Amy’s T1D Adventure: Pumped Up and On the Run in Cuenca

Arriving at Cuenca

The bus ride from Baños to Cuenca wasn’t too bad for 7-hours. My BGs were in range and I snacked on bananas and low-fat granola. I tried to sip as little water as possible because there were no toilets on the bus and we were taking no stops!

I arrived at Cuenca on a rainy Saturday afternoon and went on an hour-long hunt for some vegetarian food. Starving, I chose a place which wouldn’t have been my first preference but got a basic salad and some rice and beans.

Cuenca was a ghost town on Sunday so my day consisted of yoga, walking, cross training and dinner at the only restaurant open in town. A vegetable curry and salad satisfied my craving for some healthy foods.

Amy's T1D Adventure: Yoga in Cuenca

On Monday, the rain had stopped and I managed to head out for a 6-mile run along the river.

Back to the Insulin Pump

Amy's T1D Adventure: Running near a river in Cuenca, EcuadorI had made the decision after 2 months of injections (Novolog and Lantus) to switch back to my insulin pump. I was ready to be reconnected. My main frustration with injections was my lack of BG control during the night: if I didn’t wake up at around 2am and give myself a Novo injection of 2-3 units I’d be waking up with a BG above 250. Lantus wasn’t giving me the flexibility of varying basal rates like my insulin pump could and I really needed to get my night time numbers back in control! Mostly so I could get an uninterrupted good night’s sleep!

Roaming around the City

Reconnected and ready to be a tourist, I took a 2-hour city bus tour of the old town and surrounding areas. My favorite stop was the mirador (viewpoint) overlooking the city of Cuenca.

Amy's T1D Adventure: Viewpoint
On the tour I made a friend, Marta from Venezuela. She was traveling on her own and we had a fun conversation in Spanish. A question I get asked frequently in general conversation once people know my age (28) is, “Do you have children?” I laughed as Marta asked me that, and a life I could not imagine at my age flashed before my eyes. Amy's T1D Adventure: Posing with friends in Ecuador

I struggled with some post-exercise lows, potentially due to pump-induced increased sensitivity. I had to snack consistently and reduce my basal until I found a place called The Vegetable Bar – and it lived up to its name. A fresh juice, salad and soup for lunch!

Amy's T1D Adventure: One Drop Daily Summary By the end of the day I was exhausted but happy to be reconnected to my pump and my BGs. I just need to refine my doses a little over the next few days to reduce my lows.

Tuesday was the Bus Tour part 2 in which we visited a factory where they made traditional Ecuadorean hats from straw. The hats were quite famous with the likes of Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp wearing custom-made versions during red carpet appearances. My BGs were much better and I wasn’t having to counteract any lows at this stage.

For lunch I found a vegan restaurant with $3.50 Almuerzo consisting of a soup, a rice and salad dish, and fresh fruit for dessert. I was in vegan heaven.

As the afternoon sky started to get cloudy I wanted to head out for some sprints on a local running track I had discovered. My BGs were a little high (270), but with some insulin on board, I think they’ll decrease as I start working out.

Let’s just say that sprinting in altitude is more than a challenge. I managed 2 miles and was dead, so finished my workout with a slow 2-mile jog along the river. By the time I finished, my BG was 55 – Eeek, the power of exercise!!

Selling Live Guinea Pigs — Not as pets!

Amy's T1D Adventure: Banana Boy in Cuenca By Wednesday the rain was back! Rain coat on, I walked 3 miles to a large market called El Arenal Mercado (having to snack along the way – damn those persistent lows). It was full of fruit, vegetables, grains and guinea Pigs (dead AND alive) on sale for people to eat!! My vegan conscience felt very sorry for these poor animals, especially while seeing them in cages and knowing what lies ahead for them.

I stocked up on bananas, dragon fruit, and papaya. I even found my banana baby guarding some huge bunches of bananas fresh off the tree!

Back at my hostel I continue to reduce my basals and increase my insulin to carb ratio – I’m already back to 20:1. Boom! Very happy with that and hopefully it’ll start to get rid of these lows!

Running and Refueling T1D Style

Thursday morning I woke up ready for half marathon # 3 for www.1bloodydrop.com to raise awareness for type 1 diabetes. It was cold, cloudy, and rainy but I didn’t want to back out. My mind and body were ready to run. With a pre-run banana and a BG of 130, I headed out. 2hrs16mins later and I finished the 13.1 miles feeling a little wet and cold from the mud on my legs, yet accomplished. And I finished my run with a BG of 90 – I was on fire. Amy's T1D Adventure: Kangaroo hugging Teddy Bear

I re-fueled my body with 3 bananas, 2 passion fruit and a dragonfruit and headed out to get a much needed manicure – for $3!!

As the day continued, the rain got harder so I felt lucky that I ran in the early hours of the morning!

Lunch was at my new favorite restaurant Quinua and I spent the afternoon sipping on a hot chocolate and reading the local Spanish newspaper El Tiempo.

By early evening I was packed and ready to catch my early morning flight back to Quito where I am staying for 2 more weeks (I just can’t get enough of Ecuador) before I head to Lima, Machu Picchu and Cusco!

I’m excited to be back at Quito’s Nike Run Club, run some more and maybe squeeze in a few more touristy adventures in this big city.
Thanks Cuenca for the runs and the rain!

Let’s hope my BGs continue to stay on track with the magic of my insulin pump!


This is a guest post series from Amy McKinnon, a One Drop user and 28-year-old ex-advertising executive who recently swapped her NYC apartment for an oversized backpack to explore the streets of Latin America for six months. Amy has lived with type 1 diabetes for 15 years and tries her best to balance blood glucose levels,marathon training and a high-carb raw vegan diet. Now she has thrown travel into the mix. EDITOR’S NOTE: Amy is a performance athlete and consumes a high-carb diet. At One Drop, we believe that a low-carb approach to food reduces the risk of high and low blood glucose incidents and can effectively reduce blood glucose levels overall. However, we want to share a variety of personal experiences so we can all learn how other people live their lives with diabetes. Always consult your doctor before making changes to a prescribed regimen.

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Amy McKinnon
Amy McKinnon

Amy McKinnon is a One Drop user, marathoner, ex-advertising executive, and has lived with type 1 diabetes for 15 years. Amy is currently exploring the streets of Latin America for six months.