How 1922 Doubled My Life

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus at the age of 30. With Type 1 diabetes, the body has an auto-immune response, usually following an illness (I had the flu), and starts making anti-bodies that attack and destroy the Islet of Langerhans cells in the pancreas. The islet cells produce the body’s insulin. Insulin is required for nutrients to pass from the blood into the body cells. With the destruction of the islet cells, insulin has to be introduced into the body artificially. Diabetes has been recognized by the medical community for over 3000 years. A diagnosis of diabetes (type 1) was a death sentence within a year, at the longest. Until the 20th century.

On January 23, 1922, doctors and researchers at the University of Toronto (Canada) starting experimentally treating a recently diagnosed insulin patient (14 year-old Leonard Thompson) by injecting him with a refined sample of animal insulin. Leonard’s symptoms improved, and he went on to live another 13 more years by taking daily insulin injections. “The University of Toronto immediately gave pharmaceutical companies license to produce insulin, free of royalties. By 1923, insulin had become widely available, saving countless lives around the world, and (Dr. Frederick) Banting and (Dr. J.J.R.) Macleod were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine.”   from History.com

By the time I was diagnosed 66 years later, the technology of injectable insulin has advanced considerably. Insulin by then was no longer extracted animal insulin, but was manufactured in a lab (recombinant human insulin). Pure, inexpensive, and GMO at its lifesaving best. I began taking multiple injections of insulin daily.

I have a cousin who is a diabetes research doctor, and he spent many years studying ways to implant new islet cells in the body where the anti-bodies would not locate and destroy them.  This line of research has had limited success. I participated in a research study a few years ago into inhaled insulin. But to date, the biggest advance in insulin therapy has been the insulin pump. The pump provides a constant flow of insulin via a subcutaneous catheter, and can provide a manual bolus, or boost, of insulin when eating or when blood sugar levels rise above a set level. Diabetic complications are greatly reduced when blood sugar levels are regulated.

The next step is the artificial pancreas, which will combine the pump with a constant glucose monitor that will work jointly to adjust insulin levels to continuously control glucose (sugar) levels. The FDA granted initial approval for such a system late last year.

Not a bad track record, to go from being able to keep type 1 diabetics alive with injections of animal insulin to being able to manufacture cloned human insulin and regulate its use artificially in under a century when dealing with a disease that has been recognized for over 30 centuries.

 

Birthdays, Backpacking, & Olympics…

I wonder if I can adequately cover the three topics introduced above in a relatively concise posting…. sure hope so, otherwise I will bore myself!

Last Thursday, August 4th, Billy Bob Thornton, my buddy Garrick, and I all celebrated our birthdays. Billy Bob couldn’t make the party here in Springfield, so Garrick & I had to party on without him! My celebrations lasted for a couple days, which is funny because I really am happy not spending too much energy getting excited about another birthday. Nevertheless, I got a fair pile of loot, including Dr. Who stuff, Deadpool stuff, Archer stuff, socks, boat stuff, camping stuff, and…. a WOOBIE !!! Here are two links that pretty much cover everything there is to know about a Woobie:  Military Perspective   Civilian Perspective  .

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My new Woobie!!! It is presented tastefully in USMC Woodland Marpat and  Coyote pattern. And below is my other loot haul!!

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Not bad considering all I asked for was a Back-hoe, preferably one with metal tracks… And just for the sake of disclosure, this stuff was all given to a 59 year old guy!

Let’s talk about backpacking for a moment now. I haven’t backpacked seriously since I was in my twenties, the last time probably being when I spent 10 days in the Colorado  Weminuche Wilderness backpacking. I have camped and hiked and traveled a lot since then, but that was the last time I packed everything on my back and took off on foot. Until this weekend. My buddy (and adoptive brother cuz we adopted each other) Garrick & I decided to go backpacking at Ramsey Lake State Park, which is about midway between Pana and Vandalia, Illinois off US Rte 51. We had been preparing for a few weeks, getting gear bought, or found, and organized. Coordinating food and water supplies. And we both decided to try Hammock Camping, which meant we didn’t need a tent, just a couple trees each. And a camping hammock. Garrick bought a hammock and a separate mosquito netting add-on, while I bought a hammock with an attached netting… We did a trial set up in the back yard a week or so ago, which motivated us to change the hanging system to a strap system because it would be less stress on the tree bark. Here we are in our hammocks at Ramsey Lake…

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Ramsey Lake !  Saturday morning I drove over to Garrick’s just after 8 am in the TSV (Tactical Scooby Van), we sat and had a cup of coffee. Well 2 or 3, and chatted merrily away and then hit the road at the crack of, hmmmm 10-ish or so… I had already programmed the GPS for Ramsey Lake so we drove merrily along doing whatever the GPS told us to do until we got to Taylorville and stopped for coffee and a quick potty stop. All seemed to be going well until the GPS started taking us on very small and mostly unused little two-lane paths… The ranger at the park later told us that for some reason GPS devices are notorious for adding 6 miles to the trip from Taylorville area to the Park. We finally got to the Ranger station at the park about noon.

