Donate to Climb for the Cure!


Help me raise money for diabetes research! For every foot of Mount Rainier, donate one-thousandth of a cent! ($14.41). To donate, click on the link above or send me an email at After expedition costs, all funds will be allocated to the American Diabetes Association. If you represent a private or a public sponsor, or if you are also wishing to make a donation, send me an email with the subject line SPONSORSHIP. Your help will get me to the top of Mt Rainier! Thank you, and wish me luck with my journey!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pumped; literally!

Since my last post, I have put my outdoor-adventure throttle into overdrive. Nearly every weekend, I am climbing at some local crag. During the week, I am cycling miles and miles. And soon, I will be kayaking! I'm hoping to also lead climb by the end of the summer.

Most appropriately, I've gotten a job at REI, Inc. (Recreational Equipment, Inc., for those of you who do not have the pleasure of living near one). I'd like to take a moment to rave about the company. They are unique in their upholding of values and community consciousness, and they take care of both customers and employees like every company does in Heaven and your dreams. I'll be getting healthcare in less than a month! Needless to say, I am thrilled to be a part of REI, and I hope to grow with the company for a long time.

As my life has been transforming in a way that combines work with play, I've realized a few profound truths about myself and I've reformed a few goals.

Firstly, I've experienced so many wonderful and new things since getting started with my training: I've conquered a distaste for heights (I love eeeet!), I've met the love of my life and many wonderful friends, I've developed a new perspective on my diabetes, I've learned the importance of grounding oneself with the outdoors, I've had a blast climbing, and I've discovered what I'm made of and what I'm here for!

Whew! Those are just a few of some of the things that I've enjoyed. All the hard work pays off, every time, all the time. In fact, the harder I work, the better I feel and the more fun I have! I couldn't be happier!

All of these new experiences and discoveries have brought me to re-evaluate my identity. I've always had big goals and big plans, and I feel lost without them, as anyone would. But I've wholeheartedly abandoned my previous ambitions of fame, fortune etc. for more meaningful goals of self-discovery, teaching others, and powering past my previously self-held perceived limitations.

I suppose, in summation, that's what life is all about! This experience has led me to develop the keenest and cleanest sense of self-identity and purpose I have ever had. I'm fully motivated to take the potential that I see and mold it into a great thing for myself, and others!

My diabetes, my climbing, and my passion for social change all combine in my desire to be a professional athlete with a social consciousness and a propensity for mobilization. I want to use my passion and my abilities to better the world around me, and I intend on further developing these ideas.

I hope that if you read my blog, you take away this one truth: that you can make lemonade out of lemons, as my aunt likes to say. So you have diabetes-- or epilepsy, or obsessive compulsive disorder, or ADHD, or you are overweight, or undermotivated, or anything else! It's not a limitation or an obstacle if you see it as, rather, a purpose.

Identify what you believe holds you back about yourself. When you've established a clear picture of what it is, then you can turn it around into a reason for being. This is what makes you uniquely strong and it gives you an edge - appreciate it! People who don't have such struggles won't get nearly as far!

You can't climb Everest without climbing Everest.

On that note, I'm going to go camping all weekend before I start working full-time, and i'll be doing some awesome climbing with my best buds. Sounds like a great time, and I can't wait! I'll be posting all kinds of cool pictures! Like this one (I didn't take it):

A climber on the crux of "Pure Fun," on Old Rag Mountain.

(Omnipod Update: it's amazing! I love it love it LOVE it and it's rocking my world. I'm PUMPED!)

Until next post, happy blood sugars! And get out there!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Omnipod! Omnipod! Omnipod!

Did I say Omnipod?!

After a year and a half of longing, I am finally using the Omnipod!

Different from most pumps in its tubeless insulin delivery, I am able to completely forget it's there! I feel, for the first time since my diagnosis, that I'm not a diabetic.

I usually prefer to wear it on my lower back, on my love handle. As I progress in my training, I'm losing a lot of fat, which makes it difficult to find adequate placement sites. No worries, though, as I have lovely ladyfat still, and the pod is happily placed there.

The pod!

My stomach is my least favorite place so far, as I've noticed it seems a little more vulnerable to tearing off. Funny story behind that discovery: In a port-a-potty on a recent outdoor climbing trip, I was in such a hurry to get the heck out, that I very nearly ripped my pod off my stomach by pulling up my pants so fast. Oops!

