I got better at blood sugar control
After the debacle of the first day skiing, I got much better at the blood glucose control. The chart below is my “fan chart” of blood sugar readings, and it doesn’t look any worse than the period before I was skiing.
This does mask a slightly greater incidence of hypos on the slopes though. I at least found that I could generally feel hypos when I was standing still. I have quickly learnt that whilst walking up hill, which is a tiring aerobic activity, I need to eat about 10g of carbs (two jelly babies) every ten minutes. And whilst skiing “freeride” (a poncey name for skiing using lifts), I need to eat much less. In this way I could generally control my blood sugar quite well.
I also learnt that dropping all my test strips in the snow ruins them. Doh! Luckily I had plenty of spares.
The chart below shows my blood sugar over the past two weeks. The green shaded areas were when I was skiing (normally the period between 8am and 5pm each day).
The one episode that surprised me was when standing still. I had abseiled down into a couloir. The plan was for Emily, Henry and Tom to follow me and then to ski it. However, when I got thirty metres down (the length of our rope), I realised that it was way too steep for everyone to ski. So I built an anchor, waited for everyone to abseil down, and then lowered them all another thirty metres to a less steep and wider section of the couloir. Despite eating four jelly babies, my blood sugar was 3.3 mmol/l when I finally had my skis on about 45 minutes after the initial abseil. I’m not sure whether this was caused by being cold, or by being in a stressful situation, or both. If any type one skiers have experience of this kind of thing, please let me know! I need to be careful in these situations, because guiding a group down a mountain is certainly not the place to collapse!
Diabetes means that I have come out of the Christmas period as lean as ever…
The hardest thing about skiing with type one is the small breakfasts and lunches. Because I’m so sensitive to short acting insulin whilst exercising, I just didn’t use any during the day. I would eat a maximum of 40g of carbs for breakfast. Normally bread drenched in olive oil, plus eggs and ham. I wanted to eat as many non-carb calories as possible! Lunch would then start as soon as breakfast was over, and the constant stream of pita bread, jelly babies, sesame snaps and snickers bars would continue until the end of the day. Dinner was the only meal I used short acting insulin for, and I would eat as much as I could. The chart below shows that whilst I was skiing, my carbohydrate intake did not differ from normal. This despite the huge amount of calories I must have been burning. I was constantly hungry, but at least also felt full of energy most of the time.
Diabetes has no impact on how much I enjoy life
Christmas in Chamonix was magical, spent with my family and enjoying the outside. Then it snowed, and we went to the Italian alps for five days over New Year. We stayed in the Orestes Hut in the Monte Rosa ski area. Despite it being a busy time of year, we would go for hours at a time without seeing another skier, and were constantly overwhelmed by the quality of the snow and the beauty of the sky and the mountains. After four nights it felt like we were leaving our best friends – the owners and staff at the hut – when we left. What an amazing experience.
It’s been an incredible year. One of the best. Among my many aims for next year are to stay on top of diabetes as I leave the honeymoon phase (it will become harder to manage), to run the London marathon fast (and raise lots of money for JDRF), to run some more ultra marathons, to ski some great lines and to climb some mountains.
I hope you don’t mind me sharing some images of the last two week’s skiing.