medical id: my identity doctor

293063_10151992567335375_721240625_n.jpgSince my asthma entered a level of weirdness beyond control by the standard FloVent/Ventolin combination, I’ve worn some sort of medical identification (they started off with random ICE tags I got made at the pet store with the engraving machine, if you want me to be perfectly honest, and then i got a plain silver dog tag made at an American Wal-Mart).  I wear ID not with the anticipation anything will happen rendering me unable to speak, but in case it does. I’m as active as possible, and all over the place–whether I’m out on the road, at work or school, outdoors training for a race, indoors working out or hanging with my friends, not everybody around me is going to know my medical history. And while I don’t go to great lengths to “hide” my asthma, it happens often enough that people don’t know (that part gets kind of awkward when I’m playing goofy gym games in school and have some sort of coughing spasm/respiratory situation. Ahem). In reality though, you just never know what will happen, and being proactive is NEVER a bad idea.

Sidebar: I spent a year as a MedicAlert member, but I was not impressed when they jacked the prices up for membership into their database–and this is without mentioning that the Canadian system, which is linked to the same hotline as the American system, costs significantly more for IDs as it is. I loved the security of the MedicAlert system, but when it was going to cost $60 a year, I realized there were many more things I could do with that much money. They offered to lower my membership fee, but that doesn’t help anybody but me. So i didn’t renew when it came time to.

Additionally, I like to have options. I don’t have a choice that I have asthma. I choose to wear medical identification jewelry, but that doesn’t mean I’ll wear just anything. I have a necklace that looks like a guitar pick that simply says “asthma; organ donor” [the fact that I want my organs donated in the case that I die unexpectedly is so important to me that it is engraved on all of my medical IDs]. I have a RoadID Slim, which I can change the band colour on. The Interactive RoadID is an integral part of my medical ID, as the bracelet I am wearing in the picture on the right contains the information to access my Emergency Response Profile that is connected to my RoadID.

My “everyday” bracelet is the one in the picture to the right. It’s simple, and while it looks like a medical ID, it’s not drawing a huge amount of attention to itself. [Oh, it also now has a cupcake charm on the opposite side of the ID plate]. I’m planning to at some point get another tag made so I can put pretty beaded bracelets on it, but I kind of suck at making those and stuff.

And, obviously it’s important that it coincidentally matches my guitar! I ordered the bracelet before I bought that guitar, but I am way okay that they match.

On recommendation from my friend Steve, I got this bracelet from My Identity Doctor. You’ll notice I don’t have the front engraved, which is for multiple reasons. I fit tons of information on the other side, so I didn’t need to use the front side. And while I’m open with the kids at work if they ask me any questions about my asthma, I really don’t want them staring at my bracelet all the time–“What’s your bracelet for?” “I have asthma.” “Oh! So-and-so has asthma too! Can you draw me a kitty? When are we going to the gym?” is much better than “What are all those numbers for?” “So can you do _____?” x 8000 other questions [those questions are fine infrequently. Every day not so much]. Other reasons include sketchy bus strangers and people I don’t know. If they really need the information, they can flip it over. Hopefully, though, the only time it needs to be flipped over is next time I have to play the casualty in first-aid training and the first-aid-knowing bystander finds my bracelet [it happened once. I was used as an example and everything].

The engraving on the back is black-filled and laser-engraved, and is super clear to read. Jon at My Identity Doctor does an awesome job, and I’d highly recommend checking out his store when you’re in for your next medical ID purchase. Available IDs feature a variety of colours and a couple different styles–they’re simple, high quality and a decent price. Jon also shared the discount code SSRJ which can be used for a 25% discount off your purchase until the end of September.

So, if you’ve got some sort of ongoing medical shenanigans, are you wearing medical ID? Why or why not? Let’s talk in the comments. [Perhaps I should start saying “ongoing medical shenanigans” instead of “chronic disease”. That’s academic paper material right?]

Disclosure: As always, I never post about a product or service if I don’t believe in it wholeheartedly. I contacted Jon at MyIdentityDoctor after seeing the prizes/contest page on his site, and I may earn some swag from this post. Regardless, I dealt with him as a customer prior to the possibility of free stuff, and my experience from ordering to receiving my bracelet was nothing but positive. He even sent me a separate e-mail because I said “Hi” to his dog Burton in the notes of my order via Etsy. How cool is that?

searchorama: blog craziness and answered questions

Jenny Simmons did a blog post earlier based off of the crazy stuff that brings people to her blog. I tweeted the other day a short list of more ridiculous search terms, but . . . here are some more crazy search terms and commonly asked questions that lead people here [with answers!].

