How Diabetes can Affect your Levels of Concentration
Fifa 13 wouldn’t normally be something to associate with a medical condition such as Type One Diabetes. However, in having a moment to chill out from all the preparations of my upcoming GBR 30/30 Challenge, I soon realised that diabetes was affecting me on my campaign as Stoke City FC manager as I wasn’t chilled at all.
First and foremost I’d like to apologise to my fellow Crystal Palace FC supporters for playing as Stoke in the high-life of the Premier League. I was just curious as to what it would feel like…
In playing a game, after a few decent signings on my behalf – no offence Tony Pulis – and on the back of two wins, I found myself 2-0 down at home against Arsenal after 30 mins (on Fifa time) of play. And what was worse was the fact that Thomas Sick-Note Rosicky, who probably last played a game 3 years ago, had bagged them both for the gooners!
Something wasn’t right!
So I decided to take a pause break and have a check of my Blood Glucose Levels…
3.5 – just as I thought, my level of concentration wasn’t up to normal standard, hence Arsenal winning a game! In being hypo, or what the medical experts name ‘hypoglycaemic’ (much easier to just say hypo!) I have a lack of Blood Glucose within my blood system. This means that a lack of blood flow actually makes it towards my brain, therefore lowering my levels of concentration. I required the energy to pick myself back up, which I decided to assist by taking a few chocolates onboard, before continuing the game at two down.
I soon pulled a goal back through one of my random signings on the cheap, Johnny Russell, who I snapped up from Dundee in exchange for Cameron Jerome. He annoyed me as he scored against Palace in the Cup in extra time the other week, had to go! 2-1 game on, however, I then conceded a penalty before the half time break. Despite Begovic going the right way, Podolski bagged as he is German. 3-1. Also a sending off…
At half time in the game I decided I should take another test of my Blood Glucose Levels. I showed signs of picking up in concentration as I scored and Kenwyne Jones missed a sitter, but still let the penalty happen so wasn’t a full load. It does take time for levels to pick up from a hypo with diabetes and this can vary in the amount of time it takes, either a sudden pick up if perhaps a tad too much insulin was taken at dinner, or ,maybe longer especially where exercise is concerned. And I had been running earlier in the daytime.
3-1 down and a BG Level of 3.8, I decided a change of tactics was warranted. I opted to take a glass of apple juice, which includes sweetners and carbohydrates in its ingredients. This could provide a more quick acting effect to pick my levels up more rapidly.
I nicked another goal back after the break, Matty Etherington, so it must have been working. When I run I aim to be between BG levels 7-14 as that is when the professionals believe you’re fully concentrated and away from the hypo danger zone. I also then, with my same marathon running pace running consistently, aim to have an intake of between half my body weight to the exact weight of myself in kgs into gs of carbs per hour (more towards the latter with me) – so in weighing 70kgs I need an intake of around 70gs of carbs per hour to match the energy being burned.
My signing of Ryan Bertrand for the Potters should have equalised but he somehow scooped it towards the corner flag from there << !! he is a left back so I’ll let him off.
My levels still were in hypo terriotory, although gradually picking up. I think this meant I was better when playing the game and being on the ball, but defensively I just couldn’t concentrate at all to keep up with the gooners. So I hacked another player down in the box and Podolski once again popped up to bag another efficient German penalty. I was not at all pleased or amused with the referees decision!
In finding my Stoke City team 4-2 down I had another check of things and I was on the rise at 4.5. However, it was more of the same, good on the ball but lacking the killer instinct upfront and defensively a shambles. I think this is mainly down to that lack of concentration. Had I have been normal level, it’d have been a easy win for me…
By this point I’ll add in that Rosicky had been stretchered off injured, which shows that Fifa has some realistic points to it.
Then Arsenal took the micky a bit, they went and got another penalty, their third of the match and I had another player dismissed. Some random French bloke I’d signed from Ligue 1… 9 men. Low levels. 5-2 down to a Podolski hatrick of pens. There goes my chilled outness for the night!
