My New Reality: Living (and Riding) With Diabetes #RideWithGinny

Last Friday, my doctor’s office called with a terse message. It wasn’t my own physician, it was one of the assistants.

“Your A1C was 6.6, and your blood glucose was 220. You’re diabetic.”

She went on to say that I’d need to come in for a follow-up appointment with a different doctor and speak with a diabetic counseling nurse; for some reason my own doctor wasn’t available (probably booked up) and so I’d have to see the practice on-call doc on the night the specialist nurse was in. I was handed a free kit, with a scrip for more test strips and a scrip for getting nutritional counseling and another for a better glucosemeter if I wish.

Here’s my new gear, which I must use consistently per doctor’s orders (which will be a challenge for me, as I’ve always been consistently inconsistent).

So last night at the follow-up I was quickly trained on how and when to use the glucosemeter, and used the lancette to test my pre-dinner glucose. This morning, I got up and tested before breakfast, like David does. I did ask the follow-up doctor whether that alarmingly high 220 glucose was from the fasting blood test, as opposed to a second test I went back for that was non-fasting. It was somewhat of a relief to find that my “fasting” test glucose was about 137, still on the high side of the prediabetic range.

Okay, I’m diabetic now, this is my new reality, and this is me, living with diabetes. Woo?

In June I’m riding 40 miles in the Chicagoland Tour de Cure, with a goal of raising at least $2000. Please help support my ride with diabetes by visiting my Tour de Cure fundraising page, via either one of these links:

Please check the hashtag #RideWithGinny, too – I’ll use it on Twitter and Facebook, too.

The first page re-directs to my fundraising page, but adds some tracking stuff that will plot the donations by location on a map that is just for fun and gives me an idea of whether someone gave via a Twitter link, a Facebook link, via this blog, or some other source.

Hop below the fold to see more about my new reality; for now, I need to get a healthy breakfast, jump into my cycling gear, and get on the indoor bike to log some miles, because my butt is In Training.


When I tested this morning, pre-breakfast, it was 163, which is entirely too high, dammit, but then dinner last night at Ti Amo, the neighborhood Italian place, was a bit of a blow-out, carbwise (because I took a pretty thorough nutritional class with David when he was diagnosed, I know to count carbs). I probably didn’t need the table bread (sourdough, with just a smitch of veggie marinara) AND the bruschetta AND a small but delicious portion of linguini with parmesan. At least the salmon portofino and sauteed vegetables were relatively low in carbs, but there was also a yummy white wine reduction… so good. Anyway, last night was more of an occasional blowout, but I can see that I paid for it with an elevated level this morning.

Breakfast will be more protein and reasonable fats, less carbs than usual. I’ll be aiming for specific percentages or amounts of carbs. It’s all about balancing things out.

My new reality: my life is a video game, as I’ve been tracking meals, calories, nutrition and activity with a combination of apps using the Garmin Vivofit tracker (more on that later, it’s been more frustrating than it should be).

Obviously, this has been coming on for a while, but I hadn’t been checking the medical practice website to monitor my A1C (three-month average glucose; anything under 5.7% is normal, and anything under 6.5% is pre-diabetic.

(Graphic and factoids courtesy of ADA/Diagnosis page)

This is how I feel about all this, especially around Christmastime:


That’s my sister Tudy the Boob Grabber on the left (she’s a nurse), my mom Lella being grabbed, my sister Timmy the Christmas Sweater Wearer, and me just being classy and well-behaved as always. This was taken some years ago, late 90’s to early 00’s. Ho! Ho! Ho!

Mom developed diabetes fairly late in life; she died in 2006 when she was 90 and was probably diagnosed in her 70’s. She didn’t talk too much about it because she was sort of trying to control it with diet, but mostly she was on oral medication. I remember one visit during the summer in the mid 00’s where I had to be shown how to do her glucose tests, as she had just been “upgraded” to full-blown diabetes and her doctor told her she couldn’t get away with “winging it” as far as testing as opposed to how she felt.

