Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Of Mice and Magnesium: Dubious Tips for Home and Health

It's Bike to Work Week! But that's not what this post is about.

DISCLAIMER: I am neither an exterminator nor an endocrinologist, and none of what follows is intended as medical or pesticidal advice. If you have diabetes, or unwanted rodents, you should (as will become abundantly clear) consult an appropriate professional. 
Signs of Spring:

The forests have exploded in deciduous green.

My eyes have decided they're allergic to something that comes alive around 5 pm.

The mouse living in our wall has come out of hibernation. Yep. Mouse. I spotted her for the first time two days ago, while I was relaxing on the sofa, drinking tea and reading Savage Love. Dan Savage's advice doesn't extend to pest control, I assume, but since our mouse chose to come out while I was reading a letter from a guy interested in gender reassignment "lite," I concluded that this mouse was a biological male who identifies as female.

She twitched her nose then ran back under the radiator. I didn't know what to do. So, in gender-stereotypical fashion, I waited for Paul to get home.

More anon ...

Freddie waits while I test my blood sugar. I've been having lots of lows lately. Last time this happened, I was doing a lot of house-moving-related exercise. This time, I think my insulin sensitivity has increased — a good thing, but it means dosage adjustments are necessary.

And what do I think accounts for the increase?

More anon ...

Leah looking lovely at the beach ...

The Bhangra Festival! What a great poster.

But, to get back to the mouse — let's call her Bhangra (since that music style, too, is all hybrid and whatnot) — I turned the problem over to Paul, and he, in gender-stereotypical fashion, went to Home Hardware for traps.

Two classic, spring-loaded Victor brand mousetraps. With a small supply of dry dog kibble to use as bait.
I really didn't want Bhangra to die — she was a cute little mouse — but nor did I especially want her sharing our living room or chewing a nest out of our baseboards (which project she'd recently embarked on).

I'm guessing Freddie could smell her, and probably would have pounced if she'd darted across his path, but otherwise, he didn't seem to give a rat's/mouse's ass about her presence.

 Baby Geese on the Run!

Freddie and the Dragon-boaters at False Creek

Do these people look deficient?

According to the folks who keep track of North Americans' dietary habits, chances are high that these three healthy-looking individuals are at least a little lacking in (drumroll) ... MAGNESIUM. And, if any of them happens to be diabetic? In the absence of supplementation, magnesium deficiency is very likely.

Who knew? Well, probably lots of folks. But I didn't ... until a few months ago, anyway, when I started reading about the crucial importance of magnesium for insulin sensitivity and general carbohydrate metabolism (among a few hundred other things).

Nymph of the Roundabout

Although insulin resistance is much more of an issue for Type 2 diabetics than for Type 1s (the bodies of T2Ds often produce buckets of insulin; they just can't use it), it seems that magnesium deficiency in both T1s and T2s compromises insulin sensitivity and just generally fucks up carbohydrate metabolism — pardon my French.

So ... if I've got this (more or less) right, having diabetes predisposes me to a deficiency in a mineral I really need in order to control my diabetes. Awesome. You can probably guess what I decided to do ... but first ...

Clark Gable meets Cary Grant in East Vancouver?

OK, OK ... back to Bhangra (which I'm pretty sure I last listened to — the musical version — in the back seat of a Yellow Cab) ...

Late that evening, Paul set a trap next to the radiator and one in the kitchen cupboard under the sink (where a few other people in our building have made mouse sightings).

We went to bed, and for a while I lay awake, listening for the snap of the spring, the squeal of little Bhangra's last breath ...

... but not a creature was stirring, not even ... well, Freddie did make his usual racket of scuffling and snuffling in his crate before settling down ... but no snaps or squeals.
And in the morning?

Stay tuned ...

Yep, I took a trip to the vitamin store to stock up on magnesium — a very inexpensive supplement, as supplements go. It wasn't my usual vitamin store but, rather, the Whole Foods vitamin section, where, coincidentally, the woman who offered to help me as I stared at the multiple shelves of magnesium products turned out to be a 40+ year veteran of Type 1 diabetes. She seemed to be doing quite fine, health-wise, and she swore by magnesium as an absolute necessity for the T1 toolkit.

I bought a large bottle and popped two of those puppies as soon as I got home.

That was about three months ago. I haven't been very consistent, but I'd say that, most days, I've been taking close to double the usual (ie. non-diabetic) dosage for supplemental magnesium.
Under the Bridge, North Shore
Graffiti for Pitties
Graffito for Hippo

And in the morning? Well ... I confess I was relieved to learn that the traps were empty (you didn't think I'd check them myself, did you?), but, of course, that meant we still had a mouse problem.

Enter Charles, our next-door neighbour (actually, he was exiting his apartment as Freddie and I were returning from our morning walk) ... who, in response to my mouse news, cheerfully informed me that, in addition to lethal mousetraps, Home Hardware also sells an ultrasonic mouse deterrent. You plug the thing into an outlet (yeah, electricity, argh), and it emits a noise inaudible to humans and dogs but repulsive to mice.