Moments later Gervinho got himself a tap in as my back 2 fell apart and Begovic had completely gone for a wonder! 6-2, a proper thumping. But with minutes to spare I sensed that we shouldn’t give in and instructed my 9 Stoke Battlers forward, including Begovic the keeper, and it was noticeable that I was picking up in concentration as I was able to make a tackle for once too…
Kenwyne Jones popped up to nod one back (actually finding the target for once) to restore some pride from a corner, 6-3. Of course by then the game was all but over, but had I have been between 7-14 in my BG levels I reckon it would have been an absolutely different story. The fact Arsenal had 3 penalty’s and a German taken them didn’t help matters either.
5.6 was after the game. Hypo dealt with. You can be concentrated as a diabetic at the level of 5, but it is always good to be on the safe side, away from the relegation danger zone, at around the levels of 6, 7, 8 in my opinion. Those are the bullseye target levels to be at.
The main reason I posted this is because I am not ‘Hypo Aware’ anymore. I do not feel the affects I once did, which were very annoying with the shakes and shivers, but those affects allowed me to realise if my blood glucose levels were running low and a hypo was coming on. In losing this feeling I can never be too sure, but for the fact I am not fully concentrated. I might do something silly like forget simple things, put something in the wrong place, pee in the freezer… you name it. These simple things may go unnoticed, but they actually do suggest a hypo. Which is the same as Fifa, I might just be losing a game, but if I’m not able to concentrate fully there must be something not right happening – a lack of blood flow towards the brain… hypo!
I don’t do losing, especially not on Fifa to Arsenal… and these snaps show that the reason for Stoke City’s defeat today is because my levels weren’t right…
@Diathlete @GBRnutrition #GBR3030
Being an Olympic Torchbearer was a true honour and in seeing the success of Team GB through the London 2012 Olympic Games made me very proud to have been a small part of it. Running Ultra-Marathons and doing the things I do for diabetes is another part of my life that I have real pride from as I do it all for Diabetes, something which changed my life when I was a little boy. And if there was one more thing I could add to that… it would be an applause from the fans of Crystal Palace FC around the stadium…
As a kid I always wanted to be a professional footballer and dreamed about being the captain of Crystal Palace and England. So for me, to go out and get an applause from all around the San Siro of London… Selhurst Park, especially standing in front of the large Holmesdale stand on a matchday, it couldn’t get any better than that!
In terms of me the footballer… no it never worked out. In some ways I gave up on that old dream as a teenager to get into my charity work and crazy ultra-marathon runs, but personally I played a good level – I played a semi-pro level in the Kent Youth League for Dartford FC (a side I know from being there they will soon break into the football league with their facilities) and also Pheonix Sport FC. One thing about me the footballer was that I had a lot of heart on the pitch, I was the Dougie Freedman figure of Crayford Arrows Sports Club, who now are joint with Erith & Belvedere FC and the all-weather training pitch they have to play on was funded by an award I won for my commitment to that team back in the day! I left there as a League champ! But my only real pro-football playing experience was a header hitting the bar against the Gillingham FC academy as a 15 year old for the Darts… if only that went in!
In watching the game on Saturday Vs Watford, the Championship Season Opener for us, the team could have done with some of my heart to tell the truth, the performance was dreadful. Watford even handed Palace 2 goals and still we didn’t seem to want to know. Losing it 3-2 was a big disappointment with the 2 goals coming in the last 2 minutes – but I have to admit we were not good enough. Dougie (CPFC manager) got it wrong on the day, in that heat subs were needed and preferably not David Wright (no offence Wrighty) but it was just a move that said come on Watford have a go, instead of bringing on a bit of pace and flair from the youth players on the bench and ripping into their poor defence. So the game was bad, but I do urge fellow Palace supporters to remain behind the team and Dougie Freedman, he was my childhood hero and I’m sure he can turn it around as he always done through his playing career. (we’ve only played 1 game!)
