It’s a cycle 2 days in a row kinda weekend 3rd & 4th September 2016

Wow what a weekend. Just sat here now, my brain completely wired, full on awake. Yet earlier today I looked like I had not slept for days. Completely and utterly exhausted.

So who thinks this cycling malarkey is easy?!? Well, I shall let you into a little secret….come closer, I don’t want anyone else to hear…. “it’s not.” Didn’t hear me? “It’s not!!” Yet it is most certainly the best thing I have ever committed to.

So as you all know, yes I will bleat on again, having type 1 diabetes makes exercise sooooooo much harder. Just when I think I have figured out how to keep my blood glucose levels (BG) fairly stable before, during and after a bike ride, my body decides to chuck in a curve ball. This has not stopped me though. Actually it has made me a more confident and determined little soul. I blaaadddyyy love cycling!

O.K back to this weekend. Two days cycling quite a large distance for me.

Saturday consisted of crazy Donkey’s and horses chasing me. I soon realised they were after my banana and not actually trying to eat me (even though Amanda was sure we were Donkey dessert!)

Of course we reached the crazy beast of a hill. Like literally this is a struggle to walk up, I stomp up on my tippy toes whilst Amanda just keeps cycling. That lady is totally determined. I just look at this 25% incline and get off immediately. Total respect to you Mrs Pamplemousse. Although you really do need to work on staying on your bike and quit toppling over, you really will damage those parts you keep telling me about.

Then there was the near slide under the lorries wheel experience. No exaggeration! I have never been so scared in my life, well not that I remember. Just as we were enjoying the downhill country road, a few blind bends and ‘Mr I have all this Hay on my truck so will take up your side of the road without slowing down,’ decides to just appear. Like seriously calm the freak down lad. What’s the rush? Jeeeeeeezzzzzzzz. In a blink of a moment BRAKES, stay still, stop wobbling, throw yourself into the gravel and bushes, chuck your leg down and lean to the side… AVOID THOSE WHEELS. Phew, we made it. I honestly do not know how I managed to stay on my bike, same can be said for Lauren with poor Amanda watching in horror. Those few seconds really shook me, more than I thought as the following day going downhill or around sharp bends I was hyper aware of everything and super cautious.

44miles later, the furthest we had gone. Amazing ladies! Totally shattered the rest of the day though.

 

Sunday.

I DO NOT WANT TO GET UP. Snooze alarm…..grrrrrr…get up! You HAVE to do this.

As soon as we take off I remember I’m with hills Sarah & hills Kev. Oh man, Sunday should be a duvet day. The saddle is causing some discomfort today, my legs are burning but this soon eases. I CAN do this! Who am I kidding, here comes a hill, and another, and another. It’s up, up and up we go. Literally just up! Totally the worst hill ever. FACT! I hate this route, I hate hills, I hate everything. My legs hurt badly, they feel really heavy. I can’t do this, I’m not doing this, I need to get off. It hurts to walk. Just get back on Kelly, sort it out! Oh no I’m going to be sick. oh no I have to stop. Please don’t be sick. One of my new warning signs of my BG dropping really quickly, nausea. Like the no time to even think nausea, it’s just going to happen. OK, you’ve got this. Test bg just to check and have a few sweeties. NO WAY. I’m hypo. No wonder my legs feel really heavy and I hate everything. Stop thinking and start eating. This nausea though. Down the juice, down the juice. Keep going, all will be fine in a few minutes. Just keep cycling, ignore the blurred vision, the mammoth sweat. DO NOT BE SICK. Phew no vomit, and finally at the top of this ridiculous hill ever.

OMG. Literally how many more hills today. Look at the sunflowers. I’m back in my happy place. I love cycling. I love this route. I love everyone. I CAN do this.

Arrrggghhhhh seriously enough of the hills. This is feeling ridiculously hard. I’m sure my tyres are even screaming at me. Wait, they are. I have a puncture, my tyre is flat. A lesson in removing tyres, changing inner tube. Team work, thanks team! Let’s go…..REALLY do we need any more hills. Hang on is that a bike, that’s a head…..there’s a guy laying in the bushes! Whoah calm down fella, no time for hide and seek on these bends. Luckily he had a soft landing and all was well. A few seconds earlier would have been a different story for a few of us approaching his path!

