I’ve said it before: I work with a totally fabulous group of people, and I totally love all of them. Going into work and finding surprise thank-yous, like the one I got this morning from the assistant director, Barb, is amazing.  I am so blessed by and thankful for the amazing team I get to work with!

Also, I got to help decorate the Christmas tree at work this morning–the kids were super excited and it was super fun!  Going to work right now is a totally welcome break from the monotony of studying–eleven days until freedom!

*I wrote the bulk of this on Thursday, hence why it says “today” instead of “yesterday”. No, I’m not going to edit it. Have to write in the moment, yes?*

So it pisses me off a bit that the last two times I’ve had scheduled doctor’s appointments [aka supposedly healthy visits] I’ve been a) flaring or b) sick.  My last appointment I had some sort of weird exercise-induced flare going on that just wouldn’t give in; and today I have the cold that’s gunking up my lungs and keeping me knocked in the yellow zone.  The cold is what is likely responsible for the whole burnout issue the other day–being sleep deprived, not breathing well, and awake by yourself at 3 AM can do crazy shit to your emotions.  Did my blog rant thing, bounced the thoughts off Natasha, and I’m back to my usual badassmatic self.

Minus the whole exercise component.

Because the resolution of today’s doctor’s appointment?  NO exercise until I’m back to baseline, stay out of the cold as much as possible, and start prednisone if I backslide or feel like I’m not getting better, and then for good measure she totally chased all that with some form of “listen to your body” lecture.  That’s a new one.  So suddenly she’s done some form of 180 on not only giving me fluffy lectures but also trusting me with the decision to start prednisone?  Who are you and what did you do to my doctor?  My history with her on the subject of prednisone was before that I needed to physically go in to see her before starting it so that she could listen to me not wheeze and tell me to start anyway, which I would just procrastinate until I thought I was getting better [because prednisone sucks for everything else except making you breathe better, and by the point you actually want to go on it just to breathe again you don’t care about the insomnia, the hunger/nausea combo, the hyperness, and whatever personal side effects you get from the evil candy [I’m lucky that other than the hyperness thing, I don’t get the ridiculous mood swings].  But nope, instead of a lecture about the all the ridiculous things pred can do to your body, I got off with the list of “No exercise, stay out of the cold, start pred if you need to, listen to your body” lecture. WHAT?

I think this woman is starting to get me.

Okay, for real, the whole paying attention to your body thing isn’t actually fluffy at all, and I totally use it with people when we’re discussing the whole exercise thing.  Except you know, stuff like Oprah made it fluffy.  Anyway, so that front, I’m usually okay on–totally get that whole bit in lecture at least once a term, so being in kinesiology is good for that.  The whole bit gets a whole lot more important when you’re mixing chronic disease, like asthma, in there, and are focusing on maintaining some form of fitness routine.  [RELATED: On the whole note of paying attention to your body, unlike in May ’10 when I brewed a lung infection for over a week before going in, COMPLETE with fever that I had no idea I had.  HELLO, it was May. I thought it was just getting hotter out, I had no idea that it was actually just my body that was screwed up.  So yes, maybe that lecture was justified as she may have recollected the whole issue of me not knowing I had a fever. Way to be out of touch with your own body much? Sheesh.]

So now it is legit today, so now you can switch your brain to think of today as Friday.

Today, I didn’t make good on the whole no exercise/no cold air thing.  Like 24 hours out of the whole deal I effed it up. Yeah for badassery?  I met my friend Kelly for coffee. We always meet at Starbucks . . . so I went. Turns out we were meeting at the nearby Tim’s.  So I had to haul down the street, which is usually no biggie.  So maybe my doctor is right on that.  Because I entered the mall sounding like I had some sort of plague, and people kept looking at me when I coughed as I walked through the mall to meet Kelly while simultaneously digging through my pockets for my inhaler.  So yeah, managed to screw a variety of things up, but at least I got a grande non-fat no whip peppermint mocha out of the deal, right? [Despite the whole non-fat no whip part I should probably give those up until I can work out again [as they are totally 280 calories and 59 grams of carbs. But only 3g of fat.  Compare that with a REGULAR grande peppermint mocha at 400 calories, 15 grams of fat, 60 grams of carbs and 12 grams of protein, you’re at least saving yourself 12 grams of fat (and 120 calories). Hooray!]

I don’t know where I’m going with this anymore, since I just went on a Starbucks nutrition tangent and all.

That’s what happens when a blog post spans over two days and also I need to sleep. So instead of trying to be coherent, I’ll close with one of my favourite WheezyWaiter videos that happens to be on the subject of doctors, and write about the second half of the appointment tomorrow.

