Monday, January 16, 2012

works for him...

I have mentioned that my dad is a Type 1 diabetic. Although he lives far away, in another part of the world, we are able to get together every year or so. The past couple times he's been visiting he has been known to take off on walks for 30-60 minutes to solve a blood sugar problem. He has discovered that when his insulin isn't working, exercise makes it happen. I thought it was an interesting move, but I didn't try it. I've always felt that exercise was a "monkey wrench" that would make things more complicated (when things are already off).

We acquired an elliptical trainer this past summer, which allows for Carol and the kids to get in their physical activity while pursuing their homeschooling. I didn't consider it as much of an option for me, because I haven typically gotten my activity outside, on a bicycle. I guess you always have something to learn. 

Recently, I've noticed that under certain circumstances my glucose levels will wind up high and then just stay there, regardless of boluses and temporary basal increases. With some patience (3-6 hours) I'll see it right itself, but it's much slower than you would expect from analog insulin. 

Last night was a perfect example of how I was able to utilize the elliptical trainer to work out a correction rather quickly. I went out to a nice dinner downtown and we ate for about 3 hours and had all sorts of things. The carb counting was totally guessing. I went off my low-carb list here and there, and had my sugar levels climbing despite plenty of insulin in play. By the time I got home my blood sugar was 300 something and I had perhaps 4 units of insulin "on board". It seemed like it was still going up. 

I decided to do 30 minutes on the elliptical to see if it would increase my insulin sensitivity and get me back where I was supposed to be. Based on my glucose sensor, at 9:05 I was at 318, and by 10:45 I was at 94. The drop shown on my CGMS was so precipitous that I stayed awake for a while to make sure it wouldn't go even further. It didn't. When I hit the 90s my numbers started to flatten out and cruise along at that level for the rest of the night.

I was also testing with my meter and it showed the correction to all happen pretty much during the 30 minutes I was active. I know they say you shouldn't exercise when you are over 250, but in this case it seemed like the perfect solution. I wasn't above 250 long enough to have any symptoms of DKA.

It seems like just getting my muscles moving gave all the circulating insulin a place to set up shop and do the glucose metabolism. I know muscle tissues are much more efficient with using insulin and glucose than other tissues, so this must work for that reason. I'm happy that we have an "in-house" option for fixing blood sugar problems in short order. 30 minutes for me is enjoyable, and it's amazingly gratifying to see quick results. I've had high-ish blood sugars after dinner lately, I am wondering if I can solve the problem just by doing a session on the machine after dinner each night. 

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