A Champion Athlete from Trinidad.

Today, I’m thrilled to bring you our latest Champion Athlete With Diabetes, and the first guest post here at Happy-Medium.net!

Corey Melke is a U.S. expat living with her husband in Trinidad. She’s been living with Type 1 diabetes for about a year and a half, and she writes about her life (with some fantastic recipes too) at her blog, Learning Patience.

Corey’s story is the perfect example of perseverance in the face of adversity. She never let her setbacks define her… In fact, she seems to have used them as touchstones for even greater accomplishments. Don’t ever tell Corey she can’t do it– She’ll prove you wrong! Take it away Corey…

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Ever since I was little, i played sports. Softball, basketball, swim team, track…i tried it all. I loved the thrill of competition and it helped me stay in shape. But when college was over and work started, working out kinda fell off my daily to-do list. My vegetarian diet helped keep my weight in a decent spot, but I was not strong or frankly, all that healthy. It wasn’t until I met my husband that I decided to make a lifestyle change and get healthy. That meant more sleep, less drinking, working out at the gym and starting to run. At first, I couldn’t even make it a block without stopping. Running did not come easy to me, it was a real challenge and it had been way too long since I felt that thrill of working hard to achieve a non- work related goal. We ran 5k’s together, mud runs and a 10k right before we moved to Trinidad. In one year, I had gone from couch potato to runner girl!

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Moving to Trinidad, 3 years ago, meant a world of new experiences and lifestyle changes and not working. Not working meant being able to workout whenever I wanted, but it also meant I would need to be more focused than ever, because it’s just as easy to be lazy or snack whenever you want. One day, a blog friend convinced me to train for my first half marathon, something I never thought I would do. I agreed, but with loads of hesitation and fear of failure. It was then that I signed up to the Daily Mile, a website where you can friend other runners, track your workouts and get support and advice from others. It has been a critical part of my success. As the race date got closer, my friend got injured and I was devastated. I felt like I could never do it without her, but the next morning I ran 13.1 miles. I did it under 2 hours too, definitely one of my proudest adult moments. There was no crowd cheering me on and no shiny medal handed out at the finish line, it was just me and my determination to succeed.

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After that, I was hooked. I wanted to run faster, participate in a “real” race and i wanted a medal. I was lucky enough to be selected as an Ambassador for the Women’s Half Marathon series and planned to run in September in Nashville. Training was going great until one Sunday afternoon when a simple photo op at the pool, changed my life forever.

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The picture is fantastic, eh?! When I landed in the water my right toe touched my right heel and I sat on my foot underwater. I basically crushed my foot. When I surfaced, i was crying without even knowing what had happened. Getting injured underwater is very weird. There really isn’t time to feel pain because you are focused on trying to hold your breath. I saw a specialist the next day and was told I had a fracture, I needed a aircast for 6 weeks and all would be OK. If you have ever been injured when you are in the best shape of your life, you know its dreadful.

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I followed the Drs. orders and was soon pool running and my life was almost back to normal. While on a vacation in the US, I was told I could finally take the aircast off and even go for a run. I cannot explain how amazing those 3 miles felt. But while running, I had noticed that my eyes were really dry. I mean like my eyelids were sticking to my eyes, dry. Weird. Later that day, I felt sick, my mouth was dry, my appetite gone and I had no desire to drink wine at all. You can laugh at the wine comment but it just might have helped saved my life. By the time my husband arrived a couple days later, I knew something was wrong. I felt worse, much worse and I went to the ER. At first, I was told I had jet-lag and to go home, but I pressed for more tests. Then, the the lady who said I was “fine”, told me that I had diabetes. The nurse told me that I was a Type 2 diabetic, which didn’t make sense to me – I was healthy, in shape and had been a vegetarian since 6th grade. At that point, I was in a state of shock. The nurse showed me how to test my blood sugar and gave me Metformin. At that point my blood sugar was 835. I was released, I took 1 pill and we went home to figure it all out. I sat my husband down and told him and we all just kinda sat there. The next morning, I hoped a run would help clear my head, but as I started on down the driveway, I couldn’t breathe. I fell to the ground, gasping for breath and then somehow managed to crawl back into the house for help. I felt like I was dying, I couldn’t get a full breath in and it was terrifying. After a quick call to the pharmacy, my dad just looked at me and said “You have to go to the ER, now”!

August 10, 2012

Turns out, I was not a Type 2 diabetic, I was a Type 1. I was in DKA, just minutes from passing into a coma and that pill was making things much worse. DKA occurs when the body cannot use glucose as fuel because there is no insulin in the body. So, the body burns fat instead which produces keytones. A urine test showed my keytone level was over 90. That week I lost almost 10 pounds. I found out that I never should have been released from the hospital the day before, in fact, I was so sick, I had to spend an entire week there. Going for that run saved my life, it helped my body process the Metformin faster, which took my breath away, which then alerted me to go to he hospital. Our original plan was to get on the boat and spend all day on the lake. If I wouldn’t have gone for a run, the Dr. told me that sometime that day, I mostly likely would have lapsed into a coma and could have died. My endocrinologist say its hard to determine how long I had T1D, I had probably been controlling my own BS with running. Then, when I was side-lined with the aircast, my BS just kept creeping higher and higher and higher.

