity, by the way. The brilliant hues in vegetables are often created by pigments which offer significant health benefits -- such as lycopene, the red pigment in tomatoes which is believed to have cancer-fighting properties.

Friday, September 12, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 77
Weight 185
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 111/67, 51

A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them.   
        Steve Jobs

It's been a physically demanding week, with a pretty heavy running schedule, and a day of fairly brutal manual labor on Wednesday, but I seem to be recovering quickly from all that. On Wednesday night my arm was so sore from using the pick-axe, shovel, branch-clippers, and other tools that I couldn't write legibly with a pen. Today I had another concert rehearsal to go to after work, and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to play; as it turned out, I did have a little difficulty at first, but my bowing-arm loosened up quickly.

I went for a run today at lunchtime -- a relatively easy one, a little over 4 miles. The weather was nice and cool --  in the 60s, which certainly makes running easier. The fog was still hanging around when we started the run, but the sun burned thorugh it by the time we finished. I like that progression, and it happens fairly often around here. Often the fog from the ocean gets here by midnight and hangs around till noon the next day, or even later.

I haven't figured out what I'm going to do for exercise tomorrow. The sensible thing would be to get it done early, whatever it is, but I'm not usually very good at doing the sensible thing on Saturday mornings. My Saturdays tend to get off to a rather slow start, unless I've committed myself to showing up somewhere early in the morning.

I haven't been to the local farmer's market in a while, and I should try to fit that in (it's only open till noon). There are a lot of good organic farmers in this area, and it's nice to see the seasonal changes in what's available. Some foods have such a brief season that you can easily miss your opportunity to buy them, if you don't go to the farmer's market regularly. (I was only able to buy fresh local fava-beans once this whole summer.)

I guess one option tomorrow would be to ride my bike to the farmer's market and back, so that my workout and my shopping could be a combined event. The farmer's market isn't all that far away, but the trip there and back involves a ferocious hill-climb, so going there by bike would definitely count as a workout. I guess the real question is whether I have a backpack big enough to load a bunch of produce into it. I'm not sure I do, but maybe I could stop and buy one on the way. If I do, though, I need to keep in mind that I'll be hauling whatever I buy up a very steep hill to get them home, so I shoudln't get too carried away with stuffing the backpack with whatever heavy produce will fit in it. 

Thursday, September 11, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 91
Weight 185
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 127/69, 52

I don't want to wrong anybody, so I won't go so far as to say that she actually wrote poetry, but her conversation, to mind, was of a nature calculated to excite the liveliest suspicions.    
        P. G. Wodehouse

I was greatly relieved when I woke up this morning and noticed that I wasn't in pain (which, after yesterday's prolonged grunt labor, I fully expected to be). But there was still some suspense in the air: I wasn't hurting, yet, but I was still lying in bed. What would happen when I tried to get up, walk around, take a shower, and get dressed? Fortunately, those things didn't hurt either.

I attributed my good luck to two things: during all that landscaping work yesterday I repeatedly took the opportunity to do a lot of stretching exercises, and afterwards I went for a trail-run. I think those two things loosened me up, so that my muscles and tendons didn't seize up on me in reaction to yesterday's stresses and strains. Paradoxical though it seems, I find that "taking it easy" is a very unhelpful strategy for healing. It's when my body is stiff and sore that I need exercise the most.

Also, my summer cold seems to be entirely gone; I felt fine. I went for a run at lunch, and it wasn't an easy one -- 6+ miles, and with a killer hill in the middle of it. One of my running buddies, who is much faster than me, and pulled way ahead of me, took one look at the hill, turned around, and came running back. As he passed me he said "I'm not climbing that thing today!" and took off on some other route. I stuck with the plan, I guess because the weather was mild today, and I'd recently run that hill in hot weather -- I figured if I could do it when the temperature was 95, I could surely do it when the temperature was 72. It was still a very tough hill, but there was something exhilirating about being able to climb it. My sore hip complained early in the run, but it actually felt fine by the time I started the big climb, and has felt fine ever since; whatever the situation is with my hip, it puzzles me more and more every day.

The nice thing about giving yourself exercise challenges is that, after enough time has gone by, you're less easily intimidated. When that voice in your head says "I can't do that", you can reply with "You've done harder things than that!", or even "But you did it last Thursday!". 