Other than that, my pods haven't given me any trouble. In fact, I am absolutely in love with the system. Most especially, my blood sugar is easier to control, and I'm mostly within target range for the first time ever!

Wearing the Omnipod is very simply, the best thing I've ever done for my blood sugar.

I've also been doing a lot of outdoor climbing trips, checking out Carderock, MD, Great Falls, VA, and Sugarloaf Mountain. My favorite climbs so far are over on the VA side of Great Falls, mostly located in the section, "Aid Box."

Climbing outside allows me to really challenge myself with problem-solving for a dynamically demanding experience. I feel that I'm thinking just as hard as I am working physically, which makes for a truly satisfying experience.

The boyfriend, about to leap into Mather Gorge, Great Falls, VA.

Next time, I'll be posting more pics from climbing outside, and hopefully, lots of more good news about happy blood sugars!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Blood Sugar, Sweat and Tears: Expedition in the White Mountains

For three days in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, myself and a group climbed ice and snow, gaining experience in technical mountaineering, ice climbing, and the maintenance of diabetes in sub-freezing and extremely physically demanding conditions. 

We chose Mooney Mountain Guides, LLC. as our guiding service, and were accompanied and instructed by the fluent and brilliant Art Mooney for all three days. His superb guiding was comprehensive, challenging but not complex, and his companionship and support were invaluable. Further, he had reasonable prices, as opposed to such unmentionable guide megacorps that dominate the region. 

Art, besides being an unfathomably skilled climber and guide, was a hoot and a half to be around. His charm and warmth won all of us over, and my entire group still sings his praises high as the skies. We're all immeasurably infatuated with him, as we find his skill and abilities awesome and inspiring. I can't thank him enough for providing our humble group with such  a wonderful experience; it would not have been nearly so magical without him.

The name’s Mooney. Art Mooney.

Day One:

On the first day, we were introduced to ice climbing, using basic top-roping systems, identical to what we use in the rock gym. Eric and I were able to belay immediately, as we had experience, and Art instructed our other partner, Luc, on proper belay technique. I allowed Luc to learn to belay for the first time on me! 

This was my first time ice climbing, something I've been dreaming about since the beginning of the year. While that may not seem like a long time, it's felt like a vacuous eternity, filled only with insubstantial dreamings; frequent trips to the library to read books with ice climbing adventures, watching ice climbing videos on youtube, and sharing excitement with my friends. 

Drawing upon my experience on the rock wall at home, I was able to meet the technical challenges without difficulty. For most people, the most challenging part of any type of climbing is the terror that can come with entrusting your safety and body weight to the seemingly nonexistent support above you (your rope). You notice it when you fall, of course, but a good belayer doesn't hold you like a baby-Johnny-Jump-Up

It can be quite terrifying, and I've seen many new climbers lose themselves to the fear of the fall. Luckily for me, I was unabashedly unafraid of falling! The excitement of the moment, my enthusiastic vigor, and my pounding adrenaline washed away any fear of being up high. I was very focused, and I felt completely in my element; literally, cancer is a water sign!

This allowed me to focus on my technique and enabled me to fully enjoy the experience, which is a frame of mind that I've been working hard on establishing for many years. I would hate to be up there, knowing that when I get down, I'm going to wish I had've paid more attention to the scenery or the sheer joy of it. 

Have you ever done something that was so challenging that you forgot to enjoy it, and when you were done, wished you had experienced it differently? This was a mental trap I was determined to avoid. For the most part over the course of my trip, I was successful in maintaining this. 

Day 2:

Where this became difficult, however, was day 2. On our second day, we climbed Mt Washington. Usually, the weather conditions for a winter climb on this mountain are formidable beyond anything, anywhere nearby. Just today, the weather at the summit is severe; 124 mph maximum wind gusts and one degree above zero at its coldest. It's like being on Mars! Understandably, Mt Washington is nicknamed the, "home of the World's Worst Weather." 

Despite MW's intimidating reputation, we were fortunate enough to enjoy a truly spectacular and mild day on the mountain, allowing us to make the summit! Winds peaked at 20 mph and temperatures hovered around freezing! One couldn't ask for prettier weather. 