In 2012, Steve Richert and his wife Stefanie will embark on the adventure of a lifetime–three hundred and sixty five days of climbing with a goal of changing people’s perceptions of physical activity and being active with diabetes.  Diagnosed with type one when he was sixteen, I’m blessed to have Steve here today sharing his story of owning his diabetes through changing his perceptions, what he’s doing through climbing to educate and advocate for physical activity as an integral part of diabetes management, and what he’s going to be up to in 2012.


When I woke up in a hospital bed 13 years ago and was told “You have Type 1 diabetes” I had no way of knowing how much it would change my life. Today, this condition I live with has shaped who I am and has caused me to reach greater heights (literally!) than I may have otherwise.

My first reaction to my diagnosis was that I determined to find a way to beat it. I couldn’t stand the idea of being dependent on medicine or hospitals. I wanted to be free—and the fact that the doctors all told me that there was no cure, made me decide that I had to simply find a loophole.

To start with, I decided that I would prioritize my health above everything else. As a 16 year old, that meant explaining my strict diet to other kids in the lunch room and checking my blood sugar before (and during) soccer games, always carrying food in case my sugar dropped low and not getting to treat eating as a recreational activity. Diabetes forces you to redefine your relationship with food—or lose your eyesight, your limbs, your kidneys and circulatory system—so there is a lot at stake!

Fitness became a big part of my life because the insulin injections that I took would work more effectively when I was active—playing sports and working out basically became medicine for me—both to help my body use the insulin I took and also as a means to combat stress. As I grew older and made it through college, the mental aspect of diabetes began to impact me—or at least to the point that I suddenly became aware of it.

Having a chronic illness carries with it some sort of routine that you must adhere to in order to stay well—and while this monotony can allow you a measure of success in dealing with the disease, it causes you to become tired mentally. Depressed. Bored. Hopeless.

I was staying healthy by just eating well and going to the gym, but I knew that I needed to escape the routine if I was going to progress—and that is when I found climbing. I had tried climbing when I was in high school as part of a Phys Ed unit. It initially appealed to me but I didn’t really know how to get into it. So I let it be. Once I revisited the sport after college, it became both a physical activity and mental stimulant. Climbing became my means to explore the world outside my comfort zone: my gateway to the unknown.

I followed the path that my passion led me down and I began learning how to teach others to climb and in 2009 I began working as a climbing guide. I get great enjoyment from being able to teach people to climb and showing them that they CAN do it. Taking something that seems impossible and making it possible is the magic of climbing. Some of the richest experiences I have had climbing have come from situations that held an unknown—that became a success only after the fact.

When I tell people what I do to stay healthy, they frequently smile and shake their head: “That’s fine for you, but I can’t do enough pull ups” or “I am terrified of heights—I could never do that”. Those are the people that I MOST want to take climbing, because turning that can’t into just did is a life-changing experience—and I want others to experience the power of the natural world like I have—through challenging themselves!

Recently, this exact initiative has been my focus. I decided that since I can’t bring people to the mountains, I can bring the mountains to the people—through film. Starting on January 1st 2012, my wife Stefanie and I will begin 365 days of climbing across North America, which we will be filming to make an in depth adventure documentary that will bring you into the high and wild places that we will be climbing! We are selling all of our possessions that won’t fit into our little red hatchback and setting off on a grand adventure. We want everyone to follow along. We will be blogging at www.livingvertical.org where you can keep up with our adventures and support our film if you would like to be part of what we are doing.

My goal at 16 was to overcome diabetes. 13 years later, I still have to take insulin injections 5-10 times daily. I still have to stick my finger 4-6 times a day. There still is no cure. But diabetes has forced me to problem solve, forced me to raise the bar and step up and out of my comfort zone and given me life experience that a pharmaceutical cure would have stolen from me! I consider myself blessed to have the opportunity to take on this challenge and I look forward to sharing my successes, struggles, failures and mountain-top experiences with you all during 2012!

Steve is the founder of Living Vertical as well as a climbing instructor.  In 2012, he and his wife Stefanie will be picking up their lives and heading out on the road to spend the year climbing and spreading the message that yes, you CAN do this!  LivingVertical is a non-profit organization that uses climbing and organic nutrition to empower and improve the lives of people living with type 1 diabetes.  To help Steve and Stefaine reach their goal, please consider donating to their project here (all kinds of cool incentives, too!), or contributing through donations of supplies they may need along the way, specifically climbing equipment, snacks and OneTouch blood glucose test strips–gotta keep our friends safe and healthy on the road!

As Steve’s mantra says . . . “Why wait for the ‘cure’?”  What are YOU doing to stay active and healthy with chronic disease and own it — not tomorrow, not next week, but today? Want to share your story?  E-mail me and join the journey.