My moment on the match day was at half time. Community day was on so before the match I arrived early with my Palace fan parents, and posed for a couple of photos in my white London 2012 tracksuit and Olympic Torch. The weather was ridiculously hot, but fortunately my seat in the Main Stand was in the shade. There I sat by a group of youngsters, the Crystal Palace U10 academy players. They were asking for my autograph, I think in a few years time I might be wanting their autographs! (they probably could have done a better job then the team on the pitch to be honest…) At half time I went down to the pitch with my Torch, that I had wrapped in a Red & Blue Palace scarf, and after a few pics with the Olympic Volunteers, another Torchbearer and Team GB 400m Sprinter Martyn Rooney, we all done a lap of honour around the pitch joined by the CPFC cheerleaders The Crystals. I did offer Martyn a race but he was dressed to impress not to race, so I think I won by a forfit
I couldn’t let any of the Palace fans down so every time someone asked for a photo, a high five, handshake, hug or just wanted a chat, I felt I had to do so… I was enjoying it all too much. Also had to show my appreciation to the B block by worshipping them for a moment. Credit to the Watford fans too, they all applauded as well and despite me patting my red and blue scarf on the torch to them, they still applauded! It was a great reception all round and it was probably the highlight of the match (from a Palace point of view). I did fall considerably behind the rest of the walking group because I was too into the crowd, but it was good to make the most of it! The second half kicked off before I finished and I was tempted to go and sit in the dugout next to Dougie and the subs, but ended up taking back my seat. I now regret doing that as I could have sat there and said “make a sub…”
A big thanks from me to Sharon Lacey who set the community event up and to all at Palace, the Crystals, the Fans all amazing – and to the team… pull your sleeves up next game!
To all with diabetes who read my blogs, this just goes to show that diabetes can’t stop you from achieving your dreams really – I might not be a footballer for Palace but I walked around the pitch to an applause, which kind of ticks a box for me and it all started the day I got diabetes and rolled my own sleeves up to say this isn’t going to stop me from living, believing and achieving, which is what earned me the honour of carrying the Olympic Flame!
How to control Diabetes levels when facing hard Endurance challenges
With a big challenge ahead of World Diabetes Day 2012 in the planning stages and to soon be announced, the best solution in terms of diabetes control through an endurance challenge of this callibre (and I can only tell you that it will be an absolute monster of a challenge) is to see the best.
I like being seen at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup and have attended the diabetes clinic there since being diagnosed aged 8, however, it has to be said that the standard of care I had when a child and through my younger years was far superior to the standard of care as an adult, depending on certain Doctors. Jan Karla and Sarah Putney, the diabetes children nurses at my clinic, are brilliant. The Doc I currently have, well, to put it blunt… I might as well call myself Dr. Gavin, as I go in and say how my levels have been, suggest what I should do to improve on and make every decision myself, whilst she nods her head like a Dodo - basically… there is no point in going!
And this brings me to seeing the professionals. On Tuesday 3rd July I had my first appointment with Dr. Ian Gallen and his team at Wycombe Hospital in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. It took around 3 hours of travelling across the capital to get there but it was well worth the journey. I spoke with Dr. Alistair Lumb and when first entering the room I wasn’t sure what to expect, I’d heard many good things even from Sir Steve Redgrave at the Cellnovo Rowing Event last month, but I sure didn’t expect to be engaged in conversation and talking over details for an hour and 40 minutes! It was 1 hour and 40 minutes to good use!
Here are some facts I found out more about through our chat:
When exercising with diabetes it can have 2 opposite effects on the body depending on the kind of endurance/exercise. For instance, if involved in a sport such as football in which there’s heavy competitive sprinting involved, a kind of stop-start performance endurance, the blood glucose levels can rise despite the energy levels being burned. This is because exercise burns fat and glucose, but in sprinting/speed-endurance sports fat isn’t burned as much, the body concentrates on burning glucose. So with glucose being burned rapidly in the body a reaction is caused that produces more glucose in the body to deal with it; for a normal person more insulin will be provided by the pancreas to counteract that and the sports-person is able to keep control, however, with diabetes no insulin is produced therefore a burst of glucose makes blood levels go higher.