Lets go. I’m feeling tired. I feel angry. I’ve had enough. I want to get home. I want to get off. I want to stop. CAN WE JUST GET HOME. How many more hills. I feel sick….oh no here we go again. Jelly babies are your friend, keep going. And breathe. I’m happy again. Bloody hypos!

I have just cycled two days in a row! Go me. Can I get a whoop whoop

A whole lotta learning, training and perseverance

As much as I would love to include every detail of changes I made to my eating and insulin regime, you can breathe a sigh of relief as I wont bore you with that.  It’s been a massive whirlwind from the very start and I seriously cannot even remember all of the changes I made and when.  What I do know though, is with careful planning and getting to learn how exercise impacts on your own diabetes, BG levels can be managed very effectively.  I’m not saying it’s easy, far from it.  What I am saying is stick with it.  You CAN achieve anything you want to.  Nothing is impossible.  What I have achieved is proof that anything is possible!

“You is kind, you is smart, you is important.”

So, I knew I had to practice riding my bike. Getting used to a road bike would be hard. Firstly I was scared of cycling on roads.  There are far too many cars.  On reflection though, it’s the blooming pedestrians you need to look out for! Apparently it’s ok to just stroll in front of me as I am cycling 20mph downhill towards you and your buggy. Grrrrr.  Lucky for them, and for me, I have the reflexes of a cat. A ninja cat actually! A cycling ninja cat.

Enough of the crazy cat stuff. Back to training.

Being on a road bike felt so much different to my teenage mountain bikes. I had to balance on these teeny wheels. I don’t feel safe! Curly handlebars too, aka drop down. So much to learn about this bike. Why so many gears?!?  I’ve now learned that gears are my best friend when hitting the road and those blooming hills!!  However the bike was the least of my worries, although I made out many of times it was the only thing I was worried about. I lied.  The big D was my real concern.

My insulin pump team had arranged an exercise with diabetes workshop which I signed up to.  I was really excited to be joining and knew I would learn a lot.  It was so important for me to attend, however I now wonder if it was the right time?  I had been feeling really down and frustrated about my diabetes and from what I can remember had also been unwell.  Team this with exam and essay stress, managing my diabetes had moved down my list of priorities. Yet I knew this was extremely important and I had to really focus on making safe and appropriate changes to my insulin ratios along with the amount of carbohydrate I needed to consume. I knew it would be hard, I really did, but sitting in the first session it dawned on me how hard it could be.

01/02/16 Exercise & pump workshop

The day had finally arrived.  I was really excited to start learning how to manage my diabetes during exercise.  Although I was quite nervous.  I did not know my dietitian, Penny, that well and hadn’t a clue who I would meet on the day.  I knew it was a small group and believed it would be people with similar exercise interests.  I knew how important it was for me to start learning what I needed to eat, when I needed to eat, what I needed to reduce insulin wise along with the timings.  I knew how crucial it would be to ensure I kept within safe blood glucose (BG) levels.  I knew the importance of this but I couldn’t cope with all the information.  It was just too much to absorb.  All I could focus on was the amount of carbohydrate I needed to consume prior, during and after exercise. Then there was the BG testing through the night if I exercised after a certain time, and of course eat some more.  Eat, eat & eat. That’s all I heard.  I’m certain the session had more to it, but all I could focus on was the fact I would be coming back from this bike ride at least two stone heavier, maybe even double the size I started with.  Yes, I know this could not happen in a few days, but it’s how I felt.

exercise bg

I can’t do this.  I can’t eat this much.  If I need to keep testing in the night how will I sleep? This is ridiculous.  I’m never going to manage this. I can’t do this.  I’m NOT doing this. Will people stop talking about Golf! Why is everyone playing Golf?

I’m cycling to Paris.

No. No I’m not!

I can’t be here, I need to leave.  Oh no, don’t cry. You never cry, well not in front of others.  DO. NOT. CRY.  I can’t breathe. Get out now.

Cue the fight or flight response. “Sorry I have to leave, I thought the session finished at 4pm?” A little lie never hurt anyone right?

