Amy’s T1D Adventure: Do you know who Bob Marley is?

[Here’s a guest post series from Amy McKinnon, a One Drop user and 27-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.]

Getting back into my rhythm

Running around Tuxtla's biggest parkI now wanted to get into the rhythm of my exercise and running regime so started my morning off with a 6 mile run in Cana Hueca – the only park big enough to run with a 1-mile loop (quaint, but has nothing on Central Park!).

A bucket shower later and feeling fresh and hungry I’m back at the vegetarian cafe for a strange breakfast – lettuce, tomato, avocado, tortillas and a slab of soy protein. Clearly I need to improve my Spanish translation skills. Mexico also needs some veggie education stat! I have a call with my friend Cyrus Khambatta and discussed the perils of the obesity epidemic and eating habits of most Mexicans. He consoles and reassures me that it’s a grassroots movement to educate one person at a time on healthy eating and things will slowly change. I’m still overwhelmed by the incredulous amount of refined sugar, saturated fat and processed foods consumed in this country. It felt good to share my concerns with someone who understood and was trying to confront this issue rapidly killing a country.

After my processed breakfast my blood glucose is back in the high 200s, but I know some outdoor exercise is around the corner so give a modest correction dose.

Waterfalls, Snacks, and Temp Basals

Walking down the stairs to the waterfallAldo and I meet up with his friend Brenda and catch a 2-hour bus to a waterfall. To reach this waterfall, it really was quite a trek, off road in a part of Mexico that had chickens on the streets, tiny tiny houses with tin roofs held down by bricks and plenty of stray dogs. We walked approximately 3 miles to reach the descent to the bottom of the waterfall! I also put on a reduced temp basal of 50% so I wouldn’t have to continue shoveling food into my mouth the whole afternoon. But it was worth every one of them, and every raisin I ate on the way down to keep my blood glucose in range.

We walked through the freezing water to capture the best view of the waterfall, sat down in the sand and had some snacks as we absorbed the grand nature surrounding us. When we had captured every angle of the waterfall,Some yoga by the waterfallgotten wet up to our knees and put our shoes back on our wet feet, we started the ascent back up the stairs and the 3-mile walk back to the main road.

How do we get back to town to catch the bus to Tuxtla? Hitchhike, of course! Which my friends reassured me was totally safe…

For the trip I had bought along 2 apples, 2 bananas and some raisins and with all the walking I had to gobble them all down to keep my blood glucose around 112, even with a temp basal. The benefits of exercise! When I have healthy snacks on me I don’t mind eating frequently as it wards off hunger and lows.

T1D, no cake for me

Late in the evening we arrive back in Tuxtla, my friend and his mom head to the supermarket to buy a cake, which I learn is a Mexican tradition to share and eat with family and friends at this time of the year. I manage to squeeze in a call to my Dad to wish him happy birthday while I have 5 minutes of alone time! While I gobbled down a salad, the family ate a cake for dinner, which would also be a staple food consumed over the next few days.

While the family eats traditional Mexican cake
T1D has salad for dinnerAfter a 7-mile morning run in Cana Hueca, I return home to rice and beans cooked in salt and oil for breakfast (imagine my face when I get back and this is waiting for me). I’m torn between feeling grateful for the generosity of having food made for me and trying to explain the reasons I cannot eat these foods, where there is no understanding of diabetes and the affects of food on it.

I needed some me time, which I normally have in abundance and really really appreciate and love, so I headed to a cafe to send some emails and work on these blog posts.

In need of fresh fruit and veggies — I can never have enough — I head to the Mercardo.

A little Pre-Spanish History and some Exercise

One Drop T1D logLate in the afternoon I decide to visit one of the limited tourist attractions here in Tuxtla: Instituto de Antropolgia y Historia. I am intrigued by the history of the indigenous Mexicans – Mayans, Zapotecs, Chiapencas, before the Spanish invaded. It was interesting to learn about this and spend some time learning about the history of a country I’d grown to love.

A morning of high-intensity exercise and some intermittent walking throughout the day keeps me blood glucose between 90-130ish. It’s been a good day all around.

Over the past few days more innocently funny questions have been asked, as I respond and giggle inside my head with a smile on my face I know they are coming from a good place, but they are still amusing, at least for me. Here they are:

  • Do you know who Bob Marley is?
  • Why don’t you eat fast food when it tastes so good?
  • Every day: What do you eat? Me: Fruits and vegetables. Every day: Yes, but what else do you eat?

Next on the agenda is La Fiesta Chiapa De Corzo, where men dress as women in bright traditional clothes. Check out my next blog post for photos!




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.