This apartment was emitting Stanley Cup playoff noises.

I was happy about this information ... but I was also a little woozy, as my blood sugar was tanking yet again. Apparently it can take 3-4 months for magnesium supplementation to have the desired effect(s), and while correlation doesn't equal causation, I think there's a pretty good chance those pills I've been popping for the past three months have perked up my insulin sensitivity and carbohydrate metabolism. As I mentioned above, this is a good thing (needing/having excess insulin in the system promotes excess fat storage, among other things); I just need to cut back accordingly on the amount of insulin I'm taking.

I also need to swim!

Inside our door, Freddie alerted me. I had some raisins. Then Paul came home, and I told him about the mouse deterrent. Paul isn't so stereotypically macho that he felt compelled to dispatch Bhangra to Mouse Heaven. He returned to Home Hardware and came back with a pair of ultrasonic devices, which we installed in the living room and the hallway.

Three days have passed. Aaannnd ..... ?

I was moments away from hitting "Publish" on this post and announcing my successes in endocrinology and pest control. I went to the kitchen to turn off the screeching kettle. Several meters away, in the living room, the device plugged into our wall was, I can only assume, emitting an ultrasonic screech of its own.

Was the mouse that ran across the kitchen floor as I filled the teapot fleeing from the racket in the living room? Had Bhangra gone off her hormone therapy and doubled in size since I last saw her, or was this a brand new intruder (in need of his/her own name)? Will moving the second device into the kitchen solve the problem, or are we back to Victor traps and dog food?


And is my new insulin sensitivity really magnesium-induced or merely the result of hauling 70-odd pounds of dog and gear across town multiple times a week?

I dunno.

Fortunately, these are not earth-shaking questions. There are more important things to think about ...

Thanks for stopping by! ¡Hasta la próxima!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

How to Succeed at College ... Freddie's Way

1) Check your p-mail before you get to class!

2) Choose eco-friendly transportation!

[This is Doggy Ride Redux — replacement of v.1, below, which was evilly stolen back in March. This new one gets much more securely locked up in the parkade, with wheels removed and locked to my bike!]

3) Find a relaxing route!

[Freddie and I have a great route to school — once we get past the steepness and busyness of the 4th and Arbutus area. It's quiet and shady ... not many cars, in part thanks to traffic diversions such as the one below.]

4) Don't go to class hungry!

[Here we have my post-breakfast, mid-journey blood sugar. A bit high, but considering I still have several kilometres of dog-hauling to do (some of them uphill), I'm not taking any extra insulin at this point!]

5) Go to school with friends. They make it easier and more fun!

[This is true. My highly scientific studies show that students who sign up for classes with a friend or who make friends in class cope better when the going gets tough.]
6) Dress for success!

[This is true, too. Doesn't need to be fashionable or expensive, but dressing  for class they way you'd dress to go out with a new friend helps you feel like what you're doing is worthwhile and important.]

7) Get to know your campus resources ... 

[Freddie made sure to get on Security Officer Nathan's good side his first day at college — it wasn't hard.]

 [Secure bike parking!]
[Library duck pond!]

"But why can't I go in??" says Freddie.
 ... and rules.

[Personally, I would like to ride my bicycle down one of the A-Building hallways on a Thursday afternoon when no one is around, but whatever. More importantly, Langara College needs to update its dog sticker to say "Service Dogs"! They do have nice service dog posters inside, however.]
8) Find out your instructor's office hours, and use them!

[I made Freddie include this one.]

 9) Know where all your things are!

[Here we have Freddie's office crate, aka my desk. For logistical reasons, Freddie and I moved into Paul's office last summer ... so it's our second family home. Those tidy piles of books and paper will deteriorate as the semester progresses!]
10) Stay hydrated!

[You can't see the water dish, but it's there.]

[OK, this one's mostly mine, too.]
[Unless you're Freddie, in which case, resting and daydreaming are often appropriate.]

[Freddie's eye view of English 1107]
Studious Feet!

12) Studying is hard work. Plan for rest during your school day ...

... and recreation!

13) Go to school with friends (it's worth repeating)!

[This is Freddie's good friend and next-office neighbour, Greg. Freddie and Greg make each other a little crazy ... but in a good way!]
[Heading home for the day with best-pal Paul! Some days, Freddie and Paul get to leave early, while I slave away for another couple of hours. :-)]

14) Classrooms are stuffy. Spend time out in nature!

15) Meditate and reflect ...

[Tai Chi in Q.E. Park! Freddie and I pass by these folks on our way to school.]

16) Get a good night's sleep!

I wanted to add "Do your homework!" and "Follow the @#$% instructions!" 
but Freddie said this is his list, and I can do my own if I want. So there.