Through teary eyes I drove home.  I could not see properly, could not breathe properly.  I was a full on blubbering mess.  It was at this point I really began to fear this crazy challenge.  It’s just too much for me right now.  Irrational Kelly arose and I began to wonder how to tell everyone I would not be coming. I didn’t want encouraging messages. I just wanted to say, sorry but count me out of this.

A call from my DSN, June, within an hour of me leaving, (turns out I don’t hide my emotions too well even when I’m not talking). I had managed to discuss my worries and arrange a 1:1 with my Penny.

Here is the link to a small blog I wrote at the time of this minor blip.

Taking some time

It all seems a bit of a blur now, but as you have already seen I didn’t change my mind, back out of it.  Thank goodness I didn’t!

My first bike ride, the very first time I took my pearly white bike out, we cycled 27miles! I had been out the night before so had very little sleep, was ever so slightly (OK quite) hung over.  Poor Lauren and I had not even cycled before (only short rides). Yet we managed it.  We certainly showed we are tough cookies.  I must admit though it hurt to sit down for a few days, even walking was a challenge! If we could manage this I knew we could do it.

I just needed to learn how to manage my BG.

 

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Our first group ride 01/04/16 – a somewhat hung over & tired Kelly

 

 

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Pearly white handle bars

 

Learning how to manage my BG took a lot of trial and error, perseverance and determination.  I had to remain focused and committed throughout and ensure that I engaged with June & Penny as much as possible (sorry, I know I took up so much time!)

Many a hypo’s were had, which at times felt very deflating.  Knowing I had tried so hard to avoid them.  Then there were the hypo’s that appeared 12hrs/48hrs/72hrs post exercise. To start with I thought, yay you’ve nailed this, then the crazy hypo would appear 72hrs post bike ride.  These hypo’s were often ones that happened quickly, no symptoms until I just felt a little uneasy and nauseous. Test – 2.1. WHAT!

Then there was the overwhelming feeling of nausea. During a bike ride with Amanda I thought I was going to be sick, even thought ‘I don’t actually have time to stop.’

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This isn’t a graph from cycling, unless I sleep cycle?!?

Through the use of a Libre I soon established that this was a symptom of rapidly dropping BG levels.  This happened to me on a few occasions, mainly when cycling uphill.  One of the group training rides we cycled up this mammoth hill. Like literally, it went on forever.  Honestly!  I actually thought I was cycling to the clouds until the feeling of nausea appeared. BAM! ‘Stop Kelly, Stop. Where are the bushes. Do not vom on yourself.’  I didn’t want Maggie to see me being sick so told her to go on.  I knew I wouldn’t be hypo as I have always caught the drop.  But not this time. 3.5 and dropping. Thank goodness Maggie stayed back with me. Slightly embarrassing but Maggie reassured me that we are doing this as a group and will stop as a group.

 

 

Looking back, all these lovely comments really helped me and also showed me the type of person it takes to not only be a great DSN but a truly kind and caring friend.

 

With all the challenges faced I still managed to persevere and started to learn what I needed to eat and how to adjust insulin to avoid major impacts on my BG. Wearing a Libre at times really helped me see patterns, the impact exercise had during and after and establish how many jelly babies were needed to keep me going during long distance rides. This also helped my DSN & dietitian to suggest changes in food consumption and insulin levels. As a team I must say I was starting to feel safe and ready to do this.

I met with Penny many of times. Each meeting Penny would write everything down for me including how much carbohydrate to have before, during and after a planned bike ride. How much protein to have to aid muscle repair. What times to eat. How much to reduce my insulin by. These little notes helped as I could look back and remind myself what to do. All of a sudden it didn’t seem so over whelming. I finally started to absorb everything Penny was telling me. I had this. I can do this. I just needed to remember to eat more! Thanks to Amanda, aka Bruce, I was alwayimg_20160917_161847s prompted to eat cereal bars during our bike rides even if I was reluctant to do so.