In the afternoon I went for my annual physical. Once again, I allowed myself to build up a lot of suspense and worry over it, not because I had reason to think anything was wrong, but because of a kind of superstitious feeling that, when you think you're okay and everything is under control, that's the exact moment when your complacency will be shattered by a terrible surprise.

Of course, nothing like that happened. My doctor was satisfied with everything he saw on the lab report, and everything he could measure or observe for himself. My blood pressure was higher than I usually read it at home, naturally, but not so much higher that he saw it as a cause for concern.

In short: no problem, no worries, life is good. It was an anti-climax, really, but that's what a visit to the doctor should be, if at all possible. An anti-climax is what you want. As you leave the office, you should be laughing at yourself for having gotten all worked up over what turned out to be a non-event. Of course, some would argue that what's needed here is not an anti-climax but a non-climax: the preliminary buildup of suspense shouldn't happen in the first place. However, it seems to me that this could only be achieved (at least for a person of my temperament) by not caring about the matter, and I have my doubts that people can become healthy by not caring about health.

For the record, here's what the lab report showed, at least for tests relevant to diabetes:

Test Result Normal Range
Glucose 89  65-99
Total Cholesterol 162 100-199
LDL Cholesterol 96 0-99
VLDL Cholesterol 14 5-40
HDL Cholesterol 52 40-59
Triglycerides 72 0-149

Everything is within the normal range. LDL cholesterol is at the high end of normal, and I've done better than that before; I'll try to do better again. The Labor Day holiday (and the winery picnic, and leftovers from the winery picnic) may have pushed my LDL up a little.

HDL cholesterol, which tends to be too low in most people with Type 2, and was too low in me when I was originally diagnosed, has been consistently normal for me for five years now. (Apparently this particular kind of improvement is rare in diabetes patients; my doctor was surprised by it initially, and attributed the change to the amount of exercise I was getting.)

Anyway: everything's normal, on with life!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 88
Weight 186
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 117/72, 58

Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.   

The reason I didn't post anything yesterday was not that my cold got worse (it's been getting better) but simply that I had a busy day. I had to leave straight from work to drive to a concert rehearsal. The concert itself will take place two miles from where I work, but the rehearsal, for reasons too complicated to go into here, was taking place in Berkeley -- which is 60 miles from here. So I had a long drive there, a long rehearsal, a long drive back, and I got home late. People who make their living as musicians go through that kind of craziness all the time, which I guess is one more reason why it's a good thing I'm not earning my living as a musician.

But yesterday's busy day was pretty easy-going compared to today. This was the United Way's "Day of Carning", and I was one of over 400 employees from my company who agreed to donate a day of volunteer labor to a worthy cause. I could have chosen from a variety of projects to work on, but my division of the company has adopted a particular organization called Women's Recovery Services as their favorite cause, so I signed up for that one; I figured I would at least be working with people I knew. Well, I was working with people knew, but it was one of the hardest days of work I've ever experienced.

Women's Recovery Services is an addiction recovery program designed for women with young children. They have a couple of residential facilities for women in the program, and our assignment was to do all the maintenance projects that these properties needed. I knew they had a lot of painting to do, and I figured I'd probably do that, but when we met this morning to plan the day, it turned out that what they really needed was more volunteers to do landscaping work. The word "landscaping" has such a gentle, pastoral ring to it that you can almost, but not quite, forget that it means stoop labor of the most back-breaking kind. Well, that's where they neeed me, so that's where I went, with about seven other people.

They provided us with a big heavy pick-axe, which they said we would need because we would be doing a lot of planting and the site had hard clay soil. That it did; in fact, I think the clay had actually been fired in a kiln before being placed in the ground. We had to do an awful lot of digging. Sometimes a shovel alone would be sufficient to dig a hole, but often you had to use the pick-axe to make any headway, and half-way through the day my right arm started hurting, just above the elbow. I hope it's not going to hurt a lot worse when I wake up tomorrow morning. I hope my back isn't going to hurt, either, but that seems almost inevitable.