Admittedly,  with more severe conditions, I would not have made the summit. My blood sugar ranged from 39 to 584, setting a personal record for my widest range in a single day. The initial approach after embarking from the trailhead was grueling, and in combination, I had taken too much basal insulin (which covers my hormones, a 2x day injection cycle). Stacking too many insulin shots on top of each other and the physical strain on my cold, sleep-deprived body (5 hours) caused my sugar to plummet into the danger zone. 

My blood sugar is 39, if you were wondering why I look like a dead person.

On our first rest break after an hour of approach, my blood sugar read 39. I was shocked and utterly terrified to discover this, as I had no inking whatsoever that my blood sugar was so low. At most, I felt a little bit "off," or that something wasn't right. It was as if I couldn't put my finger on it, but it certainly wasn't as glaringly obvious as such a low number would be on any other day. 

On the mountain, my heart rate and hormones were matched exactly between hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, and physical stress. Meaning, I couldn't tell the difference between the three. In conjunction with one or the other, they can mislead me to believe that I am fine. This is very dangerous, and I learned to set a regular and frequent schedule for checking my sugar. I should check it once every 30 minutes to understand its direction, in order to prevent such lows again. Had I checked my sugar 30 minutes into our approach, I might have prevented such a low. 

Lesson learned and duly noted. yet, my sugar continued to lay low. I corrected my sugar based on the ration I've kept since my diagnosis; 17g of carbs to raise it every 30 mg/dl it is below 130. In fact, I overate! I probably had enough sugar to propel my reading into the 300's. Astonishingly, this was not the case. A short time later, my blood sugar was still under 100, which made me uncomfortable, as there is increased hypoglycemic risk. I ate a bit and moved on. 

As we approached the summit around 5,500', I began to experience agony. I felt as if I were going to have a heart attack. My heart pounded out of my chest, I couldn't gasp enough air, and every move was dire pain and nearly impossible. The remaining path to the summit, only a few hundred feet of trail, felt like another mountain in itself. 

Getting closer... From left to right, Terry Mooney; my guide’s wife, Eric, me, and Luc.

I could see it through the crystal skies, misrepresenting itself through the clarity as if close enough to touch. But it was a mirage; a hallucinatory vision to trip my reality. The summit was a couple thousand steps from where I stood, an inexorable distance. Every breath, every step, every time I decided to keep moving, I died, re-birthed, died and re-birthed again, crying hard behind my ski goggles. It was a sick quest for a prideful purpose; to be many things - a diabetic, a girl, a teenager - and still a successful summiteer. It was my salvation, my only choice, and also my hell. 

Determined to sleep in the bed that I'd made, and resolved to enjoy the fruits of such a decision, I continued on and found myself at the summit, in a fatigued state of disarray and exhaustion. I was certain I'd never make it down, feeling as if I'd been drained completely.

My guide began to show serious concern, and my partner Eric, an EMT, recognized something inauspicious in me. My sugar read 71, but I felt like it should have been in the negative. My hormones undoubtedly influenced my emotional state, and I was terrified. This fear was involuntarily fed to my group, and very quickly, I felt that the situation was more charged than was conducive to my recovery. 

My guide immediately took hold of my care, and kept talking to me, asking me questions, finding me food, forcing me to chew, and he offered me his own hot chocolate. I felt safe, though I knew, logically, that I was out of danger. Art's command of my recovery allowed me to focus on keeping a steady, calmed rate of breathing and just chewing and swallowing. With Art and Eric taking turns getting me food, warming it, and literally feeding me, I didn't have to expend any unnecessary energy. 

The team on top! Moments before I checked my blood sugar. 

After a few pregnant moments of tense recovery, I began to come into myself again. Even though my sugar was in a normal range, I didn't feel any change in my emotional experience of making the summit. Being there, where I dreamed myself to over and over again, was meaningless until it was coupled with the reality of making it down again. With the demand of the descent looming over me, I couldn't enjoy it at the top. I was only concerned with getting back to the car so that I could feel relief that I'd done what I said I'd do. 


Just enough energy to make a raspberry. 

Though we'd made it to the top, my journey was far from over. After descending to a hut located just above treeline, I felt that my blood sugar was amiss again. A complaint of lightheadedness brought my group to another tense standstill as I checked my sugar. 

What joy! Praise the Heavens! I'd never felt so happy to see such a high reading: my blood sugar was 584. This relieved me of any fears I had about another low reading, which I was both expecting and dreading. I was in the clear; out of danger! I had finally escaped the imprisoning terror of being too close to a loss of consciousness.