A few weeks before setting off to Paris I went for a bike ride with some of the group. My BG20160903_111934.jpg remained stable throughout. I had nailed it! Yet by the time I had driven home my BG had spiked and was on its way up. This is something I had never experienced before. My BG had always dropped low. What do I do?? Again this was a different challenge and with my new confident exercise and diabetes management I found a way to start working with the high BG.

 

Within 6 months I had managed 20 long distance bike rides and approx. 10 short distance ones to and from work. 20 really isn’t that much but it turns out it was enough to get me from London to Paris!

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Where it all began – 07/11/2015

I remember heading back from the Diabetes Quality In care awards in October 2015 and discussing with Laura how I would like to do a charity bike ride. Laura suggested we should meet up, she only lives two minutes away from me, and go out on our bikes. My response “I don’t actually have a bike.” There goes that idea!

But I still wanted to do a charity bike ride, it would be a challenge.  I do love a challenge! I sent a little email out, not really expecting much interest.  What harm would it do asking some local diabetes health care professionals?  The likelihood is that most will say no, some will agree but actually not commit and therefore within a year I would still be sat pondering what to do

HOW. WRONG. I. WAS!!

Email sent 07/11/2015 – “I am arranging a charity bike ride next year, hopefully London to Paris (or something similar). This will be self-organised……Would anyone in your team be up for the challenge?!? ….”

After a few emails, a group of us who were keen to take part met on 7/12/15 in a local pub to go through the plan.  I must admit I was unsure if they really wanted to do this and doubted how dedicated they really were.  I also didn’t know some of them. Those I did know, I didn’t know that well (poor grammar, but c’mon I’ve just cycled to Paris!)

Before I knew it Christmas had passed and it was time to book the ferry to Dieppe. Cabins were being booked quickly and I was worried we would not have anywhere to sleep apart from the floor, maybe out on deck? The thought of sleeping out on deck though…..nope STOP thinking! There were approx. 11 of us who had agreed to take part, so I envisaged 6-8 of us booking onto the ferry. Wrong again! After a very panicky morning, I spoke with a lovely lady who managed to release a further fifteen foot passenger/bike spaces and the panic was over.  Wow, 14 of us booked onto the ferry!

Is this actually happening, for real?? I have to go through with this now, I’ve paid for my ferry journey from Newhaven to Dieppe.

It seems so easy. London to Paris here we come!

Yet the reality of it all began to dawn on me.  The whole point of this charity event is to CYCLE to Paris. I didn’t even own a bike. *Poor student alert!* I couldn’t even afford a decent bike.  Luckily for me I received a rather large refund by a utility company which meant I could buy a half decent bike. Yay!  Let the bike shopping commence. So many to choose from.  All the pretty ones are out of my price range or not suitable for what I needed.  Luckily Kev provided much advice and help and steered me away from the pretty, non practical bikes.

Why can’t I have these Kev, why?!?

 

Finally in March 2015 I became the owner of this beaut.

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Practical and light.  Added bonus, I love the colours! Many thanks to Cycle world in Romsey for selling to me at a discounted price after establishing what the bike was for.

Now the bike crisis was adverted it was time to start cycling. I. DON’T. HAVE. TIME. Like seriously how can I fit in cycling on top of essays, exams, placement, working, living…yes living. Wow I really do need to block time out in my diary. I have plenty of time though. 6 months is plenty of time!

Hang on, I think I have forgot something? I’m sure there is something I really need to work hard on, just to keep me safe and well. Just to make sure I can actually mange this bike ride. Yep, I’ve got it. That will be the type 1 diabetes. It was time to start learning about managing my diabetes with exercise. The impact exercise has on me (totally unfit). The impact it has on my blood sugars. The impact my blood sugars will have on me. What food I need to eat and drink. Foods to avoid/minimise.

Oh man, did someone say this will be easy!?!

 

Frio visits Croatia

The lovely team at Frio sent me some products to try which I took along with me for my little adventure to Omis, Croatia. A stunning fishing village. Yet we had not planned for the cold and wet weather! That certainly did not stop us from having the most amazing time. I love these ladies so much and look forward to our next adventure, maybe with a new addition too 😉

I had used a frio wallet when I travelled to Cyprus and loved it so much I knew I would be making further purchases. So was super excited to be able to try the new products. Unfortunately I was unable to put these to full use due to the lack of sunshine. However our last day the sun was shining and we even managed to watch the dolphins elegantly jumping out of the water making their way past our amazed faces. The gorgeous Frio tagged along to the beach with us.