Point of decision prompts: These are exactly what they sound like: signs that prompt a healthier choice at the time the decision needs to be made. Frequently, these signs are posted by elevators encouraging use of the stairs [I.e. Burn calories, not electricity], or in prompting healthier food choices [i.e. like sweets? Try fruit!]. They can be used in a variety of situations, and can be created to prompt a positive decision even within your own environment–just be creative! [See the image below for a point of decision prompt example about the stairs]

The MedicAlert conundrum: I get a surprising amount of traffic for people searching about the MedicAlert Canada price increase. I’ll post more on this tomorrow, but essentially MedicAlert increased their membership fees, and people are pissed off. The reasoning, from MedicAlert, is that it “costs more to run a business in Canada than in the US”. As a nonprofit, MedicAlert strives to make membership accessible to the “most people possible” [and offered me a slight reduction on my membership had I chosen to renew, which I did not, but only because I complained.] I also have beef with the fact that identification products that are exactly the same as the American products are 50-75% more expensive. What gives?

Giant Nutella: Yes.

I want to train for 10K runs but I have asthma: Go for it. Asthma may modify how you do things, but it shouldn’t modify what you do. I have trouble running, so I walk, but that is a choice I’ve made, just as choosing to train to run 10K is a choice, too. Start with a slow pace and work yourself up. If you haven’t yet, starting with a 5K is probably desirable, and I know many people who have been successful doing the Couch to 5K plan. One of my favourite fitness-weapons, however, is dailymile.comadd me as a friend! Make sure to take your inhaler with you, and if you’ve been instructed by your doctor, take it about fifteen minutes before you head out to work out. Also, ensure you do a long, gradual warm-up [walking, for example] and some stretching for about 10 to 15 minutes before you run–a long warm-up is imperative to success running with asthma because it allows your lungs time to adjust to the greater demand on them more gradually then if you just go out and start running hard right away.

Jay Greenfeld [and variations of his name, and references to his guest post]: Jay is a counselling psychologist and university professor, and is the author of My Choice – My Life: Realizing your ability to create balance in life. He also wrote a guest post about living with type 1 diabetes. I was fortunate to have the experience of having him as my Physical Activity: Promotion and Adherence prof last Fall. [If you’re googling “Is Jay M. Greenfeld awesome?” the answer is yes, googling student — and don’t worry, I pre-google my profs too, sometimes.]

Playing in leaves: Jay told us to. Legit.

Literal exercise: Literal exercise is the opposite of figurative exercise. I.e. literal exercise is the exercise you are actually doing, whereas figurative exercise is exercise you could be doing but aren’t and are instead sitting on your couch eating Cheetos? [I don’t know. I’m not an English major here, I am majoring in the literal exercise that is kinesiology. I may have had to look up figurative in three dictionaries.]

Cute edges of a cube: I have no idea what this is about.

Taking the stairs: is always a good idea. I made this slide on the subject for when I talk to grade elevens about asthma and physical activity sometimes. It tries to make a good point in pretty colours. Oh and look, a point of decision prompt!

10 flights of stairs a day can equate to 3.1 pounds of body fat lost over a year

Run stairs instead of escalator: You should!

Is physical activity important for a young child: YES! First, play is the way kids learn, and active games and play help to engage kids physically, affectively [socially and emotionally] and cognitively. Physical activity not only helps a child’s body become stronger and more efficient, but also builds thinking and problem-solving skills and helps build motor pathways. Playing in groups helps kids to work together as a team cooperatively, develop moral understanding of right and wrong, and in turn, helps kids to understand their own emotions and feelings, and those of their friends. Physical activities present a host of potentially new experiences for a young child and should be encouraged as much as possible!

AND . . . one of my favourites:

Sphinx wearing a tutu: I can’t even explain. I love the stuff people Google, for real.

9K training walk: lungs, legs and hydration = less than stellar.

Things are looking a bit different around here!  I won a copy of Standard Theme for WordPress by 8BIT from Chris from Canada, so thank you to both parties of that awesome partnership!  I am in LOVE with Standard Theme so far! Next on the round of thank-yous is my friend Andy Darnell (also a Standard Theme user) for pointing me in the direction of Pixlr so I could make that snazzy header up there. I’ve been without Photoshop since I got my Mac over a year ago, and was doing limited projects using trial versions (I am a student, read: I am cheap). So there we go! Site looks different thanks to a bunch of awesome people!