When I read my glucometer, I felt washed over with air, like I could finally breathe again. Physically, I noticed an immediate difference. The peace of mind provided me with an entirely new frame to position myself in, in order to bound down the mountain with both joy and relief. The rest of the descent was marvelous, and I was able to go over everything in my head, internalizing and extracting hard-fought lessons. 

“That’s one big trunk.”

When we made it to my car, I stripped off my gear and reclined in my trunk, blissfully exhausted and marinating in achievement. I'd done it! Now I was excited. 

We went home and celebrated, now free of the dangers of the mountain and my own uncertainty. 

 Day Three:

Compared to our MW climb, our last day of play in the picturesque White Mountains was a day of relaxation and reflection. This is not to say, however, that it was easy! We climbed a 700-foot multi-pitch ice route that is a staple for local climbers: Willey's Slide

First pitch!

Proudly, we practiced various self-arrest techniques, glissading, and I even invented a technique of my own: when descending a soft snow slope with fairly deep powder drifts, one can glissade exercising control in order to expend less energy. I call it the Eldridge technique. Look for it in the next edition of Freedom of the Hills: The Mountaineering Bible. 

The ice climb was magnificent, and I felt both alive and at peace. I'd found the freedom and solace that only the Great Outdoors can provide. Finally, I felt like a real mountaineer! There I was, short-roped in with my group, alongside a North Face athlete and avid climbers. I was really living, the way I'd dreamed since I was a child - out there, in the Great White North, where the air is pure and the Earth virginal, and where I could stand in the humbling shadow of real wilderness. 

This was the day I enjoyed the most, and I relished every moment. Art showed concern over my quieter moments, which were very out of character from the previous days of bubbly enthusiasm. Yet, my sugar was fine - I was simply at peace. 

Anchored with massive ice screws, I hung off the ice slope, resting my body and mind, and regenerating my spirit. The great fall beneath me, and the long climb above me, centered me between the moments I left behind and the future I could look forward to, and for a time, I reflected on these in great joy.  For the first time, I began to taste the addictive ambrosia that lures the climber's soul, enticing it to mountains, over crevasses, and through cold and fear. 

There, I found what American mystic Joseph Campbell called "my bliss." And it is there, in the great beyond, that I hope to return soon. 

Thanks to Art Mooney for the laughs and the photographs.

To view more photos, visit my public facebook album!

For more information on Art Mooney and his awesome guiding service, visit his website.

To view the current summit conditions on Mount Washington, and to view a live webcam of the mountain, visit their homepage.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Week 6 & 7: Mt Washington, Here I Come!

Guilt is a powerful incentive. For the better part of the time elapsed since my last post, I have been unable to adequately train and stick to any sort of schedule. I confess that I am disgusted with my lack of activity, and my embarrassment only serves to further motivate me towards success.

At the end of every day that goes by that I don't train, I go to bed with a heavy feeling of malcontent, and I wake up reinvigorated. If this inspiration is too insubstantial, and I don't work out again, then the guilt accumulates to make me even more determined to end my frustration with visible progress and the adherence to my goal plans.

Basically, I feel like a lazy good-for-nothing, and I give myself no slack for it. It's simply unacceptable, as I have far too much riding on my success, and it is far too important to ignore and leave to fester.

This past weekend, I went on a marvelous outing to Great Falls Park, MD and did some rappelling and learned some technical skills for what is known as "aid climbing," or climbing a rock face using rope loops as "steps" and pull systems. Specifically, the "Texas Prusik," a technique useful for self-rescue when one's fallen into a glacier.

This guy's practicing the Texas Prusik on a tree.

What fun! The latter climb took me a long time, as I was practicing incorrect technique. It's much harder than it looks on paper! Conceptualizing it is one thing, but it can be very challenging indeed.

Rappelling in the Potomac Gorge. I'm up pretty high!

Lastly, I will be spending my spring break in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. A couple of friends and I will be climbing Mount Washington and Mount Lafayette, and also some ice faces! Ice climbing is a very specific and potentially dangerous skill, but I'm very excited to get started!

It's going to be a very cold climb, many degrees below zero, and most certainly below freezing. Wind chill's going to be killer, as the summit of Mt Washington is the windiest place on Earth (on record).