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Figuring out my new life of insulin shots, counting carbs and all that other fun stuff that goes with having this horrible disease was hard, but realizing I was only 4 weeks from my BIG Nashville race and I wasn’t going to be able to run in it, was even harder. I was banned from running for another 2 weeks. All of my organs were shutting down and I had lost almost 60% of my vision, a result of having a high blood sugar for so long. My body was broken, my cells needed more time to repair themselves and eventually my sight would return. After two long weeks of resting, I was finally able to start running again. Running with diabetes was much more difficult than originally expected. Keeping a steady blood sugar while burning 800-1000 calories and running in almost 100 degree temperatures is a huge challenge.

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I went to Nashville anyways and competed in the 5k. Although it stung not to be running the half, I’m glad I went and did my best, I even placed 2nd in my age group! The amazing folks at the WHM series offered me a re-do in St. Petersburg, FL in November, 2 months later. I was thrilled and started training again. Once my training runs got over the 8 miles mark, I soon realized how training with T1D would be MUCH HARDER than originally thought. I had to learn how to fuel properly before, during and after my runs. No more not eating post workout, I experienced a couple extreme BS drops and was soon reading all I could about athletes with T1D. The more I learned, the more I felt overwhelmed. My endocrinologist told me I needed to slow down. She had never seen a new T1 who had gone from a 11% A1C and almost dying to a 6.2% A1C in three months and running 15 miles a a week. It was then that I got my first Dexcom, we call him Dex in my family.

No more sore fingers from testing 10-13 times a day and no more scary nights wondering if I would wake up all sweaty with a low. Dex saved my life and continues to help me be as healthy and as safe as I can be every, single day. Sure, he can be annoying at times and sometimes he’s off a little bit every now and then, but I simply could not imagine my life without him. So, with Dex, my training improved and I was more confident on my runs. But just as things seemed like they were getting better, on my last long run before my big race, I felt more than the usual pain in my right foot.

It was then that my Dr. told me that his original thought, that I might have a LisFranc injurya very complicated injury that 50% of people need surgery to repair, was right. He told me to pull out of the race and head to the US. Against my Dr. orders and against my husband & parents wishes, I went to Florida and i ran that race anyways. I don’t suggest running injured but after all I had been thru earlier that year, I wasn’t going to be stopped.

 

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The next day, I headed to Houston where I was told that I needed surgery ASAP. The middle joints of my foot were separated more than 5 times the normal amount. He was shocked I was even able to walk on it, let alone run a half marathon. 3 days later I had surgery. The surgery took over 3.5 hours and required 11 pieces of titanium to fuse 4 bones together.

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Foot Hardware 3

The next 7 days were complete hell and that was with pain meds every 3 hours! I don’t think I have ever gone thru something so incredibly painful in my life, EVER. Growing bones isn’t as easy as one might think. I had to get off the pain meds ASAP because they were throwing off Dex & I couldn’t handle that.

I would be in a non-weight baring cast from Dec 22 until April 1.

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When the cast came off, I couldn’t wait for rehab.
I had no idea how difficult the process of just learning how to walk again would be…

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I had rehab 3-4 times a week, every week till June. On June 20, my birthday, I ran 4 miles.
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Then, I found a half marathon in October in Houston and signed up…my BIG comeback run! I was going to show diabetes and my stupid LisFranc injury who was boss. Don’t tell me I cant run again!

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On October 27, in the pouring rain and cold, I finished in 2:02. I did it and crossed that finish line with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes. The next day I visited my foot surgeon with my much deserved medal around my neck. He was beyond thrilled. He told me that the chance of me running again was slim, he just didn’t want to tell me that from the beginning.

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I’m currently training for 4 races in the Spring and I’m running faster than ever before. My last A1C was 6.1% and I currently am using the latest and greatest Dexcom, which I wear on the back of my upper arm, and I am on injections, Levimir (2X day) and Apidra My diabetes will be always be a daily challenge and a pain in my ass the rest of my life but it will never stop me from achieving my goals and living life to the full! You can follow my island life, training, travels and recipes over on my blog, Learning Patience. Last November, I even traveled to Africa and saw a cheetah kill, it was pretty amazing!

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Life tried knocking me down not once, but twice and I still got back up. Without sounding too cheesy, LIFE IS A GIFT, don’t waste it. Break a sweat each day, eat healthy and colorfully, drink loads of water and laugh as much as possible!

xoxo from Trinidad

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Thanks Corey! You are an inspiration, and very worthy of the designation Champion Athlete With Diabetes!

So maybe you’re thinking: “Hey, I’ve been working hard… where’s my medal?”. To find out how to get yours, click here.
 
 
 

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Comments

  • Laddie  On February 20, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    I think that Corey should earn 10 medals! What a story of perseverance.

    Like

  • Scott E  On February 21, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    The persistence and motivation that Corey writes about is just mind-boggling. It’s easy to talk about rebounding from a blow, but to do it – and do so in such a determined fashion – over and over is incredible. Thanks for sharing this story.

    Like

  • Hayley (Oat Couture)  On February 23, 2014 at 7:07 am

    She’s an awesome individual, isn’t she! 🙂

    Like

  • Karen  On February 24, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    I love to see your program continuing to grow and flourish and inspire!!

    Like

    • StephenS  On February 24, 2014 at 4:24 pm

      Thank you! I’ve gotta admit– it feels good sending them out, so I get a lot out of it too.

      Like

  • Bob P  On February 27, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Great job Corey!!! Great motivation for me and others.

    Like

Trackbacks

  • By Inspiring Blog Posts on March 18, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    […] A Champion Athlete from Trinidad, Diabetes Blog – Happy-Medium.  Diabetic runner Corey Melke – blogger at  Learning Patience  – shares an inspiring guest post about her determination to overcome multiple setbacks and challenges. […]

    Like

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