Yesterday Danielle and I did a long training walk in preparation for the Run for Diabetes on Monday. I will be completely honest and say that this was one of the hardest walks I have done, and I am hoping things go smoother on Monday. For the first two kilometers, I had some pretty bad pain in what i’m going to assume was my tibialis anterior on both the right and left shins and some of the flexors of my right foot. I’m really unsure what the deal was, and I am really hoping that it doesn’t resurface on race day. I stretched it out the best I could around the 2K mark, and it didn’t bug me too much more for the next 7K.  I obviously have some biomechanical oddities going on here with the discrepancy between my right and left legs, but it should really be nothing I haven’t adapted for by this point in my life.  Kilometres 3 through 5 were fine.

Kilometres 5-9 were brutal right up to the end, and I am hoping that there’s enough adrenaline coursing through me on Monday to have a slight beneficial effect. Once I hit 5-plus K/an hour-ish (slow? yes.) my lungs simply don’t feel okay anymore, and from kilometers 5-9 I felt like my breathing was just all screwed up [I even stopped at one point to see if that would help get things back in check]. This could be caused by a variety of things (more demand on my muscles = increased respiratory rate = increased inhalation of particulate matter in the air [aka “air crap”]; increased drying-out of the airways [obviously NOT helped by any degree of dehydration, which I was experiencing yesterday] . . . the list goes on). So, of course, I’m always trying to figure out what’s going on inside my lungs and how I can possibly mitigate it on Monday. I shot off a quick what gives! e-mail to my friend Steve, who’s a respiratory therapist who has severe asthma, and is an all around badass[matic], explaining the experience to him. Within this sentence conveys one of the many reasons this man is among my favourite people:

Hi Ms Lovely,

I think you’re having these problems because you’re an ASTHMATIC.

Damn it!

So, yeah, I just about killed myself laughing at his response. (And thanked him for the diagnosis.) He went on to say that it’s probably some degree of air-trapping caused by the prolonged exertion. [To get a better idea of what air-trapping is, take a deep breath and exhale only half of it. Inhale again on top of the air that’s stuck in your lungs. Repeat. That. Or go read Steve’s post about it.]

Anyways, so kilometers 5-9 included taking the inhaler multiple times to take the edge off of the dyspnea. It’s not preferable, and obviously I wasn’t stopping to take the Ventolin it’s not like I was giving my lungs a break to let it get in there and start working before continuing the assault. However, using the inhaler 3 times in 4 kilometers [six puffs — two of those right at the end] may have helped fend off any delayed stuff and certainly helped at least a bit during that last expanse of time on the trail.

So what am I going to do differently race day?

  • Pre-medicate with a neb treatment as opposed to 4 puffs of the inhaler. Getting the bronchodilators where they need to go is super important.
  • Somewhat prophylactically take the inhaler immediately when I start having issues breathing, not letting them escalate any. Will it help? Who knows.
  • Light warm up with some stretching pre-race time-dependent.
  • Carbs/protein, little if any fat to slow down the digestion thing. I’ve got some Gatorade Prime chews [and have fingers crossed for some free Gu!]
  • H-y-d-r-a-t-e.

The last one is important. I was definitely experiencing some dehydration during this walk, and that is obviously not performance enhancing.

And is likely the reason that the consumption of 1 litre (aka 32 ounces) of fluid followed within the next half hour at the Starbucks we ended up at, and then I didn’t feel awesome.

Winnipeg-20120827-01595.jpg

Really, I couldn’t loose too much fluid in an two hours and fifteen minutes, right?

Apparently my body is not so cool with ingesting that much fluid at one time. But, I mean, it otherwise felt awesome to be drinking cold things [even after a refill in an en-route hotel bathroom, the water in the Dasani bottle was not cold. And also, screw the myth that cold water isn’t good for your body–about 12 seconds on Google with the more reputable sites will tell you otherwise.] [Also I got a wicked headache last night. Dehydration induced? Possibly. Things i only figure out in retrospect.] [Bracket ;).]

So I learned some stuff. Also I iced my legs for the first time ever [both anterior/posterior and some slight lateral], and they actually don’t hurt basically at all today, though they feel a little tired, so there is something to be said for that. Exciting. #kinwin. Etcetera.