I'm sure I'm going to have a blast! Check back next time for marvelous pictures and hopefully, a story of a successful summit!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Weeks 4 and 5: Hurts... So... Good...

Over and over again, I am astonished at the levels of physical exertion to which I am able to push myself. Admittedly, I've harbored the deeply buried and shameful idea that being a diabetic makes me more brittle than a non-diabetic. I am proving to myself that this is wrong.

Which, of course, is staggeringly life-changing. Though I've always believed that I should be just as physically capable as a non-diabetic, I never thought I actually was. Since the beginning of my training in January, noticeable changes have been appearing in my physicality, performance, and appearance. This is truly an achievement for both myself and diabetics everywhere; to know that the condition does not have to dictate your abilities. Attitude and discipline are everything.

This past week or so was intense. As my climbing technique, strength and stamina are all increasing and developing steadily, I conquered my most challenging climbs ever at the rock gym; a couple of 5.9's a few times and one 5.10! I'm not at all solidly on that level yet, though, because even some 5.7's challenge me. I am hoping to master 5.9's very solidly within the next couple of months so that I can learn to sport lead, a much more demanding and dangerous style of rock climbing.

To feel my body changing is very exciting, and it's almost at a rate too fast for my consciousness and awareness to maintain. When I am up on the rock wall, my muscles feel much stronger than I can ever remember, and I'm moving in ways I don't fully understand. My creativity in climbing movements is surprising me, and it's encouraging to feel myself improving in my skill and ability. Needless to say, I'm still in the honeymoon phase of my physical training.

This last weekend was perhaps my most physically demanding of all. I managed to do a 7-mile hike over very rocky terrain with a 44-lb. pack (approximately 32% of my body weight) that lasted about 4 hours. Three days later, and my gluteus maximus is hurting so very, very good. Buns of Steel's got nothin' on that hike.

The hiking crew and I, far left. I'm the dipstick with the massive pack.

If that weren't tortuous enough, I just had to go climbing at the rock gym immediately afterward to bag those tough aforementioned climbs. Whoo dillay! I am hurtin' from my ankles, to my calves and things, to my back, shoulders, forearms, and everywhere in between. I need some aspirin, a massage, and perhaps a punch in the face for having lost my mind. Does anyone know a good masseuse/ dojo/ pharmacy?

Truth be told, I loved every minute of the grueling agony of physical exhaustion, and I had even more energy left over. In fact, I wanted to push myself further, but enough is enough! There is always time for more masochism later...

Since that hike, my blood sugar has practically resolved itself. In the graph, take a look at the last third of the readings. Those are my blood sugar results since the hike and following climbs. It may not be easy to see, but my blood sugar finds a much tighter range, with one high reading of 285.

This is a breakthrough in my understanding of how exercise affects my metabolism, and I'm excited for the good news. Also, I blasted through all of my emergency sugar while on the hike, so I can't be too careful about that. I'd rather carry too much than too little, and that's a lesson I don't ever want to have to learn the hard way.

Lastly, I will be doing a late winter climb of Mount Washington come March. Weather conditions ought to be crushingly cold and windy, perhaps below zero and >40 mph winds. I can't wait! What a great opportunity for me to get some instruction and experience with snow travel, crampons, ice axes, and self-arrest. Also, I'll be anxious to see how my glucometer and insulin will fare in such harsh conditions. I'd rather make some mistakes and learn from them on Mt Washington than Mt Rainier.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Week 3: A Little Bit High

So far, so good. The first three weeks were really about the strong establishment of a routine; without a solid foundation, anyone attempting a new fitness routine might be prone to failure. As in every way possible, I want to enable myself to experience success in what I attempt, and I certainly don't want to make myself susceptible to giving up.

But then, that's why it's so great to keep a training blog - it's something to hold me accountable! What am I going to do, lie on my blog? That would neither serve me or you, the reader. I'm blogging about my real experiences, because I believe it's important to show the world what I'm doing, and because I believe everyone should be getting "out there," and challenging themselves to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Besides, if I'm not happy with what I have to say on here, then I'm motivated to do something to satisfy my hunger for stimulation and to push my limits some more.

Now that I'm heading into my fourth week of training, I can't believe a month is gone already. Officially, I have 20 weeks left until I get on the plane to Seattle-Tacoma airport. Sounds like a lot, but looking back, time really flies.