We didn't just put plants in -- we put in a whole drip-irrigation system, too. We also did tree-trimming and other gardening work. Inside, we installed a new door, fixed a broken chest of drawers, and so on. It was just a very heavy load of hard, physical labor.

So what do you do after a day like that? Take a hot shower and collapse into bed? I could have done that, and let the day's labor count as my workout for the day. Most people, I'm sure, wouldn't have considered going for a run afterwards, but that was what I decided to do. As I saw it, the problem here wasn't exhaustion (it almost never is), it was strain. I was afraid of waking up tomorrow and finding that ever muscle and tendon was hurting me. I figured that doing a more familiar kind of physical activity (trail-running) would actually be therapeutic for me -- it would loosen me up and work some of the tension out of my body. So I did that; I went for a trail-run, and ended up doing 7 miles. Once again, my right hip was intermittently sore at various points in the run, but in general I felt better as I went along. I wasn't exhausted at the end, just glad to be finished. And right now I'm tired, but it's a good tired; I'm basking in the endorphin glow, and not feeling bad at all.

I imagine I'm still going to be stiff and sore tomorrow morning, but however bad it might be, it probably would be worse if I hadn't gone running at the end of the day to work the tension out of my body.

Monday, September 8, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 76
Weight 186
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 123/76, 50

Absurdity, n.: A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion.   
        Ambrose Bierce

Still getting over the cold. I have a fairly persistent cough now. However, I felt well enough to go to work today, and well enough to do a 4-mile run at lunchtime. It helped that the temperature was only about 70 today. Strangely enough, I was more doubtful about going to yoga after work, but I missed it last week because of the Labor Day holiday, and I didn't want to miss it two weeks in a row. I was afraid my balance wouldn't be good enough for the standing poses we usually do. As it turned out, we didn't do those tonight; instead we concentrated on "lunge" poses that stretch the hip and groin. Those scare me too, but at least they didn't involve balancing on one foot. And goodness knows I need help with my hips, as I've been having an intermittent problem with my right hip while running lately.

I've been thinking the absurd thought that it's a shame I have a cold this week, because I'm going to be seeing the doctor on Thursday. The doctor's office is no place to be sick. What lousy timing!

The reason this isn't really so absurd is that I have come to think of my visits to the doctor as opportunities for me to prove how healthy I am. It's a kind of like taking a mid-term exam, or going for a job interview, or making a debut at Carnegie Hall. I'm supposed to prove myself. I'm supposed to go in there and show my doctor that I'm in better shape than my health insurer would expect from someone of my age and history. I don't want to go in there coughing, I want to go in there bragging that I don't get colds anymore. So much for that plan.

As this virus hit me on Friday, and that was the day I had my lab work done, I've been worrying that everything on the lab report will be out of whack because of it. Not that worrying about it helps, but that doesn't stop me.

My blood sugar reading, at least, ought to be low, based on my own measurement of it, and it's been low since then, so apparently this cold is not driving my blood sugar up. As for whatever else it might be doing to my blood chemistry, I'll have to wait and see.

Sunday, September 7, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 76
Weight 185
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 116/69, 45

I've arrived at this outermost edge of my life by my own actions. Where I am is thoroughly unacceptable. Therefore, I must stop doing what I've been doing.   
        Alice Koller

Sunday is usually my non-exercise day anyway, and the virus I'm still getting over was making me awfully lethargic, so I made it a day of rest. I didn't even leave the house until the evening, when I went for a walk after dinner (about 2 miles), which made me feel better. I assume I'll feel well enough to do my usual lunch-hour run tomorrow.

By the way, that resting-pulse reading of 45 is legit. My heart rate does get that low sometimes when I'm truly at rest. If I put on a heart monitor and take a nap, my heart rate will typically be in the 40s when I wake up. Even a tiny amount of activity (turning around in my chair, say) can bring it up to 60s, but when I'm relaxed enough I can get down the 40s fairly easily.

I don't have a brain monitor, so I don't know how much I've slowed down today in that regard, but I think it's a subtantial amount. Maybe I'd better sign off now before I start disclosing bank account information or something... 

