Monday, March 30, 2009

Season's First Goal Met!

Saturday was the Darden Cares 5k; my first actual race since Ironman Lake Placid. As I stated in an earlier post this season is all about having fun on race day by having stable blood sugars and achieving my performance goals. The knowledge I gained last year should aid in that greatly; plus I also have a better understanding of what I'm capable of.

At 9:20 am on Saturday I toed the line with my classmates, some dressed in speedos, some in figure skater outfits and even one dressed as a gorilla. My goal was to break 24 minutes; I have done 2 5k speed tests in the past, the first a year ago I completed in 25 minutes and the second about a month ago I finished in 24 minutes, 30 seconds. On Saturday I shattered my goal pace with a time of 23 minutes (or 22:58 on my watch) - a pace of 7 minutes, 11 seconds, good for 16th place!

My blood sugars remained above 200 throughout the race which was fine, a high in a 5k is way better than a low. But what was important was setting a realistic goal, exceeding those expectations and having a blast with my classmates doing it. The season is off to a great start - I can't wait for the Charlottesville Marathon!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Race Schedule Is Filling Out

Now that I have my internship for the summer secure I've been able to focus on that thing called life a bit more. So given that I now have part of my race schedule completed for 2009:

April 18 - Charlottesville Marathon
May 10 - Kinetic Sprint Triathlon (most likely)
June 6 - Mooseman International Distance Triathlon
July 19 - Musselman Half Ironman

There are a few other events on the radar and I was recommended to apply for the Medtronic Global Heroes program where I would receive entry into the 2009 Twin Cities Marathon. I've been working on that application and will hopefully have it in by the end of the week. Additionally, I have been contacted by a type 1 diabetic triathlete in Boston who is trying to put together a team to compete in the Cohasset Triathlon to raise awareness for diabetes, now that I know I'll be in Boston for the summer that race is likely on the calendar.

All this may lead to my preparation for a possible return to the Iron distance in 2010! I spoke with Coach Egg via e-mail late last week and told her that this year my goal is to take all the knowledge I gained last year about blood sugar management, race day nutrition and mental preparation and apply it to have safe, fun and successful competitions.

During training I continue to deal with uncertainties and unexpected lows or highs but those events have been far less frequent than in 2008. Over the past 5 weeks I have completed runs of 10 miles, 16 miles (twice), and 19 miles without having a major blood sugar issue - if I can compete with confidence, race day becomes that much more enjoyable. Hopefully this vast knowledge base I've been accumulating is finally paying dividends!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Innovative Design & Diabetes

I spent last week studying design and innovation at the Stockholm School of Economics during a Global Business Experience at Darden. We spoke to executives from clean-energy firms, design consulting firms, home goods producers and professors from SSE; each discussed how important it was to push for design that created value and solved problems. After one particular compelling lecture, I asked, "why does it seem that in industries where the functionality of the product is critical, innovation is so lagging?"

He told me that when the functionality of a device is critical, like for a medical device, high regulations can really constrict innovation. Lets face it an insulin pump, blood sugar meter or constant glucose monitor are all GREAT at doing EXACTLY what they are supposed to do, but really don't add a ton of value beyond that. At some moment each of us has desired that our devices make life a little bit easier, or function a bit better. But since the functionality of the device is so critical, these companies are forced to focus on making sure it operates perfectly and not worry too much about innovation.

I spoke with the lecturer after his presentation to ask "what someone can do to get around the FDA regulations to create a device with real value." He spoke of a movement where individuals with medical conditions have been forming conglomerates to create their own devices, develop their own innovations to push for design that adds real value to their lives. He then told me, developing a new device would "take 10 years," to which I responded, well I have this disease for life so I have the time.

Although I have my internship for the summer all locked up, the wheels are definitely turning as I think about how best to get a group of us together to approach Medtronic or one of the other pump manufactures with a true business plan that identifies what we really need in a CGMS, pump or blood sugar meter.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Um, You're Out of What, CVS?

I just returned from one of the most frustrating trips I have ever had to the pharmacy. For the most part I hate going to the pharmacy, I hate knowing I'll have to wait in line at CVS, I hate knowing that there will be a problem no matter how great of a day I'm having and worst of all I hate knowing that without them I'm basically screwed in terms of my general health. In the un-Zagrum (Leadership & Self Deception) way I'm very much "In the box" towards CVS.

My exchange with CVS went something like this today:

Me: "Hi, I'm here to pick up my prescriptions."
Pharmacist: "Ok, hmmm... don't see your name."
Me: "It's one of the big bags on the bottom." (seriously every time I'm there they can never figure out I'm the big bag on the bottom - I only spend like $200 here every month!)
Pharmacist: "Ahh ok, Clarinex and One Touch test strips."
Me: "Yeah, and there should be insulin in the fridge."
Pharmacist: After opening and closing the fridge 3 times, and whispering to a co-worker, "sir, we're out of insulin."
Me: "What do you mean you're out of insulin."
Pharmacist: "We're out of insulin, we don't have any."
Me: "You do realize that without insulin a juvenile diabetic will die, right?"
Pharmacist: "I'm sorry sir, but we're out."
Me: "Wait, maybe you didn't just hear me, I will die without insulin." (ok I might be a little dramatic at this point)
Pharmacist: Puts hands in air and shrugs
Me: Now irate "Didn't you ever hear of a telephone? Ya know TO CALL THE PATIENTS WHO NEED ACTUAL MEDICINE TO LIVE WHEN YOU'RE OUT OF IT."
Pharmacist: "Well sir we don't make the insulin here, and we're out."
Me: "Yes I'm aware that you don't make insulin here, last I checked there are no pigs running around to draw artificial insulin from, but this doesn't change the fact that I WILL DIE WITHOUT IT."
Pharmacist: "So, do you want your prescriptions to go somewhere else?"
Me: "Whatever, yeah."
Pharmacist: After consulting with another pharmacist, "sorry sir, we just found 2 vials, would you like them?"

Seriously, out of insulin, we're not talking flonase for a cold here, we're talking an essential ingredient of my daily being; wouldn't you think if you're out of a critical drug you'd call the patient?

So, I'm done with CVS, does anyone order their insulin through the mail, and if so which is the best place to go through. Every time I've been to the CVS in Virginia I've run into at least one problem, whether it was billing my insurance wrong, not finding the medicine or in this case thinking they were out of something really critical, I just can't dependent on them and that freaks me out.