In reflection, I think that I've done a great job so far. In terms of fitness, I've managed to:

  • become an avid climber of my local rock gym, hitting it for many hours several times a week
  • establish a habit of going to my local fitness center to do one-hour workouts, encompassing warmup, cardio, strenth and flexibility training at least three times a week
  • hike my first proper "summit"
  • keep my motivation momentum going!

Also, I can tell that my physiology is changing. Not only does my body feel tighter, leaner and stronger, but I have a spring in my step and some power to my grip. Everything; standing, walking, all movements feel more precise and carry more power. In other words, I feel fitter than ever.

My blood sugar hasn't magically resolved itself to perfection (I'm very disappointed to say) but I have been monitoring it even more actively than usual - which can never be a bad thing! I'm also waiting for the green light from my insurance company so that I can go on the Omnipod. After trying it on, I realized there is no way I could ever use a regular pump. The Omnipod liberated me in ways I haven't felt since before my diagnosis, and that's peace of mind worth every penny. I hope my insurance agrees!

Logistically speaking, my flight is booked, I have a hotel in Seattle for a few nights after my Rainier attempt, and I've got a 5000-cubic-inch girly-purple expedition pack on its way to my doorstep, along with some nice hiking boots for outside training. Check out the pack!

With my new pack (as required by Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.) I'll be doing some serious pack training, which is one of the best ways to get in shape for a big climb attempt, according to most experienced mountaineers. Makes sense - replicate the climb itself for the most logical and effective prep.

While I'm waiting for my new toys, I'll be continuing to go to Earth Treks to get my butt beat on the rock walls, and going for dayhikes in the area.

Speaking of which, I climbed my first proper "summit" this afternoon, with the company of my mountain-climbing dachshund, Karma. Who knew doxies were such enthusiastic mountaineers? Karma, at least, is a powerhouse. Take a look at her as she absorbs everything from her vantage point at 1300 feet up at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.

While 1300 feet isn't much to look at on paper, it was a good challenge for training purposes, and it was beautiful at the top, too! With a 25-lb. pack, I climbed to the top and watched the sun dip behind the rolling Appalachians. Being a monodnock, or a single peak that's lasted through the geological eras as its surroundings have mostly eroded, the view from the top was spectacular.

What a view! And what a nice reward for a good two-hours' worth of climbing. I picked up a couple of Sugarloaf quartzite nuggets as well, just for shiggles.

Looking forward to the coming weeks and months of training, I figure it's time for a concrete plan. Here's my training-goal calendar from here until Rainier:

Week 4 - 30 minutes every 3 days on steeply-inclined treadmill with a 25-lb. pack, plus regular workout routine of lifting, stretching and cardio

Week 5 - 45 minutes every 3 days as above with 35-lb. pack

Week 6 - 50 minutes every 3 days as above with 35-lbs.

Weeks 7-15 - 50 minutes every 2 days as above with 40 lbs.

Weeks 15-20 - 1 hour every 2 days as above with 45 lbs.

Besides my goals with a weighted pack, I will maintain my regular gym schedule at Earth Treks and with cardio and strength training. Also, I plan to climb Mount Mitchell in North Carolina before the winter chill is gone, which ought to happen in March sometime; Mount Mitchell is the higest peak East of the Mississippi River.

Until next week, happy blood sugars!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Week 2: 12 New Callouses and One New Insulin Pump

This week, I was able to do my hardest climb ever. On the Yosemite Decimal System, a 5.10 is a challenge for many experienced climbers. I was able to attack a 5.10 not just once, but twice! I am very proud of my newest climbing achievement, and it helps to further my motivation to improve into a strong and skilled climber. 

I've become a member at my rock gym, and I intend on going several times a week. 

I'm also happy to announce that it is only a matter of time now before I am officially on the Omnipod, Insulet Corporation's insulin pump with tubeless technology; the first of its kind. It's been a very long time coming both for me and the diabetic community. 

Admittedly, I've tried traditional pumps with infusion sets and long tubes - no good. While many pumps out there are truly spectacular, a pump is a pump. The Omnipod, however, is more than a pump: it's a guarantor of freedom. 

When I wore a traditional insulin pump, I felt imprisoned by its tubing and weight. As soon as I put it on, I felt great, but my happiness quickly dissolved into a very unhappy flashback to when I was first diagnosed. It wasn't pretty. 