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We checked in at the Ranger Station, paid for my overnight camping fee (Garrick gets to camp free cuz he is an Army Vet), used the flush toilet, then headed out to park the TSV at the Horse Campground area. In no time at all we had our packs on, and Garrick started to try to figure out the Garmin eTrex GPS. He does like his toys! The Ranger had given us a route suggestion that kept us off the most used horse paths, and would guide us into some quiet wooded areas, so we took his suggestion and between the eTrex, our maps, and my compass … we were golden!

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Consulting the eTrex, Garrick is…

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Minnows in a small, clear creek in case we run out of food…

004We did encounter a fair bit of mud on the trail from recent rains, but fortunately, very very few mosquitoes!

A couple miles in and we got off the horse path and onto a walking path. We stopped to enjoy the butterflies fluttering among the wildflowers. We walked another 30 minutes and stopped at the top of a hill, in the shade, for a light lunch. We both brought tuna salad snack-boxes (a 3 ounce can of tuna and 6 crackers – 23 grams of carbs) and I brought a couple packages of fig newtons and pureed fruit/veggie pouches. A perfect light and nutritious trail lunch!

According to the GPS, we hiked a bit over 3 1/2 miles, although it was pretty hilly, so we didn’t break any land speed records. We found a nice wooded area a little distance from a fire road and walked into the brambles looking for some trees sturdy enough and spaced just right to hang our hammocks.

So we spent a little time clearing the brambles from under our hammock areas, hung the hammocks, then settled down for a quick cup of coffee.  I could have easily fallen asleep and taken a long nap! But we needed to do some more training with the eTrex. So, leaving everything but water and some snacks, we headed back out onto the trail. We logged a couple more miles on our “training hike”, and found some brackish water along the trail, and some potable water to refill our canteens.

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This is NOT the potable water, believe it or not…

By the time we returned to our campsite, we were hungry and tired. Fortunately, supper consisted of a package of dehydrated camping food…. Mexican Style Chicken & Rice. Just needed to add boiling water, which was easy because I brought along my “SoloStove“, a great little stainless steel wood burning base unit with a 60 ounce water pot on top. It is amazing how fast we were able to boil water using just twigs and small sticks for fuel! (This is a wonderful present The Mrs gave me last year, thinking we could take it on our Wales hiking trip. We opted to only take folding Esbit stoves for that trip, because all we needed to heat was water for our trail-side afternoon tea… and 60 ounces was a bit of overkill…)

{UPDATE: 8/13/2016 – Garrick was so impressed with my SoloStove that he just bought a smaller version of mine and is on his back deck right now boiling water for coffee for his bride and himself with it!}

We finished eating and cleaning up by 6:00, and I think I fell asleep around 7. I think it was 7:30 when I awoke enough to zip my mosquito netting closed, tuck my woobie under my head for a pillow, and started snoring. By about 1:30 am it was getting quite cool, so I got up, found my sleeping bag, and crawled back into my hammock cocoon, wrapped warmly up in the SB and my woobie. I lay there listening to the incredible cacophony of the various insects and owls owning the nighttime with their sounds. I slept soundly until about 6:30 am or so.

Sunday morning… quiet, cool, the woods gently brightening with the sunrise. I got out of my hammock, set the billy to boil, made coffee, and we sat in our hammocks just chillin’.