Although the blood glucose levels (BGL) will rise it will only be temporarily, energy being burned means that the BGL will decrease in time; so say if a game of football sees the BGL rise over 10.0 when checking it after the game, a few hours later a hypo (4.0 and under) still will probably occur.
On the other hand, which from what I will be taking on in my challenge (that is soon to be announced publicly) is more what I have to monitor, longer endurance exercising such as marathon running, where a constant pace is set and energy is being burned at a consistant level, glucose is burned in the body but so too is more fat. And the body has many areas of fat, inside each muscle, particuarly the legs, which will be burned. This causes a reaction which lowers blood glucose levels, the energy is gradually being burned and the fat levels are being worn down. When this happens the body doesn’t react by producing glucose and insulin to cover it as there isn’t a sudden adrenaline/hormonal burst in the system to cause that kind of reaction, this means that over time energy levels will drop and blood glucose levels will lower, meaning with diabetes a hypo during the exercise/endurance is on the cards.
To deal with that I need an intake of energy; sports drinks can provide this. Weighing just over 10 stone at present I will need an intake of around 60gs of carbs during each hour to counteract the burned energy and keep BGL controlled. If out of carbs a good method to temporarily rise BG Levels back up, until a source of energy at a check point is again available, is to put in a sudden sprint for 10 seconds to get the body producing glucose.
A number of people over the years have come to Ian Gallen and Alistair Lumb for advice and help in controlling their diabetes through extreme, crazy and gruelling endurance challenges. They say it is a good thing that the people who come to them ask about whether or not their DIABETES will be ok and managable in doing these challenges, instead of asking whether THEY will be ok doing these challenges!
Taking you back a way here… April 2009… in Goa, India.
It was a family holiday when I was still in Sixth Form as a late teenage lad. At first on this Holiday I was only with my parents, as sister, Kaylie Griffiths, was involved performing at a show and was to meet us out there. Being on my own, and being quite the type for adventure, I made a decision one afternoon to explore outside the hotel walls in South Goa, where foreign people to the area were not so common. In fact judging by the reaction of many as I passed through the town, I was one of the first white westerners to have passed through their village. (most on holiday stick to the nearby beach, restaurants or luxury hotel area).
I set out with a beach/football, I had purchased from a day at the market, in hand. And as I walked through this village, out in the extreme Indian summer heat (it was April, just before their monsoon season) firstly I went by a few shops. The shop worker came out in seeing me, as I resembled money. Not seeing any reason why not, I followed him into the shop and looked about – it was all wooden inside, including everything he was selling, all carved designs. Although I hadn’t any money on me at that moment to buy anything, we got talking; he told me that he had left home at the age of 13 to earn money, no school just work. He moved across India to end up there in Goa, now a skinny man in his early twenties.
The next shop keeper then called me in as I continued on my travels, he looked richer, a shirt on and long hair, and his shop had more appeal to it – jewellery. After talking to him a while he asked me what I did for a living. Instead of boring him with a sixth form student, I had a Crystal Palace top on and a football in hand, “I play for Crystal Palace youth academy,” I informed him. This gave him an element of excitement. He mentioned that he knew the coach of one of their professional football teams, SC Saogoa, which gave me an element of excitement when he mentioned possibly getting me to train with them!
Further on in my route, as I aimed to go to a playing field in which I spotted a football pitch with wooden goalposts with the anticipation that there would be someone there to play football with, I passed the village itself. An elderly man stopped me and called me into his home. He did not speak any English so we communicated through a lot of hand gestures. His house was in fact a shack, made from wood, but he had a lot of family living with him, I said hello and raised a thumb upwards when I believed he was asking me what I thought of his place. He was very proud of his home and seemed delighted to show it to me – with my hair gelled up as it was at the time, and boyish looks from a different culture, I imagine I came across as some kind of flash superstar.
