25 January 2009

Why Sail?

Type 1 Diabetes is a multi-talented killer.  It kills quickly, it kills slowly and it can kill by stripping you of any desire to truly live.  One slip up in your dosing math, one time you forget your safety sugars, one underestimation of how hard that workout really was and the amount of sugar in your blood plummets to the point where there is not enough to support your brain and heart function.  I’m sure you can guess the outcome of that, and it can happen in the blink of an eye.  We all do a pretty good job of staying on top of it, but slipups do happen in the diabetic community.  It’s a tribute to all of us that it doesn’t happen more often. 

            But even if we can prevent the Superlows from happening, it is virtually impossible to keep from getting too much sugar in your blood from time to time.  Whether its that hot fudge sundae you’ve had your eye on for a week, a forgotten bolus of insulin because one kid’s crying, one was screaming and that pesky telemarketer just knew it was the right time to call, or you got sick and your body decided that it just doesn’t feel like responding to the triple dose of insulin you had to give it.  Then little by little your blood gets thick with those killer glucose molecules that like to attach themselves to any available red blood cell like an over-40, still-single, overeager, “my-biological-clock-is-ticking” woman when she finds any man who shows even the smallest smakeral of interest in her.  So what if your red blood cells get a little bigger?  So what if trying to pump those enlarged cells around your body will wear out your heart a little quicker or that they start to tear at the littlest capillaries like a three-year-old through presents on Christmas morning?   Those capillaries aren’t in anything really important anyways, just your kidneys, eyes, hands, feet and one other really important part.  And so very, very slowly Diabetes silently wears out your body. We all work hard to slow this process.  We all use the latest technology, we analyze all sorts of data and walk around like Robo-diabetic with pumps, meters, and continuous glucose monitors strapped to our bodies, belts, and in every bag, backpack and purse we own all in attempt to slow the coming tide.

            But, I think worse than both of these, is Diabetes’ ability to strip you of all desire to truly live.  Your doc tells you never again walk barefoot, no flying or scuba diving, forget Ironman training, just walk for 20 minutes a day.  Everything in moderation, he tells you.  And that’s the killer, Moderation.  When was the last time you got the least bit of a thrill from Moderation?  Have you dreamed about your Moderation for two years straight, saving every extra penny, telling everyone you know, being possessed by your Moderation?  Never.  But talk to any diabetic who has stepped out of the cloud of Moderation and they will turn your ear bloody talking about their training plan and what their blood sugars were every 15 minutes during their last sub-4 hour marathon and every detail of their next trip climbing Machu Pichu.  They are truly living.  And they are talking to anyone who will listen.  But for years they were talking to those who didn’t know much about diabetes, those who don’t know Type 1 from Type 2, those who couldn’t help with the right basal rate reduction for an 11 hour hike, those who don't know a thing about the low blood sugar induced Midnight Munchies.  That is until a few of these diabetic athletes happened to sit down together at a table together at a conference and started talking.  What was born out of that conversation was the plan to build a community to get diabetics together to talk and to support their moderation-busting adventures.  

I, too, have been bit by the bug to abolish moderation.  For me its a sailing trip.  Four days, alone on a 22 foot Catalina, in the Florida Keys. To sit alone for 96 hours, to sail, to think and to write.  To get a grasp on what diabetes has done to my life and what I am going to do to diabetes.  And to support others who want to do the same thing in their own way.  I have decided to use this trip to raise funds for Insulindependence and to spread the word that Moderation will never win.  We can't let it.

2 comments:

  1. i am upgrading to a beneteau. maybe as early as 5-6 years it will be my home and my address will be whatever port i happen to be in that season.


    http://www.beneteauusa.com/wps/wcm/connect/Beneteau_USA/Home/Sailboats/USA_PUBLIC_CATALOGUE_PRODUCT_FlagshipB54

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  2. This is a fantastic essay, Erin. I want everyone to read it. Really, everyone.
    Thanks for writing this.

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