I never thought I’d write a blog, but a few things this month have been moving me towards this first post. So why write a blog, what do I have to add? I guess I should do the obligatory “long first post” where I dole out my credentials and you can judge what I know and what I don’t. Well, if you hadn’t judged by the title – I’m a diabetic. Specifically, I’m insulin dependant; DX’d in 2002 in my third year of university. I’ve had my ups and downs, and I was not a role model of personal care for a long time.
Things quickly changed in 2011 when I had a seizure from a bad hypo event. You see, I was not a paradigm of health. Sure, I liked to hike and rock climb. But these undertakings were few and far between. I still ate too much, sat too much, and spent too much time in front of the computer and TV. In fact, anytime I hiked or climbed I could never really get my blood sugar right – I’d plummet, have to eat food, then bolus for the high, repeat ad nausea. So, back to the seizure – I was actually on a rock climbing trip when that happened. I was eating food I probably shouldn’t have, did not have the appropriate bolusing strategy for it, and dropped like a rock. As a Canadian expat, living in Texas at the time, I quickly learned how expensive it can be to ride an ambulance! After that event, I decided something had to give. I couldn’t put my body through that, and I couldn’t put my wife through that – I needed to take responsibility for myself. I didn’t want to just survive; I wanted to thrive.
So I started to make changes. A lot of changes. My wife supported me through them all, and made every single change with me. I had a lot of lows, a lot of highs, and a lot of frustration. It was experiential learning at it’s finest. All the diabetic literature on exercise had pretty much instilled the fear of dying into me. It was too cautious, yet so much literature said how beneficial it was. So, I experimented a lot, and starting figuring out how things worked for me.
In 2013 I met a great group of folks through the DFW Tour de Cure. It was the first time in my “diabetic life” that I actually talked to other diabetics. It was revolutionary. It was mind blowing. We could share stories, compare blood sugars, see what worked for one person, what didn’t work for another, and try and figure out why we saw different results. I went from just starting cycling in 2013 to riding a couple centuries and polishing off the DFW Tour at 20.2 mph, and cycling just shy of 5000 miles in 2013. On top of that, I started running, did a triathlon, climbed a mountain, and had lots of adventures, all the while still learning what the hell my body was doing in these situations.
Near the end of 2013 we repatriated back to St. John’s, Newfoundland. We miss our Texan friends, but we love being home. After a period of settling in I realized that I needed a local diabetic community. Luckily, a T1D adults group was just started and I got to meet some wonderful people. It’s been through this venue that I’ve been inspired to write this blog – you see, some of these folks supported me when I tried to setup a group for diabetics trying to be active. We’ve had three consecutive weeks with growing attendance and it’s been great. The #DiabetesEmpowered movement that Team NovoNordisk has started has also inspired me.
So, back to the question – why write a blog. Well, I just find it so damn hard to find any information on physical activity, diabetics, and how they manage it, how they cope, how they thrive, and when they have good days and bad. What do diabetic athletes eat? What do you think about on a long run? Where do you mount your CGMS while cycling? How do you keep pump tubing from tangling in your cams when leading trad? These sorts of questions just don’t seem to pop up that often. I thought that maybe by sharing my unsolicited experiences that some people could get something from it.
Now, the obligatory – I AM NOT A HEALTH PROFESSIONAL. This is NOT a how-to guide. If you learn something from me that’s useful – great! But, please be careful. Your diabetes may vary.