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We had a simple breakfast of golden oat biscuits and clover honey sticks, followed by a couple handfuls of trail mix (the kind with cashews, raisins, and chocolate! YUM!) We were in no hurry, so we drank coffee and told stories for a while, then we both decided it was time to break camp. Taking down and packing the hammocks & sleeping bags took all of about 6 minutes…

We eventually got our packs closed up… Oh, the packs! I forgot to mention that we had each weighed our packs before we started this adventure. Garrick’s with water in his camelback and side pocket bottle tipped the scale at just under 30 pounds. When The Mrs & I were walking the Wales Coast Path, my day pack was about 25 pounds, with water. Well, my medium ruck, with water, scaled out around 48 pounds! When we were sitting around in our campsite, I was comparing our respective equipment to see where I carried so much more weight… Food, first aid gear, and diabetic supplies. Don’t want to run out of food on the trail so have lots of quick carb snacks & glucose tablets. And carry two extras of everything for the insulin pump and blood glucose meter. And I want enough emergency first aid stuff to handle anything that we might encounter on the trail… I don’t pack my EMT gear, but I come close to my First Responder kit… I took pictures of my gear for comparison based on used and not used on this trip.  I will discuss that in my next posting.

So I’ll wrap up with a photo of the little path we came to as we walked out of our bramble patch to head back to the horse trail and then back to the TSV… more tomorrow! Olympics get to wait too…

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Thursday Door, and 3 in a week…

I mentioned in a previous posting that every Thursday I get notification that the Irish writer & blogger, Jean Reinhardt, has posted a new blog entry entitled, “Thursday Doors.” I also mentioned that I am continually planning to go out and take photos of cool/interesting doors around the Springfield area and post them here under my own Thursday Doors heading… and never quite got it done.  Until this week! I refinished the door/hatch/board/whatever that leads into the cabin of our little O’Day22 sailboat and took photos, and so here is my very own Thursday Doors entry!

Before:

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After:

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AND… here is the really cool thing. I just got my Thursday email notification that Jean has posted, and her doors this week are on boats in County Cavan, Ireland! She also posted a picture of her boat, which is quite unique and looks pretty darned cool I have to say.  So checkout Jean’s blog and then go to the source of this madness, and check out the original Thursday Doors at Norm’s blog.

So, 3 times this past week I have sweated off a Constant Glucose Monitor Sensor, which is a companion to my Medtronic insulin pump. The CGM gives me a moderately accurate reading of my blood glucose levels. Moderately because it reads the glucose levels of the interstitial fluid of the insertion site as opposed to the blood glucose levels from a finger stick. The IGL lag the BGL by about 20 minutes or so… So, the sensor is adhered to the skin surface by an adhesive base pad, then a special tape strip, and in the summer I add a second special tape strip, and the past couple weeks I then cover the whole thing with waterproof first aid tape.  And still I sweated 3 of the danged things off (they are normally left in place for 6 days). It has been so incredibly humid the past couple weeks, and then I have been running, and outside working on the boat, and outside playing, I mean, working to get gear ready for a backpacking trip with my buddy Garrick… and it seems all I do is sweat, sweat, sweat… Viola! off slides the sensor! Yesterday morning after the 3rd one detached uninvitedly, I figured I would leave it off while I went running. By the time I got home, the insulin pump reservoir had run out.  I walked around to the lake side to cool down and stretch down by the dock and saw The Mrs swimming in the lake, so I trotted down the hill detaching and unplugging the pump, then yelled, “I’ll save you, dear”, and jumped in the lake!  It is such a hassle to secure the pump and sensor to prepare for water immersion, I rarely swim these days… so yesterday was a real treat!!

Finally, this morning’s sunrise, followed very shortly after by the clouds rolling by southeasterly carrying rain to Indiana…

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Healing….

Last September after our return from our walking holiday in Wales and Ireland, I had blood vessels rupture in my left eye (diabetic retinopathy related). This caused partial blindness in the eye because of the pooling of blood. I had experienced a similar episode in my right eye with total blindness in July 2013. Since the initial rupture, I have had three opthamologists, several laser surgeries with over a thousand individual laser strikes in my eyes.  And now, I am going to have invasive surgery in the right eye to remove scar-tissue from the retina and replace the vitreous fluid which is still cloudy with pooled blood… My vision right now is correctable to 20/50 in the right eye and 20/20 in the left. Over the past few weeks as my vision has returned in the left eye, I have been able to read printed pages, see clearly at night, and depth perception returned…. Huzzah! I have been able to read using the computer by enlarging the type quite a bit, and started buying/borrowing books in Kindle format for the same reason. So life is good, and the gift of sight is still mine, with hopes for complete or nearly complete recuperation.

What this also means is my trying to return to documenting our holiday trip from my perspective…  The Mrs is way ahead now and has been posting video as well as photos! She recently posted about playing “tourists” in St. David’s, which was the end destination of our walking along the Pembrokeshire Coast.  Our next leg of the journey was to Ireland! But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Since I have been waiting for my eyes to heal, I have been entertaining myself by driving The Mrs crazy and building an acoustic dreadnought guitar… Today I am going to mix up some fresh shellac and start shellacking the neck and body. This is quite a project and I am thoroughly enjoying it!!