All of her siblings had diabetes; I don’t know too much about Pop’s side of the family but the pictures of some of my aunts and grandfather late in life show them to be fairly heavy (typical enough for Midwesterners).

I’m now in contact with some of my first cousins on Pop’s side, so I’m hoping to get more information about medical stuff from them eventually. I don’t remember much about that side as Pop died when I was 10, but I do have some of his sister Nibby’s genealogy files. That was what prompted me to go looking for my “lost” cousins, who of course are on Facebook, ta da!

Anyway, with my history, my doctor has been starting to warn me about being ready for this, but I kind of wish she had been more pro-active after last year’s physical.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I already know a lot about living with diabetes; since David was diagnosed, he got involved with the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure cycling fundraiser event. And because of that, he’s become an avid cyclist and I’ve been living with a MAMIL (Middle-Aged Man In Lycra). He logged more than 2300 miles in 2014. He was going to ride today to up his mileage, but it’s bitterly cold.


Even with this gear, he didn’t want to ride with his bike-shop chum, Larry.

David quickly got involved with the local ADA/Tour de Cure organization, joining Team Red Chicago, the “team for people who don’t have a team.” TdC has lots of corporate, club, and family/friends teams, and a lot of individual riders, and Team Red is for people who want a team experience with a special jersey, who don’t want to ride alone. Because he had a lot of ideas for web site and social media stuff, and wanted to try to motivate people with group training rides and fundraising challenges, he became team captain, and I’m very, very proud of him.

This is the route I’m riding – the 40 mile route this year will go all on bike paths or quiet side streets and will go all around Fermilab in an area that we haven’t explored much. It’s really nice there so I’m looking forward to it.


I rode 20 miles last year with minimal training and I’ve already been on my training bike rig 3 times since getting a fitness tracker for Hanukkah. I’ll be getting on this for a while later this morning, after breakfast.


I’ve got a Team Red jersey from last year’s ride, but this year I have the right to wear the Red Rider jersey, as I now ride with diabetes. Because of his connections with the local ADA office, David was able to get one quickly; he called their office when I got the diagnosis and decided I had to up my game for Tour, and it arrived in the mail the other day (along with a cold-weather watch cap).


On the day of the event, all kinds of people (teammates, other riders, random strangers at rest stops) will be shouting “GO, RED RIDER” at me, and it’s going to make me lose my shit a little; it turns something that is hard to deal with and that used to be a tragic diagnosis into something that I live with, and ride with. The arm legends say “I Ride to Thrive” and “I Am Not Alone” but there’s a hidden legend in the neck that I never knew about – it says “”You Are Why We Ride.” It’ll be an honor to wear this and I’ll try to do it justice, because I’m riding for so many people, too.

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4 thoughts on “My New Reality: Living (and Riding) With Diabetes #RideWithGinny

  1. The family that carb-counts together, stays together!

    I will help you stay healthy and you will help me stay health … and we’ll have fun doing it.

  2. Welcome, I guess, to diabetes. It sounds like you’re taking it in stride, and already making headway.

    I’m a T1. I ‘met’ you via David. I am an RPG programmer and geek. I know that David is also a T2, and thus you all have experience with it; I have the worst advice ever: unsolicited.

    I am one of those extreme low carb people. I never thought I could do it, but 8 years later my A1C is 5.9 and still dropping (although my pump helps lots!) Now that you know my bias, may I recommend Dr Richard K Bernstein’s poorly named book ‘Diabetes Solution’? He doesn’t have a PR staff and tends to be… homey. But he IS a practising endocrinologist in addition to being a T1. 20g of carbs a meal isn’t for everyone, but I found reading how he came to that conclusion to be useful in and of itself.

    I’m not really one to proselytise, but seriously, Dr B’s book saved my life. Or at least my feet. You can always hit me up on Twitter if you feel like it.

  3. Thanks! You sound a lot like an old family friend from long ago – he didn’t survive long enough to benefit from all the advances in care, testing, and technology. I often think of him, and I’ll ride for him.

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