So what is Frio? Frio products help to keep medications cool. For me this is a must have for my insulin. I am hoping I can use these when summer arrives. Oh wait, it is British summer time now right? Maybe these little beauties will get full use next summer? Unless anyone wants to take me on holiday, just somewhere hot and luxurious….I will await replies (or even set up a separate email? I’m sure I will be inundated with offers…….)

O.K. Getting back to Frio.

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Aztec mini

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This product is light and compact, the perfect companion, cool and trendy, for my insulin pump to hideaway and sunbathe next to me. My insulin pump fits nicely in this small zipped purse. I am hoping that when I do manage to hay a lay in the sunshine. It was also handy to pop my inhaler in here too (not with the insulin pump)

Medications and cosmetics cool wrap

I literally love polka dots. Spots & stripes, my fave! So instantly fell in love with this wrap. The FRIO Wrap was able to hold spare pens, test strips and other essentials. Perfect travelling companion. Looking forward to be able to use this when I head to my next sunny destination. I also used this to pop some make up products in, lip gloss of course!

The wrap has 12 sections in total, 6 on each side, of varying sizes to be able to hold different items. An absolute must have!

Medication purse

 

Did I mention I love polka dots? This will be ideal to take out during the day with insulin products, or other items that need to be kept cool. Not only is it ideal for medication, my phone, bank cards and make up fitted nicely in here.

 

Final verdict: WINNER!

Frio website http://friouk.com/

Twitter – @FrioUKLtd

Disclaimer – I was not asked to write a blog about these products. I was provided them to review and offer feedback. All views of these products are my own views.

 

L2P training 12/06/16

London to Paris (L2P) training

NB. The information regarding dietary intake and insulin ratio’s are personalised for me and should not be followed by others.  All advice and changes to insulin and dietary intake must be provided by your health care professional.

27.5mile ride planned for 1.30pm.  A polite request to Mr weather man …..please hold the rain until we get home…PLEASE

Aim – to maintain a nice steady blood glucose level. Yeah right, when does that ever happen! Oh, hang on…it once did…back when my pancreas was fully operational.        OK so the real aim is to prevent or even reduce the number of hypos during and post bike ride.

Plan

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My actual plan

12pm – 2xtoast, 2xeggs = 38g

Normal bolus (forgot to reduce!)

Temporary basal rate (TBR) 70%, (30% reduction of normal basal insulin), for 5hours. This should cover the ride and ….ops, will need to extend to cover 2hours post cycle. Will do this once I’m home.

Things to take. 2 water bottles, 1x500ml water. 1x500ml isotonic sports drink (1/3rd of the drink every hour will help….but I don’t have any more space for another bottle!). 250ml juice carton. 130g bag jelly babies. 1 banana. Think I may get myself a little (large!) basket to carry everything I need!

Due to repeated hypos this week, 3-5 a day, I think it may be wise to take glucagon injection JUST IN CASE. Being in the new forest It could take a while to get help if needed, or even have any phone reception, and as much as I love Donkeys I’m not sure they will be able to help me!

Must remember to have extra carbs before ride!

Must remember to eat carbs after ride. 50g carbs. 20g protein.

Must remember a snack pre bed ….do I bolus for this? I’m sure I do. I think I do. Oh sod it I will and just hope for the best.

Must remember to reduce basal overnight. Previous ride, same route, caused multiple night hypos which resulted in lack of sleep and a very tired and cranky Kelly.

Breakfast following day – reduce bolus by 30%. Cancel TBR

End result………

To be continued………

 

Just an average day with type 1

Wow, what a day! Actually what a week!

This heat is playing havoc with my blood glucose levels. Come on, as if I don’t have enough to contend with anyway.

But today it really has been a total sod.

Rewind to 1am, 20hrs ago. Waking nearly every hour. It turns out the 2 hours I did manage to sleep, I was hypo the whole time. So this morning’s alarm was not welcomed at all.