Saturday, September 6, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 84
Weight 185
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 115/72, 65

We are here and it is now. Further than that all human knowledge is moonshine.   
        H. L. Mencken

Another hot day (100 degrees when I checked). I guess I did develop a slight cold. All the usual respiratory symptoms, but quite mild. A little congestion, a little sneezing here and there, and a sore throat which is already less sore than it was yesterday. Once again I felt a bit sick, and for most of the day I felt a distinct lack of energy. Even so, I felt as if I should try to go for a run, and see if that would make me feel better rather than worse.

I waited until almost 6 PM (when the temperature dropped below 90). It was a 7-mile trail run, and once again I felt bad for the first few minutes, and then got to feeling better and better as I went along. I finished the run feeling more energetic than when I started. It's one of the great paradoxes of exercise: the more energy you burn, the more energy you have.

The conventional wisdom seems to be that people with diabetes should never exercise on sick days; instead you should rest up when you have a virus. Well, for many years that was my approach, and I paid a terrible price for it, because the more I rested, the worse I felt. During my 7+ years with diabetes (and with regular exercise in my life, for the first time) I have never been half as sick as I used to get in earlier days. For me, getting a virus these days usually means two or three days of not feeling very well, but nevertheless going about my usual business (including exercise, if I can handle it, and I usually can). In the old days, my pre-exercise days, getting a vrius meant five days or more of being profoundly incapacitated, shivering under a pile of blankets and delirious with fever.

I like my new way of coping with a virus a lot better, and I'm not going to revert to the old way, no matter what the conventional wisdom is on this matter.

Friday, September 5, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 81
Weight 185
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 110/69, 62

Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.   
        Susan Sontag

I managed not to forget that I had a lab test to take this morning, and I managed to get there in time. I tested my own blood sugar as 81 before I left the house. Next week I'll find out what the lab measured when I got there. I always worry that the dawn effect, or the Somogyi phenomeonon, or evil spirits, will make my blood sugar shoot up between the time I measure it and the time the lab measures it, and I'll look bad on the report that they send to my doctor.

The phlebotomist asked which arm she should draw the blood from. I didn't say "mine!", which shows that I am sometimes capable of self-restraint. I tried to remember the last time anyone had trouble finding a vein in me, and suggested that she might have better luck with my left. She felt my arm, found a vein at once, and said that if anyone had had trouble finding that one, they must have been pretty new at this.

Then I remembered: phlebotomists used to have terrible difficulty locating my veins, and by the time they were through with me there would often be multiple needle-wounds and heavy bruising. But in recent years they have had no trouble at all. And there's not much doubt about why that is: I started my exercise program seven years ago, and my blood vessels have been growing larger and more prominent ever since. In a few places they are quite visible, actually, but not at the inner side of the elbow where blood is usually drawn. Apparently they are big enough, even there, for all practical purposes.

I felt lousy all day -- fatigued, sluggish, weak, and with a sore throat. I felt as if I was coming down with a virus or something, which I hope is not true because it's still hot here (100 degrees today) and having a virus in hot weather is pretty hard to take. I had been planning to go for a run in the evening, once the temperature was down to 90, but I had serious doubts about being able to complete even a short run, feeling the way I did. However, I also knew that, when I'm feeling bad, and in fact feeling almost incapable of exercise, a workout is the likeliest thing to make me feel better. So I started the run, thinking I might have to abort it quickly. Well, it was pretty awful for a minute or two, and then it got better and better. I even managed to surprise myself by feeling downright energetic before I was done. I still wasn't at my best, but I felt (and still feel) a lot better than I did earlier in the day. However, I didn't push my luck: it was a four-mile run. I knew better than to try to make it longer than that.

I'm hoping I feel better tomorrow; if I do, I'll try a longer workout. 

Thursday, September 4, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 85
Weight 185
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 119/74, 55

If you are surprised at the number of our maladies, count our cooks.   

It was a hot day (102 degrees), and my running buddies at work proposed scheduling our run early (at 11 AM) to avoid the worst of it. I don't think I've ever fallen so far behind them. I saw very little of them after the first mile. They were under time pressure to get back in time for a meeting which they had to attend and I didn't, and maybe that's what gave them such superhuman speed (or so it seemed to me as I watched their increasingly tiny figures scoot up the hill ahead of me). Oh well; at least I got my run in, and didn't collapse from heat-stroke along the way. It was a 5-miler, which is normally not a challenge to me, but in the heat any run can be a tough one.