A couple photos to close this entry…

Sunrise March 1st

Trussrod set

Installing frets
Installing frets

August 2nd & riding the rails

We had left Chicago Union Station about 9:30 the night of the first and spent the first third of the trip sleeping. The Mrs slept in the top bunk and I slept on the bottom. The sleeperette bunks have special shaped mattresses ~ they are about the width of a single mattress at the end where you would rest your head and shoulders, but then it tapers to about half that width from the waist down where your feet would be. I slept with my feet on the wide part because we had to balance a 50 pound suitcase right next to the bunk-head-space, and I was afraid if the train ride got rough, it would topple and crush my head… preferred that it land on my feet! Here is The Mrs sitting in the seat after breakfast after the bunks put away. Notice the towering Purple Suitcase of Impending Doom next to her…

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The trip for most of the morning was fairly uneventful. I spent most of the time reading. I had brought a number of books planning to work my way through them over the duration of the entire vacation. So on this, the second day of our vacation, I finished off 2 excellent books by the Irish author, Jean Reinhardt. ( The books are available on Amazon and Amazon.uk).  A Pocket Full of Shells and A Year of Broken Promises (the sequel to “A Pocket…”). The links to the Amazon pages have good summaries of these books. My biggest problem was I only bought 2 of Jean’s books. Then read them so fast! So I am going to order a couple more today…

I was planning to add more of this day’s journey, but I had a blood vessel rupture in my left eye late yesterday morning. Last summer (July 5th) I had blood vessels in my RIGHT eye rupture due to diabetic retinopathy and over the course of a few months had 3 eye surgeries that restored most of the vision… I have an appointment to see my new ophthalmologist to check out this latest eye issue. In the meantime, my vision is compromised, but at least I am not blinded like last year!

Preparations for Blue Water time…

We are starting to organize our trip logistics including snack items and boredom deflectors.  Amazon has proven to be a really great source for finding packaged food items that we can carry in our packs and/or pockets for a quick carbo boost. And at reasonable cost. This is important as:  1) I am a type 1 diabetic wearing an insulin pump, and 2) our hiking trips will be pretty much done all day in countryside without passing through any towns/villages.

One new item I just tried is an Oatmeal Fruit Squeeze by Munk Pack.  I read about these on another hiking blog and thought they sounded just about perfect. I got Apple Quinoa Cinnamon. Ingredients are pretty simple:  oatmeal, apple, apple juice, flax, quinoa, cinnamon, & citric & ascorbic acids. 19 carbs (3g of that is fiber), 2g protein, 80 mg potassium.  I like the flavor, it is easy to pack, and easy to ingest. These are going in my pack! And I checked the UK regulations to make sure I can bring with me… No Worries!!!

Munk Pack... yum!
Munk Pack… yum!

I have finished the arduous task of selecting reading material for the transatlantic voyage and the down-time during our hiking.  Eight books made the final cut. The toughest part now is not reading them before we travel!!!  The first two at the top of the list were written by Jean Reinhardt, an Irish writer I met through mutual blogging.

Jean's first 2 books
Jean’s first 2 books

These are historical novels set during the time of the Great Hunger in Ireland and afterwards. Some of my Irish ancestors came to the States at this time, so this holds a special fascination for me. I bought these copies on Amazon, and they are also available on AmazonUK. Jean’s 3 other published books are also available, which I intend to purchase after I read these first two.  Our Ireland walks will be a couple hours north of Jean’s location, so I will have to wait for our next trip over to get her to autograph my copies!  🙂

The Bad Tempered Gardener
The Bad Tempered Gardener

This next book is by a Welsh author, Anne Wareham, with photos by her husband, Charles Hawes. I found Charles first as he is an avid hiker and has a great blog about hiking in Wales. He has been my “answer man” throughout our struggles to organize our trip to Wales. Anne is an accomplished author on the subject of gardening, and her gardens (Veddw) are open for tours. We will be visiting their gardens on our trip!!  I am hoping to convince/cajole/bribe Anne into autographing my copy….

Enough about books… I was hoping to take the Hilu out on the lake today, but storms were threatening early this morning, then as the temperature and humidity rose, the wind petered out to a galeforce of 2 mph.  Now it is clouding over again, and the radar is indicating more rain.  I guess I might try to mow the lawn instead…

Watching the skies, and no wind...
Watching the skies, and no wind…