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Free style libre graph.  The red line shows low bg

All day I have been continually snacking on my fabulous life savers aka Jelly babies. I do love them, but how on earth can I even try and lose weight if I need to keep eating and drinking sugary foods to treat my low blood glucose (bg). Once the hypo is treated within an hour my bg drops again.

Lack of sleep, hypo hangover (fuzzy head/brain fog & exhaustion minus the alcohol) and just feeling pretty annoyed with it all. How am I supposed to even try and concentrate at Uni with a day full of lectures? Well I couldn’t. I managed half a day and had to go home and retreat to my bed, admit defeat and drink more juice to treat another low bg.

What’s even worse is that I have not been able to go to my cousins’ 30th party this evening due to the reoccurring hypos leaving me feeling unwell. I never let diabetes hold me back if I have plans, but getting out of bed has been a mission. I feel awful for not being able to go, for letting her down. She has just come back from Australia, for only a few weeks, and this may have been my only chance to see her. SCREW YOU diabetes!

Yet again, I’ve taken to the sofa and thought about doing some preparation for my next exam, presentation of a long term condition – the lived experience. But Hey! Guess what. You’ve got it in one….HYPO.  How about someone come and spend a day with me, there’s your presentation!

Today has pretty much been a repeat of most days this week. So of course I am feeling a little fragile, a tad irritable and so very tired. It’s not always like this though. I will figure this out. Yet generally when I think I’ve nailed it, life throws in a curve ball and diabetes does not like this. NOT ONE BIT.

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The picture above shows the amount of time spent within, below or above my target range.  This is the first time (green) in such a long time I have been within my target.  Yet 20% of time have been hypo (red) and only half of the hypos have been captured on this metre as I have been using the free style libre, a flash glucose monitor, which is saving my poor fingers from all of the finger pricks.

No time to rest though. Up nice and early for work tomorrow. So diabetes please just give me a tiny break tonight. I’m not asking for much, but 3-4hrs unbroken sleep would be really appreciated, even more would be amazing!

So what’s it like living with type 1. Well today, it pretty much sucks.

Thinking and sinking

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Ever had a memory that sneaks out of your eye and rolls down your cheek?

Today I cried.  I don’t know why.

Everything is going fairly well. I have been under a lot of pressure.  Maybe it’s the lack of sleep. Maybe the continuous hypo’s due to increased exercise and hot weather has made me a little emotional. Maybe this iron lady is starting to struggle hiding her emotions. I just don’t know.

What I have realised is the more involved I am with sharing my experience of living with type 1 diabetes, the more I remember how different life was before type 1.   The realisation and anxiety of living with this for the rest of my life. Wondering where I would be now if I didn’t have type 1. I have accepted that I have this ‘illness’, this ‘condition’, and it is what it is. But I can’t stop thinking about it. Will I be ok? I don’t even know what I am trying to say as my head is mixed with all kinds of feelings and emotions.

I wouldn’t be sharing my experiences, the good and the bad, if I did not have diabetes. Diabetes, diabetes, diabetes….even this word is becoming tedious. I get bored of hearing the word, yet I can’t allow myself to be bored of diabetes. I have to continue to remain positive. I need to keep smiling and just get on with it. I need to stay strong and support those around me, to let others know it’s ok. I’m ok. I really am, if I just keep smiling.

I don’t want to sound so negative and know that I probably am. I’m really not angry. I just feel a little empty and confused. Overwhelmed and drained. Yet grateful and blessed.

I enjoy all of the opportunities that type 1 has given me. The people I have met, friends I have gained, chances given to work alongside others. It’s great. I’m excited that I may have more opportunities to share, educate and develop. This is great. You’re doing great. Just keep smiling.

Yet right now it’s difficult to remain positive. I think I need a break. Nothing extravagant (although it would be lovely), just maybe a few days without having to think about diabetes? Or do I just need to ride the waves and get through this? Taking a break would be the easy option right?   Then I would not have to deal with the array of emotions that have appeared whilst having to think about what it’s really like living with diabetes.

Memories, anxiety and fear rolling down my cheeks.  crying-eye

It’s good to cry. As long as it’s not me crying.

I made myself promise you would never see me cry.