Eventually I made it to the football pitch area. I saw a few kids playing football with a flat ball, using cricket stumps for goalposts. I passed them the ball I had over as I approached them and they appeared to freeze in shock at the sight of me to begin with. Then one knocked the ball back to me as I joined in their game. Football in that respect has one language, completely different cultures and languages understanding one another, that is the beautiful game at its best – which is much more than the rubbish I view on the TV with all those professional drama queens in the present day, a game run by greed. We played, I ware converses on my feet… they didn’t even wear shoes! It was very hot, and considering I am a Type 1 diabetic, perhaps I took a risk running about in those conditions – despite the evening drawing in it was still between the 35-40 degrees mark! Fortunately, diabetes aside, I am incredibly fit!
The amazing part of this story is coming… one by one more people turned up, men from the village, some even with trainers or at least shoes on. One by one… two by two… soon there were enough there for a full on 11 v 11 match – and that’s exactly what they were there for!
“You, you play for us tonight!” a keen footballing middle-aged villager named Godfrey informed me.
It turned out that every month outside the monsoon period the two local villages took each on in a competitive football match…
“We haven’t beaten them for very long time,” Godfrey explained, “it has been years! But now we have you!”
So on the football pitch, with an uneven surface of dried out grass, marked out with wooden nailed-together-goalposts at either end, the game got underway. The difficult part was that it was very hard to tell who was on my team – I didn’t know anybody and we had no kit! Godfrey was the one guy I could pick out, and our main striker… Chief! – the oldest football player in the village, in his late 60′s, with long quite tribal appearing grey hair, no shirt on… I put him through on goal and he had to stop to catch his breath before miss-kicking the ball in his bear-feet…
I got the ball and took people on, it just so happened that when I was a nipper I was a decent footballer, and until my ankle-ligament tears that season, was playing a semi-pro standard in youth level. I was on the mend and focusing on RUNNING ahead of the 2009 Isle of Wight Challenge for Diabetes UK. I cut round a few players and scored 4 goals in the game, which we won 4-0.
…That was a game which made me some kind of hero to the Goan village I was staying in! After that, everywhere I went, every single person knew my name! It was crazy! I went to a restaurant… “GAVIN!” To a beach shack… “GAVIN!!” To the bar at the Hotel… “GAVIN!!!” Past the Taxi booth… “GAVIN!!!!” By the shops, or tent-shops… “GAVIN!!!!!!” Pretty much anywhere… “GAVINNNN!!!!!!!!”
For a moment I experienced what it felt like to be David Beckham…
Two nights later the villages had arranged another game whilst I was there. This time, according to Godfrey, the opposition village ‘main players’ back. They were younger, with football kits on. What was more noticeable to me was that on the road and hills around the pitch, the area was completely filled with watching on villagers, they’d come to see me play!
My dad went to find me and he said a Taxi driver stopped as he saw him and shouted… “TAXI!?”
When my dad replied, “No, I’m looking for my son…”
The driver instantly responded with: “Who, Gavin!? He is over playing football, I take you there!”
It was a tense match, we fell behind early on, and the markers on the opposing team doubled up on me. But I managed to grab a goal when cutting in, and despite the heat I was the fittest engine on the pitch as I put myself about and it was soon 3-1 as I claimed another hattrick. My team appeared to tire out a bit, and the other side got back into it at 3-3, but in a game with no referee to keep a check on the time, I suppose late on… I found the ball at my feet as I used ‘Messi’ teckers to cut around a few players before getting my head up and picking out a very LOUD Godfrey. From all of 5 yards out when my ball arrived to him, Godfrey absolutely put his foot through it to score! 4-3… Godfrey couldn’t believe it! There were still a few moments left for me to add another, this after Chief was bundled over in the supposed penalty area. I stepped up from the imaginary penalty spot to tuck away the last goal of the game, 5-3.
It was a very good experience going to Goa, the people out there seemed very proud of what they had, and happy to talk – which is quite a contrast to what I see over in my hometown, Bexleyheath. This, despite the fact we have money here, big buildings, food, and more… they have wooden shacks to live in!
As a Type 1 diabetic, sure in those conditions blood levels would expect to drop, but I had good control, I ate well and I kept hydrated, which was more important than energy drinks out there in my opinion. As for my running abilities, I went on a early morning beach run one morning, a rough half-marathon distance through a few villages and back. In that heat… Core Blimey, it takes some fitness!