The Omnipod is different from other pumps in the enormously advantageous respect that it is sans tubing. Because of this functionality, I was able to forget it was even there! What invaluable peace of mind! As a diabetic, that feeling is mostly a foggy memory. I'm delighted. 

Besides my new equipment, I'm also happy to announce a budding partnership with the ADA annd JDRF. With pleasure and respect, I will be representing both organizations at future events, such as fundraisers, radio interviews, and health conferences. I'm sure countless good can come out of such a partnership, and I am very excited to begin collaborating our resources to raise money and awareness for the benefit of diabetic everywhere.

So with my dying grip and newly calloused hands (12 in total, thankyouverymuch), I'm off to get some rest to finish up another week of training. Week 4, prepare to be climbed/ hiked/ attacked/ rocked!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Week 1: Highs and Lows, and Not Just With My Blood Sugar

Yesterday marked the completion of my first week of training and conditioning for Rainier, and although it was a great start, there is much progress to be made.

I have been training at Earth Treks Climbing to work my upper body and core (check out my action shot!), and I've also incorporated more weight into my backpacking routine.

On Day 1, I started at 17 lbs. for 30 minutes, and that felt great. So I increased my weight to 45 lbs., and trained for an hour at 15 grade on the treadmill. While challenging, it was certainly do-able. I felt great about this arrangement, but I've come to realize that I need to work in smaller increments, as I hurt my left knee slightly. After a couple of days with a knee brace, I feel fine, but I've learned my lesson about overdoing it.

I learned the same lesson over again with climbing, as I'm trying to fit as much rock climbing into a 15-day period as is humanly possible. After buying a package deal with unlimited climbing for 15 days, I've climbed over ten intermediate routes, become belay-certified, and thoroughly exhausted my upper body. I'm not strong at all, but I have a wide vocabulary of movements for a beginner. I credit that to a history of dancing, as improvisation skills have contributed to my inventive climbing technique. In a week, however, I will be taking a class on movements, so I expect to benefit greatly from that. Hopefully, I will have a very solid foundation as a climber by the end of my 15-day stint. I intend to continue rock climbing throughout my 5-month training schedule, as rock climbing skills will be enormously helpful in mountaineering.

To ascend to the top of a rock wall is an extraordinary feeling of achievement, especially when the ascent was hard-fought. Hanging four stories up, with a single rope for support, can be nerve-wracking! An incredible amount of blind trust is required in the moment when it is time to be lowered, as your hands have to leave the supportive wall and hold on to the taut rope. Looking down four stories is frightening, but knowing that they were four stories that you strove to climb is extraordinary.

On the other hand, literally, I took a huge chunk out of a finger and I'm developing serious climber's callouses, which is good. Hurts, though!

Throughout this week, I've been eyeing my blood sugar even more closely than usual. My blood sugar has been interesting, to say the least. From nighttime highs that keep me up to nighttime lows that wake me up, I have been struggling to maintain a shred of normalcy. It seems that with increased activity, my blood sugar stays closer to or on target, and my insulin sensitivity increases. However, with increased physical activity comes increased caloric requirements, and satisfying those is an experiment yet to be resolved. If I eat a larger meal than usual, I will take insulin according to my longtime insulin-to-carb ratio* and expect it to be covered, no problema. However, my ratio seems to change on the heels of strenuous activity, but I'm not totally sure how much of a change occurs. If I give myself a couple more units than is necessary, I might experience a low! If I give myself the normal amount, I might experience a high. Sometimes it feels as if I am simply flying by the seat of my pants.

I am investigating my insurance coverage for continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMS), to provide me with more peace of mind while being so active, but I imagine that it will be a couple of weeks before I have a clear idea of how my insulin delivery and blood sugar monitoring will change. I can only hope that it will, and for the better. Currently, I am checking out the Minimed Paradigm system and the Dexcom Seven System which are both pretty attractive-looking getups. (The DexCom 7 System and Minimed Paradigm are featured in the pic).

To be honest, my dream rig is the Animas 2020 and the Dex 7 System. Admittedly, this is Will Cross's setup, but you can see the practicality here, too, right? "Cross" your fingers for me:)

Lastly, I made the first payment for my expedition today. My nonrefundable deposit was delivered, and I have reached a new level of commitment to my program. My project to summit Mt Rainier, raise money for diabetes research, and send a clear message to diabetics that you can conquer your own mountains, has quickly become my main focus every waking moment.