In the evening, as the air started to cool, I took a walk at Spring Lake. Often I run there, but this evening I was content to watch others do it. Actually, not many people were running there this time (it hadn't cooled off quite enough for that); it was mostly walkers and cyclists.

Right now I am reminding myself every minute or so that, although I'm hungry, I can't do any snacking tonight. Nothing but water for me until tomorrow. I'm planning to go down to the lab in the morning for a blood test (lab work preparatory to my annual physical next week), and there's a 12-hour fasting requirement. The test won't include Hemoglobin A1c, but of course it will include glucose, lipids, and the other standard items.

Yesterday my fasting test was 100 (high for me), and today it was 85 (a little low for me). My fasting average over the past month has been 89. I'd like to get a result which reflects my average rather than yesterday's upward excursion (which may have been a meter artifact in any case).

Now I just have to get up early enough to get to the lab at 7:30 tomorrow morning, so that I won't have to another 12-hour fast on Monday. It's not that the fast is that difficult, it's just that I'm afraid of forgetting, and absent-mindedly having something caloric to eat or drink. That would be just like me, to tell the truth.   

Wednesday, September 3, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 100
Weight 187
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 126/80, 57

I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it.   
        Garrison Keillor

Another warm day (in the mid-90s) and a stressful day, but I did a hard run with lots of steep climbing. I think it helped with the stress; I expected my blood pressure reading to be worse than it was.

On the other hand, I expected my fasting glucose reading to be better than it was. I don't usually hit 100 these days, and I didn't think I overdid the carbs yesterday. I overslept a little and woke up in a panic; maybe that pushed me up a bit (it often does). And, of course, glucose meters can be a bit erratic, so maybe that's all it was. However, if my fasting test is high tomorrow it will look to me like a trend, and that will be worth taking a closer look at.

An article in Diabetes Today yesterday began with this lead:

Obese people with diabetes are just as likely to go undiagnosed as their slimmer peers with the disease, Harvard Medical School researchers report.

This was apparently based on random testing of a bunch of people, to see how many of them had diabetes and how many of those knew that they had diabetes.

Four paragraphs later, we learn that 22% of normal-weight people with diabetes were undiagnosed, and 33% of obese people with diabetes were diagnosed.

So why is the difference between 22% and 33% reported as no difference in the lead paragraph? Apparently becase the total number of people with undiagnosed diabetes in the study was comparatively small, so the difference is not considered large enough to be statistically significant.

So here's my question: what's the point of doing a study of probability involving numbers so small that the difference between 22% and 33% is not significant? How big would the difference have to be before it counted?

Of course, the interesting thing about the results is that obese patients with diabetes went undiagnosed more often, not less. You would think that doctors would monitor obese patients more closely for blood sugar abnormalities, given that obesity is notoriously associated with diabetes, and therefore obese patients would be the ones least likely to go undiagnosed.

But, if the difference is not considered statistiscally significant, I guess it's hard to conclude anything from the study. I'm surprised how much medical research is like this (that is, the results don't seem to point to any conclusion, and it's hard to see from the design of the research how it could have been expected to point to any conclusion).

However, I'm not the one handing out grants, so I guess it doesn't matter what I think.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 87
Weight 187
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 125/73, 56

But apparently she loves the man -- which shows it can be done, a thing I wouldn't have believed myself.   
        P.G. Wodehouse

Another warm day, and I went running at lunchtime when it was warmest. It wasn't a long one; slightly over 4 miles. It's expected to be hotter tomorrow, and hot all week. I'm looking forward to Autumn, but in these parts you can have a long wait for it. Once I was on a long bike ride in early October and it hit 97 degrees. Here's hoping it won't be that way this year. I want a distinct cooling trend to get started next week.

Since I was diagnosed in 2001, and started spending so much time exercising outdoors, I have become far more aware the weather and the natural environment than I ever was before. It used to be that I didn't pay much attention to the weather forecast, because on most days of the week the weather wasn't going to affect me much. Of course, where I live, the weather isn't especially dramatic anyway. Hurricanes and tornadoes are unknown, snow is very nearly unknown, and even thunderstorms are uncommon. Around here, the weather only matters when you're going to be spending a lot of outdoors moving around in it. Now that I'm doing that, though, I am almost obsessed with the weather. For running or cycling, you have to choose your clothing with care so that you're neither frozen nor parbroiled by the time you're done.