Finally, THANK YOU to everybody who has chosen to give generously and support the Canadian Diabetes Association through my fundraising page! I set that $200 fundraising goal feeling ambitious, and many of my amazing friends stepped up to the plate right away. Whether the contributions were simply to support my efforts or from a deep passion for the amazing work the Canadian Diabetes Association does for Canadians with diabetes, I am thankful that the money goes to support research and care of people with diabetes in Canada. The fun I’ll have at the walk is a bonus.

how not to train + accountability

How not to train:

  1. Miss a month of workouts for no good reason. Sometimes there are reasons. Sometimes there are stupid reasons, but those are still reasons. Kind of. No reason at all, though, is the stupidest reason of all to miss an entire month of workouts. And, from July 18th to August 18th, I did just that.
  2. Register for a race. Forget to use that race as motivation. I go into so many races with the mindset that I am going to rock training for the race. That I am going to train to be able to do the race distance comfortably, rather than dragging myself across the finish line.
  3. Let previous goals slip.
    1. Nutrition is a goal that I’ve been trying to build on slowly, or else I know I overwhelm myself. Part of nutrition is not only ensuring I’m eating proper things, but now includes that damn iron supplement that makes me feel yucky. However, in order for me to be able to exercise properly, my body needs to be able to transport oxygen to my muscles. And what’s responsible for that? Hemoglobin. Iron. Boom.
    2. Asthma. I am good at taking care of my asthma when it needs to be taken care of. I’m good at the morning and evening inhalers. I am not so good at doing the evening inhalers on time on weekdays, or the morning inhalers on time on weekends. This is not a huge deal, but it DOES have an impact on how I feel in those spans of time. I am also not doing so well at taking my Atrovent regularly. I need to get it in my head that when I am exercising, i need to be taking my Atrovent four times a day so that I feel good and want to keep doing it.
    3. Regular training. I need to once again focus on the fact that anything is better than nothing. If take half an hour and slide a few kilometers in, if I take ten minutes and do some yoga, if I take 3 minutes and do some push-ups. It all adds up.
    4. Active choices. I got a new bike in the Spring. Part of the hope with the new bike was that I would ride to/from work. I didn’t think that goal through well, as it worked fine in the spring but when summer hit I realized getting to work all sweaty and gross would not be awesome. Once again, that is only an excuse, as
  4. Make a training plan–ignore it. I made a beautiful, colour coded, training plan for this race. Had I followed it, I would have built up to 10K slowly and easily over about six to eight weeks. Instead? I have a passionately-exercising binge for the last two weeks following the race. If nothing else, I hope this is getting me back in the groove for when school starts again.
  5. Be unaccountable. During the July/August exercise lapse, I probably told myself at least three times a week I am going to exercise today. I didn’t. I did not make the choice to hold myself accountable to my decision by putting that decision into action. The hardest part of exercise is often putting on my shoes and getting out the door/on the trampoline/to the gym.

I have an amazing, beautiful community of people around me to help keep me accountable. However, I have to rely on myself, and I have to let this amazing community know what my ambitions are so that they can hold me accountable. Even if I simply tweet my plans to work out, it is that much harder to back out of those plans because I know that somebody read it, and later that night somebody could shoot me an @ reply saying: “Hey, how was your workout today?” — “I didn’t work out” is an awkward answer. Making an excuse is an awkward answer. “It was awesome, I felt so much better after!” is not an awkward answer. Even if I am only going out for a ten minute walk, even if that does not spill into longer than ten minutes, I can almost guarantee that even if it is short, it will still be sweet, and I will still feel better after.

Race training has not gone well. That does not mean the race will not go well. So long as I don’t get as sick as I did following my last 10K, I am okay (two years ago I did my first 10K and I had a ridiculous asthma flare that evening, and had I not been fortunate to have a nebulizer at home would have required intervention, read: an ER visit. Put that in the awkward category!). Tuesday I did a 7K training walk, needed my inhaler at about 5.5K and again when I finished, but had few residual symptoms. I am hoping this is the case on race day pending I post-medicate as well. Mostly, though, I know I can handle the asthma. I just need a better idea of how I’ll handle the rest of the distance that I know my body is not adequately prepared for because of being a master in How Not to Train.

The ultimate in accountability though is having a training partner to get out on those long walks with. Because it’s not like you can get lazy and go home early when someone is out there slogging through that same distance with you. Tomorrow is practice 10K day, and I am going to accomplish that with Danielle.  One week until race day.

I’ve rocked the fundraising. I’ve kicked up the training in the last week. I’ve gotten my head in the game. Now I’ve just gotta get myself out there and make it happen.

in case you missed it: an update to jay’s story

In case you missed it, an update to “A moment changes everything”: Jay’s Story was posted on Monday, so please check in to see how Jay is doing after his first year of living with diabetes!

As I articulated in the preface and post-script to that post, I am honoured to be able to share people’s stories of how they live, adjust and thrive with chronic disease. Jay and I have had many, many awesome conversations on the topic via e-mail before and after this post went live in January, and I am still blessed that he and all of the other guest bloggers who have shared their stories here, chose to take that step and share insight to their worlds.  To Jay and everybody else who has chosen to share their stories in this space: THANK YOU!