I hope you continue to read and I look forward to your reader emails.

Until Week 2, happy blood sugars!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Day 3 and Will Cross

Today was my third day of my intensive training schedule. On day one, I began with 15 minutes of warmup, followed by 30 minutes of 100% incline on a treadmill with a 20-lb. pack, and ending with 15 minutes of cool-down.

For today, I took an introductory rock climbing class at the world-class rock gym Earth Treks with the masterful instructor Ryan (you're the man!). I learned the basics of belaying and top-roping, such as tying in, anchoring, and all that good stuff. I now have a 15-foot rope to practice my knots on, and I will be taking the belay test very shortly to qualify as a belayer. Also, for the next 15 days, I will be focusing my training on rock climbing to jump-start my upper body's development, as that is my weak spot. After Day 1's training, I felt I could do another 30 minutes with a pack that was twice as heavy. Clearly, my legs are strong, but my arms are in dire need of attention.

And attention they will get, because typing is a bit of a chore for me presently. I am a little disappointed in my performance climbing today, because I was hoping to have more endurance. My grip died first, then my wrists and forearms, and lastly my reserve. Here, I was immensely helped along by the encouragement of my climbing partner (my brother) and the direction of my awesome instructor Ryan.

Day 3 total: two 5.6 climbs, not bad.
Week so far: 30 minutes, 100% treadmill incline, 20-lb. pack

Off to a great start! But I have a LOT of work to do. As I like to say, I am going to climb many mountains before I even set foot on one. I wouldn't have it any other way! I look forward to kicking my own butt, and having you come after me as well. Feel free to comment if you have any suggestions for my training plan, and I will be happy to take your ideas into consideration. I'm going to do whatever it takes to prepare myself for Rainier.

On another note, I had the incredible honor and pleasure of speaking with world-class mountaineer Will Cross on the phone today. I wrote him and asked him a lot of questions about blood sugar and altitude, sponsorship and even insulin pumps. He gave me a call and inspired me a great deal. It's so validating to hear a true pro tell you that you can do it! He is on the Animas 2020, which I have all but decided to use myself. I've contacted Animas, and I should be hearing about that shortly. Will said it was very durable, and the Animas customer service is rock-solid. Sounds good to me!

Good news with the pump, in general, though! My insurance company is going to cover me 100%. No out of pocket expenses! I couldn't be more stoked to be with an insurance company. It is almost too good to be true. I've spent one and a half years wishing I could be on the pump, and I've been through about 4 different insurance companies. Finally, the Heaven-sent news I needed to hear!

As for my blood sugar so far - I checked before and after my day 1 exercise, and also before I started climbing today and after I came down. The only notable issue was that my sugar was 89 before my class today, so I had a granola bar (30g carbs) and I was at 98 two climbs later! Obviously, my body used up a lot of energy and tore into that snack. This helps me gauge pre-climbing snacking in the future. I also made sure to stay very hydrated.

After all is said and done, I'm doing pretty well for my third day. I rewarded myself with a junior whopper this evening:) I'm pretty darn proud, but I'm going to work even harder next time. Which will be tomorrow. Wish me luck on my belay test!

Mt Rainier Prep

I am a type 1 diabetic female, and I've had diabetes for a year and a half. This year, for my 20th birthday, I plan to climb Mt Rainier in Washington State. Weather and mountain permitting, I will summit as planned on my birthday, and I will also celebrate my 2-year anniversary with diabetes two days prior on the ascent.

I am climbing the mountain to prove that a female type 1 diabetic can do anything without the limitations of having diabetes - including climb Mt Rainier!

Here, I will be updating my blog with posts detailing the trials and tribulations of my physical conditioning as I train for the trek, and the specifics on my fundraising goals.

I am actively and aggressively pursuing sponsorship, as I am a full-time student and need all the financial help I can get to finance my expedition. Beyond that, I am hoping to raise a lot of money for diabetes research. It is too early to set a goal, but I am hoping for a minimum of $1,000.

If I am able to successfully become the first female type 1 diabetic to summit the mountain, I will test my blood sugar at the peak for the sake of ritual. This will be the highest point a female type 1 diabetic has ever tested her blood sugar in the continental United States! (Excluding airplanes and magical levitation).

If you are interested in sponsorship or donation, please send me an email at and send me your information.

I look forward to sharing my journey with you!