The nice thing about this heightened sensitivity to the environment is that it adds great variety to a workout. I guess the reason I dislike working out in the gym is that the enviornment is absolutely unchanging. When you're running on city streets, each block has its own character; when you're running on a trail, each little section of the woods and fields has its own atmosphere. You're going on a journey, and each little phase of it has a unique emotional tonality. This can be especially dramatic in cycling, because you're going so fast that the changes happen suddenly. On a sunny morning on the backroads of western Marin, you're riding for a long time in direct sunlight, and then you suddenly pass into the shade of a stand of eucalyptus trees and are almost overwhelmed by the way everything changes at once: the light dims, the temperature drops, the air becomes damp, and that powerful eucalyptus scent permeates everything.

It's also nice to be so much more aware of living things in the local environment: wildflowers, mushrooms, birds, reptiles, deer, rabbits. Of course, the living things in the environment are also more aware of you, which is not always a good thing, but so far the mountain-lions haven't got me. 

Monday, September 1, 2008  

Fasting Glucose 87
Weight 188
Blood Pressure, Resting Pulse 123/80, 59

Every revolutionary idea seems to evoke three stages of reaction. They may be summed up by the phrases: (1) It's completely impossible. (2) It's possible, but it's not worth doing. (3) I said it was a good idea all along.   
        Arthur C. Clarke

Yesterday was a day of indulgence for me, and I don't just mean that it was a non-exercise day. It was also a wine-country picnic day.

I'm afraid that living in Sonoma County has rather spoiled me for picnicking anywhere else. The local wineries tend to have lovely gardens, shaded tables, and panoramic views. They also tend to have wines (and you can sample before you buy, to select the ideal bottle to accompany your lunch).

Our chosen winery for the picinic was Passalacqua, in Dry Creek Valley near Healdsburg, California (our chosen wine was their 2007 Chardonnay). Here's  a view looking down from the deck where the picnic tables were located. Good picnic planning is always about location.

I checked out the state of the grapes in the vineyards. They seemed about ready for harvesting to me. The grapes  below were on a vine at another winery nearby, Mazzocco (which tends to specialize in Zinfandels). I think these grapes want to become Zinfandel very soon, and I for one will not stand in their way.

The other great thing about wineries is the abundance of people-watching opportunities they provide. People never go to a winery and leave their pretensions at home, so you get a lot of opportunities to catch people playing roles, usually badly. This gang of young, rich female friends (who all looked remarkably alike, as if their social lives had been arranged for them by a casting director) decided to pose for a group photo among the vines, with their chauffeur off to the left holding the camera. The unforced naturalness of their manner just shines through, doesn't it?

My family has a nice catch-phrase for this sort of thing. Once, when I was wine-tasting with several family members at the old Chateau Souverain, this guy was trying to impress the young woman behind the tasting-counter by purchasing a whole case of wine and asking if she could arrange for someone to carry it out and put it in his car. He said confidentially, "It's the jag... the gold jag". Ever since, whenever we catch someone putting on airs, we mutter "it's the gold jag", and nothing more needs to be said.

Well, if you enjoy catching people putting on airs, there is no better place on earth to do it than a winery!

After a day of no exercise combined with lots of eating and drinking, I feel the need to do penance with a harder-than-average workout, even though I'm usually not feeling very athletic after a day like that. Today the temperature was climbing again (into the low 90s), so I waited until about 5 PM to get started, but I went to Annadel State Park and did a long trail run. By then it was starting to cool off a little, and at least half the route was in shade. I carried water to make sure I didn't get dehydrated.

The run ended up being 9.3 miles. I felt a certain heaviness in the stomach that never quite let up (the after-effect of yesterday's overindulgence), but to my relief I didn't have any actual difficulty with the run. I didn't have trouble climbing the hills, I didn't get tired, and best of all the intermittent hip pain that's been bothering just recently was gone. I felt fine when the run was over. It was great, actually. What a relief.


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